The highs and lows of Pakistan cricket in 2023

Safe to say, even Hogwarts didn't see this much of leadership drama that PCB rolled out this year

The highs and lows of Pakistan cricket in 2023 PHOTO: AFP

In 2023, a lot happened in Pakistan's cricket. There were ups and downs, like a rollercoaster ride. However, the tumultuous ride was nothing short of a gripping melodrama, having a carousel of emotions and surprising scripts.

Let's take a ride in one-go all over again to decide if we are ready to face another 'hypertensive' year or not.

Leadership turmoil at Pakistan Cricket Board
Safe to say, even Hogwarts didn't see this much of leadership drama that PCB rolled out this year.

The year kicked off with a surprising twist in the administrative corridors of Pakistan cricket. Najam Sethi reclaimed the leadership at the PCB after Ramiz Raja's unexpected exit, calling for a series of changes within the board. 

New Zealand series - a mixed bag
Shahid Afridi inducted as the chief selector for the New Zealand series that brought mixed fortunes for Pakistan. 

While the Test series ended in a draw, the disappointment lingered in the ODIs, leaving fans eager for redemption but when? No one knows.

PSL homage for Lahore Qalandars
Albeit quite a year for Lahore Qalandars. Led by Shaheen Afridi, Qalandars secured their second consecutive PSL title and that too by the barest of the margins. 

Zaman Khan bowled beautifully that night at Gaddafi, showed nerves of steel in final over and clinched the win for his team, causing despair in the Multan Sultans dug-out and joy on the other.

T20I series loss to Afghanistan
However, the joy was short-lived as Pakistan faced an unexpected setback, losing their first-ever T20I series to Afghanistan.
The young performers from PSL 8 had a taste of international cricket, but the results raised questions about the team's T20 capacity.

ODI team rankings summit
May brought a silver lining as Pakistan achieved a historic milestone, taking a high jump to the number one spot in the ODI team rankings for the first time. 

Babar Azam's on-field heroics played an important role in this ascent, rewriting records and jelling his position as a maestro.

Babar Azam's record-breaking feats
Babar Azam continued to be the torchbearer for Pakistan cricket, achieving magnificient milestones in 2023. 

From becoming the fastest batter to score 5,000 runs in ODI cricket to being the second-fastest Asian batter to reach 12,000 international runs, Babar's brilliance illuminated Pakistan's cricket as well as fans hearts.

Mickey Arthur returns as team director
Mickey Arthur's return to the Pakistan setup, this time as team director, added another layer to the team's dynamics. His experience and strategic acumen were expected to play an essential role in shaping the squad's future as it did back in 2017 with Pakistan's Champions Trophy win.

Zaka Ashraf takes the reins
The musical chair of power at PCB continues... Told you more drama that Hogwarts offered. Blimey..!!

Zaka Ashraf took over the leadership at PCB from Najam Sethi. The new chief wasted no time, appointing Inzamam-ul-Haq as the chief selector, signaling a fresh start for the team.

Test series win against Sri Lanka
On the field, Pakistan continued to taste success by beating Sri Lanka 2-0 in their backyard. Saud Shakeel's historic feat, becoming the first batter in Test history to score a fifty in each of the first seven Tests, added a feather to Pakistan's cap.

Asia Cup disappointment and World Cup woes
However, the Asia Cup brought disappointment as Pakistan failed to make it to the final, with India coming out as champions. Asia Cup brought lots of bad karma to the team with some injuries and losses.

The World Cup proved to be another massive watershed moment, with below-par performances leading to questions about Babar Azam's captaincy.

Leadership reshuffle
In a shocking yet expected move, Babar Azam resigned as captain, paving the way for Shan Masood and Shaheen Afridi to lead in Tests and T20Is, respectively. 

The team management also underwent changes, with Wahab Riaz and Mohammad Hafeez taking on the roles of chief selector and team director, respectively.

Test tour to Australia
The new management faced an immediate challenge in the form of Australia test tour. The first Test turned out to be a daunting experience for Shan Masood as a captain, with the team suffering a heavy defeat by 360 runs.

The defeat was a result of a combination of factors, including dropped catches, missed opportunities, and ineffective batting performances. Despite the disappointing start, there remained a glimmer of hope with two more Tests to go in the series. 

As the sun sets on the year of 2023, Pakistan cricket finds itself at a crossroads, with new leaders steering the ship. The journey continues, and only time will reveal the chapters yet to be written in the Pakistan's cricket saga. The highs and lows of 2023 have left a lasting impression on the sentiments on the hearts of fans, as the hope and wait for a new and successful era in Pakistani cricket.