Pakistan need to overhaul their batting order if they are to remain competitive. -Photo by AFP

BLOEMFONTEIN: The fall of Nasir Jamshed today brought an end to the briskness and positivity that Pakistan’s chase had begun with. By the time Misbah tried to attack in the middle overs, the game already seemed to be out of Pakistan’s reach. The reason for this change in fortunes was obvious: the art of rotation, once Pakistani batting’s hallmark, seems to have been forgotten by the current lot.

Pakistan need to overhaul the batting order if they are to remain competitive in ODI cricket.  But even beyond that, the best possible line-up that Pakistan could play, will struggle in the middle overs far more than other international teams do. Gone are the days of Inzamam and Yousuf making the middle overs a constant progression with safety. The school of Asif Iqbal and Javed Miandad lies dead and forgotten somewhere in Pakistan.

This feeling was exacerbated by the contrast that South Africa provided in Bloemfontein. AB de Villiers’ innings was a masterclass in how to bat in the middle overs of ODIs. He only struck four boundaries in his innings of 65 off 63 balls. At one stage in his innings he had 45 at run-a-ball having only struck one boundary until that point. Colin Ingram, similarly, only struck two fours in his first 40 runs. The duo realized that there were gaps to be found at Chevrolet Park – the biggest ground in South Africa. The fact that most of the Pakistani boundary riders could best be described as leisurely did not help the cause of the bowlers either.

Between overs 10-30 today, South Africa played just 43 dot balls; Pakistan during that same period played more than 60.
Ingram later talked about how both him and De Villiers had planned to minimize the dot balls, and to go in with the intent of utilizing the space on the field. He also mentioned to me how the only spinner he really had a problem with was Saeed Ajmal; and there was an attempt by both him and De Villiers to not allow Ajmal to settle with his length if they were to avoid him having the control he had in the Tests.

The duo played the Pakistani spinners better than almost any other partnership has over the past eighteen months. The recent changes in the field restrictions (from five boundary riders to four) is something that Misbah repeatedly mentioned after the match, and it would seem that is something that is harming the Pakistani spin strategy.

Meanwhile, Shahid Afridi continued his rut with the ball that has gone on for the best part of fourteen months now. If the spin strategy stops bearing fruit for Pakistan then the biggest weapon Misbah has in his armory could be curtailed.

But that is something that can be fixed. Pakistan has enough depth in its bowling to go with something other than the two-man pace attack they went in with during this match. A different proposition for South Africa might await in the rest of the series. But the late-summer pitches throughout the country will be like they were here today – dry and flat.

So the onus for Pakistan will go back to the batting and the fielding. The latter is something that only a miracle worker can change, so Pakistan will need to allow its best batting lineup to succeed. The first lesson, which Misbah himself mentioned, has to be the rotation of the strike. Between overs 10-30 today, South Africa played just 43 dot balls; Pakistan during that same period played more than 60. It is in these small margins that success is shaped at this level. The wickets of Shafiq and Younis, in particular, came from their inability to get easy runs, something that the South African middle order excelled at. And it is with this that Pakistan will be able to convert their starts: the most disappointing aspect of today’s match for the fans and the captain was that four of the top five crossed the 20-run barrier but none were able to get to even 40; again a complete contrast to the South Africans.

So, on the demoralized team goes to Centurion – the place of their lone success on this tour. Having played a Test and T20 there Pakistan will be better suited to the conditions and the ground than they were at Bloemfontein; but for the team to have success they will need to alter their thinking. Pakistan need to realize what it takes to bat in the 21st century, while not forgetting the lessons of times past.

What Misbah would give to have an AB de Villiers – a better keeper than any in Pakistan, a better limited overs batsman than any at Misbah’s disposal, and a man willing to do anything for the team. But of course, Pakistan mei talent ki koi kamee nahi.

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Comments (40)

