May 20, 2001

Fishing is not cricket: Learn the Lord's lesson

Mudassar Nazar
Mudassar Nazar
Photo © CricInfo
Well, it has been a lesson to remember but not one easy to digest. It was always going to be an uphill battle after Pakistan were forced to follow on, but a couple of Peter Willey judgments made sure there was no real fightback from Pakistan. Inzamam and Younis were distinctly unlucky to be given out.

Younis Khan
Younis Khan
Photo © CricInfo

Day 4 started well with Younis Khan staying positive, his handling of Caddick being of the highest order. Not many batsmen like facing Caddick in full cry. He makes full use of his height and bowls a searching line on off stump. No batsman is ever comfortable against such a healthy combination.

Youhana was the first to go this morning. He has been a pillar of strength to his team during the last few years, but has a tendency to fall over to the off side that makes him a prime candidate for lbws. Because of this flaw, he is not in control of his destiny when playing to leg. It led to his downfall in both innings at Lord's. Flat tracks in Pakistan do not expose such errors.

Youhana played across the line in the first innings and tried to hit the ball square of the pitch rather that through mid wicket and mid on. Younis and Azhar then forged a mini-partnership, which ended quite tamely when Azhar was unable to fend off a lifter and was brilliantly caught by Trescothick, who had to run back at least fifteen yards from slip.

Gough celeberates
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Rashid Latif seemed in control of the situation and at this time I was upbeat about Pakistan saving the follow on. Younis was stroking the ball to all parts of the ground and had piled up yet another Test match fifty. However, after reaching 58, he drove Cork straight to the fielder, who saved a certain boundary. Next ball from Cork was a similar one and Younis tried to hit wide of mid on, ending up playing across the line, and much to the delight of the bowler, was clean bowled. Rashid too lost his control soon after and was unluckily strangled down the leg side. I have been impressed with Rashid in this game. He was pretty sure of himself behind the stumps and his batting in the first innings was cool and purposeful.

Wasim Akram was hit on the head once and there were a couple of close calls after that. After a shaky start he settled down to play some delightful shots, but then Pakistan came up against Darren Gough. He might not be as lethal against lower order batsmen as Wasim and Waqar, but he is not far behind. In one over he picked up three wickets to finish Pakistan's first innings off and probably the match as well.

This test match has exposed Pakistan's frailties to the maximum. Their second innings performance was absolutely pathetic. Apart from Razzaq, Inzamam and Rashid, everybody looked confused and walking in some kind of a daze. Both openers committed dreadful mistakes and paid the price; playing identical shots to those of the first innings and perishing in oblivion. Razzaq, who is technically competent and mentally tough, coped with pressure like a gladiator. Inzamam and Younis were victims of umpire Peter Willey, whose performance in this match seemed at par with the Pakistan team.

Youhana was guilty of playing a loose stroke for a second time in one day and one hopes he feels the reprimand. Azhar never looked comfortable against Caddick. He was dropped by Vaughan and given the benefit of doubt by Peter Willey when he clearly gloved a bouncer to Alec Stewart. Razzaq was caught behind off a no ball and unfortunately did not capitalize on it.

Caddick makes off with the Man of the Match booty
Photo © CricInfo

Razzaq and Azhar followed each other to the pavilion and Wasim Akram's nightmare continued. This is one game he will like to erase from memory. While batting in both innings his body weight was on the back foot and you are a sitting duck when faced with a bouncer. He was struck and then snapped up in the slips. Rashid resisted for some time only to lose interest later on, waving at a ball to give Stewart yet another scalp. Waqar hung on gamely in the gloom, but eventually succumbed to a short-pitched delivery to relieve us of further pain.

The England team was far more organized and triumphed over Pakistan in style, within three days.

We might not have gone this distance had Craig White been fit. I guess the Pakistan team should take a break from the game for a couple of days, put things in perspective, do some soul searching, be honest to one another, regroup and prepare for the rest of the tour. But above all, resolve to stop chasing swinging and seaming balls outside off stump. If they do continue this habit, I see them with more egg over their faces and dread the thought of the ODI triangular that follows the Tests.

Winning and losing are both habits, and I know which habit you and I are fond of.

Ed: Mudassar Nazar is a veteran of 76 tests and 122 ODIs. He is currently the chief coach of Pakistan's National and Regional Cricket Academies. In view of the overwhelming interest of users in CricInfo's articles, we have invited him to write for us.