With experts mostly predicting a 5-0 whitewash, the side that it was and the side that it was going up against, most wouldn't have been surprised had they lost the 5 match series 6-0
The number 9 spot in the ODI rankings throughout a vast chunk of recent history has been home to the Zimbabwe and Bangladeshi sides; the tours against which no side took more serious than a chance to introduce some youngsters or get back into form or simply improve their numbers. A few upsets here and there would shake the world of cricket for a bit but nothing to make the top 8s hustle for a win.
Despite the test series squared 2 a piece which elevated Pakistan to the top in the test rankings, there wasn't much hope for the ODI side which dwindled at the dreaded 9th spot in the rankings. With experts mostly predicting a 5-0 whitewash, the side that it was and the side that it was going up against, most wouldn't have been surprised had they lost the 5 match series 6-0. A 4-1 loss was a little victory in itself especially with ending the series with a record ODI chase for the country.
Overall, it looked like a pretty one sided series with glimpses of resistance from Pakistan which mostly looked like a toddler struggling to walk on his own. A couple of slow 80s from the captain, little resistance and finishing from Imad and a hundred and 2 fifties from Sarfaraz were the only notable attempts from the batting with their biggest issue being failing to score at a good enough rate overall. The bowling showed good resilience in one match due to a one hit wondrous spell from an injured Irfan who, despite being the highest ranked ODI bowler in the country, was only sent as reinforcement, couldn't bowl another over in the match and was ruled out for the rest of the series.
Apart from this, the bowling was below par throughout the series with mere glimpses of decency.
The series basically summed up that Pakistan had just two players in the side who were up there; able to compete with the rest of the world; Sarfaraz and Imad. They're home to arguably the worst batting side in the top 9, probably the worst bowling side in the top 9, the fielding isn't a great deal to talk about either and the irony, conspicuously standing out in all, they don't have a captain anymore who can utilize the best of the players to cover the majority of the flaws in the side - even though the bowling then was definitely up there among the bests in the world. The side appears to lack balance and competitiveness but unfortunately a couple of players aside, this was the best ODI 15 in the country that could've been sent on this tour.
Post the 2015 world cup, England had made drastic changes to their ODI squad, building a team modeled on their T20 side. A couple of firm stabilizers in the middle order surrounded by big power hitters at the top and bottom which has worked up a great deal of success for them. Since then, six times its been that they've scored 350+ in an ODI inning, something Pakistan has done six times too but in their entire ODI history.
Whether its the slaughter from Hales or the destruction from Woakes, Pakistan would be pretty happy this ODI tour is behind them so that they can return their attention to a more comparable opponent in West Indies to battle for the number 8 spot in the rankings and get back to trying to avoid playing the qualifying round of the 2019 World Cup. For a side like this going up against the vastly improved England side, that too at home, bagging a win to avoid the whitewash in itself was a huge bonus.
Two sides came out from the 2015 World cup with a lot of catching up to do. The worse of the two sides has come out as a heavyweight in world cricket since that time but sadly, the better of the two has fallen further behind than it ever was and a brief diagnosis could be a confused for a very poorly fathomed novel for a report.
If only Malik could play the moving ball at pace, if only Rizwan could play leg spin, if only Azhar could rotate the strike more often, if only we had a captain who could utilize the limited bowling properly, if only we could hope that the problems with the side could and would be eliminated. If only we could enlist the flaws in the country and not the side and hope that a messiah would come and gun us on track, maybe we could sleep as soundly as the ones responsible for the flawed structure that is our ODI side...