The Pakistan team is playing one batsman too many

Published: March 1, 2011
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Ahmed Shahzad reacts after being dismissed during the Pakistan versus Sri Lanka match. PHOTO: AFP

Pakistan’s batting goes down till number eight and that, in the playing-eleven, is tolerating one batsman too many.

A formidable side must have a perfect mix of bowlers and batsmen as inefficiency in the team-mix can cause problems for the best of sides in the World Cup.

Given that Pakistan enjoy the experience of stable batsmen like Misbahul Haq and Younus Khan, who form the backbone of their line-up, the team can increase the efficiency by eliminating a batsman and adding a specialist bowler.

Umar Akmal, a stable and potentially dangerous batsman, came at number six in yesterday’s match.

What the captain needs to realise is that a batsman of Umar’s potential and skillset should be utilised with a lot of care.

Umar is a player who drives the ball with strong arms, once he’s spent time in the middle. Sending him in at six is a complete misuse of such an important asset in the side.

Pakistan can safely drop a batsman from their line-up and send Umar to open the innings if they are to get a strong start in their upcoming matches.

In the last two matches, Pakistan have performed very well, however, the only concern looming over their strategy is their vulnerable opening.

A strong opening partnership not only pushes the opposition back, it also effectively relieves the pressure off the bowlers given the side amasses a decent total.

Having seen the openers’ performances in the last two matches, it might be time for Pakistan to devise an alternate strategy. Sit out Ahmed Shehzad and send Umar to open the innings could be a useful change, given that they are to face stronger sides like New Zealand and Australia in the coming days.

This would ensure Umar gets to play more overs, settles in well and gives Pakistan a strong opening partnership. This would be followed by the two seniors – Misbah and Younus – coming in and providing stability and forcing the scoreboard to keep ticking. Omitting a batsman also gives Abdul Razzaq and Shahid Afridi – the scoring brigade – more time at the crease, an added advantage for Pakistan.

Doing away with a batsman will also create a spot for a specialist bowler. Given that the subcontinent pitches are high-scoring pitches, it is crucial to have bowling depth. With three spinners and two specialist fast-bowlers, Pakistan will stand in a more balanced mix.

Subsequently, this change would leave heavy responsibilities on the shoulders of Misbah and Younus. This responsibility will not be misplaced – both the senior batsmen have proved that they can guide the team safely to decent scores with their patience and strategically-planned out innings.

Keeping in mind that stronger oppositions are waiting right around the corner, change seems evident and thinking should be done now instead of later.

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zaheer.abbas

Zaheer Abbas

Former captain of the Pakistan cricket team in the 1980's and current sports analyst.

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