After the Test series defeat in South Africa, the Green-shirts are facing Proteas in an ODI series. Pakistan have been struggling in South Africa since their first match. The bowlers are giving their best, but as usual the batsmen have mostly let us down.
The young batsmen lack experience and are facing difficulty in playing on the fast and bouncy pitches.
Pakistan did better in the first ODI, winning it by five wickets, but in the very next game they were bowled out for 203 runs. At one stage the Green-shirts were 112-8 in the 32nd over, but Skipper Sarfraz Ahmed (41) and Hassan Ali (59) put on 90 runs for the ninth wicket that gave some respect to their total.
Winning and losing is part of the game, but the way Pakistani batsmen threw their wickets was disappointing. They lost their wickets one after another on short balls. Four players were dismissed while trying to pull. Sometimes they were too late to leave the ball.
A year ago, during the ODI series in New Zealand, former batsman-turned-commentator Ramiz Raja warned that Pakistan batsmen were vulnerable to short balls. Raja wrote: “When will Pakistan batsmen & batting staff realise that batting woes stem from lack of ability & technique against the short ball. Not a single batsman in this team pulls or hooks. . . not even good at leaving them. Top order will be gobbled up in South Africa if they don’t pay heed to it.”
After Pakistan’s defeat against New Zealand last year, batsman Azhar Ali realised his team’s problem against short-pitched deliveries. He said that Pakistan are still working on their ability to handle short balls, but they required time to do that.
“If you come to this part of the world, you do expect short-pitched deliveries,” said Azhar. “You expect teams from the subcontinent to be tested with that short stuff and we all knew that. But as time goes on, we’ll get better, and we’re hopeful to turn things around quickly,” he added.
But after more than a year, there is no improvement in the players’ batting style. Pakistani players should not blame conditions for the loss in South Africa. The pitches did not behave unexpectedly. Professional cricketers should be ready to face every challenge.
It is unfortunate that after playing three Tests on same pitches, Pakistan batsmen are still struggling with short balls. The batsmen are failing to learn from their mistakes.
If the domestic structure and academies are not helping them improve their skills, the players should themselves consult with senior players to rectify their weaknesses.
Former Indian player Sanjay Manjrekar suggests that the only solution to Pakistan’s overseas batting woes is more ‘A team’ tours abroad on regular basis so that young players learn early in their careers how to handle fast and bouncy tracks.
It’s a good suggestion, but I think instead of spending money on tours, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) should improve the ground conditions and prepare pitches with grass at home.
What can a player do when he is not used to the conditions he faces at the international level!
The board never provides the opportunity to domestic players to play their trophy matches on fast and grassy tracks. In the domestic matches, the batsmen score tons of runs as they face little bounce and hardly any movement.
Every country prepares its pitches according to its team’s strength, but Pakistan is most unfortunate in this. We have had the services of the world’s most lethal fast bowlers in Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Shoaib Akhtar. Currently we have such talented players as Mohammad Amir, Hassan Ali and Shaheen Afridi, but the PCB hasn’t taken advantage of this.
If attention is not given to domestic structure, the Green-shirts will keep struggling on fast and bouncy tracks as they did in New Zealand and South Africa.