Pakistan Cricket Team enjoyed one of the most successful decades from 2011 to 2020 across all formats as they won Champions Trophy in 2017, reached semifinal of 2011 World Cup, Quarterfinal at 2015 WC and finished at fifth place in 2019 World Cup after beating both eventual finalists England and New Zealand.
In T20 Internationals Green shirts enjoyed the most success as they won 11 series in a row, remained No.1 team for most of the time and won second most matches in 10 years, as they were just behind India’s 71 wins with their 70 wins.
But interestingly, there was no Pakistani in the ICC team of the decade. This has baffled many cricket fans as many Pakistani cricketers performed well consistently in 10 years and were ranked among the top 5 for a long time.
Saeed Ajmal was Pakistan’s leading bowler when this decade started, as he was ranked among top 2 in all three formats in 2011 and 2012. Saeed Ajmal was No.1 bowler in ODI and T20 format whereas he was ranked No.2 in the Test format. He helped Pakistan whitewash England in 2012, who were ranked No.1 at that time. Ajmal had picked 24 wickets in 3 test matches against the top ranked team.
If we talk about Saeed Ajmal’s impressive stats in last 10 years, he picked 145 wickets in 26 test matches at an average of 25.46 with 5 wickets in an innings 9 times and 10 wickets in a match 4 times. He got 140 wickets in 78 ODI matches with an excellent average of 20.27, which was better than all bowlers who picked more wickets than him in this period. His economy rate of 4.07 was best among all the bowlers who had picked at least 100 wickets in the format. On the other hand, there was Lasith Malinga in the team who had an average of 29 and economy rate of 5.5, both being much more than Saeed Ajmal.
Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan was also picked as spinner ahead of Saeed Ajmal, who picked most of his wickets against low ranked teams. Out of 89 wickets by Rashid Khan, 12 had come against Bangladesh, 34 against Ireland, 11 against UAE, 9 against West Indies and 13 against Zimbabwe. Against top teams, he mostly failed, as Rashid Khan had 0 wickets in one match against South Africa and only one wicket against Sri Lanka.
Many cricket fans were surprised to see there was no Babar Azam in T20 team of the year. Although there was a time when Babar Azam was only batsman to be among top 5 of all formats in the rankings, but still he was ignored. Babar Azam remained on top of the T20 ranking for the longest period, as he scored 1681 runs in the decade with an astonishing average of 50.93 and strike rate of 130. He also scored 16 fifties in just 44 matches, also breaking Virat Kohli’s record of fastest 1000 runs in the process.
There were Ab De Villiers and Chris Gayle picked in the team, although they could not achieve much in T20 Internationals in this decade. If we compare their stats with Babar Azam, the former South African Captain Ab De Villiers scored 1082 runs in 46 T20 International matches at average of 27.74. He could only score 6 fifties, 10 less than Babar Azam even after playing 2 more matches.
Chris Gayle, on the other hand, played aggressively in T20 leagues all over the globe, but could only score 1010 runs in 38 T20 International matches. His average was 32, also much lesser than Babar Azam, with 8 fifties and 1 century in 10 years.
Many of Pakistan’s former cricketers were also frustrated by the fact that International Cricket Council (ICC) forgot to add any Pakistani cricketer in best 11 in all 3 formats. Former Fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar believed that ICC had actually made the Indian Premier League best teams, as Pakistanis do not feature in the league. Former captain and wicket keeper of Pakistan Rashid Latif had the same views that it looked like it was IPL team because Virat Kohli was selected in all 3 formats, also getting the captaincy in the test format.
India’s Mahendra Singh Dhoni was given captaincy of ODI and T20 format although he could not do much as a batsman in the T20 cricket in this decade, with 1176 runs and only 2 fifty plus scores in 73 matches. His strike rate was only 132 whereas England’s Jos Buttler was ignored, who had much more, (1443) runs in much lesser (58) T20 International matches with strike rate of 142.
Apart from Ireland, Pakistan was the only team among the test playing nations, which did not have any player in all 3 formats. At the same time, India was the team with most players, as they had 3 players in ODI team, 2 players in test team and 4 players in T20 team. Even Jasprit Bumrah was picked in the T20 team, although he had missed more than half of the decade and was 8th in the list of highest wicket takers in this period.
One missing player, angered Pakistanis the most, as Shahid Afridi, who is one of the best T20 players of all time, was also neglected. West Indian big hitter Kieron Pollard was selected in the team ahead of Afridi, although Boom Boom Afridi’s strike rate was higher than him. Afridi scored 745 runs at strike rate of 155 whereas Pollard scored 1036 runs at strike rate of 138. If the bowling stats are compared, then Afridi was miles ahead in that duration, as he picked 45 wickets whereas Pollard had only 26 scalps.
ICC has been criticized on all the social media forums for their selection, which is clearly biased. But most of the people are of the view that such things do not matter much, as most important are wins of the team. And Pakistan’s success in formats, being ranked No.1 in 2 formats and many records by players show that they are one of the best teams in the world, with some of the most gifted players.
Writer is a sports lover, who passionately watches Cricket, Football, Tennis and especially all sports featuring Pakistan. Previously worked for 4 mainstream channels Dawn, Samaa, Dunya and 92 News in past. Currently working with GNN.