Pakistani batsmen are infamous for collapsing frequently but they cannot expect their bowlers to save the day. -Photo by AFP
Match: Scotland v Pakistan, 2nd ODI (Two match series) Pakistan leads the series 1 - 0
Venue: Grange Cricket Club, Raeburn Place, Edinburgh, Scotland.
Date & Time: 19th May, 2013, 14:45 PST / 09:45 GMT
Overall Rivalry: Pakistan 3 wins, Scotland no win
Weather Report: It rained on Thursday and it poured on Saturday but cricket was scheduled for Friday and now on Sunday. Overcast conditions are in forecast but a full day of cricket is expected with a high of 16C. Winds have simmered down to a very mild 5 km/h.
Ground Report: Founded in 1832, with a seating capacity of 5000, the Grange Cricket Club is one of Scotland’s leading cricket clubs. The picturesque ground is located in the Stockbridge area of central Edinburgh. Misbah became only the second captain on this ground to win the toss and bat first; clearly Pakistan feels the need to give their batsmen more time out in the middle.
Game On: Pakistan fielded their strongest team in their first game of a month-long tour in the United Kingdom. What appeared to be a comfortable win in the end was in fact a hard fought battle in the earlier half of the day. With Pakistan reeling at 115 -5, it was business as usual.
Captain Misbah was the mainstay of the Pakistani batting line as he has so often been in the last couple of years. He rotated the strike with uncharacteristic ease, getting to his half century with just two boundaries while maintaining a strike rate of over 80 throughout his innings. It comes across as a definite change in mindset and a conscious effort to alter his strategy.
Pakistan has a fragile batting order that is backed up by a potent bowling attack, yet, Shoaib Malik is the only reserve batsman they have on tour, while they have three extra bowlers in the squad. This gives them little room to play with their batting line. Umar Amin has been on the fringes of national selection since his accolades for the Under-19 team but he has not been able to show stomach for international cricket as yet.
Mohammad Hafeez has always found it difficult to perform with the bat in alienating conditions but there has been resistance to drop him down the order. The constant shuffling of batting positions does not help the team’s cause but it needs to be further tweaked before the start of the Champions Trophy.
With constant rain in Edinburgh, the outfield has considerably slowed down and hitting boundaries will be very difficult. However, the pitch looked good and Pakistan would feel they were at least 30 to 40 runs short of an acceptable first inning total.
Scotland will take heart from the fight they showed in the first innings and will try to capitalize on it if they find themselves in a similar position of strength. Their inability to tackle the Pakistani spinners will remain a cause of concern while Kyle Coetzer will look to lead his team from the front.
Game Changer: Saeed Ajmal has needed to provide his services with the bat on numerous occasions for Pakistan and it seems their tail has to consistently perform for them to find respectability on the scoreboard.
Pre-Game Talk: “If Ireland had restricted Pakistan to 231, they would have gone out there expecting to win.. we blew a golden chance.” Majid Haq ruing the missed opportunity.
“The key will be to adjust to the conditions. Pakistan can easily defend a score of over 240 against any opposition.” Wasim Bari backing the Pakistani bowlers.
Last XI Fielded Scotland: Kyle Coetzer (capt), Richie Berrington, NM Carter, JH Davey, Moneeb Iqbal, MW Machan, D Murphy (wk), RM Haq, PL Mommsen, RML Taylor, I Wardlaw.
Last XI Fielded Pakistanis: Imran Frahat, Mohammad Hafeez, Umar Amin, Misbah-ul-Haq(capt), Asad Shafiq, Nasir Jamshed, Kamran Akmal (wk), Ehsan Adil, Junaid Khan, Saeed Ajmal, Mohammad Irfan.
Scotland: In a team that is going through a rebuilding phase, Scotland will search for consistency after a strong performance on Friday.
Pakistan: The games versus Scotland and later against Ireland give Pakistan the perfect opportunity to test their bench strength and some experimentation is likely to happen.
Final Words: Pakistani batsmen are infamous for collapsing frequently but they cannot expect their bowlers to always save the day.