India v Pakistan, Asia Cup, Mirpur March 18, 2012

'We didn't have any answers' - Misbah


When asked whether Pakistan preferred to play India or Bangladesh in the Asia Cup final, Misbah-ul-Haq smiled and said: "I can't control this." A Pakistan-India final will not take place if Bangladesh beat Sri Lanka in the final league game.

Misbah's words, however, might as well have been describing how he had felt on the field while Virat Kohli was mowing down the target of 330 to keep India in the tournament. Kohli seemed to have a plan for all six Pakistan bowlers and targeted each one.

Against Umar Gul, Kohli was slightly cautious but also hit a six over wide long-off. He was watchful against Mohammad Hafeez and Shahid Afridi as well, while against Saeed Ajmal he decided to stay deep in the crease and play into the arc behind square on the off side. He managed to hit six boundaries off Ajmal, whom Kohli said was "quick and able to turn both ways." While facing the left-arm pace of Wahab Riaz, however, it was a question of how many and how quickly. Kohli hit Riaz for seven fours in 17 balls - some pulled, a few flicked and one cover driven.

Misbah praised India and Kohli for the way they approached the chase. "First of all, credit to them. Whatever the wicket or conditions, chasing 329 is difficult. The manner in which they batted, they outclassed us.

"I think 329 is not a bad total. When you try to score 350-370, even making 329 is difficult," Misbah said. "With our bowling, 325-330 was our target. I think it was a good total but the way they played, we didn't have any answers."

Before Kohli wrested the game from Pakistan, though, Misbah's team had performed impressively. They had their second-highest opening stand in one-dayers, with Nasir Jamshed and Hafeez adding 224 runs for the first wicket. The new pair thrived against a bowling attack that lacked bite and their teamwork paid off: when Hafeez attacked Jamshed batted steadily, and then they switched roles. Jamshed scored his maiden ODI century, while Hafeez made his fourth.

"I think both played very well. Set a good platform for the team," Misbah said. "It's a good prospect for us that the openers are getting centuries and putting a good partnership at the top."

Despite playing an extra bowler, however, Misbah was unable to lead a successful defence in the field. It was the fourth time Pakistan had lost an ODI after scoring more than 300, and the first since 2000. Riaz was far from re-creating that magical spell in Mohali in the World Cup semi-final, while Aizaz Cheema had his worst day in international cricket.

"We planned to bat first so we strengthened our bowling. His [Riaz] confidence was good; he took five wickets against India. We took him on that, but sometimes your decisions don't pay off. It was a bad day for him.

"I think our bowling has won us a lot of games. If you look at the performance in the last year and a half, they have done really well. It was a test against India, so such a day was possible."

Mohammad Isam is senior sports reporter at the Daily Star in Dhaka

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Faisal on March 20, 2012, 16:06 GMT

    Pak fans: Please stop criticizing Wahab Riaz. What do you expect from a bowler who was shown the door after he nearly won the WC semi-final against India almost single-handed; he has always been kept on the bench and only given two ODI's (one against Afghanistan!) ever since. Even a half-fit Junaid and Cheema were preferred ahead of him during the test series against England. A fast bowler needs rhythm. You cannot expect a fast bowler to just walk into a side without any match practice and perform well against a batting side like India, that too on a flat track! In Mohali he performed because Afridi had been playing him in previous matches and persisted with him despite immense pressure for including Shoaib Akhter. Players perform when their leader shows trust in them. Wahab's confidence has been shaken and - though I've been a staunch defender of Misbah - here I do blame him for the way Wahab has been treated.

  • Dummy4 on March 20, 2012, 10:22 GMT

    Misbah needs to get all answers from himself or from the other 10 team members very poor captaincy and bowling ! Play with specialist keeper next time and give afridi some confidence

  • wasib on March 20, 2012, 8:25 GMT

    Pakistan are in desperate need of a good bowling coach and i hope they can find one very soon. Also, we need to go back to the policy of finding talented teenage bowlers and throwing them in at the deep end in the hope that they will be resounding successes like Amir and Akram. More often than not they turn out to be successes. It is clear that Umar Gul and Aizaz Cheema are not suited to ODI cricket and so the void left by Amir and Asif is yet to be filled. They are only suited to test and t20 cricket.

  • Dummy4 on March 20, 2012, 6:20 GMT

    to all the pakistani fans, get over the way kohli celebrates, let him do what he wants...what a brilliant innings, soaib akhtar would always go over the top when he got a wicket back in his day, we never heard you complain then, so shut up about kohli your all just jealous that umar akmal WILL NEVER be as good as virat koli.

  • Mohd on March 20, 2012, 6:04 GMT

    we got answer..we defeated becasue 1)worst captaincy 2)low level of feilding 3)taking India to a easy..1) You can not win a match with this kind of captian..a lot of msitake done by captain..a)Why did he taken off Hafiz though he got the crucial wicket b)Why din't he bring Ajmal (Ace Bowler to attack earlier) c)Whey didn't he give bowl to Hamad Azam isn't he a good alrounder? d)Whey did he attack Indian with Ajmal Afrid Hafiz at one end and Pace bowler at other end e) why he could not talk to his you can't win by so outdated captain who doesn't know much cricket rule....Pathetic captiancy...

  • D on March 20, 2012, 4:35 GMT

    Some blame should go to Afridi - 9 off 15 balls. If he had got 20 off 15, the score would have been 340 instead of 329. That makes a lot of difference. Anyway, you cannot click every innings and what is done is done.

  • timothy on March 20, 2012, 4:24 GMT

    after the WC finals Sangakara said we had a good score but against India you have to have 350 to be sure. Lets see what you can throw at us next pakistan?

  • Shakir on March 20, 2012, 0:10 GMT

    No doubt Kohli played a very good innings. But I had a kind of feeling that, India was going to win from the Toss itself. Misbah has turned out well for Pakistan Cricket, he has brought stability and winning habit as well. But he is even better for India. For all Indo-Pak matches, he has helped all the time. T20 world cup, World Cup Semifinal. And the strategy of batting first, knowing how good India is while chasing, esp they have chased down 321 very recently was a bouncer to me.

  • Inam on March 19, 2012, 22:59 GMT

    pakistan played without plan in the field, they were arrogant in first 15 overs, many over throws, poor fielding, when the reality synced in it was too late, there were some blunders from misbah and bowlers did not back him up. it is always hard to loose after scoring 330 runs, now it is getting easier with pitch so true in bounce even very good balls were dispatched to boundaries. in situation like this you need to pick one side of field and bowl in that area at least they could have blocked boundaries, India could have not win the game with singles. all paksiatan has to do is block boundaries, it is easy to say than done, remember India beat SL in Hobart just few weeks ago and carnage was even brutal than mirpur. Kohli nailed SL. Wahab Riaz was bowling all over the place how come he bowled short with fine leg up in circle. every deliver he send was off target, it disrupted the whole plan whole plan because Cheema was misfiring very bad too. It was Kohli's at the end.

  • Java on March 19, 2012, 22:12 GMT

    Kohli's attitude after he scored the hundred was pathetic and over the top. This guy with all his talent is full of himself, arrogant and naive. Someone needs to tell him to get over his arrogance soon. Pakistan did no homework on him, you get Kohli you win the match. They bowled without a plan and hence got the stick.

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