Rashid Latif, the former Pakistan captain, has no hope for Misbah-ul-Haq’s side in the third Test starting today. However, Latif sees a potentially great batsman in 27-year-old Asad Shafiq.
The second Test at Newlands provided Pakistan with the perfect opportunity to square the series, but the opportunity was frittered away.
These are make-or-break opportunities. Younis Khan and Asad Shafiq gave Pakistan the perfect start with classy centuries to post a decent enough total of 338 in the first innings. Saeed Ajmal backed the team with a six-wicket haul. Pakistan could have taken a big lead of 100 runs or more, but the quicks disappointed and hopes of a big 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 Sarfraz 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 which 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 Misbah-ul-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 the inexperienced Pakistan 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 Ahmed, 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 at Centurion, starting on Friday. 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 One-Day Internationals (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. I think he has the quality of becoming a great batsman like Hanif Mohammad, Inzamam-ul-Haq and Mohammad Yousuf.
(Rashid Latif is a former Pakistan captain who played in 37 Tests and 163 ODIs)
First Published: February 22, 2013, 9:05 am