Pakistan v Sri Lanka, Asia Cup, Fatullah

Pakistan botch another 250-plus chase

Pakistan had not chased a target of more than 250 successfully since February 2011. They came close today, but collapsed in a heap

Karthik Krishnaswamy in Fatullah

February 25, 2014

Comments: 34 | Text size: A | A

Misbah-ul-Haq congratulates Umar Akmal on his fifty, Pakistan v Sri Lanka, Asia Cup, Fatullah, February 25, 2014
When Misbah-ul-Haq and Umar Akmal were batting, Pakistan looked set to chase their first 250-plus target since February 2011 © AFP

When teams face challenging targets, sometimes all it takes for the chase to swing decisively their way is a couple of big overs. Clinical finishers recognise this and bat sensibly, turning the strike over and putting away bad balls, even as the required rate mounts. They know the pressure will tell on the bowling side. They know the big overs will come.

Having come together with 176 required off 159 balls, Misbah-ul-Haq and Umar Akmal were approaching the chase of 296 in just that spirit. They rotated strike, and picked off bad balls, and had put on 61 in 69 deliveries when they took the batting Powerplay. Pakistan, at that stage, needed 115 from 90.

The five Powerplay overs brought Misbah and Akmal 33 runs. Only 14 of these runs came in boundaries, each of which was either the result of poor bowling or calculated risk. Misbah flicked a leg stump half-volley from Lasith Malinga past short fine leg and dumped a flighted delivery from Sachithra Senanayake, with the turn, over deep midwicket. Akmal gave himself room to launch the spinner past the unmanned deep extra-cover boundary.

Those 33 runs brought the equation down to 82 from 60. Both batsmen, by now, were well set. In the first post-Powerplay over, Akmal hammered Suranga Lakmal for two fours and a six, going past 50 in the process. In the next over, he lofted left-arm spinner Chaturanga de Silva over extra cover and late-cut him virtually from within the keeper's gloves, to pick up two more fours.

The two big overs had arrived. The momentum had swung Pakistan's way. The stadium was only a third full, but most of that crowd seemed to be supporting Pakistan. Their chants filled the air. Their team now needed just 57 from 48.

Most teams in the world that need 57 from 48 balls, with six wickets in hand and two half-centurions at the crease, would go on to win comfortably. With Pakistan, however, you never quite know. And this isn't just recourse to the 'mercurial Pakistan' stereotype.

Since February 2011, when Misbah scored an unbeaten 93 to guide them to a two-wicket win chasing 263 in Napier, Pakistan had lost every time when chasing a target in excess of 250 - 11 matches. In Fatullah they were in a position to end that unwanted streak. They needed 57 from 48, with six wickets in hand. Misbah was batting on 67, Akmal on 72.

Lakmal had gone for 16 runs in his previous over. Angelo Mathews, the Sri Lanka captain, kept him on. Perhaps he had the inkling of a rash stroke from Akmal, who had exchanged words with Lakmal seven overs before. Third ball of Lakmal's over, Akmal threw a diagonal bat at a wide length ball. Kumar Sangakkara snapped up the edge behind the stumps.

At this point Pakistan needed a batsman with a cool head, a batsman who could bat sensibly, give Misbah the strike and calm things down. In walked Shahid Afridi. He slapped the seventh ball he faced straight into cover's hands.

Three balls later, Misbah holed out. Some situations can get to the coolest of heads. Out of nowhere, Lasith Malinga had two wickets in an over: a wide length ball slapped straight to cover, a length ball on leg stump hoicked to deep square leg. Pakistan were seven down.

They still only needed 43 from 30, and all the Pakistan batsmen who had got out playing silly shots - all the way back to Sharjeel Khan and Sohaib Maqsood earlier in the innings - will have had a sick feeling in their stomachs when two fluky, edged boundaries from Saeed Ajmal brought their target down to 17 from 12.

It wasn't to be, of course, but it could have been, so easily. Instead, Pakistan suffered a 12th straight defeat in a 250-plus chase.

