Islamabad: Poor team selections are to blame for Pakistan's exit from the Champions Trophy group stage in England, say former internationals Sarfraz Nawaz and Rashid Latif. Nawaz, who helped Pakistan reach the World Cup semi-finals in 1979 and 1983, and Latif, who reached the 1996 World Cup quarterfinals, targeted opening batsman Imran Farhat and batting allrounder Shoaib Malik as the prime culprits for Pakistan's two below-par totals against West Indies and South Africa.
Both batsmen combined for just 12 runs in the matches as Pakistan were bowled out for 170 against West Indies and 167 against the Proteas. With India soundly beating West Indies by eight wickets on Tuesday and eliminating Pakistan from semi-finals contention, Pakistan will have to catch an early flight home, no matter what the outcome is of their last group match against India on Saturday.
Latif said it's time for Pakistan to bring in younger players instead of falling back on the likes of Malik, playing his fifth Champions Trophy, and Farhat, playing his third. "For how long are we going to rely on these players?" Latif asked the Associated Press. "They have been playing for over a decade now and haven't showed any improvement, it's better we should look for fresh faces."
Nawaz wanted to see both players dropped from all Pakistan teams, and also called for Misbah-ul-Haq to be replaced as captain. "All the non-performers should be axed and to me Imran and Malik are the first ones who have to go," Nawaz said.
The selection committee headed by former Test spinner Iqbal Qasim left out veterans Shahid Afridi and veteran Younis Khan due to poor form, but it left a huge gulf in Pakistan's already brittle batting line-up. Middle-order batsman Umar Akmal also failed to get a nod for the Champions Trophy, and Latif said he would have liked to have seen Akmal in the team.
"He is a daring batsman and Pakistan needed such a batsman in the middle order who could show some aggression," he said. "All our batsmen lacked in confidence as if they were playing for their places in the team instead of batting for the team." Nawaz and Latif said Pakistan didn't lack for preparation, and both praised the work by bowling great Wasim Akram.
The team was based in the northern city of Abbottabad for conditioning and to try and get used to the seaming conditions of England. Also, Australian Trent Woodhill was hired as a batting consultant for three weeks. Woodhill was the third foreign coach involved beside head coach Dav Whatmore and fielding coach Julian Fountain. Latif said the foreign coaches were not bringing out the desired results. "I think we should look for Pakistan coaches because positive results are not coming," he said.
Pakistan are scheduled to play five ODIs against West Indies next month, and Latif said this was an opportunity for new blood. "You can't judge a player if he doesn't get a chance at the top level and now it's high time we should start thinking about it," Latif said.
Captain Misbah and opener Nasir Jamshed were the lone fighters in an otherwise dismal Pakistan batting line-up. Misbah scored 96 against West Indies and 55 against South Africa while Jamshed scored 50 and 42. Nawaz said the ageing Misbah should relinquish the captaincy and Pakistan should look for a new captain - at least in ODIs.
"I would like to see Misbah playing as long as he is fit, but we need an attacking and aggressive captain," Nawaz said. "Misbah is good for a draw or a defeat, but certainly not for victory as he doesn't make bold decisions and is too defensive."