March 14, 2014

Pakistan's pace-bowling talent is dwindling

Fast bowlers always bailed the team out of trouble. But in this Asia Cup, we saw the trend reverse
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It's clear that the methods of bowling coach Mohammad Akram (in the white hat) are not working
It's clear that the methods of bowling coach Mohammad Akram (in the white hat) are not working © AFP

The batsmen performed. The bowlers didn't. That's an unusual post mortem for Pakistan in any series or tournament, but it is the atypical verdict that keeps recurring however you choose to dissect the Asia Cup. One tournament, on flat wickets with short boundaries, is dangerous to draw strong conclusions from. But an important underlying trend in recent years is the steady decline in Pakistan's bowling attack. For a country that stands on the shoulders of its bowling heroes this is sombre news.

Since the 1980s at least, high-class fast bowling has come naturally. When the chips are down, the bowlers, especially the fast bowlers, step up. Partly they have had to. Pakistan's batting has been so unreliable that the bowlers have grown familiar with defending small totals. Success has generally been achieved in alliance with quality spin bowlers, but pace bowling has been fundamental to Pakistan's competitiveness.

The loss of Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif in 2010 certainly hurt Pakistan, but Junaid Khan and Mohammad Irfan were once worthy replacements. Now, Irfan is unfit and Junaid is struggling for form. Umar Gul's powers have dwindled and Mohammad Talha is new to international cricket. In the Asia Cup, despite heroics from the batsmen and Saeed Ajmal, the pace bowling carried an unfamiliar ordinariness.

Form is temporary, we know, but class has dwindled. Pakistan's bowlers were once unerring in their ability to hit the right areas, as commentators love to describe. It was almost taken for granted. Yorker, bouncer, length ball, you name it, the ball was on a string. As Sri Lanka chased down the victory target in the Asia Cup, yorkers were absent. There was no pressure on the batsmen, the kind of pressure that brings wickets. There was no sense of attack or threat. The plans were poor, and if the plans were good the execution was abysmal.

Unlike his more illustrious contemporaries, Mohammad Akram wasn't known for his attacking style. His trade was containment, or what passed for it in a bowling line-up that knew only how to attack. The difficulty is that this decline in Pakistan's pace bowling coincides with his tenure as bowling coach. Let's be clear that despite many pointless coaching appointments, Pakistan's bowling maintained its sense of threat. Bowling is a natural skill, which was executed with verve.

This doesn't mean that Akram doesn't know what the bowlers need to do, but it does mean that his methods aren't working. The outcome is there for all to see. The steady decline in fast bowling has been a matter of disbelief but the Asia Cup exposed it. Yes, the wickets were lifeless in Bangladesh but that sequence of bowling performances was as docile as I can remember, on any track.

There was plenty to inspire in this Asia Cup and it all came from those scoundrels, the batsmen. How could they fail us for years on end only to deliver, in the space of a few days, some of the most thrilling performances ever by a Pakistani batting line-up? In Ahmed Shehzad and Fawad Alam there is real hope, while Umar Akmal and Shahid Afridi showed what can be achieved if they channel their craziness.

But why do we have to suffer such uneven performances? When the bowlers excelled, the batsmen didn't. Now the batsmen impress and the fast bowlers capitulate. Pace bowling comes easy to Pakistan's cricketers. It's been a defining feature of the country's cricket. It will be a tragedy to make an ordinariness out of a strength.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on March 20, 2014, 6:06 GMT

    @Prasanna_310, i read all coments but only one was spoyt on. Mr @Prasanna_310 you said the right thing.

  • on March 18, 2014, 22:43 GMT

    It seems Pak batsmen are doing rather well as a result bowlers take less pressure. This is lack of professionalism by Pak bowlers and management plus a defensive bowling coach. Which means Pak bowlers don't apply there abilities unless there is smaller total. This is clear lack of professionalism

  • on March 18, 2014, 19:10 GMT

    Saw a ray of hope on the horizon when Gul shattered the wickets vs kiwi's, he is getting back there.

  • on March 17, 2014, 17:05 GMT

    One bad series and Pakistan's pace-bowling talent is said to be dwindling. We still have one of the most potent bowling attacks in the world. Yes the pacers may not be consistent at this point in time but they've got the capacity to turn it on. I presume we ought to stop criticizing for the sake of criticism only. We latch onto every opportunity to criticize without offering tangible solutions.

  • on March 17, 2014, 16:02 GMT

    Agreed! Pacers did not have any luck whatsoever.. Line and length could at least stop runs from leaking you cant make any big changes in the recent squad since we dont have wide choices. Tanvir could prove himself surprising with his tactics in t20 format.. He has been good in t20 since 2007.. Relying totally on spinners wud not be a fair decision you need to circulate the bowling cleverly if u want to grab hold in t20.. Witnessing Gul's bowling gave me some hope in todays warm up match. I hope we produce some good bowling against India and restrict them below 150.

  • on March 17, 2014, 15:11 GMT

    I agree 100% with Kamran Abasdis observations.Pakistan bowling fast bowling in particular has been wanting quite for some time now. Agredd wickets in Bangledesh are flat and lifeless.But then line and lenght can not absent bcoz of that. It never appeared in recent times that a particular fast bowler is in operation and things will start happening.Only with Syed Ajmal arond one attaches a hope.Batting is also up and down.It clicks only once a while.Pkt defginitely are a tallented side.Unfortunately they dont apply themselves.What happens on 21st will be a decider for developments ahead.Though even a defeat is not the end of it. They have strong side to recken with.

