Age of Khan May 4, 2009

A defeat but a respectable one

Pakistan fans should not be too despondent at their team's defeat to Australia

Pakistan fans should not be too despondent at their team's defeat to Australia. Playing any international sport occasionally puts you at a disadvantage and that's before we consider the issue of neutral venues.

Most importantly, Pakistan managed to play out a scheduled series without disruption, and a blueprint has been established for the survival of Pakistan cricket until the domestic environment improves.

Had it not been for their traditional batting frailty, Pakistan would have easily won this series against a weakened Australian team. But batting skills probably suffer most from any absence from the international circuit.

As Pakistan showed in two of the matches, it is possible to gloss over frailties and lack of match practice in the shorter forms of cricket. When Pakistan return to Test cricket we will then know the true extent of their plight.

Nonetheless, it is important to take positives from this series. In particular, the spin combination of Shahid Afridi and Saeed Ajmal helped Pakistan remain competitive throughout.

Afridi, now certainly a senior statesman, extracted more turn than he usually has. We will need more evidence before we can decide if it was the environment or Abdul Qadir's influence. Ajmal impressed too, and if he can avoid a damning verdict from ICC's technical committee he will be an important addition to Pakistan's squad.

On the batting front, there was little of genuine cheer other than the final match-winning partnership between Kamran Akmal and Misbah-ul-Haq, which helped Pakistan succeed from a position that usually sees them fail.

For many fans, Akmal's presence in the team defies the logic of his performances but he occasionally produces an innings of this nature that makes you wonder how valuable he could be if he could master both his trades at once.

Misbah, too, has flattered to deceive in his own way, often taking Pakistan to the brink of victory but succumbing to stupidity on the threshold of an individual triumph. Here both men held their nerve to finish the series with a respectable result for Pakistan.

The future, provided that it includes regular international cricket and the return of Pakistan's ICL cricketers, can be viewed with a degree of confidence by Pakistan. Indeed, Younis Khan's team should be able to develop into a potent force in limited overs cricket. It is in the Test arena that their lack of opportunities will hurt them.

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