March 11, 2013 6:09 am
Malik recently won the match for us against India, but cant agree enough for Akmal and Misbah. Especially Kamran Akmal, even Umar AKmal can keep better than him, as for Sarfaraz he did not perform with the bat in test series, but who else did???
Javid Shirazi
March 11, 2013 7:53 am
Instead of being in denial by constantly selecting proven failures, efforts should be underway to bring in fresh players. Wise people learn from past mistakes. Rather than being blind, opportunities must be provided to youngsters. With proper grooming, deficiencies can be eliminated.
March 11, 2013 8:02 am
They will loose rest of all four matches. They do not have guts and ability to bat. Cant rely on Hafeez always. Middle order batsmen need more net practice to stay in the game for at least 15 overs. Bring back Azhar Ali, Umer Akamal who can give solid start to keep the momentum. Our bowlers too should know how to perform with the bat.
March 11, 2013 5:29 am
YA BA DA BA DOOooooo........PCB is another many big waste of resource in Pakistan......this money must be given to orphans and other needy people.....and cricket academy must be given to Edhi for social work or as orphanage...
March 11, 2013 8:08 am
Pakistan is full of talent. Do not know how to use and explore it.
March 11, 2013 8:24 am
Nazir, I take offense to the use of word "paindoo" in your comments. By your argument, any body who comes from a "pind" is stubborn and not willing to change. Now I don't want to get all emotional over this but our language shapes our reality. By the way, couldn't agree more with your suggestions.
March 11, 2013 8:27 am
Relax, it was a caustic remark!!
March 11, 2013 8:31 am
Just trying to teach old dog a new trick, which is not going to happen. Farhat, Misbah, Afridi, K Akmal and Malik need to go. At this rate, we will be the worst team on show come Champions' Trophy in July.
March 11, 2013 9:30 am
CONGRTULATIONS Pakistan team, You guys are not doing anything for your own country but atleast on other hand doing your very best for other teams to help them making new records and making thier world rankings more strong. This will be another shameful series loss This team is just not capable to play on higher international level. What a waste of money. PCB should step backward, should select new young generation on merit and restart the whole thing again, might help.
March 11, 2013 5:02 pm
its not the PCB it him.who has ruined himself
March 11, 2013 4:40 am
March 11, 2013 4:31 am
They should have played Imran Farhat he was the most aggressive opener in last t20 and he was in form.
March 11, 2013 10:32 am
we need tigers in Pak team, not lambs like Misbah, Yunis, Kamran and Malik. Bring in aggressive players like Ahmad Shahzad, Hammad Azam, ZIa-ul-haq, Raza Hasan, Ali Waqas, Harris Sohail.....persist with them and see the change till word cup 2015.
Nazir K Ali
March 11, 2013 4:22 am
No point in commenting and wasting our time and energy on these paindoos. The only point to be made is, that as long as PCB remains a state sponsored organization, the decadence and decline that pervades decision making will remain pre-eminent. Remove the vestiges of the patron and nepotism, privatize PCB, and see the difference. Inshallah. Auguring the results for the series is not far away when the South African players, spectators, and media will lose interest and a deja vu of the complete Australian whitewash in Tests, ODIs and T20s will confront us. Pray this does not happen. Salams
Khan Baba
March 11, 2013 3:35 am
How can youn play Malik and not Umar Akmal? How can you keep playing Kamran? How can we keep playing Misbah? Can somebody explain this to me.
March 11, 2013 3:23 am
Agree completely. I was a fan of shoaib malik and misbah but both have passed their expiry dates; in the presence of Hafeez we dont need another allrounder who is mediocre to say the least. Between Misbah and Younis we have to choose one of them for ODIs and give chance to a youngster like haris sohail a chance. Instead of shoaib Malik , i would play Fawad Alam/hammad Azam. Kamran Akmal mediocrity behind stumps is evident from is constant fumbling of easiest of takes, he is overweight, technically incorrect and lethargic behind stumps. Batting has always been our Achilles heel but the poor display of bowling in test matches and now in ODIs have exposed our dependence on Saeed Ajmal. He had been well supported by Afridi in past few years but afridi bowling looks a shadow of what he has been producing in recent years. Umar Gul inconsistency is testing patience limits and we must find an able replacement. The future looks bleak for now
March 11, 2013 3:20 am
Bring A razzak and fawwad alam, younis or Ukamal to become a wk, and also bring wraiz...immediately drop kakmal and smalik for the sake of Pakistan team
March 11, 2013 2:44 am
Play another keeper or play him as opener so he can score some run
March 11, 2013 1:58 am
The one responsible is the person heading the team and guiding them. They need to take out Misbah. The team seems so afraid that they forget years of training. The Pakistani team needs to take a good look at how West Indies dominated cricket in the 70's 80's and early 90's. They need a solid leader who knows how to represent us and not make us the laughing stock of cricket!
March 11, 2013 1:12 am
you forgot Umer Akmal
March 11, 2013 12:21 am
What do you expect from Misbah, Akamal Brothers and Mr. Malik, common, get use to to live with this.
March 10, 2013 11:46 pm
Pakistan used to have a much better middle-order with Miandad, Salim Malik succeeded by Inzi, Yousuf, Younis and they were all good rotators of strike....Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq, Umar Akmal must learn this art very quickly
March 10, 2013 11:34 pm
I am sorry to say but all these players are really DUMB!!!