  • vik56in on March 16, 2014, 22:54 GMT

    The under 19 Indian bowlers at the WC cup were faster than the Pakistani bowlers ! There hasn't been any real tearway from Pakistan since Shoaib Akhtar !

  • Cricket_Champion on March 16, 2014, 13:48 GMT

    With all due respect. Pakistan still holds one of the best bowling attacks in cricketing world. Can't judge bowling quality in just a one tournament which was held on lifeless and flat tracks. Once Irfan will make his way to Pakistan side after injury and when Aamir will make his way back to team in 2015 which isn't far away. Even Steyn and Johnson would suffer on flat tracks.

  • Sir_Ivor on March 16, 2014, 10:46 GMT

    I think it is a cycle that every team goes through.There was an unending line of spin bowlers in India once. Now they are struggling to find even a couple.The point is that when two bowlers like Wasim and Waqar get together, they will rule for a decade and a half.Aamir and Asif were wonderful too but sadly went out the wrong way.They would have lasted for at least 15 years if they had been fit. Now that sad part of this longevity is that similar excellent bowlers do not get the chance to come in.That probably explains why Pakistan is playing bowlers who are not young.I never saw this before.I remember in the past they would have some tearaways even at the U 19 stage like Aamir.Zia ul haq was the best Pakistan bowler in the U 19 WC this year He seemed so unlike the fast bowlers we have seen from Pakistan.While robust young men like Irfan will always be around in Pakistan,it is the skills that one saw in the two Ws and Asif that seems to have dried up.I only hope someone turns up again.

  • on March 16, 2014, 9:17 GMT

    Kamran, its only a matter of time when new fast bowlers show up. Though I have personally felt that we are losing on the class of Fast bowling but I expect the best from the Heavens to grant us more of the class of the 2 Ws, the 2 As etc etc. The ever so flowing talent and the craze for cricket in this nation, I am sure we will have a new superstar in the rising. How soon we get one, thats the question.

  • on March 20, 2014, 6:06 GMT

    @Prasanna_310, i read all coments but only one was spoyt on. Mr @Prasanna_310 you said the right thing.

  • on March 18, 2014, 22:43 GMT

    It seems Pak batsmen are doing rather well as a result bowlers take less pressure. This is lack of professionalism by Pak bowlers and management plus a defensive bowling coach. Which means Pak bowlers don't apply there abilities unless there is smaller total. This is clear lack of professionalism

  • on March 18, 2014, 19:10 GMT

    Saw a ray of hope on the horizon when Gul shattered the wickets vs kiwi's, he is getting back there.

  • on March 17, 2014, 17:05 GMT

    One bad series and Pakistan's pace-bowling talent is said to be dwindling. We still have one of the most potent bowling attacks in the world. Yes the pacers may not be consistent at this point in time but they've got the capacity to turn it on. I presume we ought to stop criticizing for the sake of criticism only. We latch onto every opportunity to criticize without offering tangible solutions.

  • on March 17, 2014, 16:02 GMT

    Agreed! Pacers did not have any luck whatsoever.. Line and length could at least stop runs from leaking you cant make any big changes in the recent squad since we dont have wide choices. Tanvir could prove himself surprising with his tactics in t20 format.. He has been good in t20 since 2007.. Relying totally on spinners wud not be a fair decision you need to circulate the bowling cleverly if u want to grab hold in t20.. Witnessing Gul's bowling gave me some hope in todays warm up match. I hope we produce some good bowling against India and restrict them below 150.

  • on March 17, 2014, 15:11 GMT

    I agree 100% with Kamran Abasdis observations.Pakistan bowling fast bowling in particular has been wanting quite for some time now. Agredd wickets in Bangledesh are flat and lifeless.But then line and lenght can not absent bcoz of that. It never appeared in recent times that a particular fast bowler is in operation and things will start happening.Only with Syed Ajmal arond one attaches a hope.Batting is also up and down.It clicks only once a while.Pkt defginitely are a tallented side.Unfortunately they dont apply themselves.What happens on 21st will be a decider for developments ahead.Though even a defeat is not the end of it. They have strong side to recken with.

  • vik56in on March 16, 2014, 22:54 GMT

    The under 19 Indian bowlers at the WC cup were faster than the Pakistani bowlers ! There hasn't been any real tearway from Pakistan since Shoaib Akhtar !

  • Cricket_Champion on March 16, 2014, 13:48 GMT

    With all due respect. Pakistan still holds one of the best bowling attacks in cricketing world. Can't judge bowling quality in just a one tournament which was held on lifeless and flat tracks. Once Irfan will make his way to Pakistan side after injury and when Aamir will make his way back to team in 2015 which isn't far away. Even Steyn and Johnson would suffer on flat tracks.

