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February 1, 2018

Under 19 World Cup: Pak defeat raises questions over coach, board’s performance


February 1, 2018

KARACHI: The experts are confused and the cricket lovers are upset due to the defeat of Pakistan U19 cricket team from India with a huge margin. In the aftermath of the shocking defeat, serious questions are being raised: Does the Pakistan cricket need a bottom up review? Are the players being selected on preferential basis? Does the junior team require a talented coach like Younis Khan? On the other hand, the selection process of the coaches of the national academy proved to be a missed opportunity. Mansoor Rana is the coach of the national academy. He could not help Pakistan reach that goal, which Rahul Dravid, the greatest batsman of India, helped India to achieve.

On Tuesday, during the U19 semi-final, Indian team coach and internationally renowned cricketer Rahul Dravid motivated his players in an interview, saying their prospects for being chosen in the future IPL auction would increase tremendously. Therefore, you should turn this chance into a memorable experience, he said. By following their coach, the Indian U19 team claimed a historic win. At least three players of the Indian cricket team were added to the IPL team in the auction held three days ago.

Rahul Dravid, with his experience, has helped the Indian team reach the Junior World Cup Finals; however, Pakistan's team coach and former international cricketer Mansoor Rana could not do so. Consequently Rana is coming under increasing criticism his capabilities and his preferential treatment. Son of the former umpire Shakoor Rana, Mansoor also coached the Pakistan side for the 2007 Cricket World Cup. In that tournament as well, the Pakistani team was not able to leave any mark.

Former captain Moin Khan has suggested that the former captain and record-breaking batsman Younis Khan should be appointed coach. Another former skipper Mohammad Yousuf felt that even the current coach is doing a good job, but the U19 and U17 teams need a coach of international calibre. He said if the PCB would give him an opportunity, he was ready to help.

In the Hagley Oval, Christchurch, India defeated Pakistan by 203 runs in the semi-finals to reach the final of the ICC U19 World Cup on Tuesday. India will now play Australia in the final. When The News tried to contact the chief selector Basit Ali refrained from taking call. In a tweet, Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman Najam Sethi wrote: “Good that the U19 team fought its way into the semi finals. But disappointed at big loss to an old enemy. Weaknesses will be fixed before the next WC 2020. Never say die!”

Playing the second semi-final in Christchurch, India chose to bat after winning the toss and determinedly scored run after run despite Pakistani bowlers’ persistent attempts at taking wickets and gave Pakistan a target of 272 runs in 50 overs against a nine-wicket loss. While batting first, India’s Shubman Gill remained ‘not out’ at 102 runs.

Pakistan’s start was not quite good and half of the team collapsed within 37 runs. The Pakistani batsmen failed to put up a decent fight and were bowled out for 69 runs in just 21 overs. This is Pakistan’s lowest score in the World Cup. Only three players managed to get into double figures. Rohail Nazeer remained the highest scorer with 18 runs, while Saad Khan remained the second highest scorer with 15 runs. The performance in the fielding department was equally bad. The Pakistan fielders dropped catches and missed almost half a dozen run out chances.

It is significant to remember that the start for the young Pakistani players was nothing to write about. They were defeated in the first match by the Afghanistan’s team. Few weeks ago in the ACC Trophy, the Pakistani team had lost two matches to Afghanistan by scoring 57 and 63 runs in both the matches. This was Pakistani team’s third consecutive defeat against Afghanistan from the Asia Cup to date. Following this defeat, the Pakistan team made a place in the quarter final after defeating Ireland and Sri Lanka. The Pakistani team also won the quarter finals against South Africa.

Pakistan has played the U19 World Cup five times. Out of which, it has clinched victory only twice. In 2004, Pakistan defeated West Indies under the strong leadership of Khalid Lateef. In 2006, Pakistan defeated India to defend its title under the leadership of Sarfaraz Ahmed in the Junior World Cup. On the other hand, India and Australia have won the U19 World Cup thrice.

Analysing Pakistan’s defeat, Moin Khan, who is one of the greatest wicket keepers of the past, said just before the Asian Cup, the PCB changed the method of determining age, which prevented a lot of good and talented players from entering the team. He further added that the selection process was rigged due to which many supremely talented players were ignored. Khan said due to the preferential treatment, the team was not selected on merit. He added it was especially noticed in the semi-final that the Pakistani players were scared and unprepared, and their body language was not appreciable too. Above all, Pakistan’s defeat by a margin of 200 runs is raising questions over the credibility of the Pakistani cricket, he remarked. Moin Khan suggested: “Now the PCB has to prepare a future course of action. India chose Rahul Dravid as the coach. We also have to appoint a legendary player like Younis Khan to coach the team.”

Former batsman Muhammad Yousuf said we also need to have a better coach to lead the team. In the present times, coaching courses are also important; however, the junior team can only be managed by a professional player. Even Australia made Greg Chappell and Allan Border lead their teams.”

Yousuf said that when Javed Miandad was the coach, he with his experience, helped me and a lot of other junior batsmen. He recounted: “In 2000, during West Indies tour, Javed Bhai used to bowl to us by standing on a chair in the presence of Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose. Due to which, I got guidance to face extremely tall bowlers.” He lamented that the PCB is not taking this format of cricket seriously.

He added that the experts are confused after Pakistan’s defeat. Yousuf said the problems of junior players must be addressed on an urgent basis. “Winning and losing is a part of the game; it is a big deal to be a part of the semi-final. However, this defeat is seeking answers from a bunch of questions,” he concluded.

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