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Misbah must play his best cards in second ODI


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Pakistan needs a spark to set the team alight. They have to come out and surprise South Africa with something different, maybe an innovation in batting order, in selection or just in their attitude. -Photo by AFP

Match: South Africa v Pakistan, 2nd ODI (5-match series)

Series: South Africa lead 1 – 0

Venue: SuperSport Park, Centurion, South Africa.

Date & Time: 15th March, 2013, 17:30 PST / 12:30 GMT

Overall Rivalry: Dominance; South Africa 39 wins, Pakistan 18 wins

Weather Report: Another warm day in Centurion is expected with a high of 28C and winds of less than 5 km/h.

Ground Report:  Pakistan returns to SuperSport Park for the third time on this tour. It is the only venue where they have managed to beat the South Africans this summer when they sailed to a 95-run win in the one off T20 international. Once again, it is expected to be a high-scoring game on a flat deck and a fast outfield.

Game On: A two-month-long tour that was always going to be tough for the visitors is now in its final fourth. After spending a month and a half in South Africa, Pakistani batsmen are still looking to find their feet, their captain, still trying to find his best XI.

The Pakistani batting order was rumoured to be under some dispute within its ranks. However, the batting dilemma seems to be deeper than just its order, it might be down to its selection. Younis Khan, Asad Shafiq and Misbah-ul-Haq crowd the middle order; their career strike rates are agonisingly low for modern-day cricket at 75.54, 69.46 and 73.67 respectively.

A batting line-up that has been prone to collapse needs an anchor but having so many anchors has often put the Pakistani ship to a halt in the middle of an innings.

The lower middle-order has the experience in the power hitting of Shoaib Malik, Kamran Akmal and Shahid Afridi but they have scored only one half-century amongst them in over 16 months.

Umar Akmal did not find a spot in the first ODI while he is ranked as the 15th best batsmen in the world and the only Pakistani to be among the top 25. With an average almost touching 38 and a strike rate of over 84 he has surprisingly not been an automatic selection.

Mohammad Irfan, Junaid Khan and Umar Gul were a part of the original squad that travelled across the equator and were tipped as a potentially potent fast bowling force that had performed well in a prior tour to India. Oddly, the trio has only appeared in one game together, the only one that has resulted in a Pakistani win.  On the fast and bouncy pitches of South Africa, the Pakistani team management seems to have missed another obvious trick.

The time is now or never for Pakistan, already one nil down, they must bounce back in this game if they are to give themselves a chance of winning the series. If the Proteas take a 2-0 lead, the uphill task for the tourists will become improbable. Misbah needs to play his best cards and hope for a turnaround in fortune.

South Africa, under the leadership of AB de Villiers is looking strong in a bid to improve its ODI ranking. Their top order is solid as ever but the lower half lacks experience which can be exposed if ever a collapse is in order, just like the Kiwis so brilliantly displayed earlier this summer.

Colin Ingram, who already has three centuries in seventeen innings, will be looking to become a permanent fixture in the squad while Faf du Plessis is struggling to bring his Test batting form in the shorter formats and will also want to make it count. With Dale Steyn expected to be back for the second game and Morne Morkel on the verge of full fitness, it will not get easier for Pakistan.

Game Changer: Pakistan needs a spark to set the team alight. They have to come out and surprise South Africa with something different, maybe an innovation in batting order, in selection or just in their attitude. Though, if they continue to use similar ploys, they could just end up going through the motions and the game might not change.

Pre-Game Talk:  “It's Wasim Akram, we watched some footage of him the other day for the bowling group to understand what bowling yorkers is actually about.” Allan Donald is using Wasim Akram’s videos in class room sessions, something Pakistan should also be taking note of.

“The truth is we are not getting quality fast bowlers in the footsteps of greats like Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis or Shoaib Akhtar. And the situation is not encouraging in domestic cricket as well.” Chief selector Iqbal Qasim reveals that Pakistan’s much-touted fast bowling cupboard may just be bare.

Last XI Fielded South Africans:  Graeme Smith, Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers (capt and wk), Colin Ingram, Faf du Plessis, Farhaan Behardien, Rory Kleinveldt, Ryan McLaren, Robin Peterson, Kyle Abbott, Lonwabo Tsotsobe

Last XI Fielded Pakistanis: Nasir Jamshed, Mohammad Hafeez, Younis Khan, Asad Shafiq, Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), Shahid Afridi, , Shoaib Malik, Kamran Akmal (wk), Umar Gul, Junaid Khan, Saeed Ajmal.

Possible Changes:

South Africa: Kyle Abbott should make way for Dale Steyn if he joins the team in time. Morne Morkel might also play if declared fit.

Pakistan: Mohammad Irfan and Umer Akmal could be back on a pitch that will have little assistance for spinners. Younis, Asad or Shoaib Malik might lose their spot. A brisk 34 in the first game could allow Afridi to play the second ODI even after an abysmal performance with the ball.

Final Words: Pakistan still seems to rely on the tactic of keeping wickets in hand and changing gears in the last 15 to 20 overs. With a long tail and an out of form lower middle order, this strategy is a death trap they keep falling in. They must find away to consistently score through an innings in order to build one, it is after all 2013.

Comments (22) Closed

Abdul Mar 14, 2013 01:27pm

LOL @ 2013, someone please also remind Misbah ul Haq and Younis Khan that it is not 1983 !!

