The rivalry between India and Pakistan was considered to be the biggest in the sporting world.
Not too long ago Pakistan was a force to be reckon with in international cricket. They produced some big names like Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Shoaib Akhtar and Javed Miandad.
However, in last one decade the difference between two sides has widened. The current Pakistan side is a no match for the Indian team having lost 4 of their previous 5 encounters against Men in Blue. While Virat Kohli’s stars are on the rise, Pakistan has failed to produce too many big names. As the men in green battle to secure a place for the 2019 ICC World Cup, here are few things they can borrow from Kohli’s men in blue:
1. Consistency across all formats
Consistency, is not something that is associated with Pakistan team. On their day, they can chase down a total of 300 plus runs and at the same time, struggle to put 200 on the board. At time India was also criticised for not being consistent but things have improved a lot, first under MS Dhoni and now, under Virat Kohli. In 2016, India won the Asia Cup T20, made to the semi-finals of ICC T20 World Cup, defeated New Zealand in the ODI series and remained unbeaten in Test cricket.
On the other hand, Pakistan started the year on a wrong note with a disappointing T20 World Cup, pulled off an spirited performance in England to draw the Test series 2-2 but followed it with a 4-1 loss in the ODI series and were completely outplayed by Australia in the recently concluded Test series (3-0). They are number 5 in ICC Test rankings, number 8 in ICC ODI rankings and number 7 in ICC T20 rankings which is heart-breaking to see.
2. Never dying attitude
There was a time when Pakistan used to be a team that would simply not give up. Batsmen like Inzamam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Yousuf or Javed Miandad before that, were capable to pull a win from the jaws of defeat. But, in last few years that has changed. One could sense that there is not enough fight in the present team. This was visible in their loss against Australia in the first ODI. At one stage, they had Aussies under trouble with score-board reading 78/5 but allowed them to put 268 on the board. While chasing the score they collapsed from 109/3 to 176 all out.
On the other hand, India has produced some remarkable performances in last few years, winning matches from near impossible situations. One example of that is the Pune ODI against England where Kedar Jadhav emerged as the new hero.
3. Depth in the squad
This is probably the biggest concern for Pakistan. While Misbah-ul-Haq is already 42-years-old, Younis Khan will turn 40 this year. Both of them are still an important part of the Test setup which maybe a good thing personally but what is concerning is that they face absolutely no pressure whatsoever for keeping their place in the side.
It shows the lack of depth in Pakistan’s squad. In last one year, India has successfully replaced top players like MS Dhoni, Wriddhiman Saha, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravichandran Ashwin and Shikhar Dhawan, whenever they got injured, without affecting the team’s performance. This has led to the emergence of stars like KL Rahul, Karun Nair, Ambati Rayudu, Jayant Yadav and Kedar Jadhav.
4. Promoting youngsters
Time and again Indian selectors rest experienced players and give an opportunity to youngsters. In 2016’s Zimbabwe tour, they sent a completely new look side under the leadership of MS Dhoni and gave opportunity to players like Manish Pandey and Axar Patel against a strong Kiwi side too.
However, the problem with Pakistan is that some of their big names like Umar Akmal and Ahmed Shehzad have failed to cement their place in the side despite being present at the international level for sometime now.
5. Importance of a leader
There was a time when India and Pakistan were equally good sides but since then, their cricket has gone in different directions and one of the key reasons behind it is that Pakistan has failed to find a good leader. Since the 2007 ODI World Cup, Pakistan has tried Shahid Afridi, Salman Butt, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq as captains across all the formats but have failed to improve the results.
On the other hand, India has smoothly passed the baton from Rahul Dravid to MS Dhoni to Virat Kohli.
If Pakistan wants to be a strong unit again, they need to learn certain things from Virat Kohli and his team. There was a time when Pakistan’s unpredictability was their biggest strength, now its their biggest weakness. Russell Domiongo summed it up in 2015 by saying, “Their unpredictability is not a challenge because they are predictably unpredictable. Their strength lies in the predictability of their unpredictability.”