Asia Cup 2014 March 3, 2014

'Surprise package' Talha delivers


Misbah-ul-Haq has said that Pakistan's strategy to use fast bowler Mohammad Talha as a surprise package worked against India. It was Talha's debut and he took 2 for 22 from his seven overs, delivering a spell that had more impact than the numbers suggest.

"We just brought Talha back after keeping him fresh [in the early stages of the tournament]," Misbah said. "We didn't play him in the first two games. We wanted to use him as a surprise package. He did well on debut against India, in such a huge pressure game. He bowled well, like he did in the Sharjah Test, which was also a pressure game."

Talha bowls faster than Umar Gul and Junaid Khan, usually hovering around the 140kph mark. He can add control to the Pakistan attack, as seen from his string of dot balls after his first over against India. Talha generally bowls short of a length as he did in his comeback Test against Sri Lanka a few months ago. He also has a big incutter and can straighten the ball at times with a fuller-length delivery, but generally he bowls short and gets the wickets.

Having already marked him out as a shock factor, Misbah brought him on in the 13th over. In the space of seven overs, he went on to make more of an impression on ODI debut than in his Test debut exactly five years ago.

On March 2, 2009, Talha took his first wicket but he had gone for plenty in 17 overs. The Test match is infamous for the attack on the Sri Lankan players on the third morning near the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. For the then 20-year-old Talha, it must have been a traumatic start to international cricket.

Coming into the India game in the Asia Cup having missed the first two matches, Talha was understandably nervous. He strayed on the pads once in the first over and was duly hit for four by Ajinkya Rahane. He soon settled down though, bowling two tight overs and building up his pace.

He had been bowling two lengths, either backwards of good length or fuller. The latter didn't work much, so he stuck to bowling quick and short. Soon, he preyed on Rohit Sharma's nonchalance, getting him to pull a delivery that wasn't entirely short. In fact, it was the distinction between his short and slightly short deliveries that worked in his favour.

Talha continued hitting these two lengths thereafter. At the end of his fourth over, he almost made Rahane hit one back at him, mainly because the batsman had been outfoxed by the length and the slowing down of the pitch.

By the time he had picked up Rahane's wicket, caught flicking an outside off-stump delivery, he had also built up enough dot balls to trouble India. There was definitely a second spell in him but a hamstring pull kept him away from bowling. Talha was pulled out by the physio who was seen treating him near the boundary in the 42nd over.

Still, having played a key role in the highest-profile match of the tournament, Talha will savour his ODI debut, especially given how March 2 turned out five years ago.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on March 4, 2014, 5:45 GMT

    @Sea. Did India make it to the last edition of the Asia cup final or the t20 world cup final with Dhoni? Pakistan outplayed India, when the bilateral series took place in 2012 and have managed to prevent Indian batsman's from dominating them. India has yet to score over 300 against Pak for sometime now. Even Kohli, averages a mere 14, if you exclude that 183.

  • Dummy4 on March 4, 2014, 3:55 GMT

    Whether Talha is playing or not its already predicted that India don't go to final without MSD. Anyhow lets see whether India go to Semi Final in World T20

  • m on March 4, 2014, 3:41 GMT

    WHY the negative comments which bowler Pakistan wasted while he was performing thinker not just followers others .... if Talha performe InshaAllah he will be in team as long he is doing well

  • SYED on March 4, 2014, 0:58 GMT

    Great talent, good intent. He should be sent to play county or league cricket here in England or to countries like Australia or South Africa, to polish his skills, as id Junaid. Pakistan doesn't have any international commitments for the next six months anyway. He might develop a long way. Bless him

  • Saad on March 3, 2014, 23:36 GMT

    @xylofon, It would be a stupid decision to bring in ehsan adil. Adil bowls at 125-130 kmh while Talha can bowl consistently in the 140s. Ehsan does bowl a decent length but he leaks runs. He is no match For Talha.

  • SHAHID on March 3, 2014, 19:56 GMT

    India watch and listen............

  • B on March 3, 2014, 18:07 GMT

    Ehsan Adil may be better. And even the best in Pak today. I dont know why they are holding him back. Its nice to see Talha perform but consistency is all - especially if you are a fast bowler in Pakistan - the competiton is strong.

    Lots of people are given too many chances if they only perform against India, that is a big problem with Pak selectors/managers.

    So lets see if Talha keeps performing.

  • Dummy4 on March 3, 2014, 17:49 GMT

    Being a Pakistani, I am myself surprised at times that how come Pakistan produces such an immense talent especially when there is no international cricket in Pakistan for the last five years. That is something amusing also a pride for us as well.

  • Dummy4 on March 3, 2014, 16:42 GMT

    Good debut and looks good. he bends his back more. Pak have good back up for fast bowlers. Cant play all together though. In my opinion, 3rd seamer should always be a batting all rounder because we cant go with 3 fast bowlers + Ajmal + Afridi & Hafeez . need to improve Anwars or Bhattis bowling or find some one else.

    Overall talha is good bowler and will have a good future.

  • Dummy4 on March 3, 2014, 16:27 GMT

    Pakistan will discover these bright prospects and then abandon them at will. For Talha to come back after such a long absence is amazing. Quicks have a short shelf life and Pakistan's selectors have wasted so many talented quicks. I only hope talha does not meet the same fate. Well done young man and may you be in the selector's good grace.

  • No featured comments at the moment.