Naseem’s persistent grievances fell on deaf ears within the medical team, and this issue has now come back to haunt Pakistan cricket as they embark on their journey to the 2023 World Cup in India. The team’s arrival in Hyderabad was met with grandeur, but there’s a lingering shadow over their campaign.
Led by the charismatic Babar Azam, the squad endured a lengthy layover in Dubai, extending to a gruelling nine hours before they finally touched down in Hyderabad. The excitement in the air was palpable as they basked in the warm welcome from Indian soil. Yet, the road ahead is fraught with challenges.
Their first warm-up match against New Zealand is slated for September 29, followed by a clash with Australia on October 3. The true litmus test, however, awaits them in the tournament opener against the Netherlands on October 6, to be hosted in Hyderabad. This is closely followed by a match against Sri Lanka on October 10. Interestingly, Pakistan was among the last teams to unveil their 15-member squad for this prestigious event.
The delay was partly attributed to a severe blow just before the tournament—the injury of star pacer Naseem Shah.
Naseem Shah, an integral part of Pakistan’s formidable fast bowling trio alongside Shaheen Afridi and Haris Rauf, suffered a shoulder injury during the Asia Cup, ultimately forcing him to bow out of the marquee World Cup event. The startling revelation made by former Pakistan wicketkeeper-batsman, Moin Khan, sheds light on a troubling aspect of this injury saga.
According to Moin Khan, Naseem Shah had been “constantly complaining” about his ailment for an extended period. Despite his repeated alerts, the medical team chose to disregard his concerns.
“Naseem’s injury is a disaster of Pakistan’s team medical panel and physiotherapist” – Moin Khan
In Moin’s words, “Naseem’s injury is a disaster of Pakistan’s team medical panel and physiotherapist. Because he has been constantly complaining that he is having problems since three to four months yet they were continuously playing him.A player would always wish not to get dropped, but when he is telling you about his injury, you have to take it very seriously. The medical panel didn’t take it seriously. This was a recipe for disaster.”
Despite the setback, Moin Khan acknowledged that Hasan Ali is the best available option to fill the void left by Naseem’s injury. Hasan Ali, an experienced bowler who has weathered similar circumstances, is seen as the most suitable choice to step into Naseem’s shoes.
The repercussions of this medical negligence loom large as Pakistan aims to make a mark on the world stage. Babar Azam, the captain, maintains a composed stance in the face of mounting pressure. He expressed excitement about playing in India, particularly in Ahmedabad, where they will face their arch-rivals in front of a crowd exceeding one lakh.
In a pre-departure media conference, Babar Azam assured, “Although we have not played in India before, we are not taking too much pressure. We have done our research, and we have heard the conditions are similar to how they play out in other Asian countries.”
Pakistan’s World Cup journey is tinged with both anticipation and apprehension, as they grapple with the untimely loss of Naseem Shah and the lingering questions surrounding the medical team’s oversight. The world watches with bated breath as they prepare to make their mark in this cricketing extravaganza on Indian soil.