Sri Lanka vs Pakistan: Momentum should be taken forward

Published: February 25, 2011
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I reckon Hafeez is too useful a player in the Pakistan squad to be dumped after just one failure in the World Cup. PHOTO: AFP

It was a pleasant sight to watch Shahid Afridi use his experience against Kenya.

Pakistan had set a daunting target and he opted to bowl with an attacking field and returned with a record performance, an epitome of the captain leading from the front.

Abdul Rehman, however, went for a defensive field and mainly bowled a flat trajectory. This was quite surprising given a spinning pitch with the minnows facing a huge target. He should’ve bowled with a positive frame of mind, taking wickets with added close-in fielders.

That would’ve given him a few scalps too and provided him with added confidence for the bigger games.  Even the Kenyan spinners were extracting a lot of turn on this track so Rehman’s tactics were all the more surprising.

However, against Sri Lanka, I’d like to have Saeed Ajmal in the team. His big-match experience as well as variety and the presence of a few left-handers in the Sri Lankan side makes him an obvious choice.

The World Cup looks like a spinners’ paradise already. South Africa went with four spinners with great success. They also surprised everyone by opening the innings with Johan Botha who responded in the first over.

I don’t think Pakistan should experiment despite the fact that Afridi is very quick. There shouldn’t be too much experimentation, unlike the South Africans, who opted to do so against weaker opposition.

There’s also a talk of going with two specialist spinners and dropping Hafeez. This is not advisable as Hafeez is a real handy player and has been scoring consistently and is also a magnificent fielder.

Pakistan’s fast-bowlers didn’t take a lot of wickets but they didn’t bowl badly. The total was beyond the opposition’s reach so the pacemen’s  show should be taken as a light work-out  with tougher matches ahead in the hot and humid conditions.

There is also the argument in favour of Wahab Riaz who remains a possible replacement for Shoaib Akhtar. However, the right-hander’s pace and reverse-swing means he’s still capable of dismissing any batsman.

The changes to the playing-eleven should be minimum.With four half-centuries in the match, Pakistan’s batting came up well. Still, our batsmen should strive  to convert fifties into big innings.

The openers failed with Ahmed Shahzad looking all at sea against the mediocre fast men. Perhaps the teenager was over-awed by the occasion: first match of the World Cup.

Here, the role of the management becomes vital. They should talk to him and raise his confidence.

For the Sri Lanka match, if the toss is won, batting should be the option. Pakistan has a potent attack to put pressure on the opposition.

There is also the dew factor which makes one think of bowling first but that in my mind would be a defensive approach.

Unlike a couple of teams ranked higher, Pakistan had an excellent first outing and the momentum should be maintained going forward.

danish.kaneria

Danish Kaneria

The writer is Pakistan’s highest wicket-taking spinner in Test cricket.

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