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Another Batting Debacle

Jamal Ahmad

Pakistan has always been a more confident side when batting first and their solitary chance of victory in this World Cup seems to be to bat first and try to put up a challenging total. Given the frailties of his batsmen whatever possessed Misbah to put the opposition in to bat only he would know. Pakistan has been playing catch-up in the last few games (practice matches included) so a chance to bat first and set up a big score would’ve allowed a shift in trend and also given the batsmen a chance to play their natural game which they are more comfortable with while batting first.

West Indians started off reasonably well and score kept ticking along. Things were pretty much even till the batting power play. The Pakistani fan expected some fight from their bowlers and was hopeful of a score of around 250. Even though the likes of Dwayne Bravo and Pollard are missing from the squad, the men from the Caribbean have enough power hitters down the order to dismantle most bowling attacks. Especially when you give these hitters multiple chances.

Fielding has been Pakistan’s Achilles heel for decades but the effort on display this day was nothing short of shoddy. In all five catches were dropped with Afridi leading the tally with two drops, both very catchable. Umar Akmal dropped one and its becoming customary of him to drop a few every match. More often than not, Umar seems to drop sitters at the bowling of Afridi. Afridi needs wickets to get into a rhythm and in both matches so far he has had catches dropped off his bowling resulting in him not settling down into a tempo and only managing to do the containment job. Here again, thing would’ve been different had Akmal hung on to the sitter. If the team management still feels that a specialist keeper is not required at the biggest stage of the cricketing world then it would be naïve to hope for improvement. Whatever arguments the boys had with the fielding coach, the result was there for everyone to notice.

Irfan has performed reasonably well during the death overs but others still seem to lack the vital ingredient when it comes to the final overs; YORKERS! With the best proponent of yorkers at the helm in the form of Waqar, it’s beyond one’s understanding why our fast men are not bowling enough tow crushers at the end. Their line is becoming more and more predictable and they are utilizing the slower ball more than necessary giving the batsmen enough time to sit and wait for one slower ball after another. Andre Russell seemed to have got the hang of it when he swatted Sohail Khan for three sixes in the over; all off slower balls. Instead of mixing things up, he persisted with change of pace and got smashed all over the park. The fact that he did not show remorse on getting walloped at the hands of a tail ender was disappointing. Instead he was all smiles getting ready to receive the same treatment next ball. The killer instinct which used to be the hallmark of Pakistani fast men is surely missing in the current crop. The likes of Wasim, Waqar and Akhtar would get furious and show their dissent when hit for a six but this current lot doesn’t seem to mind. Pakistan gave away too many runs in the final six overs and anything over 300 is pretty much out of reach of our struggling batting line.

Whatever the target might have been, the score line of 4 down for 1 run is never heard of in international matches. This was indeed the first time that a side has lost four wickets with only one run on the board. Lack of footwork, lack of patience, lack of technique and failure to put up a price of the wicket were abundantly on display during the first three overs.

Nasir Jamshaid has a history of falling to the short ball and he seems to hit it straight in the air more often than not when presented with a chance to hook or pull. The ball from Taylor wasn’t all that short but Nasir was in no position to play the pull and ended up giving a simple catch. For a guy making a comeback into the side, it’s expected of him to try to play himself in before attempting the big strokes. Nasir seems to lack the mindset required of an opener.

Younas Khan yet again proved that he is all at sea when facing the moving ball in the ODIs. Test cricket gives him enough time to settle down but he is lacking in the approach required to succeed at the crucial number three spot. He needs to accept his fate and sit on the bench for some of the next few matches. If the management persists with him despite these failures then the fault lies elsewhere.

Ahmad Shahzad has been one of the better Pakistani openers in recent times. He certainly has the numbers to prove it. However, his recent self-obsession seems to have affected his game. He would be well advised to concentrate on his game. He has the makings of a future ODI captain but he needs to take responsibility at the top and lay a foundation on which the big hitters can capitalize. Misbah has been the rock in the batting order so one failure can be ignored.

At 25 for five there isn’t much left to cheer for. Even the most ardent Pakistani fan would’ve switched off their televisions at this score line. Akmal and Maqsood’s effort only reduced the margin of defeat and stopped the total annihilation.

Pakistan team is struggling in every department. They are dropping catches in dozens, giving away runs in bulks and having serious issues with their batting order and their technique. The Pakistani fans deserve better but given the recent form on display they better start preparing for an early exit.

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