March 10, 2013 7:23 pm
Talent ki koee kamee nahee, magar sifarish ki ziadtee heh. Prime example Shoaib Malik.
Adnan A
March 10, 2013 11:15 pm
Give them a break people. Pakistan ODI strategy needs to be more flexible and more of a team effort. This time bowling was a weak point as well and we only got 4 South African batsmen out and gave too many balls to be taken advantaged of. We have 4 more ODI to go and Pakistan can turn this around with a more focussed strategy.
March 10, 2013 7:09 pm
Shoib Malik,Kamran Akmal and Misbah himself do not deserve to be in ODI eleven!
AB Uzair
March 12, 2013 3:54 pm
ODI cricket is an art. The juniors need to learn it from their seniors and the seniors need to be willing and eager to transfer their skills to the juniors. I put part of the blame on Inzamam. He captained ODI team for a long time. Couldn't he prepare ONE successor in this whole period. Ditto for Yousuf, although I will cut him some slack as he was not the captain (and hence not involved in selection issues). Yousuf, Inzamam and Younus could not prepare even ONE quality ODI player as their replacement. They probably thought they will never retire, hence no need of replacements...
nasim khan
March 11, 2013 12:04 pm
i agree with as long as droping of kakmal and smlik but for god sake dont talk about bringing Razzak, he will perform in one match in 20 games and will ask the followers to be patient with him
March 10, 2013 10:24 pm
"Talent ki koee kamee nahee" this is the ever repeated phrase in Pakistan just like the political phrase "Pakistan ek nazuk more pe khara hei". The truth is that there is indeed a shortage of talent in Pakistan, the sooner we understand this reality the better.
March 10, 2013 9:07 pm
We don't play as professionals. Other international teams work on calculated pace and planning. Our team work on luck. Unless we realize the difference between professionalism and luck, there will be no improvement in our games.
March 10, 2013 9:03 pm
I think he meant it sarcastically!
Ahmad Zubairi
March 10, 2013 8:37 pm
Well there is a simple reason for our loss. Look at the batting averages of our batsmen in one day. Only rookie Nasir who only played few games has it at 50. Rest all between 23 to 32. Average players bring average results. Even younis with average of 51 in test has average of 32 in ODI. Malik and kamran the fumbler juggler keeper should be out talented umer needs more chances.
Umair Khalid (@umairkd2011)
March 10, 2013 8:36 pm
talent ki koi kami na hoti to ye kabi nehi hota.
Muhammad Daud Alam
March 11, 2013 11:48 am
I know most of you will thumb my comment down but our team still needs the class, consistency and mastery skills of Yousuf.... "Mara howa hathi pir be sawa laak ka hota hay".
March 11, 2013 12:57 pm
Misbah needs to finally quit now. He has steadied his an unstable ship but seems completely unsuited to a modern limited cricket unit. He can still be our non-playing coach as he seems to have a calming effect on current side and has wise head on his shoulders. As for kamran akmal, enough is already written in the past and he will continue to be the center of controversy in the future. Why cant they just replace him with adnan akmal in all three forms. There is no rocket science involved here. I mean he is the better keeper amongst the three brothers and can drive like his brothers. Can't imagine, he would be any more useless than kamran is at the current time.
March 11, 2013 12:52 pm
We can't win a limited overs match with younis, misbah and malik in one team. They are only suited for test matches especially when we have explosive talent like umar akmal and ahmed shahzad on the bench. As for malik, I cant for love of God think of a reason why this good for nothing neither bowler, nor batsman jamai raja is doing in any form of international cricket. He can only thrive against weak bowling units like India and Bangladesh on sub-continental wickets and is completely unreliable. I would still prefer Azhar Ali over malik as he can only improve from his current position but needs more exposure.
March 11, 2013 12:46 pm
He didn't play in T20 and is lready a tried, tested and failed player. Don't know what he is doing in the team bench other than making a mockery of selection and setting examples of worst nepotism
March 11, 2013 2:23 pm
talent ungroomed is talent wasted. Look at Umar Akmal. PCB has ruined him.
March 11, 2013 3:17 pm
Pakistan lacks talent. Period. The batsmen don't know how to play at this level as a pro should be playing. Whether Asad, Younis, Umer Akmal, Afridi or Misbah they need to improve their talent by securing and socring when opportunity arise. They failed test match serious because they didn't have the proper talent to play what it takes to play at that level. Similarly, they cannot play one dayers as they don't have the class or talent which was possesed by Saleem Yousuf, Ijaz Ahmed, Javed Miandad, Inzamam or Yousuf Youhanna(AKA Mohmmad Yusuf). Although Mohammad Yusuf had technique but didn't have the sense similarly Inzamam could bat but lacked much of the talent. The new lot and old lot of Younis Khan, Afridi, Asad Shafiq, Umer Akmal, Ahmed Shahzad and other are good for street cricket which is played at night in summer days in Pakistan with lights on!! That's why they can do better only in Twenty Cricket! Pakistan Cricket Team is only a Twenty Over Cricket team which lacks serious talents in test and one dayers.
Syed T
March 11, 2013 3:31 pm
Hanif mohammaed,imtiaz, saeed ahmed, wallis matias,nasim ul ghani and likes were pride of the nation,we need to find the likes of above mention players to restore dominence in cricket that we once enjoyed.As long as corruption,dirty politics continues we wil pick non performing, well connected,not well played players.
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