  • Sir_Ivor on March 16, 2014, 10:46 GMT

    I think it is a cycle that every team goes through.There was an unending line of spin bowlers in India once. Now they are struggling to find even a couple.The point is that when two bowlers like Wasim and Waqar get together, they will rule for a decade and a half.Aamir and Asif were wonderful too but sadly went out the wrong way.They would have lasted for at least 15 years if they had been fit. Now that sad part of this longevity is that similar excellent bowlers do not get the chance to come in.That probably explains why Pakistan is playing bowlers who are not young.I never saw this before.I remember in the past they would have some tearaways even at the U 19 stage like Aamir.Zia ul haq was the best Pakistan bowler in the U 19 WC this year He seemed so unlike the fast bowlers we have seen from Pakistan.While robust young men like Irfan will always be around in Pakistan,it is the skills that one saw in the two Ws and Asif that seems to have dried up.I only hope someone turns up again.

  • on March 16, 2014, 9:17 GMT

    Kamran, its only a matter of time when new fast bowlers show up. Though I have personally felt that we are losing on the class of Fast bowling but I expect the best from the Heavens to grant us more of the class of the 2 Ws, the 2 As etc etc. The ever so flowing talent and the craze for cricket in this nation, I am sure we will have a new superstar in the rising. How soon we get one, thats the question.

  • on March 16, 2014, 8:57 GMT

    Show more confidence in U Akmal, Shazad and Maqsood. Let them all batt up the order and Misibah , Fawad and Hafeez handle middle order. Give new ball to Junaid. Ask Gul to bend his back and give 100%. Take either Bhati or Anwar as all rounder. Give free licence to Afrid while batting and use him intelligently as bowling all rounder. Don't put too mut pressure on Ajaml. If coach and captain are able to follow up on this Pak can be a force to reckon with. Last but not the least either get back Irfan or find a quick genuine fast bowler replacement.

  • Nigah on March 16, 2014, 8:25 GMT

    Asia cup was a trap for Pakistani fast bowlers and they suffered in final as well. Just a bad performance doesn't make Pakistani pacers as weak as Mr. Abbasi writing. However its his job to write something.

  • on March 16, 2014, 7:48 GMT

    Also important is that the captain needs to be clever. Misbah is ordinary as a captain, he lacks the incentive to take brave decisions. If his batting has saved matches (hardly any) his captaincy has lost many. I have never believed in him being the captain. Also we have misused Umar Akmal since he started playing. He is not a lower order batsman but has been made one. People like him needed to groomed to take up responsibility at the higher batting order. Number of reasons for failure, but all boils down to lack of cricketing brain at the top and political appointments of PCB chairmen.

  • Naseer on March 16, 2014, 6:08 GMT

    There is no doubt that bowling has been disappointing, specially from Umar gul, he has been the leader of attack and senior guy, but he bowled very badly as if he was a new comer, in past he used to be a good bolwer with old ball in death overs with revers swing and deadly yorkers, but now a days he seems to have forgotten the skill that he once possessed. M. Irfan's injury has been very negative point as well, because his replacement Talhas never seemed like having the temperament of an international bowler. not only bowling but fielding was as worse as ever, but still I would not blame bowlers, they got India out for under 250 which is itself a great achievement, we also have to keep in mind that if Pakistan batsmen managed to score 260+ on after being 17-3 it must have been batting paradise and defending 260 on batting paradise with new field restrictions is almost impossible for any bowling attack.

  • AH_USA on March 16, 2014, 4:47 GMT

    I am not sure at what merit Mohammad Akram was selected as a bowling coach. May be Waqar or Wasiim were not interested merely as bowling coaches and were looking for a broader role. If that was the case, someone like Aqib Javed should have been engaged for this role. He already runs his academy and was an excellent bowler himself. The problem with Gul is that he forgets his line and length if he is smacked early on and he does not recover from it.

  • inswing on March 16, 2014, 2:26 GMT

    Amir and Asif were two of the best in the world. Loss of both at the same time can't be overcome overnight. In 5 years Pak will produce another bowling superstar. Till then make do with bowlers who are good but not great.

  • YogifromNY on March 16, 2014, 0:15 GMT

    As an Indian fan who loves cricket, I have always admired Pakistan's fast bowlers. But Abbasi seems to be spot on in his analysis here. The Pak board, just like the Indian board, is not exactly known for nurturing good cricketers. In fact, I think Pak's cricketers succeed IN SPITE OF their board.

    For all that, though, Pakistan still has a much better bowling attack than India does!

  • on March 15, 2014, 22:07 GMT

    Get back irfan and if possible amir .The guy is still 21 .He is a big loss to cricket .I saw his videos on YouTube .I think Asif was also a great guy (Thought he and amir could recreate Wasim Waqar Magic )but has had too many issues .Its not all lost though there is Junaid .But Talha has been unimpressive after debut .Irfan needs to come back. Gul used to be good but is looking lackluster .Man Pak have so much bowling talent. I think we should open a trade portal .Some Indian batsmen for Pak fast bowlers.

  • wrenx on March 15, 2014, 18:52 GMT

    Uncharacteristic overreaction from Kamran Abbasi. Pakistan continue to introduce fast bowling talent to the highest level, and all have shown promising signs: Anwar, Bhatti, Adil to name a few. Things aren't as dire as are being suggested. Certainly no worse than other international sides. Look at England - relying on liabilities like Dernbach and Woakes for the future.

