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Pakistan need to beef up their batting for SA tour

January 11, 2013

pakistan's tour of south africa, pakistan south africa test series, pakistan south africa series, qamar ahmed
-Photo by Reuters

PAKISTAN’S brief visit to India and their victory in the ODI series need to be lauded for their commitment and seriousness which made India look ordinary especially when facing the Pakistan pace attack helped by the spinners who bowled brilliantly throughout to acquire desired result.

The Twenty20 series was as much engrossing as was the three-match ODI series which Pakistan won with their successive wins at Chennai and Kolkata. It could easily have been a whitewash if our batsmen have not let us down when chasing a target which by all calculations was well within their reach.

The tour, though short and successful, has no doubt helped lift Pakistan’s cricket profile besides hopefully opening the gates for future encounters in India, or at home if security situation show signs of improvement.

From the day the third and final match played at Delhi was decided in favour of India, the cricket buffs continue to ask me if the match was lost in suspicious circumstances. This element of mistrust when we lose is no less than disappointing. The same people did not raise any eyebrows when Pakistan won the first two matches on the trot — and that too convincingly.

We have got to understand that both India and Pakistan at the moment are struggling to make runs and both had their own batting failures in every match played. Only Nasir Jamshed from Pakistan and Mahendra Singh Dhoni came out of the matches with some pride. Mohammad Hafeez also played a couple of valuable innings during the tour.

Similarly, for India, besides Dhoni, only Suresh Raina showed some grit. The rest looked very ordinary. It was Pakistan’s bowling with Umar Gul, Junaid Khan and Mohammad Irfan and that of the spin bowlers Saeed Ajmal and Hafeez which made all the difference between victory and defeat.

We have all enjoyed the tour despite the defeat at Delhi. It’s all a part of the game — you win some and lose some.

The tour has also given the selectors options of now selecting a team which can do well against one of the best sides in the world — South Africa, which no doubt has the most potent pace attack with Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander in their arsenal with Jacques Kallis in support.

Robin Peterson and Imran Tahir are not of hair-raising qualities as spinners but certainly a good pair of backup. Playing in their own backyard and in front of their own supporters the South Africans will be all charged up to test Pakistan’s batting which has been exposed in India.

South African batting has quality with Graeme Smith, Hashim Amla, A.B. de Villiers, Kallis and Faf Du Plessis as a bonus.

The Pakistan selectors did a fine job picking the limited-over squads for the Indian tour and now they will have to sit down and gather all their resources to make sure that the batsmen picked for the tour have some muscle. It certainly does not help bringing in the same people back in the side as batsmen who in the last 10 years have not been able to establish themselves.

New blood needs to be inducted and Pakistan did well to have Haris Sohail, Umar Amin on tour and they need to be encouraged by taking them along exposing them to international cricket.

Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq are well tested in previous Test matches against South Africa and England in the UAE as was Younis Khan. I suppose Khurram Manzoor also deserves to be given another opportunity for his 77 in his last Test innings at Hobart against Australia.

Most disappointing of course are the Akmal brothers, Kamran and Umar. I feel they are wasted talents who have not been able to discipline their play at any level. I suppose Adnan Akmal will do a better job in Tests than his ever disappointing brothers. I also hope that Shahid Afridi makes the limited over teams.

Pakistan offered a tough time to South Africa last year in the UAE and can still make them struggle if Saeed Ajmal gets going.