We believe in miracles and with faith miracles happen. Even before this, we have been successful after coming into such situations."
It was Pakistan vice-captain Shadab Khan who was talking to the media before Pakistan's important match against South Africa. He was once again referring to a situation in which the Pakistani team is stuck in an ICC event.
It is a very old tradition of the Pakistani team that when it makes a bad start in a tournament, then suddenly it comes to its senses and then the team's winning streak starts.
But if we look at the last three matches of Pakistan, looking at their poor fielding and the bowlers and the substitute players sitting on the bench, it does not seem at all that this team will be able to change the situation. But the question definitely arises that how did the matter reach here?
About five months before the start of the World Cup, Pakistan had defeated New Zealand 4-1 in the five-match ODI series played in Pakistan. In that series, opener Fakhar Zaman scored three consecutive centuries for Pakistan and was declared 'Player of the Series' while Haris Rauf, Naseem Shah and Osama Mir were quite successful.
Captain Babar Azam was also in good form and had scored two fifties and a century in the series. After the end of the series, three batsmen of Pakistan were in the top five in the ICC ODI rankings and the Pakistan team had come to the first position in the rankings.
So what happened in the last five months that a team that performed brilliantly in every field went to India and failed miserably especially in bowling and fielding?
The year of the World Cup is usually as important as the year of elections for any political party. Usually during this year, teams from all over the world finalize the squad of fifteen players who will play the most important tournament of cricket.
But for Pakistan cricket, this World Cup year is usually the year of most changes at the board level. During the last one year, first Najam Sethi was made the chairman in place of Rameez Raja and then just a few months before the World Cup, Zaka Ashraf was made the chairman.
During this period, there was also controversy regarding reconsideration of Babar Azam's captaincy. Shan Masood, who had not played any ODI for four years at the beginning of this year, was suddenly included in the team as vice-captain.
Not only this, there were rumors of making Shaheen Shah Afridi the captain before the T20 series with Afghanistan in March, after which Shaheen posted a picture with Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan on the social media platform X, from which it was understood that That he is supporting Babar Azam.
Najam Sethi had said in an interview to journalist Waheed Khan on a YouTube channel, "For him, statistics are very important and if Babar Azam performs well then he will be retained as captain, otherwise other journalists including you will question his captaincy."
Such a statement from the board chairman certainly increases the pressure on any captain, and Babar Azam, who was already under pressure due to the home Test series loss against England, has made more changes to the team for the next several matches. Decided not to. As a result, Pakistan had to suffer in the form of out-of-form and injured players before the World Cup when there were no alternative players on the bench.
But in that interview, he had also told an important thing that when he took over the responsibility of the president before the New Zealand series, the selection committee in charge wanted to change the captain apart from making changes in the national team. The chairman of the selection committee in charge was Shahid Afridi. After this, in the statement issued by Shahid Afridi, it was made clear that Najam Sethi was not talked about in the statement given by him.
Under these circumstances, not only did Pakistan rest no one in the Test series against Sri Lanka, but also not many changes were made in the Afghanistan series and Asia Cup.
The result was that when Naseem Shah got injured, his replacement was Hasan Ali, who was not in the team's ODI plan for a year. Similarly, after Fakhar Zaman was out of form, Abdullah Shafiq was given a chance in the last match of the Asia Cup and Saud Shakeel did not get any opportunity at all before the World Cup. All these three players have been successful in showing much better performance in the World Cup so far.
Similarly, when the opportunity for team selection came, captain Babar Azam trusted only those players who had been with the team for a long time, although they were out of form in recent times. From the 2019 World Cup till July 15 this year, Pakistan had played only 27 ODIs. This was the reason why changes in the team could not be used in this regard and the focus remained on T20.
Apart from this, many players were out of form, the top of which are the bowlers of Pakistan. Spinner Mohammad Nawaz was in good form till April this year and was giving wickets to Pakistan in the middle overs. His average in the 11 ODI matches played before April this year was 21 while in the matches played since then his average is 88.
Shadab Khan, who has been a victim of injuries, has failed to prove himself as a better bowler in ODI cricket and hence Osama Mir was played as a backup in his place and he also performed well in the series against New Zealand but he was later replaced by Not being given a chance in the matches before the World Cup is beyond comprehension.
Shaheen Shah Afridi also did not appear in his best form in the initial matches and Haris Rauf has also proved to be very expensive. Now it remains to be seen whether Pakistan performs disappointingly in the remaining matches of the World Cup or whether it will be able to find the switch which previous Pakistani teams have usually been able to find on such occasions and which Shadab Khan was mentioning.