Pakistan had won 29 out of 33 T20Is since the World T20 in 2016, a run which got them a clear lead at the top of the T20I rankings. That was until 2019 happened. This year, they’ve won only one match out of six.
It’s not out of the ordinary for a team to have a lean run in T20 cricket. It would be if they didn’t. So under normal circumstances, Pakistan deserve to be cut some slack. Instead, their captain Sarfaraz Ahmed has to face questions on the lines of why their bowling has been so ‘bekaar’ (useless) in post match presentations. Their coach Misbah-ul-Haq is giving statements of despair about how the team is struggling in every department. Even for Pakistan – historically a team governed by emotion – this appears to be a bit excessive. But it really isn’t, because there’s nothing normal about these circumstances.
Sri Lanka – without 10 first-choice players, Sri Lanka – without T20 bowling phenom Lasith Malinga – have come to Pakistan and sealed the series 0-2 with a match to spare after going down in the ODI series. They’ve unearthed new heroes like Bhanuka Rajapaksa and polished some emerging ones like Wanindu Hasaranga, while Pakistan have gone back to old disappointments – a major source of criticism levelled towards Misbah, which has only been aggravated following Umar Akmal’s consecutive golden ducks coupled with Ahmed Shehzad’s failures. And most crushingly, they’ve lost at home. World No. 1 Pakistan losing to World No. 8 Sri Lanka’s second-string version in Lahore, twice.