Pakistan cricketers unfit compared to Indian players, says expert

Pakistan’s Naseem Shah screams in pain holding his leg after delivering a ball during the Asia Cup Twenty20 international cricket Group A match between India and Pakistan at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium in Dubai on August 28, 2022. Photo: AFP   

ISLAMABAD: Due to a lack of physical fitness and a sudden drop in hydration levels, Pakistani players got cramps during their Asia Cup match against India in Dubai, according to Dr Waqar Ahmad, chairman of the Pakistan Anti-Doping Organization (ADOP).

Dr Waqar, a well-known name in the field of rehabilitation, told ‘The News‘ he was surprised to see three leading Pakistan players suffering from cramps while Indians were at ease going through their motion during Sunday’s Asia Cup match.

“It was also surprising for me to see three Pakistanis—Naseem Shah, Haris Rauf and Mohammad Rizwan—feeling dehydrated and exhausted. The Indians on the other hand were feeling at ease and looked more relaxed,” he said.

When questioned as to what could have been the reasons for these cramps in a T20 match, Dr Waqar said two reasons triggered such a scenario. “International sport is all about fitness, and the level of fitness that is required is something special. My decades of knowledge suggest that Pakistan cricketers either lacked true physical fitness or their hydration level was not raised to a level that is required for such matches in extreme heat.”

He proposed that during such extreme weather, special efforts be made to keep players hydrated and their nutritional level the day before the match should be checked.

“I am sure that the level of fitness required for such an occasion under extreme hot weather was not there. There is also a possibility that the player’s level of hydration was not up to the mark. Look at the Indians including their fast bowlers, they never had any problem even when they were bowling under extreme sun,” he said.

“The surface was equally hard and testing, yet our cricketers were unable to cope with it. All the Indians were playing as if there was no extraordinary heat. Pakistan support staff are required to improve the hydration level of players and must check the nutritional level in order to cope with the heat. Asia Cup is no ordinary event and is being played amid hot weather. I am sure that Pakistan’s think tank would be doing its best, but there is a need to treat every cricketer according to his physical requirements. For fast bowlers and wicket keepers, special attention is required to enable them to bear the workload.”

Dr Waqar also suggested that there are several legal remedies available to improve players’ resistance to exceptional heat. “In professional sports, special efforts are required to make players fit and ready for each occasion. You cannot improve players’ fitness level overnight as it is a long procedure.”

Another key factor that contributes to a player’s hydration level is a deep sleep. “These cricketers require deep sleep in between training and matches. Muscle relaxation is required, and the best neutral way to improve that is to take a deep sleep. I have my doubts about Pakistan players sleeping habits. There is a dire need to increase their sleep and rest timing to get the required fitness and hydration level for international cricket.”

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