  • shahnbej on March 15, 2014, 18:46 GMT

    I blame Misbah and also Hafiz for current bowling problem, because they over used Irfan and constantly excluded Junaid from playing eleven which definitely shutter his confidence and form.

  • azurecharms on March 15, 2014, 18:05 GMT

    Gul's effectiveness is over. He should be given long rest. If he can come back stronger, menacer, and my miser like Johnson, great; but Pak should look for new talent, which unfortunately not visible. For fast bowling coaching, Waqar is signed by some India domestic circuit, Shown Akhtar Should be recruited. He has shown willingness but for some enexplicab reason PCB keeping Akram. You need a coach who has been an ubfaceable bowler like Shaib whilst PCB can't afford the likes of Akram and Waqar.

  • on March 15, 2014, 17:48 GMT

    we as far i am concerned this happens to every country you have bad patches in every departments, like if you can take a look in 90's indain team there was only Tendulkar who was a superstar now you have batting like Kohli, Dhoni,yuvi i mean and that time if you can take wicket of Sachin half of indain team was gone, so when Austrila was Champs for i must say 10 yrs they had Glen ,Lee Glisspe and now they only depend of Jhonson who got his form back after a long time,so not to worry we still have good fast bowlers and we will Inshah Allah produce a sensation very soon as we always do, thumbs UP for Green Team and so sorry mr writter we sitll have one of the best bowling attach of the word and in 2013 Bhatti who bowls 140 kph and anwar need to work on his line and lenth and Talha these are new guys and you don't expect them to bowl like wasim or waqar or asif so give them a time and be hopeful , please publish cricinfo i never saw any of my comment published

  • Prasanna_310 on March 15, 2014, 17:07 GMT

    You have Umar Gul, Junaid and Talha. Junaid is known for his swing. New ball is known to swing. What Pakistani captain does? Brings in Junaid at 6th over! Not one game, every game! What is he doing? Gul is not know to swing the ball, he hardly lets the ball go with upright seam. He hits the ball and moves off the pitch. Those guys don't need new ball. It is baffling to see banal use of fast bowlers of course their form will dip. No fast bowler likes to bowl regularly first change to spinner!

  • Saadcricketlover on March 15, 2014, 16:19 GMT

    Pcb should fight for Amir and bring him back for atleast the domestic until his international ban is lifted. They should try appointing Shoaib Akhtar or Waqar younus as the bowling coach. Sad to hear all this but it's the truth. If our batting keeps delivering and bowlers once again shine we will be the most dominant in cricket. Wow one problem after another.

  • on March 15, 2014, 13:16 GMT

    in 2013, Paksitan has only 2 bowlers who got 12 or more wickets in ODIs. Irfan (38) and Junaid (52). that is shocking. this shows back up/bench strength was poor.

    Bowling issue was hidden because of Junaid's form and Irfan. Irfan was superb at start of the innings and junaid was in great form as well.

    They got 90 wickets out of total wickets taken by Fast bowlers.

    And Irfan's ability to bowl good early on meant that there was always pressure from his end on batsman and wickets tend to fall. But Irfan is out and Junaid has not performed that well in asia cup so all this has been visible.

    Apart from these 2, you cant name any other. Infat you wont find any other fast bowler by paksitan in 2013 bowling charts for 12 or more wickets.

  • on March 15, 2014, 12:55 GMT

    Despite what most comments here suggest, I think I strongly agree with Kamran Abbasi; though I wouldn't put the blame squarely on Akram. And the situation is perhaps not as gloomy. It's the form of Umar Gul, more than anything else. He has been giving Pakistan the odd breakthrough at the start of the innings, but he has been going for way too many runs, both at the start and at the death. Junaid Khan has been much better but still not effective enough. He was great in the SA series, and the pick of the fast bowlers in BD as well. Was a bit unlucky to end up with the figures he has. Talha's lines and lengths are all over the place. He needs to sort that out soon, otherwise Bhatti is a better option. most importantly, Gul - as the most senior bowler - has to get his act together sooner rather than later. He's been out of sorts for a long time now.

  • on March 15, 2014, 12:54 GMT

    I will not say it was only bowling . but bowling has a decline for sure. Role of bowling coach should be questioned. Not because of asia cup but also for last few months. We have seen Anwar , Bhatti and Talha had impressive debuts. but instead of improving , there performance has been going downwards. Its coach's job to help these new guys and polish them more. Akram's own stats from his career are not that attractive, he was an average bowler and not making a good impact with his coaching. Last year it was mostly Junaid and Irfan. but now Irfan is not there and junaid is suffering a dip in form so this thing has been exposed. apart from junaid & Irfan, we cant name too many good fast bowlers by paksitan during last year in odis who did exceptionally well.

    Its not the talent, it is selecting right talent as well as polishing them.

    we were so used to put everything on batting that it is now hard to accept this hard fact by some that this is not "the best " which some call it.

  • on March 15, 2014, 12:52 GMT

    Mohd Akram was a hit the deck type bowler and thats the length he is focusing on with this current crop. Both Junaid and Gul need to bowl fuller lengths, and offer less width, while I dont think Talha is a one day bowler to begin with. Much as I hate to say I think the addition of Tanvir will have a positive impact and hopefully both Junaid and Gul will rediscover their form.

