Having given Sri Lanka a one match lead our cricket crazy nation still hoped that our gladiators will give a heroic performance to win the last ODI and square up the series. The hopes were dashed to ground when our worthy opponents hit the apex in the last over and emerged victorious. It was once again a combined bowling-fielding and captaincy failure, Imran Farhat having been recalled after a break justified his selection by scoring a solid 56 as opener, giving the team a solid start. Supported by Umar Akmal (55*), Asad Shafiq (38), Misbah ul Haq (32) and Azhar Ali (30) the team was able to pile up a fighting total of 247 runs. Although Sri Lanka had proved a better side in all departments of the game still Pakistan could have won this match if our bowling power had been utilised more wisely. The victory was in sight till the last over when Sri Lanka required 15 runs to win. Surprisingly our worthy captain gave the decision making over to Muhammad Sami who had performed worst in the match. Having failed to bowl economically Sami conceded the precious 15 runs required by Sri Lanka to win. With a gallant innings of 80 not out Angelo Mathew became hero of the match.
Disappointed with the whole episode, I would like to bring out some of the serious faults and follies generally committed by our players. The opponents pile up a big total because our bowlers do not bowl within the three stumps which is essential for restricting runs as well as taking wickets. The standards of fielding including field placing not being up to the mark allow the batsmen to score runs freely. Our batsmen display a poor standard of running between the wickets. Another reason for our batting disasters is that not bothering about the opponents field-placing our batsmen play their shots straight into the hands of the fielders thus getting caught. The conclusions are that our bowlers must learn to bowl straight. The standards of fielding need to improve. Our batsmen must achieve the flexibility to adjust themselves to different versions of the game. Even a class batsman like skipper Misbah-ul-Haq continues with his ‘tuk tuk’ style of batting which is only suitable for a test cricket. At one stage he had scored 33 runs in 66 balls as against Kumar Sangakkara’s 62 off 48 balls. It will be better to take Misbah off the limited over games. There was a time when Muhammad Hafeez was a star-batsman. Appointed captain of the Twenty20 squad, he has lost his batting prowess. We must determine what is important for the team. It is all a food for thought for the Chief Coach Dav Whatmore. Let us hope he eradicates all these faults in a short span of time and turns our team into a fighting force, failing which he may pack up his bags.
Lahore, June 20.