Pakistan v Sri Lanka, Final, Asia Cup, Mirpur March 8, 2014

Misbah bemoans ineffective bowling


Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq has attributed his team's Asia Cup final defeat to his bowlers' inability to put pressure on Sri Lanka's batsmen. Chasing 261, Sri Lanka, led by a century from Lahiru Thirimanne, cruised to a five-wicket win to take their fifth Asia Cup title.

Only Saeed Ajmal posed a threat to Sri Lanka, as Pakistan looked to defend a hard-earned total. Ajmal took 3 for 26 in 10 overs, but apart from him and to an extent, Mohammad Hafeez, the rest of the attack - Umar Gul, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Talha and Shahid Afridi - were all ineffective.

Misbah had to take Ajmal off after the offspinner had taken two quick wickets in his first spell of four overs. He had given away just ten runs, having delivered two maiden overs as well. The Sri Lankan batsmen opted against attacking Ajmal, prompting Misbah to switch bowlers to try and wrestle a wicket.

"They were just consuming his [Ajmal's] overs, just blocking him," Misbah said. "I thought I would take a chance with someone else, to get the wicket. But I think it was a bad day for all the bowlers. They couldn't really put pressure, and you can't win matches with just one bowler. You need to bowl well as a unit."

Gul and Talha have now had two poor games back-to-back after bowling ordinarily against Bangladesh. Junaid went for 56 in nine overs, only picking up Ashan Priyanjan's wicket very late in the game.

"We sought early breakthroughs which Saeed Ajmal finally provided us. Bowling too requires partnerships but none of the bowlers could build that sort of pressure on the batsmen. I think it became easy for them, and they won the game.

"We didn't bowl wicket to wicket, and build pressure. Sri Lankan bowlers did that. It was a slow wicket so you had to bowl straighter. Our lengths were quite short too. And we gave a lot of width too, which made it easy for them."

But Pakistan's real problem, as the captain recognised, was their start with the bat. Sharjeel Khan, Ahmed Shehzad and Hafeez all got out in 4.3 overs, leaving the middle- and lower-order far too much to do in a final.

Lasith Malinga was the man responsible for Pakistan having a poor start, picking up a five-wicket haul just as he did in the tournament opener against the same team in Fatullah. Incidentally, Thrimianne too had scored a century in that game.

"Thirimanne played really well and Malinga's first spell was a good one as he swung the ball. He put us under pressure, but we did play some bad shots.

"It was our plan not to give Malinga wickets, but we failed to execute that. He again took five wickets and put us under pressure."

Despite losing the first and last game of the tournament, Pakistan will leave with a happy batting line-up after the wins against India and Bangladesh. They successfully chased 245 and 327 respectively, the latter having broken the record for their biggest chase.

"The team really played well, especially the batting department. Ahmed Shehzad played well. Fawad Alam played two very good innings. Shahid Afridi finished two games. Hafeez and Umar Akmal are in good touch. These are positives. We chased well in two games. Before the World T20s, we are in good shape and are confident."

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Tom on March 11, 2014, 22:30 GMT

    Muhammad Irfan and Mohammad Aamir(next year) are needed in the team. Junaid is wasted by the captain. Umar Gul's time is up and he should say good bye. 260 is a fighting score (Specially in the finals) but they screwed it big time. But I must say Sri lanka has been playing in Bangladesh and the wickets suited them well. But I enjoyed Pakistan batting after a long time. At other times if you loose 3 wickets so early the game is over for you but a 260 score against a better side is commendable. Amazingly same bowler and batsman did it for them ( and they flopped in UAE). Pakistani team should learn from them as they are more talented.

  • Irfan on March 10, 2014, 19:38 GMT

    The bowlers failing in the final is a huge understatement. I would have said they scr$&ed up big time. I can understand, to some extent, when a new kid like Talha would get it wrong and spray it all around. But I just cannot understand experienced bowlers being unable to just maintain a line, let alone perform heroics. Umar Gul should resign for the way he bowled. And the statement about Gul not bowling well in last 2 games is also completely inaccurate (meaning vs Bang and Sri), He was miserable against India as well. Sure he picked up 2 wkts in first spell, but just look at his second spell. He was the reason Pak had to change close to 250 instead of around 230. He just cant seem to keep a line. Junaid is also in-excusable but Gul should retire, period. With the lowish total in final they probably would have still lost, but it would have been a struggle for Sri had these so called pace bowlers kept a decent line. I don't think they deserve to be in a Pak bowling lineup. Well, if Asif

  • ABID on March 10, 2014, 12:07 GMT

    Keeping in view present form of t20 squad, my playing XI will be 1.Shahzad 2.Kamran 3. Hafeez 4. Umer Akmal 5. Shoaib Malik 6. Sohaib 7.Afridi 8.Umer Gul/Bilawal 9. Z.Babar 10. Saeed Ajmal 11. Junaid Khan (Sohail Tanvir, Talha, Bilawal/Gul and Sharjeel to sit out, at least for 1st match). Good Luck team Pakistan.

