Pakistan need to work on some grey areas including fielding in order to achieve consistency in the team’s performance. -Photo by AP

THE Pakistan-Sri Lanka series finally ended with a lot to ponder for the tourists who returned empty-handed after failing to register their supremacy in any of the three formats.

The Mahela Jayawardene-led Lankans, on the other hand, retained the momentum and confidence after claiming the one-day rubber 3-1 and, despite negotiating some testing moments on the tantalising last day of the final Test at Pallekele, came out as 1-0 winners in the Test series.

The Test and ODI series scorelines clearly suggest that Pakistan definitely fared better in the traditional version of the game — particularly after receiving the 209-run drubbing in the first Test — to make good comeback in the last two Tests amid numerous weather interruptions.

Here, an objective analysis of the entire tour brings to light some hard realities for Pakistan who under Misbah-ul-Haq and Dav Whatmore need to work on some grey areas including, of course, fielding in order to achieve consistency in the team’s performance.

Firstly, a few costly selection errors let Pakistan down. Leaving out a world-class bowler like Saeed Ajmal from the all-important final ODI when the tourists were 1-2 down in the series, or dropping Mohammad Sami after he had given a match-winning show (6-2-19-3) in the opening ODI to accommodate rookie Rahat Ali indicated a huge misjudgment by the team management.

Preferring an ineffective Sami over in-form Abdur Rehman for the crucial third Test after the off-spinner had kept several Sri Lankan batsmen on tenterhooks with his nagging line and length on a placid turf in the second match was also a folly that reflected poorly on the tour selectors.

Also, the in-and-out policy being adopted in case of the ever-developing Asad Shafiq should also now end once and for all. His absolutely illogical axing in the second ODI proved way too costly for Pakistan.

Secondly, the Misbah-Whatmore combination which was duly required to field the best eleven in each game could not, perhaps, synchronise fully to make an impact on the series.

The experienced coach, who has a great reputation for taking tough stance on key issues, is expected to play his due role with marked prudence. Given Whatmore is new to Pakistan’s cricket set-up, it becomes essential that he is fully aware of the abilities different players have for various playing conditions so that the Australian may exercise his authority precisely and appropriately at the right time.

With due regard to Whatmore, it seems that he has to cover a considerable ground before he ensures that selection irregularities of the kind experienced in Sri Lanka are overcome by better judgement.

Finally, Younis and Umar Gul, the two frontline campaigners, remained completely off-colour throughout the Sri Lanka tour and it should definitely be a serious concern for Whatmore. One can recollect that Younis has gone without significant scores for a while now.

Conversely, failing to spot Pakistan’s positives in Sri Lanka will be unfair. Delivering a fairly compact performance after the ODI series loss as well as the first Test thrashing, the visitors do deserve recognition for making a fine comeback. The manner in which Mohammad Hafeez, Asad Shafiq, Azhar Ali and Junaid Khan rose to the occasion gives us the much-needed assurance that our cricket, despite its weak moments and niggles, does have the talent and the capacity to meet the tough challenges of Test cricket.

Asad merits exclusive mention here. The diminutive player’s high-class batsmanship has only lifted his profile. His endurance backed by ever-improving technique at crucial junctures in the Test series makes him a real asset for Pakistan cricket in the years to come.

While our batting often looked fragile as the likes of Misbah and Younis wilted under pressure, it was Asad who along with Azhar — with two centuries in the Test series — steered the team to safer shores in the Test rubber.

To say that young Junaid also overshadowed the much experienced Umar would be an understatement. The greenhorn left-armer’s 14 wickets (at the average of 21.78) including two five-wicket hauls on pretty docile wickets are more than enough to keep him in the reckoning.

Prior to the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka, the limited-overs series against Australia in the UAE is Pakistan’s next assignment. Needless to say, facing fearless Aussie cricketers in any contest always demands extra professionalism and precision from their opponents. Our selectors, team management and the players must keep this in mind.

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Comments (7)

azam kadeer
July 16, 2012 2:29 pm
Misbah Is doing great Job Pakistan need to find some vice who can learn form him in fest few years before sacking Misbah. Big issue is our players do not understand or unable to communicate/ have fear from foreign coaches. Pakistan need someone like Mohsin then our team will do good. take a look at last 2 years record till Mohsin was in charge how team was playing like a group soon as it was announce new foreign coach is coming moral was down and we lost odi from England. Pakistani are special and they can not do well under foreigners
Fen Tian
July 16, 2012 2:22 am
Few things must be noted.Pakistan cannot think of replacing Misbah till he is able to deliver and play for Pakistan.His presence in team brings lot of confidence and stability in team.He knows better than most of us what is needed to gel the team together.Beating England 3:0 is no joke for any test team.Please don't forget that more than 10 umpiring decision in first test was bit too much of error for any body to digest.Players can be out of form and when such things happen best way is to rest them and ask them to recover form in first class matches.You should have sufficient back up players in such cases.Pakistan has back up players in both batting and bowling who could support anytime.One match Misbah missed due to bad luck for Pakistan and there team was bundled out for 100.So keep on playing him in all 3 format till new guys are groomed out.Cheema performance in previous series have been consistent,so I see no reason why he cannot be used again.Please don't drop Abdul Rehman in Test matches and One day matches,he is too good as bowler and pretty good at playing big shots among the late order batsman.
Syed W Ali
July 16, 2012 5:27 pm
Good points. Though Abdur Rehman has been a failure with the bat in the int'l scene. Also, his ODI bowling average is 47.44. He is not a wicket taker in Test either, with an exception of one or two games last year. Not sure why Cheema's wasn't played in Sri Lanka.
Hasan
July 17, 2012 4:52 pm
Abdur Rehman is not a wicket taker in tests? I think 81 wickets in 17 tests is more than competent. It's excellent!
asif bajwa
July 16, 2012 10:48 pm
asad is from karachi, thats his fault
Fen
July 18, 2012 5:07 am
Abdur Reham Test Bowling career 17 Test matches,81 wickets,28.40 Avg .I would love to have bowler like him at any time on any wicket.Economy rate:2.57.One of the key bowler in Pakistan line up victory against Excellent England team.One day economy rate:4.16.Bowlers play in one day to contain the batsman especially spinners.He is excellent bowler in any form of game.How many Pakistan heroes of yester years match the record of 17 Test:81 wickets and drubbing England team in full form 3:0.Best teams against England have been struggling to keep tempo.Some how Misbah was exceptional Captain under any era.I have seen so called yester year heroes were struggling against Australia and England most of time and mostly results were Pakistan losing in Test.
asadak
July 30, 2012 9:21 pm
Poor Younis khan was playing against umpires , which resulted him 4 wrong decissions against him.
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