Dr. Salaria, Aamir Ahmad Mar 14, 2013 01:47pm

Under the prevailing circumstances, only a miracle can save Misbah-ul-Haq and party from the shambles of yet another defeat tomorrow in the second ODI against South Africa, who are by far, one of the top cricket teams of the world in any format of the game today.

The icing on the cake in favor of South Africa is that they are playing on their own soil, which provides them another big plus point in their favor to win the game.

Nevertheless, my sympathies and prayers are with the 'green-shirts' who on their day, do have the God given talents and the skills to turn the tables on any opposition in the world no matter where they are playing. However, at this crucial juncture in time and history, the Pakistani team must show and demonstrate a tough mental strength and the necessary courage of the 'cornered tigers' as done by the team under the command and control of the great Imran Khan, to convince themselves as per the famous American saying. " you can, if you think you can."

Sultan Mar 14, 2013 02:24pm
We need Umer Amal back... Jk, G
Indusonian Mar 14, 2013 04:29pm
He need to use new defense cards.
Nasser Ali Khan Mar 14, 2013 05:17pm
Career averages mean little when it comes to decision-making (selection). What matters is recent performance. Both Akmal brothers have performed miserably (batting and wicket-keeping) in the say last 10 ODIs. They need to be kept out for Pakistan to have any chance of competing.
Nasser Ali Khan Mar 14, 2013 05:35pm
Talents in Pakistan? Really? Please do some research; and also common sense tells you that performance measurement of any kind is based on "per capita". Pakistan has a population of over 180 million. As an example, New Zealand has just over 4 million. For every New Zealander there are 45 Pakistanis. The per capita performance is tremendously inferior for Pakistan. While Pakistan is a very average team in the world stage in cricket, it is practically unrepresented in any other sport, apart from an 8th (at best position) in hockey. This, my friend, is anything but talent.
junaid Mar 14, 2013 06:16pm
There is no hope for pakistani batsmen in this series. Mentaly and technicaly they have surrendered in front of the SA.bowlng attack. The only hope is that they will know where do they stand in reality. Players like Younis Khan with years of experience looks like a debutant in front of the SA bowlng. Rest of the batsment need to correct their batting technique and learn the tamprament of the game. They have no spirit of fightback. I don't know if coach ever tells them that every player should walk into the field with a double century on his mind, and not only 30 to 40 runs or don't expect to win a test match.
ali wadood Mar 14, 2013 06:45pm
he should have batted first, in the first ODI
khan Mar 14, 2013 06:51pm
I do not know why Malik in our team.? He's a Politician not a cricketer.
Merchant Iqbal Mar 14, 2013 07:19pm
I think Pakistan is capable of beating SA.They have to select their A team.Their batting order should be as per situation in match.Power play should be used intelligently.It is not necessary to hit boundary on each ball.They should learn to take single and double by placing a ball in gap.Our bowlers should bowl as per the weakness of batsmen.They should perfect their Yorker and bouncers and use them keeping in mind batsman and field placing. Misbah should use bowlers intelligently.He should advised aggression to deal with hostile pace attack.Running between the wicket and fielding should be excellent. Kamran Akmal and Afirdi should be used as sloggar as per requirement of run rate.
pgs Mar 15, 2013 01:14am
Pakistan will never ever able to play international game on their soil. Games are played between friends. Pakistan killed its own cricket when SL were attacked.
Indian Fan Mar 15, 2013 03:08am
Bring back Abdul Rehman for the 2nd ODI.He has been pretty unlucky to be left out in any format of cricket.Bring him back please.
pierwasif Mar 15, 2013 03:38am
younus & misbah have no place in one day cricket
pierwasif Mar 15, 2013 03:42am
if you have any chance to win or come close to winning the game , just put Misbah & Younus together 15 over the they sure will kill any chance of winning, no boundries in 96 balls last ODI against SA
jawjam Mar 15, 2013 03:57am
I think Misbah is trying his best but his other team mates are not serious and want him to fail iserably or else it should be considered that they can only play 20-20 which suits the rest.
Haroon Mar 15, 2013 04:33am
I think Allah has created all Men alike. Its just that we don't have facilities at grass root level. I am a die heart fan of Football and to play it I have to travel 30 minutes in my car and pay some handsome money to the ground owner.
mehboobmalik Mar 15, 2013 05:12am
Best cards? I think Misbah himself is the worst card for the team at the present time.
Iqbal Mar 15, 2013 05:24am
play 4 opening batsman, incude shahzad and imran farhat. The first 4 need to score 200. younus make and the rest of the team make 100. A score of 300 batting first will win the match
A Rehman K Mar 15, 2013 05:59am
As per your analysis, in the order of priority, China, India and Bangladesh must be the world champs in every kind of game. Due credit must be given to men out there who toil for your honour in four corners of the world. There is no dearth of talent in Pakistan, one must get his statistics corrected.
Adam Mar 15, 2013 07:42am
One good thing might come out of total failure of Pakistan team in both Test and ODIs is that some serious pruning will be done. Many heads will roll, such as misbah and yunis. I don't think shoaib, hafeez, or akmals will ever be kicked out unless they themselves honorably retire. Afraid might be shown the door for good. What ever happens coach won't be touched as he is above the law.
Hasan Mar 15, 2013 09:44am
Double Century ?? No batsmen in the world walks in with 200 in his mind. and btw Test matches are over brother, its ODI time !!.
kash Mar 15, 2013 10:15am
I remember Asif Iqbal's quote befor England played Pakistan in Karachi 2001 and he sed for Englan, There is only one chance, and that chance is no chance. And we all know what happened in that Karachi test. The same now rings true for Pakistan.