  • on March 15, 2014, 12:47 GMT

    reading some comments here who are still putting it all on batting for asia cup defeat. I do agree 260 might have not been a good total but it was definitely a fighting total. you can see how easily SL chased it down. with 4 overs left and many wickets and they had no trouble in last 10 overs so they could have easily chased 300 on that day.

    For better understanding, i would say have a look at pitch maps of these games and compare it with SL's. you will see where they spread it. I agree wickets were flat but these guys did played on these type of wickets in past but were not this much poor.

    10 wickets for 585 runs in 5 games by fast bowlers is really poor. It wa snot only malinga, there were 5 fast bowlers in top10 of asi cup bowling charts. Umar gul was at no 12. Talha at 15.

    It has not been only visible in asia cup, it was the case for last few series. but hidden by Irfan and junaid's form. But this time both things were missing and exposed.

  • a133936 on March 15, 2014, 12:46 GMT

    Mr. Abbasi, So you are letting last 5 matches of Asia Cup where only Lakmal was made look like Styne by Misbah, dictate the state of Pace Bowling in Pakistan? Here are the yearly bowling stats of Pakistani pacers. Please see last year's (2013) stats and compare them to 2009/2010 when Mohammad Aamir and Umar Gul were at the peak. Last year's stats were better!

    http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/stats/index.html?bowling_pacespin=1;class=2;filter=advanced;groupby=year;orderby=start;size=200;spanmin2=01+jan+2009;spanval2=span;team=7;template=results;type=bowling

  • usmanshaukat on March 15, 2014, 12:08 GMT

    I want to see spark & Yorker from Gul similar to T20 WC 2007. In my opinion Waqar younis is better bowling coach than Akram. Bring him back PCB

  • AndyZaltzmannsHair on March 15, 2014, 10:17 GMT

    Calm down. Asia Cup pitchss were flat pancakes for the pace bowlers. Only spinners found the smallest hint of turn. Let's wait till these boys play on pitches which aren't deathbeds for fast bowling and then make a conclusion.

  • on March 15, 2014, 9:43 GMT

    Bowlers everywhere except on flat track. Take Johson for instance and he was in effective during indian ODI series as he couldnt win Aussie the series. Pakistani bowlers perform well of flat track as they tend to contain runs and somehow manufacture wicket taking deliveries. Now bowlers are exposed and they will be hammered during T20 WC ..

  • on March 15, 2014, 9:30 GMT

    I think it's not the talent because talent is in the blood, it's bad coaching. If we go few years back when Aqib Javaid and Waqar Younis were coaching same bowlers were bowling in the right areas and swings and all varieties. Some of the bowlers were not as good as Amir and Asif were, but after good coaching they were getting wickets,and were economical. Now situation is awkward, new bowler comes in his debut performs very well but after coaching, in next match the performance drops to zero. Some people are saying that fast bowlers performance has gone down because Hafiz is being used to open bowling attack, doesn't make sense to me. If Hafeez is being used, he is definitely proving himself and his mostly use is against left hander openers, and our fast bowlers are getting hammered on the other end. Where as Umar Gul is concern, I would say he had been a very good bowler for limited overs game, but now his time is over since every fast bowler has limit to perform good as fast bowler.

  • on March 15, 2014, 9:11 GMT

    agree 100% with bouncer709. One less successful series with the pitches that put a US freeway to shame, & all is not well with Pak bowling attack? that ludicrous at some Afridi-esque proportions.

  • on March 15, 2014, 8:30 GMT

    Bowling needs big improvement, we can't say the POOR performance of our bowlers was due to dead pitches, since Srilankan bowlers didn't suffer even once on the same pitches. We need to take this very seriously, whether bowling coach or the poor fitness, but this must be addressed soon.

  • getsetgopk on March 15, 2014, 6:32 GMT

    The problem is clearly with batting, in the group stage of Asia cup we lost to SL not because our bowling was below par. It was because of our batting, we lost by 12 runs. Pakistans' batsmen should have scored those runs but they failed yet again. And this batting boom everybody is talking about is again misplaced. Pakistan is yet to find a batsman who can finish matches with his batting other than AFRIDI. The two games Pakistan pulled off against IND and BD were not because of Hafeez or Fawad Alam but because of Afridi. Agree Fawad and Hafeez played a big part but without Lala the task was an impossible one. So I respectfuly disagree with Kamran here. The problem lies in batting still.

  • getsetgopk on March 15, 2014, 6:26 GMT

    Spare our bowlers, they were and are and will be fantastic! Bangladesh pitches are a disgrace, dead as a anything. Hit through the line and you will be able to smash any bowler on these wickets. The problem we had in the final was the batting. That wicket was not a 260 wicket. We had the best spinners and very good pacers that could not restrict SL to 260 means our target was a mediocre one. If you think Malinga is any better than our pacers, then check all his 5 wickets. There is nothing special about any of those deliveries, its just our top folded like they have on countless occasions. Kamran, you must remember it was the same pitch where Pak could not defend 320+ against India in the previous Asia cup. I'm telling you, these pitches are made for runs and if your putting your money on 260 to be a safe bet, then i'm afraid your just throwing your money away. How did Pak recovered from 18 for 3 to 260? If there were demons in pitch, they should not have scored more than 150!

