go-slow or grow up

25 10 2011

the title of this post is dedicated to everyone who believes that criticism of a defensive approach in test cricket (that has sadly become typical of the current pakistan team) warrants a stand-in-the-corner-and-watch-some-ipl punishment.

pakistan should’ve won the first test against sri lanka. there are a few things they did wrong:

– dropped too many catches (hafeez 3, younis 2, wahab 1, gul 1, akmal -1)
– lost time batting slow
– didn’t go for the target
– set defensive fields when the lankans finally got a partnership going

i don’t think there is any disagreement on the catches hurting us. however i don’t agree with the opinion that the missed chances were the ONLY reason we lost failed to win after dominating for four days.

there was nothing in the pitch for the bowlers after day 1. sri lanka crumbled to 197 all out in the first innings, but it was still their batting more than anything else which could bring them back into the game – you can’t get a team with the likes of sangakkara and the jayawardenes out for sub-200 scores on dead tracks every day. that pakistan’s fast bowlers created as many chances as they did against sri lanka in the second innings was impressive and commendable, but – importantly – also unexpected given the conditions and the quality of the opposition.

the dropped catches were not part of the plan (or so we hope). but what about the pace of pakistan’s first innings? taufeeq, younis, asad barely made 30 in their first 100 balls, despite the team being in a good position having bowled sl out for 197 and the conditions being made for batting. captain misbah-ul-haq was the only one who showed some intent. yes, i know test cricket is not boom boom dhishoom, but surely there are some time considerations if you want to win? you have to leave enough time to bowl out a decent batting side on a road of a pitch and bat again to chase down the deficit, right? is there a chance pakistan overestimated how quickly they could get 10 sri lankan wickets? were they assuming they wouldn’t have to bat again – in which case, as jayasuriya suggested, it might’ve made more sense to hold off on the declaration? but guess what the team management thinks:

did you hear that? “the only only (negative) thing was our fielding.”

i don’t know about you, but i think it would’ve been more appropriate if he’d said that the only negative was pakistan’s attitude. misbah also pointed out that sri lanka were a top team, so i guess we shouldn’t mind drawing with them despite being in a position to win for 4 days. here’s him explaining why pakistan didn’t make an attempt to chase that target:

i hate hate the rule that lets teams quit an hour early and think whoever decided not to go for the target, improbable as it may be, was a wuss. i would talk about the damage inflicted by dilshan playing mind games by forcing pakistan to play an extra 5 overs in that last hour and then announcing that the momentum was with them, but i don’t think anyone in the pakistan team cares, so it probably doesn’t matter. also, mind games are still not strike bowlers, at least not on these pitches.

anyway, since misbah clarified that it was indeed team strategy to not go for the 170 in 21 overs needed for the win, i just want to know when during the match that realization set in. at what point did they accept that it was no longer practical to push for a win?

sri lanka’s last 5 wickets fell in 15 overs for less than 50 runs, so misbah & the boyzz couldn’t have felt too differently about the practicality of going for a win between sangakkara getting out and the end of their innings. so, what was the point of bowling out the quicks on a road all the way to the end of the innings in heat so oppressive the umpire didn’t mind wearing a cooling aid that looked like a dog collar when your batsmen weren’t even going to pretend to go for the target? i mean, are the batsmen lazy or scared (of what, their fair and lovely not working?) or are you trying to follow india’s approach to the number 1 test ranking by killing all your fast bowlers before you play england?

if the icc is serious about protecting fast bowlers, it should ban batsmen from becoming captains, selfish bums, the lot of them. they should also ban that abu dhabi pitch. only misbah saw the “lots of roughS” on it on day 5, everyone else seemed to agree it was good for another 5 days.

for all of you who are going to think/comment that i should “go back to watching t20 pajama cricket” because i have a problem with 3 out of the top 4 scoring at a strike-rate of less than 50 against a murali/malinga-less sri lankan attack on a pancake of a pitch, I KNOW.

i just keep getting scared by shots like these:

ohno

what brings me back to tests

jokes aside, i’m nervous about pakistan’s approach for the second test – basically, our strategy is that we’re going to try and field better. like a wise ball-sniffer once said:

ek fielding ka masla aur ek kashmir, ye doh maslay kafi time se hal nahi huay…

practice session ahead of 2nd test: can you feel the intensity? via PCB

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6 responses

25 10 2011
Kapt Slim

i like your last line 😛
thats like putting all in a nutshell

25 10 2011
Asad Shairani

On the dot. Even if they wanted to take the innings to (almost) the third day’s end, a faster approach would’ve given them at least a 100 runs more. That would’ve made the target a much easier one. They played for themselves, all of them except Misbah. All wanted to prove they could bat. I was astonished to see Asad Shafiq ‘shocked’ and disappointed at the declaration – at a SR of 27 he wanted more time to prove himself. Rubbish attitude I’d say.

25 10 2011
Sarfraz

Pak team on track & need bit time to settle down.bloody bookies gone from team & we knew every body playing fair cricket.Misbah will show aggression for that he needs first to win few series

25 10 2011
ashfaq shah

Point taken. Its common sense. One reason why australia was so dominant in late 90s and thereafter was their run rate in test cricket. Its not about pajama cricket or dhoom dishoom for the sake of it. If you score at 4 runs per over, it simply gives more time to your bowlers to get ten wickets. One of the sessions I watched was when Taufeeq Umar was batting on second day, run rate struggled to reach 2.5 per over. It was like watching cricket back in 80s with Shoaib Muhammad batting (no disrespect intended).

25 10 2011
Muneeb

Very well said, I totally agree with you, I have no doubts abt Misbah’s capabilities as batsman but his leadership is too defensive for modern day cricket, its not the 1st time that we drew a test match after winning 12 sessions of match, this is what happened in last test against Newzealand and in match against South Africa too, we could have won those 2 series too but lack of confidence or afraid of loosing or whatever may the reason be, honestly speaking Misbah is not fit for this job, the best in lot for me is Younis Khan, he lead team well in past and still can, atleast in Tests…

26 10 2011
Anonymous

Agreed , most of us are angry not because of the result ( and it wasn’t a loss as stated in the 4 th paragraph ( dropped catches weren,t the ONLY reason we lost) but we are angry because they didn’t even attempt the chase. The interim coach talked a good game but didn’t rise to the occasion when push came to shove.

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