February 17, 2013

Pakistan in South Africa 2012-13

A battle of skills

In the Dawn, Hassan Cheema takes stock of a fascinating little battle between Saeed Ajmal and Hashim Amla that played out on the second day of the Test match between South Africa and Pakistan in Cape Town.

Ajmal's greatest strengths lie not in bowling the odd doosra but the subtle changes in his length that he can employ. Almost every ball that he bowled to Amla during that spell was at a length where he had to go on the back-foot, but wasn't able to pull the ball. Furthermore - although he is often criticized for his conservatism - Misbah did have all but one fielder within 30 yards of the batsman. It was a combination of all these things - the pressure from the fielders, the fact that Amla couldn't relieve the pressure by going to the non-striker's end nor put Ajmal away - that led to the eventual wicket. And the wicket was a reflection of what had preceded it. A frustrated Amla, trying to play the ball across the line was on the back-foot to a ball that he never should have been at. Without the demons created by the previous 16 balls, Amla could very easily have flicked that ball off the front foot in his customary serene way.

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