"The way Umar and I had a partnership going, if we had just played out the overs the match was easy," Misbah later said. "Only a wicket could get them back in the game, and that is the mistake we made."

Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (March 1, 2014, 16:26 GMT)

better if India opt for Pandey over Rayudu..keeping Binny intact..

Posted by   on (February 27, 2014, 18:53 GMT)

Since last 17 years we are waiting that one Shahid Afridi we become a mature batman but he has not learned anything from the opportunity he is getting now time has come we should give chance to other youngsters.

Posted by sherishahmir on (February 27, 2014, 5:26 GMT)

Defeat from the verge of winning is always difficult to digest especially such a hard work done by Misbah and U Akmal, but lacking of finishing ability in Umer Akmal, absence of mind in Afridi to understand the situation (after playing roughly 375 games) and Bilawal Bhatti to take the game to final over were reasons costing the game to us. Feel sorry, to miss an opportunity to win a good game and full credit to Sri Lanka team to keep their nerves under control and secure a great victory.

Posted by PIA786 on (February 26, 2014, 22:42 GMT)

Afridi should be dropped as he is not a batsman, hes poor. Hes played hundreds of one days yet he cant remain cool and calm. Pathetic.

Posted by Valavan on (February 26, 2014, 9:13 GMT)

@Pakistan Fans, This is what MD Crowe meant as MESS. Pakistan can win from jaws of defeat and loose from winning position. SL should definitely know that NZ not long ago registered test win in SL. I sincerely wish NZ to go for glory this time as they play in home conditions. NZ has to play 3 good matches in KNOCKOUT for the CUP. cricinfo please publish.

Posted by ZeeshanKamal on (February 26, 2014, 8:25 GMT)

Include Fawad Alam in place of Bhatti. This will give more depth in batting and he is a left arm spinner as well. Gul, junaid, ajmal, afridi, hafeez have the quality to bowl 50 overs. Fawad Alam can himself bowl 3-4 over in the middle.

Posted by   on (February 26, 2014, 8:05 GMT)

This is a pathetic record and shows the team lacks temperament to finish the job. No excuses for Afridi and Hafeez. The presenced of both these "mediocre" Allrounders ruins the balance of Pakistan side. Hafeez is unfit and unworthy to be a no. 3 batsmen which is a slot occupied by the team's best batsmen. Afridi has lost many games for Pakistan when just a decent 20-30 runs chould have won the game. Afridi must be dropped for good and a better bowler like Babar played. Hafeez should either bat down the order or make way for a much better batsmen like Fawad Alam. The Team and Management refuse to learn lessons and the blunders in team selection and patterns of losing continue to be repeated.

Posted by   on (February 26, 2014, 7:49 GMT)

I am fine with result as a Pakistani. It was a tough fight and boys did their best. They could have done better in the end but its ok to lose like this as long as they learn from mistakes in the death overs

Posted by   on (February 26, 2014, 7:18 GMT)

yes they should have chased it. the fact is they failed to read the game. umar akmal got carried away really there was no need to do that. afridi should wait and the try to do anything. you just came in and no big score board pressure really and you are trying to hit their best bowler.

misbah also played poor shot. pak had bhatti and gul who could stay on wicket so all misbah needed was to stay till end.

they failed to read game. and tried to hit the best bowler. you have to give respect. even likes of gul and bhatto were trying to hit malinga which tells the lack of maturity in these guys. sharjeel has got not sound technique. his style will succeed once in few games but not all. disappointed with maqsood. he got starts in all his games but every time given away. another afridi in making really. bhatti's bowling is not improving . dont know what m akram doing. should bring in anwar ali instead of him and may move hafeez to open and bring fawad instead of sharjeel.1

Posted by   on (February 26, 2014, 6:54 GMT)

Everyone is going to blame the lower middle order for this but i think if you are once set you should finish the game. Misbah and Umar should have done it. Once umar took the game away from Sri Lanka he should have played sensibly. Misbah tried a lot to calm him down but he didn't listened

