2010: Summer of Pakistan July 30, 2010

Bowlers need a break

For the first hour and a quarter of Friday's play, Pakistan relived the euphoria of Headingley

For the first hour and a quarter of Friday's play, Pakistan relived the euphoria of Headingley. In ideal conditions, Mohammad Asif produced a beautiful spell of swing bowling to wrap up England's innings unexpectedly quickly.

The fear for Pakistan was that ideal conditions for their bowlers would equate to undesirable conditions for their rookie batsmen. And so it transpired. England, especially James Anderson, bowled almost flawlessly, a performance befitting their growing status in world cricket. But there is no substitute for batting experience in English conditions, and Pakistan's top order simply doesn't have enough of it.

It is a rum do for the bowlers, especially the youngster Mohammad Aamer. You spend just over a day bowling your heart out. You believe you have earned a well-deserved rest, and within a couple of hours you are back at the crease expected to save the team with your batting. In fairness, Aamer and Umar Gul made a decent fist of supporting Shoaib Malik. But Pakistan's bowlers require a mental break as well as a physical one.

That's why the batsmen need to step up. This will be a long and arduous tour. There will be better days for Pakistan's batsmen when the sun shines and the wicket is placid. But it is days of gloom and swing that Pakistan's batsmen will learn most from. Let's hope they have learnt something more about footwork and defence against a moving ball.

Pakistan hang tantalisingly short of the follow on target. Ironically, in the context of this match, an enforced follow on might be Pakistan's best chance. The fourth innings in this match, if there is one, will be a difficult one to negotiate even chasing a smallish total. Hence, all hope isn't lost yet but Pakistan must now show that they will not go down without a fight. A defeat with dignity will still leave them with some optimism for future battles.

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

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