  • syed on March 10, 2014, 12:05 GMT

    Wasim Akram didn't mince words in the commentary box throughout the Asia cup. He is coaching foreign clubs. It is time to ask him for a longer stint with the national stint. Even if Akram is doing all the right things, sometimes a change helps invigorate the bowlers and reset.

  • Dummy4 on March 10, 2014, 11:13 GMT

    i think this wct20 will be the 1st tournament in last few years when paksitan is going with a bit ok batting but shaky bowling. earlier it was always different case. but this time bowling looks very shaky for past few months. especially fast bowlers. M akmram is not doing any good job.

    we have seen bhatti and anwar had good debut games. but slowly their bowling has faded away. Now same thing with talha. Akram has poor stats during his career and he is also not doing good job with new guys. during last year, this was hidden because junaid was in good form and Irfan was superb. but now its looking below average performance. No pakistani fast bowler in top 12 bowlers in asia cup. and only ajmal at no2 with hafeez at 10.

    Just been looking at pitch map for final. so many poor balls as compared to SL. if they bowl like this in wct20 then will be very hard. Coaches should work hard with bowlers now. Akram should wake up.

    they have lived long on " best attack" tag but not anymore.

  • Dummy4 on March 10, 2014, 11:04 GMT

    Misbah-Alam were slow to begin with no doubt about it. But we should also compare the pitch map of both teams. SL bowled well during that period. have to give credit to them. but when ajmal got 2 wickets in 1 over, other bowlers from other end were easily giving 1 boundary in each over. If you guys look at pitch map then you will know how poorly they bowled. Cant win games on 1 bowler. And i think even 300 was easy the way they bowled and SL batted. remember that still 22 balls left and they hardly scored any big in last 10 overs mean it was easy walk.

    260 might not have enough. but it should not have been so easy with this bowling. which some call best in world. To add to it, poor fielding.

    Ajmal is on 2nd on bowling stat list, hafeez at no 10. no other bowler in top 12 and no fast bowler in top12.

    Slow batting might b 1 of the reason. a minor one but bowling serious concern. & its a warning sign for wct20 & these are the bowlers selected for wct20. will be hard to win like this

  • Reza on March 10, 2014, 10:53 GMT

    Well firstly congratulations to SL. SL have built a squad steadily built by excellent backroom staff and the abilty to follow instructions. Win or lose they play without fear. Prior to the match i expected SL to reach 100 within 20 overs max. There's the big difference betwen the sides. Apply yourself , move your feet and don't hang your bat out. On the bowling front taking wickets is important but you have to bowl the right line and adjust your length to suit the pitch. The fast bowlers either have huge egos or the "bowling coach is too weak". The total was probably 30+ short to be competitive but add the difference in fielding then we were 60 short. Things can improve and I guess we may need to look towards the U19's and a team Physcologist. I've seen too many finals with players not being able to relax and out think the opposition at various stages of the game.Finally Misbah just can't work the field early enough at crucial times in a game. Fawad showed fantastic potential.

  • shahid on March 10, 2014, 9:53 GMT

    @Match-winner Very good points mate but. Misbah's cool and calm exterior is celebrated often enough but his approach to not hurry and continue on a sedate path no matter what and relying on their 'world class bowling' to subdue every team all the time is palin wrong and must change. It should not be always down to Akmals , Afridis and tail ender to atone for the slow strike rate of middle order.I feel the advice to Fawad Alam to target 230 was totally wrong. Lack of a calculated assault earlier on and a lack of urgency between overs 20- 35 cost them the match. If pakistan had lost after scoring 300+ it was okay but this approach did not squeeze out the best of available batting resources, period.

  • Dummy4 on March 10, 2014, 9:29 GMT

    mr dishan mohamed, pak also beat sa in sa, sr ilanka in uae.

  • shahid on March 10, 2014, 8:50 GMT

    I had the rare chance to see Misbah bat live for the first time and I began to see why people criticise him so much and why he had 37 fifties in ODI crciket and no centuries. First of all ODI are not meant to be content on miliking the bowling for 3 runs an over and accumulate a painfully slow 50. When he consumes so many bowls to score his 50 and then couple of sixes whcih makes the stas all right in the end and then get out in 60s but the damage is already done. He told Fawad to target a score of 220 -230 when to beat Sri Lanka anything less than 310 was open to attack anyway. Whenever Pak has won a tournament it is usually by flair and flash of brilliance and the last two ODI were certain defeats for Pakistan if not for Afridi's sensational knocks.Umar Gul ,who says he is good bowler his hit me please bowls and his sagging morale with each hit was dreadful to watch. With this appraoch you could compete in a world event but will not win it.

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