  • on March 15, 2014, 5:28 GMT

    Have batters improved or bowlers gone back?In ODIs and T20s there's so much pressure on bowlers these days that they wouldn't wish the agony of bowling to savage batsmen wielding bats with edges so thick that all kinds of nicks sail over the ropes on their enemies. In limited overs cricket pace bowling has looked ordinary for a long time now,except for the spells of Malinga and Jhonson last year against India.And you know what,it's not really the fault of the bowlers.Consider the kind of rules they have to play with:a fielder less in the outfield,two new balls(no reverse to be had.wasim akram's deadly toe-crushing reversing yorkers can't be repeated by today's bowlers simply because the game's laws wouldn't allow them to,not because they aren't good enough to bowl them) With so much against them it's surprising they still turn up to have a bowl.

  • eng_mdkhan on March 15, 2014, 5:17 GMT

    To be honest comparing Junaid Khan and Mohammad Irfan to Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamir is not fair that pair were too good to be true. I agree that Irfan and Junaid responded well in place of their predecessors but honestly they are not even close to what Asif and Aamir were capable of. Mohammad Akram is only making it worse in exposing their ordinary talent that they are thus far by his tactics or the lack of it. Let me share a great a joke on cricket administration.......Pakistan Cricket Board, thats the end of the joke by the way if you get it. Tell me one good reason for hiring Mohammad Akram as the bowling coach. None of us can even think of a performance where Mohammed Akram stood out. What are his achievements? how long did he play? what are his credentials (besides strings attached)? Routinely PCB defies logic which has only confirmed what I stated earlier.

  • on March 15, 2014, 4:50 GMT

    mohammad amir return stron pak pace attack and i wish mohammad irfan to fit early and i love you boom bro

  • shahnbej on March 15, 2014, 4:47 GMT

    I don't agree with writer, his analyses base on Asia Cup final which was totally batsmen failure not the bowlers. that wickets was full of runs, and because of Misbah scored well below the par score. Odi matches play on batsmen friendly pitches. In conclusion Pakistan weakest dept is fielding second worsted is bating specially when Misbah is there.

  • Elephants-And-The-Grass on March 15, 2014, 3:51 GMT

    Akram is a Minion who never made a mark as a pace bowler. He seems to be an essential problem behind the prevalent downward trends in fast bowling department of Pakistan, an area in which Pakistan has always been considered very strong.

  • Zahidsaltin on March 15, 2014, 2:00 GMT

    Since Zahir Abass got attached to the team, there are signs of improvement in the batting department. The other man to coach is Moin who is niether a batsman nor a bowler. Pakistan, being blessed with greats like Wasim, Waqar even Aqib go on to have Mohammad Akram who himself was never a thinking bowler and always had problems with his line and length.

  • Zahidsaltin on March 15, 2014, 1:47 GMT

    Pakistan has no bowler of a quality to speak about. Gul is only good if it starts reversing but it isn't in Bangladesh. Junaid was never a limited overs bowler and lastly Saohail Tanveer is worst of all. Even Afridi gone for many runs whenever he played in BD

  • t20cric on March 14, 2014, 22:34 GMT

    I also think its poor coaching from Akram that got us here but its unfair to put all the blame on him. The selectors kept persisting with Riaz & Tanvir when they giving so much runs & no wickets. Misbah broke the lethal new-ball partnership of Junaid & Irfan by letting Hafeez open bowling. Irfan was played til injury & Junaid was constantly dropped for Riaz/Tanvir til he lost confidence. Where Akram noticeably went wrong is not improving bowlers. Bhatti, Anwar & Talha all had good débuts but Akram was not able to improve these guys. I noticed last year that Pakistan's pace attack is weaker cuz for probably the 1st time in Pak cricket history a spinner is the lead bowler in our attack. Over the years we have had arguably better spinners than Ajmal in the past but they were always overshadowed by their superior fast bowling counterparts. I think if one of the 2 w's become bowling coach along with the new selectors picking good pacers then we can fix this problem.

  • PlayfromDallas on March 14, 2014, 20:51 GMT

    Pakistan's Cricket Strength is Inversely Proportional to Regional Bias. In other words if Biasness goes up Then Pakistan's cricket strength will go down (the current situation). If Regional Bias will go down Than Pakistan's cricket strength will go up like the era of Mushtaq Mohammed, Asif Iqbal, Miandad and Imran Khan. Unfortunately above statements don't make any sense to the individuals who dwell in Biased World and sadly we have around 100 million of them.

  • on March 14, 2014, 18:58 GMT

    I think the issue is not the current lot but the bench strength. If we have the right guys there, the issue should only be temporary. I think Asia Cup was not the best performance by the bowlers but it wasn't the worst either.

    The policies need to be right as well. Persevering with Sohail Tanveer beats me. Yes he is great at bits and pieces T20 but i feel he is not threat he was when he entered way back in 2007. It is critical to ensure that good bowlers get their chances and get them at the right time. Should planning be right, pace bowling should remain our strength for ages to come.