Posted by   on (February 26, 2014, 6:10 GMT)

This time Pak have got few decent batters other than Misbah. Umar Akmal has the same amount of talent as Virat. But what lacks is attitude & temperament. And this is not a thing he can not learn. Virat in the past had even bigger problems then what Umar have at the moment. Shame such a talent is being lost/wasted without a proper guidance. Also all the batters including Misbah does not know how to close a match. I will not give example of Dhoni or Yuvi. Just take in case Raina. Leave out his documented problems with short ball, but once he is in, playing at 50+, he will not throw it away. Pak needed 57 of 8. 6 overs at run a ball would have given them chasing 21 in final 2 overs. More than doable with 4-5 wickets in hand. I thought Pak were big favourite this time too. But if you bowl first, your batters can not chase and if you bowl second, dew will make things difficult even for Ajmal, Gul & Junaid alike.

Posted by hellothereeveryone on (February 26, 2014, 5:59 GMT)

Chasing such targets one of the top four has to score but they all failed and that also after getting starts and being in a situation when they are set at the wicket and can score a big one. All of them got out playing stupid shots which could have easily been avoided especially at the start of an inning when things are under control. More than a batting coach Pakistan team needs a psychologist to work on immature and non professional attitude which other than Misbah unfortunately no one else seems to have in this team. Just having talent is not enough you have to have the right attitude to win big matches!!!!

Posted by   on (February 26, 2014, 5:55 GMT)

Do not only blame Pak batsmen who undoubtedly lacked sensible application while selecting shots as per requirement. Indeed Malinga should be given credit for bowling excellently, dropping his pace & natural yorkers, and played mind game better. Pak need to retrospect about final playing 11 against huge pressure game against India to stay alive in Asia Cup.Wake up call for Afridi & bhatti (with few more) to be tagged as culprits against losing yesterdays match.

Posted by Crazy4cricket40 on (February 26, 2014, 5:05 GMT)

This is what the diff b/w Akmal and Kohli/Dhoni otherwise Akmal would be sitting with Kohli's level too. Misbah is right, this should have been chased as these are Asian pitches, do not expect anything less than 285-300 runs. Also Pakistan will miss M. Irfan badly. I think time to give Sami Aslam a go instead of Ahmed Shehzad. Shehzad does not seems to be long term opener. Sharjeel deserve couple more chances. Don't know what to do with Afridi. I think Only Javed miandad can teach him some hard lessions.. hAfeez hopefully bounce back if pitches are not swinging. Still hopefull for Pakistan as India's batting looks little weak without dhoni, raina and yuvi. All the best to Pakistan

Posted by   on (February 26, 2014, 4:59 GMT)

I wish india loose to Bangladesh or Sri Lanka then on 2nd march it will be the hell of a match both teams knowing it will be do or die kind of situation any ways best of luck ol the teams........... . As far as Pakistan chase is concern i thnk openers play a vital role in chasing big targets...... As far as team is concerned i thnk only one change should be done and itz bilawal bhatti replaced by Anwar ali as far as i thnk anwar ali is gud in field and i thnk he bats gud than hafeez and he is a gud fast bowler than bhatti who only bowls 4 overs as a main bowler

Posted by   on (February 26, 2014, 4:20 GMT)

M an Indian, a Big Fan of Afridi & young Pakistani fast bowlers, but i think Afridis time is over. Or they should use him as a bowler and send him at number 10 or 11 to bat.

Posted by   on (February 26, 2014, 4:13 GMT)

I think Pak team selection needs to change the mindset. Afridi is a tailender now, not an allrounder. Akmal is a top order batsmen, not a late middle order slogger.

Posted by Fast_Track_Bully on (February 26, 2014, 3:56 GMT)

Congrats to SL for allowing Pakistan to score 250+ which is a rare seen iin Pakistan games! Another escape for SL! They are running on luck, pure luck! They escaped from defeat in last over/last ball in the BD series and now this! And some one boasted that they reached no:3 in ranking! But without a win against major teams!! Next time SL will arrange series with Scotland and PNG to climb the

Posted by   on (February 26, 2014, 3:29 GMT)

Pakistan would be eliminated .

