Pakistan in South Africa : A tale of missed opportunities so far

Published: February 21, 2013

The second Test at Newlands provided Pakistan with the perfect opportunity to square the series but we couldn’t capitalise on it. PHOTO: REUTERS

The second Test at Newlands provided Pakistan with the perfect opportunity to square the series but we couldn’t capitalise on it.

However, these are make-or-break opportunities.

Younus Khan and Asad Shafiq gave Pakistan the perfect start with classy centuries and 338 was a decent enough total in the first innings. Saeed Ajmal backed them with a six-wicket haul and Pakistan could have taken a big lead of 100 runs or more but the quicks disappointed and the lead evaporated.

I think that is where Pakistan lost heart.

The situation demanded head coach Dav Whatmore to lift the morale of his players but if there was any input from his side, it did not reflect in Pakistan’s performance. I cannot make a stronger case for his removal as results have not improved during his reign.

Pakistan looked a very different side from the one that went out to bat in the first innings, getting out cheaply. Azhar Ali played the role of sheet anchor but his 65-run innings was too slow for my liking. He was way too defensive in his approach and he needs to work on this aspect of his batting.

The game of cricket has evolved and now the batting needs to extend as low down the order as possible. This is not to say that the lower order should make up for the failings of our openers or our middle order but they need to step up.

In this regard, wicketkeeper Sarfaraz Ahmed disappointed me a lot because he did not deliver when he was needed most by the team. It was a perfect situation for him to chip in with 30 or 40 and it could have proved significant.

The change of the ball in the 60th over was a key moment. The replacement ball swung and spun and Pakistan lasted barely an hour after this.

The eventual target of 182 was admittedly below par, but so was Misbahul Haq’s approach. He attacked from both ends which leaked runs. Ideally, he should have attacked from one end, with Ajmal and dried up runs from the other end.

It would still have been a gigantic task with our inexperienced pace battery led by Umar Gul who is in no way a spearhead and has disappointed for the last two seasons. And as harsh as it sounds, I feel Tanvir, with his sub-par and docile bowling should not play Tests.

I don’t see the Pakistan team managing a win or even a draw in the third Test. We only have three dependable batsmen in Asad, Younus and Misbah with no support from others. Openers Muhammad Hafeez and Nasir Jamshed have yet to make any contribution. The pair is only good for ODIs and T20s Imran Farhat should replace Jamshed.

The biggest plus so far for Pakistan in the tour has been the class shown by Asad Shafiq and I think he has the quality of becoming a great batsman like Hanif Muhammad, Inzamamul Haq and Mohammad Yousuf.

Follow Rashid on Twitter @Rlateeef 

Rashid Latif

Rashid Latif

Rashid Latif is a former captain of the Pakistan cricket team.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • https://twitter.com/Pugnate Noman Ansari

    OH MY GOD RASHID LATIF POSTED A BLOG.

    freaking out

    Dude. You were the best wicketkeeper Pakistan ever produced. I remember that catch you took off Waqar Younis during the quarterfinal in India for Vinod Kambli. Great take.

    Of course then Jadeja came and destroyed Pakistan so perhaps Kambli should have stayed. :)

    Regarding Sarfaraz, he keeps getting opportunities, and I feel it is because he is from Karachi and the Karachi lobby is making noise that our players aren’t getting enough opportunity.

    I have never seen him do well with the bat, and he is only somewhat better than Kamran Akmal with the gloves. That being said, he has improved a lot and did score 90+ in the side game. I hope he does better.

    I don’t understand why Adnan Akmal was dropped. I understand the Akmal brothers don’t have a great record, but it seems that Adnan Akmal was the most decent of the brothers, and is a good keeper cum batsmen. Recommend

  • http://www.tanzeel.wordpress.com Tanzeel

    Noman, you’re praising Rashid Latif not commenting on what he wrote. Recommend

  • Amer

    I was reading the blog very seriously until I reached : “Imran Farhat should replace Jamshed.”
    I just threw up all over my desk!! Recommend

  • Gangs of Wessy Pur

    Rashid Latif, are you serious in suggesting Imran Farhat as replacement? How many more chances should be given to Farhat? Recommend

  • http://mezaajedeen.blogspot.com Deen Sheikh

    Say No to..Imran FarhatRecommend

  • Usman Sherazi

    If the other two openers have not contributed nothing at all in the four innings they’ve played together on this tour, what’s the harm in giving Imran Farhat a chance if he is part of the touring squa?. And don’t forget, he went to South Africa right after scoring a triple hundred.
    Rashid is right about making this change in the openers. Junaid Khan should make the squad as well at Centurion. What were the selectros thinking in picking up bolwers like Tanvir for this crucial Test series for a mighty team like South Africa?Recommend

  • Bilal

    Oh look, it’s Rashid Latif… the guy who changes his opinion every 10 minutes.

    Before the tour, he called Misbah Pakistan’s third best ever captain after Imran and Saleem Malik. After the second match, he said Faisal Iqbal should replace Misbah as test captain. Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/Pugnate Noman Ansari

    OK so Farhat for Jamshed sounds kooky, considering how many opportunities Farhat has had and Jamshed is the best opener we’ve had potentially since Amir Sohail/Saeed Anwar.

    Besides, Farhat plays a lot of politics. Because of his uncle we lost Fawad Alam. Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/Pugnate Noman Ansari

    @Tanzeel:
    But I did comment on his bit about Sarfaraz! Recommend

  • http://www.tanzeel.wordpress.com Tanzeel

    Farhat plays a lot of politics. Because of his uncle we lost Fawad Alam. – Agreed!Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/Pugnate Noman Ansari

    @Bilal:

    I can’t believe he called Salim Malik a good captain. After all, Rashid Latif and Basit Ali are the guys who exposed match fixers. Recommend

  • Fahad Raza

    Imran farhat made the best score against the South Africans way back in the last decade, which is his higest. Now he played his last test in 2010 vs England lords that went bad. he did not perform. So a man sitting out for 2 years from test should we expect him to perform in a long day session. We would be naive. His odi are no well as well even if he made 50 in july las ye but that was dubai.. not the seaming pitches of South Africa. We need to lookout for the replacement of Afridi as well..
    Nice to see a a blog from the Former keeper.
    CheersRecommend