  • PlayfromDallas on March 14, 2014, 17:17 GMT

    If bowling is not coming up then the required wisdom is to work on the batting line and quit thinking from inside the box. We have batting, we always had it's the regional bias that prevented them to come up. First we need to tackle regional bias; regional bias is an understatement here. Prerequisite to create a winning squad is to think outside the box first select the batsmen according to strategic need on each number no Imran Farhat likes for sure or any batsmen who gets out after scoring 20s and 30s and batting line must never have only stroke players. A good example would be to follow John Wright Model which he created for India in 2000s which enabled India to reach the 2003 World Cup Final and many other successes he was very aware that India don't have pace bowling. On the other hand what bowling India had when they won 1983 World Cup? So please think outside the box good fast bowlers are not granted for Pakistan or any country anyway.

  • PlayfromDallas on March 14, 2014, 16:54 GMT

    If bowling is not coming up then the required wisdom is to work on the batting line and quit thinking from inside of the box. We have batting, we always had it's the regional bias that prevented them to come up. First we need to tackle regional bias; regional bias is an understatement here. Prerequisite to create a winning squad is to think outside the box first select the batsmen according to strategic need on each number no Imran Farhat likes for sure or any batsmen who gets out after scoring 20s and 30s and batting line must never have only stroke players. A good example would be to follow John Wright Model which he created for India in 2004 which enabled India to reach the 2007 World Cup Final and many other successes he was very aware that India don't have pace bowling. On the other hand what bowling India had when they won 1983 World Cup? So please think outside the box good fast bowlers are not granted for Pakistan or any country anyway.

  • bouncer709 on March 14, 2014, 15:33 GMT

    I don't agree with the writer, restricting Indian batting line to 245 doesn't show any bowling failure, though Pakistan could not win the final, but it was clear that in the final it was Pakistan batting failure not bowling. The top order went 17/3. Pakistan managed to 260 but it was clearly 300+ wkt. and then the drop catches from the fielders, What do you expect from the bowlers. In recent past Pakistan bowlers have won matches for Pakistan with their bowling more than earlier pace attacks. Juniad already proved himself on mostly flat tracks. and people will see same writer writing in favour of Gul after T20 WC.

  • on March 14, 2014, 13:27 GMT

    So, I respectfully disagree with the notion that the talent is dwindling. I think the pace battery has been managed awfully poorly. PCB's history teems with such incidents. They decided to drop Fawad Alam after he scored a test century in difficult conditions. They haven't persevered with Shoaib Malik in T20's after his comeback performances in India series. Similar story with Nasir jamshed when it seems that he can surely come good if given more chances. With PCB the policy is all or nothing, feast of famine. A player, either gets to play all three formats or is dropped across all of them. There is no in between or mid-way. They lack professionalism and the results are for everyone to see.

  • on March 14, 2014, 13:20 GMT

    Pakistan needs to get rid of the tried and tested Umar Gul and Sohail Tanvir. In my view its the selections policy which has to carry all the blame. Gul and Tanvir have played enough to know how to bowl in different conditions and to different batsmen. Yet we see them carted away in almost every match. Sohail Tanvir, it seems lacks potential but the most irritating has been Gul. He is the one who puts immense pressure on the bowling line up by conceding easy runs early on. Mohali's semi final and the recent Asia cup final for instance. As for Irfan, everyone could see that he was going to break. Even a layman like myself knows that he has a fragile body, yet the PCB administration could not detect this and played him in all three formats. The outcome was anyone's guess. Junaid's case is similar. He looks exhausted and has been denied necessary time off. Talha seems like a special talent and needs to be nurtured.

  • on March 14, 2014, 13:11 GMT

    Don't forget, PCB have given Akram a 2 year contract just recently which doesn't look good for Pak. Overall the pace bowlers were very disappointing. Gul has not bowled great since 2011, his experience counts for nothing if he can't execute. Junaid made his name on flat Dubai tracks with old balls, he looks restrained by over-coaching. The biggest failure was the lack of movement, swing or seam produced (or not produced) by the pair. Gul has not achieved devastating reverse-swing for four years! I have full confidence with emerging fast bowlers at grass roots level however, it's a tough circuit but the departmental bowling coaches do a decent job. For example the incredible transformation of Irfan over only a few years.

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  • on March 14, 2014, 13:11 GMT

    Don't forget, PCB have given Akram a 2 year contract just recently which doesn't look good for Pak. Overall the pace bowlers were very disappointing. Gul has not bowled great since 2011, his experience counts for nothing if he can't execute. Junaid made his name on flat Dubai tracks with old balls, he looks restrained by over-coaching. The biggest failure was the lack of movement, swing or seam produced (or not produced) by the pair. Gul has not achieved devastating reverse-swing for four years! I have full confidence with emerging fast bowlers at grass roots level however, it's a tough circuit but the departmental bowling coaches do a decent job. For example the incredible transformation of Irfan over only a few years.

  • on March 14, 2014, 13:20 GMT

    Pakistan needs to get rid of the tried and tested Umar Gul and Sohail Tanvir. In my view its the selections policy which has to carry all the blame. Gul and Tanvir have played enough to know how to bowl in different conditions and to different batsmen. Yet we see them carted away in almost every match. Sohail Tanvir, it seems lacks potential but the most irritating has been Gul. He is the one who puts immense pressure on the bowling line up by conceding easy runs early on. Mohali's semi final and the recent Asia cup final for instance. As for Irfan, everyone could see that he was going to break. Even a layman like myself knows that he has a fragile body, yet the PCB administration could not detect this and played him in all three formats. The outcome was anyone's guess. Junaid's case is similar. He looks exhausted and has been denied necessary time off. Talha seems like a special talent and needs to be nurtured.

