T20 World Cup 2024 – Can vs Pak – When will Pakistan start getting serious about winning trophies

Their 2024 T20 World Cup showed signs of rot and a hollow victory over Canada cannot mask it

Do Pakistan need to improve their batting approach despite beating Canada?

Urooj Mumtaz on Pakistan’s chase and the limitations of Babar and Rizwan

Two security guards stood there, chatting idly. They didn’t see Mohammad Rizwan’s growing frustration, although perhaps if anyone was going to know how maddening it is to have one person hold a match, it would be Rizwan. But the guards continued talking, apparently unaware of where they were. It was hard to blame them; it was, in a way, a placeholder masquerading as a cricket match.

And it was kind of boring. It was so boring that some fans in the stadium couldn’t stand the delay any longer and decided to shoo the guards away. However, the guards only left the area when someone with a stronger position of power, wearing a more important-looking uniform, showed up.

The game could finally resume. Either way, it was coming to an end. Pakistan needed a few to win and there was plenty of time to do so. Rizwan was approaching his half-century; he finished with an unbeaten 53 off 53 deliveries. Just earlier, Babar Azam, with whom he formed a 63-run, 62-ball partnership, was dismissed for 33 off 33 balls. If this is the end of an era, there’s no better way for RizBar to sign the deal.

If anyone turned up to Nassau County expecting a bruised Pakistan to secure some kind of victory, they witnessed Pakistan providing yet another sample of the bloated template this team is obsessed with perfecting. The bowling was inconsistent and yet fierce at all the right moments, far too good for a Canadian unit that did well to get through to 106. Pakistan approached the chase with all the enthusiasm of a government official caring for a member of the public, sacrificing as much time as possible to ensure minimum satisfactory performance.

Pakistan may have a legitimate complaint about the New York surface, which seems to be a personal affront to the points being scored, but Babar’s team never needed extra motivation to compose themselves. On a much more productive surface in Dallas, he broke through to a under-par 159 and finished in the Super Over. At times it seemed like an extension of the torture that Pakistan botched against India. But in less tense circumstances, in a bowling that was not as fierce and to a marginally lesser purpose, the lead that had swung against Pakistan two days earlier finally went his way.

Saim Ayub, who gets a boomerang to the side every time PCB feels the heat rising on the RizBar and retreats as soon as it subsides, is back at the top of the order. Having lost his form lately, he had no intention of rediscovering it on this surface, so he opted for a 12-ball six in an attempt at a knock that probably would have been out of ‘Pindi if it had been the PSL. But as Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Haris, Haider Ali and Azam Khan discovered, this is not PSL. And for some inexplicable reason, when other teams promote high-intent players around the world who excel in T20 leagues, they seem to be able to replicate this success. However, appointing a striker to the Pakistan team is a bit like Manchester United appointing a new manager; they may have been great before they joined, but for some reason they aren’t anymore.

Pakistan’s team did not perform at their best in the T20 World Cup Related press

It could be that all players are useless and overpaid. Or maybe if your favorite player had been selected instead of the one you think is a cheater, Pakistan might have been in a different situation. Maybe if they were a little more overtly patriotic and kissed the badge a few times, that would be enough. Perhaps another captain could solve the mystery. If only Pakistan had nine members on the selection committee, not seven, or four team managers, not the measly two they sent with the squad. Or if the chief data analyst was a former minister of housing and works, rather than fisheries and forestry.

It may also have been the case that Pakistan rarely took the game of cricket seriously, and it is not surprising that the result is often teams that are fundamentally not serious about competing for the biggest prizes. Their last two ICC finals would not have happened had Roelof van der Merwe not been given a stunner or Thisara Perera had lost her replacement. Just rub the lamp before even the genie starts to feel like he’s being taken advantage of.

However, these miracles are still more likely than structural reforms, and on this day, Pakistan made sure it took a step towards another chance at salvation. There was no swing at it against Canada, which Pakistan seemed to have trademarked, but they know their progress depends on the sun in Miami, not the number of strikes in New York. This may end up being a hollow victory that only scratches the surface, and with the changes that are likely to occur once you leave the tournament, this is perhaps an apt metaphor.

Danyal Rasool is the Pakistani correspondent for ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000

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