Pakistan’s brittle batting exposed

Published: March 5, 2011
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Saeed Ajmal is bowled by Canada's Harvir Baidwan. PHOTO: REUTERS

Yesterday’s clash against Canada uncovered a bitter fact about the Pakistan team – a fact that was made foggy after successive wins in the World Cup – which will yield valuable repercussions. The question of Pakistan’s batting vulnerability always exists, exposing the team’s inability to trust its own top-order under pressure.

Panic was their nemesis. For a team, who was recently added into the list of favourites to win the World Cup, to perform abysmally against minnows is an indication of a contradictory mix of complacency and lack of self-belief.

Complacency was apparent as our openers failed to perform again, playing shots which gave away the idea that they were taking their rivals way too easy.

It appeared Ahmed Shehzad did little to value his wicket. Until Shehzad starts performing and silences his critics with consistency, he won’t be able to make his mark in cricket. And truth be told, he will perform – maybe once or twice – but to expect match-winning performances is a lot to expect from the youngster.

Where complacency was visible during the start of the innings, as wickets fell in quick succession – thanks to the turning pitch which was punishing the batsmen for a change in the subcontinent – panic crept in. This ultimately exposed Pakistan’s batting which had Abdul Razzaq coming in at number eight.

Shahid Afridi did not misread the pitch conditions. The problem was the inability of the batsmen to reassess and devise on-the-field strategies and stabilise a flagging innings.

Batsmen lacked ‘cricketing shots’, the ones we witnessed when England reached a mammoth total against Ireland. Andrew Strauss used the pace of the bowlers and drove the ball effortlessly. We did the exact opposite: tried to hit the ball too hard, losing wickets in the process.

Shots were not controlled and we saw our batsmen going haywire with desperate attempts in the wake of panic.

A main concern for us remains our mistreatment of Razzaq. He is a game-changing all-rounder who can destroy oppositions. Pakistan have continued to utilise him the wrong way in the tournament so far.

You cannot send him in after 35 overs and expect him to change the face of the game. He must be used in a way which optimises his skill set. Powerplays will be where Razzaq’s services will prove the most fruitful. This match should serve as a reminder to Pakistan that irresponsible and unplanned batting will be punished regardless of the opponent.

Pressure will mount, conditions will surprise you but maintaining a momentum will remain the main challenge.

The third highest scorer of Pakistan’s innings were the extras (24).

This is not the kind of precedence Pakistan want to set for the rest of the world while bidding for the sports’ most extravagant trophy. This match should serve as a bitter reminder irrespective of the result.

Bowlers may have bailed the batsmen out in this match but they will need to pull up their socks for future matches.

Shoaib Mohammad

Shoaib Mohammad

A former opening batsman for 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.