Pakistan World Cup crisis: Akhtar blasts Misbah a 'coward'

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Former paceman Shoaib Akhtar labelled captain Misbah-ul-Haq "a coward" and "a selfish player" after Pakistan were crushed by 150 runs by West Indies in the World Cup on Saturday.

"I have not seen a more coward and selfish captain than Misbah," the 39-year-old Akhtar told the Geo News TV channel. "He is not willing to bat up the order to protect the other players at a time when he needs to show inspiration.

"He is happy with his own runs and I don't know what coach Waqar Younis wants. He has no game plan or direction for the team," added the man known as the Rawalpindi Express, who won 46 Test caps and played in 163 one-day internationals.

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Misbah, 40, has been a successful Test captain since taking charge in 2010 and has also led the one-day squad since 2011.

He batted at number five against West Indies in Christchurch on Saturday but made only seven as Pakistan were bowled out for 160 to slump to their second straight defeat in the competition.

Worst start

Pakistan set a new record for the worst start to a one-day international innings when they collapsed spectacularly to one for four against the West Indies in their World Cup clash in Christchurch on Saturday.

Chasing 311 for victory, Pakistan saw opener Nasir Jamshed, Younis Khan and Haris Sohail all fall for ducks, with Ahmed Shehzad managing a single before he too was dismissed at Hagley Oval.

The previous worst start to an ODI was made by minnows Canada, who were four for four against Zimbabwe in Port-of-Spain in 2006.

Indeed it can't get any worse than this for Pakistan whose World Cup campaign is in tatters after their second consecutive defeat.

Most of the former players demanded that the existing team management including chief selector Moin Khan and head coach Waqar Younis be sacked immediately.

Former Test captain Ramiz Raja also believes it is time for senior batsman Younis Khan to step down after failing in the opening two World Cup matches.

"I beg of Younis. Thank you for your services to Pakistan cricket but please leave this ODI side now," said Ramiz.

"I think Younis should tell the management he should be rested. Our fielding has also been a joke but we need just one good match to get back on the winning track."

Tour selectors

Pakistan’s former Test captain and senior batsman Muhammad Yousuf said that he couldn’t understand why the tour selectors had not played leg spinner Yasir Shah against the West Indies.

“It made no sense to me at all knowing we are not good at chasing any total. And I think it is time Younis also decided about his future and withdraw himself,” Yousuf said.

Yousuf said the main issue plaguing Pakistan cricket was no one was working on improving the batsmen’s techniques.

“They just don’t have the technique to play on such wickets. And to add to the problems the selections made are mind boggling. How can they drop Sarfaraz Ahmed or Yasir Shah?”

Former Test spinner Iqbal Qasim also said dropping Yasir was a big mistake.

“He played his first match against India in front of a big crowd and in high pressure match and that was his test. He was now ready to be tested out against other teams and I am sure he would have done well. You can’t play with just four proper bowlers in ODIs nowadays, specially in absence of good allrounders,” said Qasim.

Selections and methods

Former Test captain Rashid Latif said the World Cup was still not over but the team management and captain needed to review their selections and methods on the field.

“It remained a slow pitch against the West Indies and yet the two best bowlers, Sohail Khan and Wahab Riaz were made to bowl into the wind. Not playing Yasir and persisting with Younis up the order and playing Nasir Jamshed were blunders,” he said.

However, Miandad expressed confidence of Pakistan team making a comeback in the World once they have a good game.

“I think this Pakistan team needs to get its combination right and just one good win to find its momentum in the World Cup,” Miandad said.

Asked at a news conference what had gone wrong for Pakistan, Misbah replied: "Everything, I think, in all three departments. We couldn't bowl well, a lot of dropped catches.

"At the end of the day as a batsman, a bowler and a fielder you have to perform. As a team, as players we need to pick ourselves up and we need to perform."

Balance

Misbah conceded there were problems with getting the balance of his team right.

"Performances like that can dent you, damage you," he added. "We need to really recover mentally and think about our game. This is how World Cups are. You have to pick yourself up, think about your strategies, think about where you can improve."

Pakistan now languish at the bottom of Pool B with two losses from two outings, their performance against the West Indies a step backwards from the 76-run loss to arch-rivals and defending champions India in their tournament opener.

"It's a do or die situation for us and there are no ifs and buts," Misbah said as he tried to look ahead to Pakistan's next game against Zimbabwe, while sifting through the wreckage of Saturday's crushing loss.

Misbah has not yet emulated Imran Khan by urging his team to play like "cornered tigers", the battle cry which has been credited with inspiring Pakistan's win at the 1992 World Cup.

But something special will be needed if Pakistan are to make any impact on the tournament after a dismal performance on Saturday following their loss to India in the opening game.

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