Pakistan’s Batting Collapses: How Many More?

Sep 15, 2013 by     No Comments    Posted under: General, Sports Buzz, Spotlight

Since the advent of T20, the world of cricket has changed drastically. Batsmen have gained center-stage around the world, while bowlers have been pushed to the rear. 300+ scores in ODIs have become a regularity and are not considered unassailable any more. Teams like India and South Africa rely, more or less, on their hard-hitting consistent batting line-ups to win matches, and other top sides like Srilanka, England and Australia have formidable batting rosters too.

In a world that belongs to the batsmen, Team Pakistan are possibly the only exception to this portrayal. Matches that involve Pakistan tend to be entertaining but majorly low-scoring, with run rates hardly ever exceeding the figure of five. With a batting line-up as fragile as plastic glasses stacked in front of a hair-dryer, how the team manages to ply its trade within the top tier of the cricketing world is a wonder in itself. It is only the topnotch bowling attack that manages to bail out the batsmen more often than not. It goes without saying however, that such consistently abysmal batting performances as Team Pakistan’s, cannot be covered by a bowling attack’s brilliance forever.

And the inevitable happened on the fourteenth of September; a date which will go down as one of the blackest days in the history of Pakistan Cricket. An inspired performance from the minnows of World Cricket, Zimbabwe, put Pakistan in a desperate place when they surrendered a lead of 64 runs to The Hawks after an all-too-familiar collapse from 211 for 4 to 230 all out in the first innings. Rahat Ali and the spinners put up a determined bowling effort in Zimbabwe’s second to restrict the target to 264. Khurram Manzoor started positively but wickets kept tumbling regularly, and Captain Fantastic Misbah-ul-Haq’s 79 not out remained an effort in futility, as all of Hafeez (16), Azhar (0), Younis (29), Asad Shafiq (14) and Adnan Akmal (20) failed to put up a sizable fight in the face of a Zimbabwean bowling attack chasing a historic win. Inspired by the young Tendai Chatara, Zimbabwe wrapped up the Pakistan tail and a momentous 24-run victory with the second new ball.

It is high time that the management of PCB came up with answers to the biggest question that has been plaguing Pakistan Cricket for the last few years. When will our batting stop giving away matches to opponents? For too long, we have been going in a circle, giving undue chances to a particular set of players who have shown that they are not in the least, competent to play at the top level of International Cricket. Imran Farhat, Kamran Akmal and Mohammad Hafeez, only to name a few, are examples of such players.

Hafeez, who is even touted, unbelievably, as the future captain of the side in some circles, averages 20 in Tests outside Asia. This lethargic statistic belonging to our vice-captain and our fixed opening batsmen shows how illogical the selection strategies have been for Pakistan in the recent past. Hafeez must go, and one of the more consistent batsmen in the domestic circuit be chosen to take his place. Taufeeq Umer will be returning to the side for the series against South Africa and hopefully, he will replace Hafeez, and not Khurram Manzoor, who showed his mettle with back-to-back half-centuries in the second test against Zimbabwe.

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In all honesty, the middle order had started to show some promise before the tour of SA. High totals were consistently reached in the tour of Srilanka even though the series was lost, and Asad Shafiq and Azhar Ali were among the runs in that series, both averaging above 60. In South Africa, however, both Shafiq’s and Azhar’s techniques were exposed as they averaged a meagre 33 and 22 respectively (although Asad grinded out a gritty ton in the second test). These two are experiencing a rough patch, but they cannot be discarded as they are the foundations of Pakistan’s future middle-order. Maybe a lack of test cricket is what is actually hurting them, as Pakistan has played the fewest number of Test games among the top cricketing nations this year (even Zimbabwe have played more).

PCB needs to find answers, and needs to find them quick. Even though Pakistan is returning to its home away from home, the United Arab Emirates, for the next series, there are no guarantees that spinning tracks will once again allow Pakistan’s formidable bowlers to cover up any below-par batting performances. Against the No.1 Test side in the world, batting performances as the ones in Harare will be punished brutally; most likely, in the form of another whitewash. God knows how many more of those are yet to come.

The Author

Ali Qamber is an engineering student at PNEC, NUST. He is a certified maila from St. Patricks High and lives, loves and wastes his time in Karachi. Besides writing useless stuff such as above, he also enjoys the finer things in a Karachiite's life, like night-cricket, hangouts at the beach and strikes. Find him on twitter (@qamberger) or facebook (saliqamber).

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