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Technical and tactical excellence is what makes a champion

PAKISTAN’S defeat against the West Indies in the lop-sided opening game is still hurting them. Though they also lost to Australia and India, the two are, of course, front-ranking and tough teams and were always tipped to beat us. But Sarfraz Ahmed’s men should have definitely beaten the West Indies which has not fared well in most of their World Cup games since that win at Trent Bridge.

It is commendable, however, the way Pakistan have bounced back by registering three successive victories — against South Africa, New Zealand and Afghansitan — after their loss to India where they looked down and out.

The team has shown marked improvement in attitude, planning and performance in the three victories although there were a lot of nerves in the game against Afghanistan which went down to the wire.

It goes without saying that once again the expectations of the fans at home and around the world will go up on Friday and they will be looking ahead to a fantastic performance from Pakistan.

There is always room for improvement and in order to enhance their performance considerably in the game against Bangladesh on Friday — which gives Pakistan an outside chance of making the semis on run rate — they must work on a few things to deliver their best on the day.

A quality player should possess five key performance ingredients to excel in the field. These five ingredients are: 1.Technical (10%), 2.Tactical (20%); 3. Physical (25%), 4. Mental (40%) and 5. Lifestyle (5%).

It is pertinent to mention here that the two ingredients — technical & mental — develop in early age or during the early stage of the game. However the remaining three ingredients can be improved at any stage of a player’s career.

Pakistani top players are lacking these ingredients due to lack of grass roots exposure to the game and poor development system.

There are also some mistakes committed on the tactical side of the game. For instance, Mohammad Hafeez played a very poor shot against the Kiwis on which he got out. Similarly, Babar Azam exposed his leg stump to Mohammad Nabi in the Afghanistan game which was a big technical error and certsainly not expected from a fine player like Babar.

On the bowling front too, our bowlers have been attempting much too much variation and not sticking to a length that could bother the opposition batsmen and force them to make mistakes. As I said earlier, these sort of mistakes relate to the ‘game sense’ (tactical side) which can be rectified during the match against Bangladesh and other games if Inshallah Pakistan make the semis.

Things such as selection of shots, running between the wickets, timing the innings for aggression and defense (when to take risks etc), variations in bowling, field placement, bowling changes, decision making all are key technical and tactical factors which, if improved upon, can make a hell of a difference to the team’s overall performance.

Of course, all these elements can be discussed in team meetings and must be emphasised upon the players for implementation.

Those teams which are continuously thinking about improving the grey areas and are seriously working on them emerge as champions. I am sure our team management is working to improve the team’s performance but as a former player and a qualified coach, I feel it is my duty to point out anything that can enhance our team’s performance on the field.

Besides that, all of us are praying for the team’s success and hoping that luck smiles on them and they play some great cricket in the coming game (s).

The writer is a former Test fast bowler and qualified coach

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