Final thrash fails to come
Pakistan's defeat is a blow and a shock. A semi-final place would have been an acceptable result before the tournament started but the manner of Pakistan's progress, and a semi-final against New Zealand, promised a happier outcome for Younis Khan's team.
Pakistan fell at least 25 runs short on a good batting track, a performance that could be explained by ring rustiness. An alternative explanation, however, is that Pakistan's experienced batsmen failed to master two fundamental aspects of one-day cricket.
The first of these has dogged Pakistan for over a decade, as they have become too reliant on a rollicking final ten overs. Indeed, the middle order play as if there is no need to rush as it will all come good in the final thrash. But too often the final thrash lasts too few overs and is a major contributor to Pakistan's unpredictability.
The answer is more urgency in the middle to keep the scoreboard ticking and the run-rate up. Pakistan played this game perfectly against India but have disappointed since. It was a sobering sight watching Umar Akmal show his experienced colleagues how to nudge, pinch, and accelerate.
Umar's disappointment at being wrongly dismissed by Simon Taufel was understandable. He had played with passion, pride, and good sense to establish a platform for Pakistan's final thrash. The umpires' decision to report Umar to the match referee was regrettable and pedantic. Fortunately Javagal Srinath sensibly decided to dismiss the charge of dissent.
The second mistake was Pakistan's woeful use of the last Powerplay, which was needed around the 35th over. Again, Pakistan delayed until it was too late and wickets were no longer in hand. It's hard to understand what Pakistan and other teams hope to gain by using the last Powerplay in the final few overs? Clearly, whatever the critics of 50 overs cricket might say, most teams are still well short of mastering this form of the game.
Now Pakistan must regroup for a tough winter. They should depart South Africa with their heads held high and indications of further progress on the road to recovery. But while Younis Khan has created an exciting and successful formula in Twenty20 cricket, his 50 over recipe is a little stale in the batting department.
Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets here