FROM the outset it was predictable the way this series for Pakistan would end — a clean sweep for hosts South Africa. For this no excuse should be acceptable for the mere fact that our batsmen failed to come to terms with the pitches that had lift and bounce and the conditions were exploited to the full by the home side’s fast bowlers.
Seven wickets at the stroke of lunch on the fourth day to end the series itself speak of the inability of our batsmen and their lack of skills when facing pace and bounce.
All through, and in every innings, their script of failures with the bat remained unchanged, dishing out simple catches to the wicket-keeper and the slips while fending away from the rising deliveries or when nibbling outside the off stump.
Even in dire circumstances where concentration was required to stick around, our experienced batsmen instead of restraining themselves loved to be the happy hookers and offering catches to a set field down the leg side.
Good batsmen when in their 40s and 50s are so confident of themselves that they would not allow a soft dismissal and would instead try and extend their innings further to stay longer to get nearer to a three figure score.
This is where our batting continued to fail most of the time, not building partnerships and not disciplining themselves to accumulate an impressive total at least in the first innings.
Assessing all our batsmen in this Test series, none was able to a score a hundred which is a poor reflection of the way they fared in the series.
Never once anyone of them looked like taking on the challenge of the South African pace battery and those who did occasionally with some amount of self-belief appeared patchy enough and even at times lucky enough to be in the middle.
I just cannot single one who looked like taking the pace attack by the scruff of the neck. Their pitiful existence, in the middle at times, made me even feel sorry for them.
Shan Masood, Babar Azam and Asad Shafiq at times look the part, the rest even Sarfraz Ahmed who managed two half-centuries in the series should have done better and now after losing this series hands down, the skipper obviously would become a target of criticism.
A captain is as good as his team and that is where the story ends on Sarfraz who was brilliant behind the wicket all through creating in the last Test a record for Pakistan wicket-keepers by lapping up 10 victims at Wanderers. I can assure you he was superb with the gloves.
I suppose our bowlers, all of them including Faheem Ashraf in the end did a marvellous job keeping the South African batsmen in check, if not all but most of the time, and that is what was required of them and they did deliver.
Mohammad Amir, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Abbas and all to the best of their ability in situations did restrict the home side batsmen most of the time. Pity though for them that the pitches were not suited for the spinners.
Another series is lost following the one against New Zealand in UAE prior to this tour but that in no way is the end of the world for Pakistan cricket.
What now needed is a thorough and an in-depth analysis, probe and scrutiny of the way Pakistan have performed. Making usual excuses for failures does not help, but trying to get to the bottom of it may at least serve them in future to iron out their shortcomings in recent weeks.
Published in Dawn, January 15th, 2019