Shoaib Akhtar and Inzamam clash over Pakistan’s heavy defeat in first ODI

It was just one match. And it did seem that after ten days holed up in the Derby Travelodge, Pakistan were a little undercooked in all departments as they fell to a heavy defeat at the hands of England’s hastily stitched together patchwork team.

Most of us are expecting a better showing from the tourists at Lords, where they had a 100% record during the 2019 World Cup, seeing off South Africa by 49 runs and Bangladesh by almost double that number. Indeed, they finished the group stages with an identical record to New Zealand, who they had also beaten comprehensively by six wickets at Edgbaston, but missed out on a semi-final spot by net run rate to the Kiwis.

It is certainly too early to write this talented Pakistan team off, but a poor performance will raise eyebrows, particularly amongst ex pros, two of whom have been expressing vastly different points of view.

Shoaib Akhtar was distinctly unimpressed and felt that captain Babar Azam had offered “lame’ excuses after the nine-wicket defeat in Cardiff.

“It’s not such a massive setback, per se. Of course, there are bad days and there are good days. We have been playing the past few series fairly well,” Babar said. “I will sit with them and have a talk. I’ll tell them don’t lose your nerves and those ups and downs are part of life.”

“The sooner we do that, the better it will be for us, as a team.”

However, Akhtar, formerly known as the Rawalpindi Express, was very quick to get steamed up in response. “It is all lame excuses. There was nothing on the wicket like extraordinary bounce. A little seam movement is expected in England. If you can’t handle that seam, then what will you do?” Akhtar fumed on PTV Sports.

“I feel sorry for myself and the fans. If Pakistan continues to perform like this, then who will watch them? I will not.”

Former legend and chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq, was rather more balanced in his views and felt that Pakistan would bounce back at Lord’s. On his own YouTube Channel, he stated that though Pakistan weren’t able to make their mark, the team seemed pretty good to him.

Pakistan had a good outing against South Africa in their previous series where they won the one-dayers 2-1. Inzamam said the team that toured there relied on a few key players but, this time around, the line-up looked like a very well balanced one.

“The performance wasn’t up to the mark but the Pakistan team looked like a team to me. People will find it odd since they got out on 142. However, when I saw the entire Pakistan line-up, it looked like a team. Although they won in South Africa, they didn’t look like a team there and were heavily dependent on one or two players.”

Inzamam is the uncle of Imam Ul Haq, who was dismissed with the first ball of the match, so perhaps family ties may be softening his approach. However, he clearly feels that big teams can make a comeback after a poor performance and that Pakistan have the talent and application to do that.

“Don’t focus too much on the first ODI’s performance but overall, I am very hopeful that this Pakistan team will perform a lot better. My message to Babar Azam is to keep your team motivated. These types of performances can happen. Big teams are those that make a comeback after this sort of performance. I can criticize their performance but I think this team is a lot better than what they showed in the first ODI.”

The great Inzi didn’t, however, offer an option on the “yes – no” run-out of Sohaib Maqsood. Perhaps feeling he was in too much of a glass house to lob any stones in that direction.

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