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A clueless Pakistan team was mauled on the cricket field by Afghanistan on Monday night. It wasn’t just embarrassing. It was painful to watch — the 92 Cup champions stumble. After all, it has just been 31 years since we won the ODI World Cup.

The opponents weren’t a strong team either. This was Afghanistan. We’ve beaten them 7 times before. Making it 8-0 wouldn’t be a problem.

A few hours later, we all stood embarrassingly corrected.

Hopeful fans could not help but steer conversations to semi-final prospects. The rest tried to mask disappointment by adopting the ‘told you so’ routine.

Much like our egos, which misguidedly saw a victory against Afghanistan as a given, chances of a last-four finish got a beating. It didn’t help that Afghanistan player Ibrahim Zadran took the stage to “dedicate the win to people being sent back home” by Pakistan, referring to Islamabad’s recent decision to deport illegal immigrants (mostly Afghan refugees). All of a sudden, the victory became political.

None of this is to take away from Afghanistan players’ professional and clinical display on the field. In their eighth attempt, they registered an inaugural win over Pakistan in the format. A distant, but related, stat comes to mind against India. The number there stands at 8-0, though.

But like its economy, Pakistan cricket team will now rely on ‘bailouts’, banking on other results to go in its favour to extend the stay in India.

As much as we tout the 1992 World Cup win, none of us can hide from the fact that it was the result of a bailout – rain and an Australian win over the West Indies meant Pakistan scraped through. In 1987, when it started as firm favourites, the team went down to Australia. In 1999, a similar fate awaited them at Lord’s.

Sitting pretty and in comfort is just not Pakistan’s cup of tea.

It has to come at a cusp. Someone has to say ‘and … action’. Its approach towards setting a target is the same way. Let’s do it at the deep end of the innings.

Call it procrastination or reliance on Divine Intervention, but Pakistan cricket – like its economy – has to be shown the worst-possible outcome to make behavioural changes. Analysing, rationalising, arguing, cajoling, even screaming doesn’t work.

While on the cricket field it relies on outcomes of other matches, its economy has the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

More than a dozen bailouts later, Pakistan’s economy is still facing the same basic issues it has faced for decades — loss-making SOEs, cash-strapped governments with inconsistent policies, and lack of trust in the system. Its cricket team walks the same path. Stuck in decades-old issues like fielding and sticking stubbornly to defensive style of cricket.

Perhaps, a proper humiliation in India is needed. Perhaps, another four defeats will convey to the ‘men in charge’ that Pakistan’s ODI ranking is not at all significant if it puts up performances like it has so far.

It may not be about Babar Azam’s captaincy or that he looked like a lost soul, sent unprepared and unguarded in a hostile place, where he desperately ‘hung onto friends’ at the cost of team composition.

But it is definitely about the millions watching back home. The team owes its fans this much. It needed the dollar to hit 307 and 330 in the inter-bank and open-markets, respectively, for the ‘stick’ to come.The carrots don’t work in Pakistan. The bailouts don’t work in Pakistan.

The article does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Business Recorder or its owners

Bilal Memon

Bilal Memon is the Head of Digital Content at Business Recorder. His Twitter handle is @bilalahmadmemon

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KU Oct 24, 2023 05:28pm
The bane of our cricket has always been a dodgy selection board, and a captain who has to agree with them otherwise he is captain no more. The bailout is not the issue, every sport in Pakistan is a direct reflection of a system that doesn't believe in merit or honesty. Just review the various associations or boards and employees on merit and their salaries, and you'll get a pretty clear idea of what is going on. The most tragic is the case of the Pakistan Olympic Association, they get lifetime employment, salaries and perks, and nothing to show for. The Pakistani athletes participating in the Olympics invest their own money to prepare for the games and are mostly not selected on merit. Does anyone ever call them out? Nope, because they are big and everyone else is small.
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Walkie Oct 24, 2023 06:30pm
the article has 11 claps, guess the entire Pakistan team agrees?
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AI Oct 24, 2023 08:51pm
@KU, you’ve nailed it.
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ALI JANDOLI Oct 24, 2023 09:38pm
Cricket is just a sport, sometimes you win or lose, no need to over-analyze it and compare it with important subjects like the state of the economy.
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Ali Oct 25, 2023 03:55am
I totally agree . Even if we loose all the matches from now nothing will happen. The rot is from the top for pcb to captain. To our domestic structure and team selection. Everyone is just passing the buck . Here you have a captain who is only bothered about his performance and is self obsessed while the team suffers. For four matches they didn't even get the selection right and when they did it was too late in a major tournament. They removed Ramiz raja who had some sense at the top but now no one knows what's going on.
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MJ Oct 25, 2023 09:58am
Cricket to economy to society....all affected by the paindoo selection.
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Rehan Khan Oct 25, 2023 12:17pm
In my opinion, ODI format is nowadays our weak area while we are not that bad in test cricket and especially T20 formats. Recently England beat us in ODI series by 5-0 on our home ground.
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ColX Oct 26, 2023 09:15pm
@MJ, Paindoos...paindoos...paindoos...all over...threatening the existence of Pakistan!
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Ali Asghar Oct 27, 2023 11:53am
As far as Ibrahim Zadran's statement is concerned, i was internally felt happy to know that Afghanis are hurt by that decision, they have learnt their cricket in Pakistan, they were given shelter by Pakistan, they're fed brilliantly by Pakistan and their so-called well-wishers India, not ready to accept them as a refugee etc, and we know why, they have given in return absolutely nothing to Pakistan but terrorism, extortion, street crimes, and most certainly i don't think i need to remind you guys their behavior after losing to Pakistan in previous matches that includes ladies as well. Thanks but no Thanks, i am highly excited to see them kicked out from my beautiful country ASAP.
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Abdul Malik Oct 28, 2023 03:54pm
Coach Mikey Arthur is now beating behind the bush by making stale statements that there should be no witch hunt against Babar Azam and team management. He goes on to state that the coaching, Inzi's players selection and the overall team management was par excellent. If that was the case how come the team succumbs to 4 consecutive losses with one loss to the under dogs Afghanistan? Mickey is now making last minute ditch effort to save his job.
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Abdul Malik Oct 28, 2023 03:55pm
@Ali Asghar, You can say that AGAIN. Its about time these Afghans must be asked to leave Pakistan. We had enough of these most ungrateful people.
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PT Oct 29, 2023 12:20pm
@Ali, paindoo sitting on every branch of all trees owned by the compromsied.
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PT Nov 01, 2023 02:04pm
@MJ, true for armed forces too..autobiography of General Gul Hasan sheds light on how paindoos rose to top ranks!
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