  • on March 14, 2014, 13:27 GMT

    So, I respectfully disagree with the notion that the talent is dwindling. I think the pace battery has been managed awfully poorly. PCB's history teems with such incidents. They decided to drop Fawad Alam after he scored a test century in difficult conditions. They haven't persevered with Shoaib Malik in T20's after his comeback performances in India series. Similar story with Nasir jamshed when it seems that he can surely come good if given more chances. With PCB the policy is all or nothing, feast of famine. A player, either gets to play all three formats or is dropped across all of them. There is no in between or mid-way. They lack professionalism and the results are for everyone to see.

  • bouncer709 on March 14, 2014, 15:33 GMT

    I don't agree with the writer, restricting Indian batting line to 245 doesn't show any bowling failure, though Pakistan could not win the final, but it was clear that in the final it was Pakistan batting failure not bowling. The top order went 17/3. Pakistan managed to 260 but it was clearly 300+ wkt. and then the drop catches from the fielders, What do you expect from the bowlers. In recent past Pakistan bowlers have won matches for Pakistan with their bowling more than earlier pace attacks. Juniad already proved himself on mostly flat tracks. and people will see same writer writing in favour of Gul after T20 WC.

  • PlayfromDallas on March 14, 2014, 16:54 GMT

    If bowling is not coming up then the required wisdom is to work on the batting line and quit thinking from inside of the box. We have batting, we always had it's the regional bias that prevented them to come up. First we need to tackle regional bias; regional bias is an understatement here. Prerequisite to create a winning squad is to think outside the box first select the batsmen according to strategic need on each number no Imran Farhat likes for sure or any batsmen who gets out after scoring 20s and 30s and batting line must never have only stroke players. A good example would be to follow John Wright Model which he created for India in 2004 which enabled India to reach the 2007 World Cup Final and many other successes he was very aware that India don't have pace bowling. On the other hand what bowling India had when they won 1983 World Cup? So please think outside the box good fast bowlers are not granted for Pakistan or any country anyway.

  • PlayfromDallas on March 14, 2014, 17:17 GMT

    If bowling is not coming up then the required wisdom is to work on the batting line and quit thinking from inside the box. We have batting, we always had it's the regional bias that prevented them to come up. First we need to tackle regional bias; regional bias is an understatement here. Prerequisite to create a winning squad is to think outside the box first select the batsmen according to strategic need on each number no Imran Farhat likes for sure or any batsmen who gets out after scoring 20s and 30s and batting line must never have only stroke players. A good example would be to follow John Wright Model which he created for India in 2000s which enabled India to reach the 2003 World Cup Final and many other successes he was very aware that India don't have pace bowling. On the other hand what bowling India had when they won 1983 World Cup? So please think outside the box good fast bowlers are not granted for Pakistan or any country anyway.

  • on March 14, 2014, 18:58 GMT

    I think the issue is not the current lot but the bench strength. If we have the right guys there, the issue should only be temporary. I think Asia Cup was not the best performance by the bowlers but it wasn't the worst either.

    The policies need to be right as well. Persevering with Sohail Tanveer beats me. Yes he is great at bits and pieces T20 but i feel he is not threat he was when he entered way back in 2007. It is critical to ensure that good bowlers get their chances and get them at the right time. Should planning be right, pace bowling should remain our strength for ages to come.

  • PlayfromDallas on March 14, 2014, 20:51 GMT

    Pakistan's Cricket Strength is Inversely Proportional to Regional Bias. In other words if Biasness goes up Then Pakistan's cricket strength will go down (the current situation). If Regional Bias will go down Than Pakistan's cricket strength will go up like the era of Mushtaq Mohammed, Asif Iqbal, Miandad and Imran Khan. Unfortunately above statements don't make any sense to the individuals who dwell in Biased World and sadly we have around 100 million of them.

  • t20cric on March 14, 2014, 22:34 GMT

    I also think its poor coaching from Akram that got us here but its unfair to put all the blame on him. The selectors kept persisting with Riaz & Tanvir when they giving so much runs & no wickets. Misbah broke the lethal new-ball partnership of Junaid & Irfan by letting Hafeez open bowling. Irfan was played til injury & Junaid was constantly dropped for Riaz/Tanvir til he lost confidence. Where Akram noticeably went wrong is not improving bowlers. Bhatti, Anwar & Talha all had good débuts but Akram was not able to improve these guys. I noticed last year that Pakistan's pace attack is weaker cuz for probably the 1st time in Pak cricket history a spinner is the lead bowler in our attack. Over the years we have had arguably better spinners than Ajmal in the past but they were always overshadowed by their superior fast bowling counterparts. I think if one of the 2 w's become bowling coach along with the new selectors picking good pacers then we can fix this problem.

  • Zahidsaltin on March 15, 2014, 1:47 GMT

    Pakistan has no bowler of a quality to speak about. Gul is only good if it starts reversing but it isn't in Bangladesh. Junaid was never a limited overs bowler and lastly Saohail Tanveer is worst of all. Even Afridi gone for many runs whenever he played in BD