Posted by   on (February 26, 2014, 1:56 GMT)

as a Sri Lankan..... what i have to say is Pakistan played so well until Akmal collapsed! This was truly foolish 57 in 48 balls with 6 wickets and also with 2 well settled batsmen, even Afganistan will chase it easily. The problem they had is, they had no control great cricketers dont play ruthless shots every time coz it is a matter of time. Best example is Champion Sangakkara, watch how he anchored his inning against Bangladesh in last tournament. And also Mattews, extreamly well controled inning in this game where SL losing too much wickets. So If Misbha & Akmal controled their innings not going for slaughter but win the game with mind they would have ended up in winning side!

Posted by   on (February 25, 2014, 22:31 GMT)

get rid of hafeez .play any good batsman on number 3 position you will see then most matches Pakistan will win. number 3 batsman in cricket must be outstanding. so folks don't have high hopes for this Pakistani team. I am afraid hafeez will get score against weaker teams like Afghanistan and bangla desh and cost us match against india or any good team. so we must say bye bye to hafeez and afridi.

Posted by KingOwl on (February 25, 2014, 21:09 GMT)

"At this point Pakistan needed a batsman with a cool head, a batsman who could bat sensibly, give Misbah the strike and calm things down. In walked Shahid Afridi."

Ha, ha! Good one!

Posted by   on (February 25, 2014, 20:33 GMT)

well played SL. I dont think india with a chance to win this title without dhoni. Pakistan still can come back all guns blazing. all depends how b'desh play today if they can knock over 2 of 3 big boys there in with a chance.

Posted by   on (February 25, 2014, 20:31 GMT)

pakistan's real test will be against India. they are psychologically weak against India and run chases isnt their cup of tea.

Posted by   on (February 25, 2014, 20:19 GMT)

Pakistan has the best bowling line-up in Asia. The batting is full of talent, but very susceptible to rash shots, poor judgement and sudden collapses. The team selction is also bizarre. What was Afridi thinking when he swung like that at a time when victory was in sight. This man is Pakistan's sweetheart. And he never fails to disappoint with the bat. Way to go Pakistan!

Posted by dabbadubba on (February 25, 2014, 19:40 GMT)

when India repeatedly chases much more huge targets, everyone says its the flat pitch :-) when Pak fails to do it repeatedly, then the fans says, its just one of those things..maybe all those were on seaming/swinging/fast pitches

Posted by   on (February 25, 2014, 19:39 GMT)

Pakistan will still win Asia Cup.

Posted by Stieprox on (February 25, 2014, 19:33 GMT)

i think afridi is the culprit.the way he lost his wicket is such shot was needed.anyway good fight by pakistan team

Posted by   on (February 25, 2014, 18:57 GMT)

correction: Pakistan were 4 down n not 5 down. misbah n akmal had partnership for 5th wicket

Posted by   on (February 25, 2014, 18:40 GMT)

It isn't easy chasing such scores and Pakistan doesnt exactly have the best batting lineup.

Posted by Roger.A. on (February 25, 2014, 18:29 GMT)

No need to worry! They will achieve it against India.

Posted by Karnain on (February 25, 2014, 18:24 GMT)

Pakistan needed 57 in 48 balls with 6 wickets in hand, not 5 wickets!

Posted by agent001 on (February 25, 2014, 18:18 GMT)

Poor team selection by Pakistan in having Bhatti selected for 4 overs. He could have been replaced by a proper batsman. Afridi contribution with the bat cost this match to Pakistan. Pak bench players a lot better and have cooler heads than the ones played today.

Posted by   on (February 25, 2014, 18:16 GMT)

staggering fact.. hopefully with Zaheer in as batting coach, batsmen will buck up mentally.. still, Pak's batting department gave fight and that must've be a sight of relief for all of us..

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Sri Lanka won by 5 wickets (with 22 balls remaining)
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