Pakistan March 9, 2013

One-day testing ground important for Pakistan

It remains a mystery as to why Pakistan took on South Africa with such an untried Test bowling attack but the one-day series offers a vital opportunity to beginning planning for the future in whites

Umar Gul has not been able to effectively transfer his devastating limited-overs ability to Test cricket © AFP

Strange occurrences are common in Pakistan cricket. Perhaps one of the deepest mysteries for future generations to decipher will be how Pakistan decided to challenge the world's undisputed No. 1 Test team with a squad packed with rookies? Some of the criticism of the team and coaching staff has been bizarre; nobody seriously expected Pakistan to beat South Africa. But a legitimate beef is that Pakistan pitted colts against thoroughbreds. Bowlers with no Test experience, sometimes no speed, were asked to dominate the best batting unit in Test cricket.

This particular aspect of the failure is alarming for a country that prides itself on its bowling riches. Pakistan's bowling attack looks a more formidable prospect in limited-overs cricket - much of this is because two of the most frustrating players of the last decade show promise for the longer game but are ultimately one-day specialists. Umar Gul and Mohammad Hafeez are frequent match-winners in both 50-over and T20 cricket. In Test cricket they struggle to influence a match in Pakistan's favour.

Influence, we know, is hard to measure: it isn't just about averages and strike rates. Take Gul for example. He sits just outside the top ten of Pakistan's all-time highest wicket-takers, ahead of Fazal Mahmood. His average, a touch over 34, isn't world beating but it is decent. Dig a little deeper though, and the statistics tell a different story. In matches that Pakistan have won, Gul's influence has been minimal. He has played in 16 victories, taking a five-wicket haul only twice in 32 innings. By comparison, Shoaib Akhtar played in 20 victories, taking a five-wicket haul on seven occasions in 38 innings.

For Gul's bowling read Mohammad Hafeez's all-round contribution. Pakistan's Test cricket has progressed despite carrying some experienced passengers. With Misbah-ul Haq approaching the end of his shelf life and no Test cricket for many months, Pakistan must use one-day internationals to develop replacements for the Test team. The new rules for 50-over cricket have nudged it closer to Test cricket by encouraging attacking bowling and more refined batting.

The interest, then, in this one-day contest with South Africa lies in which players can begin to show the necessary maturity and commitment to regain a Test place. While the escapades of Shahid Afridi, Kamran Akmal and Imran Farhat are ever fascinating, the question for me is whether Wahab Riaz and Umar Akmal can show enough in the one-day format to challenge for a recall to the Pakistan Test team.

Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Arif on March 11, 2013, 11:26 GMT

    The first ODI went as per expected lines. A thrashing

  • Dummy4 on March 11, 2013, 0:23 GMT

    remove misbah as captain, pakistan will win the series with hafeez as captain.

  • Khawaja on March 10, 2013, 6:32 GMT

    nasir,hafeez, imran farhat, younis khan, kamran akmal, misbah, malik,afridi,gul, irfan,junaid/rehman/ajmal

    there are many question marks on most players..however asad/haris can be added as alternate batsmen as azhar is not in too good a form..we have enough bowlers at this time and teh only question is whether to play ajmal and abdur rehman or juggle teh bowlers depending on a fast or slower pitch...malik is a good enough alrounder...umar aknmal has not developed a position or a regular sort of batting attitude

  • Bobby on March 10, 2013, 3:06 GMT

    I got no issues with the selection of Pakistan's ODI team, however, selections for Pakistani test team for a farce. Tanvirs, Rahat Alis and the likes did not deserve to be in the team. Same goes for Ehsan Adil. The guy looked promising, but his pre-mature selection was not helpful to anyone. Pakistan's batting has been their issue sine Saeed Anwar, Salim Mailk, Javed Minadad and Ijaz AHmad left Pakistani team in cluters. Yousaf, Younis and Inzemam held it together for ahwile, but no qulity batsmen seems to be emerging or groomed. An example is Khurram Manzoor who is a very fine opener and scored very fine 77 against Australia in his last inning but is being ruined. What wrong poor Hammad Azam has done? He can be next Abdul Razzaq ( by the way he is still around). Pak's ODI team has Younis, Misbah, Malik all in one line and Pak needs to rely on their brand of cricket and that is aggressive stroke play. The weakest link in Pak's ODI batting is actually Misbah Ul Haq himself!

  • Dummy4 on March 10, 2013, 3:00 GMT

    Gul definitely is not a test bowler he gets frustrated to fast and sometimes in desparation to get a wicket leaks huge amount of runs ,as experienced test batsmen are in no hurry to play drastic strokes on his medium pacers.

  • Dummy4 on March 9, 2013, 18:49 GMT

    What about Asad Shafiq??????? han????? he's such a technically sound batsman and his average in tests was the highest as well...... he should be in odi's always...... why should keep him only in test matches............!!!!!!!!!!!

  • zaf on March 9, 2013, 16:52 GMT

    SA team should add J. Kallis, as he very popular player in Pakistan. PAK team should wakeup and should understand they are going to face world#1 team strongest bowling. PAK team should add Abdul Razzak, as he backup Afridi in batting lineup.

    1) Nasir 2) Imran Farhat 3) Hafeez 4) Younis/Haris Sohail 5) Misbah/Asad 6) K. Akmal 7)Afridi 8)Sohaib/Razzak 9)Irfan 10)Junaid 11) U. Akmal

    Pak team should add batsmen in place in Gul & Ajmal. Hafeez, Afridi, Sohaib=sping bowlers, Junaid, Irfan=Fast bowlers.

  • Dummy4 on March 9, 2013, 15:52 GMT

    i thnk we should test umar akmal @ no. 4 becoz dis guy has immense potential and making him bat @ no. 6. is not goin to solve anythng. give him one full series at 4 and den decide whether he is onto the task or not. if not den send him back to first class level. from what i hav seen ahmad shehzad and nasir jamshed has to be long tym openers. with hafeez reluctant to bat low. and misbah not hanging his boot that is not going to happen anytime soon. misbah in odi's is no good but again we find ourself pondering over batting of kamran akmal and shahid afridi coz none can play the role of finisher during chase

    batting is a complete mess , and i honestly dont understand the logic of having gul junaid irfan/wahab ajmal afridi and malik in same team. even if u want malik in ur team then he has to be only as a batsman so give him this responsibilty.

    warning should be issued to misbah , malik , afridi perform or perish.

  • Dummy4 on March 9, 2013, 15:45 GMT

    it should be simple to pick on basis of domestic performance. but they go back . trying new guys but in this series they again gone back to old. with malik, afirid, gul, misbah, younas, farhat selection is gone back and i dont see asad or any other new guy getting chance in playing 11.

    About afridi, we need afridi the batsman more than afridi the bowler. as a bowler only he can not play in team on pitches where you need 3 fast bowlers. but as a batsman he can .

  • Faizan on March 9, 2013, 13:21 GMT

    Afridi doesn't deserve a spot in the team simply because he had not performed at the domestic level after he was dropped. Afridi has had good performances in the best but he hasn't been performing well after he lost captaincy. Younis and Misbah should be dropped too from the one day side. Bring in Asad Shafiq and Harris Sohail in the shorter formats. Umar Gul should be strictly restricted to the shorter formats. U. Akmal needs to be disciplined first before thinking about bringing him into any side.

  • No featured comments at the moment.