England v Pakistan, 1st npower Test, Trent Bridge July 29, 2010

Uncertain Kaneria fails to make his mark

It was a day begging for the spinners to take control. Yet Pakistan's most experienced Test player, and their premier slow bowler, failed to rise to the occasion

Under bright skies in Nottingham and on a dry, low pitch, today was not a day for the fast bowlers to run rampant. Instead with plenty of turn on offer it was a day begging for the spinners to take control. Yet Pakistan's most experienced Test player, and their premier slow bowler, failed to rise to the occasion. Danish Kaneria will do well to keep his head down.

After the first session, where Mohammad Aamer had grabbed a couple of early wickets, Pakistan returned with a plan. First Mohammad Asif attacked Kevin Pietersen's off stump fervently and was rewarded when he got his man for the fifth time in seven games in England. Soon afterwards Aamer defeated Jonathan Trott's shuffle across the stumps to trap him leg before. With two new batsmen and Pakistan on top, Salman Butt brought Kaneria into the attack.

Having played 61 Tests Kaneria knew the plan: fire in the stock delivery and keep firing. It was the best way to play on the batsman's patience. Instead, for some inexplicable reason, Kaneria kept rushing in to deliver flatter, faster and fuller. Line, length, flight, variation - the basics of slow bowling - were completely ignored on the first day.

Throughout his five spells, Kaneria arrived at the crease like an ill-prepared student at an exam. Edgy, he was randomly ticking boxes, stabbing in the dark for the right formula. Eoin Morgan and Paul Collingwood sensed his anxiety and took full advantage. Full tosses were driven handsomely through yawning gaps on both sides of the wicket and straight balls were either deflected or cut with power for easy runs. Morgan, playing only his third Test, could even unleash his trademark reverse sweep as Kaneria sent down another innocuous leg break - a shot which created further gaps in an already stretched field.

Sadly, Pakistan's captain must share part of the blame. Considering the pitch was offering generous turn and surprising uneven bounce at times, Butt would've done well to keep Kaneria locked in at one end. In the past Kaneria has shown the appetite to bowl long spells and build pressure on the batsmen. A recent example was in Sydney at the beginning of this year where, returning from a finger injury, he spun a tight web around the nervous Australian middle order and, were it not for the appalling glovework of Kamran Akmal, would've helped Pakistan to victory.

Yet here Kaneria was not allowed to settle. He should have prodded and pleaded his skipper, still an infant as captain, to leave him operating at one end. That might have helped him buy time to work out the right plan to overhaul the opponent, but it wasn't to be.

As the English pair grew confident Kaneria grew timid. He was twitching and frustrated. It did not help when Akmal, the worst offender of the day, missed an easy stumping when Collingwood charged. Kaneria couldn't believe it but it was, of course, not the first time. At the SCG Kamran had failed to get rid of Michael Hussey three times in one Kaneria over including a stumping opportunity. It was that sort of a day for Pakistan's two most experienced players - both displayed frayed nerves, distracted mindsets and a complete lack of authority.

Nevertheless Kaneria cannot hang on to that one missed opportunity because it was the only chance he created in 21 overs. There was so much more he could have done. For starters he could have set his own fields, something successful bowlers always like to do. It was his responsibility in the light of Butt's inexperience. Minor things like that always prove pivotal in a Test.

Kaneria is Pakistan's fourth-best bowler of all time in terms of wickets but is yet to show the pro-activeness to impose himself, to take the decisions that will prove decisive or to have the aura past bowling greats like Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Abdul Qadir possessed. Instead he is happy to be put on a leash and be led.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on July 30, 2010, 16:51 GMT

    Well I totally agree with Adnan143. Kaneria was never a good bowler. He has been overrated by Pakistan. Infact, Saeed Ajmal is also a bad option for Test Matches. Frankly speaking Pakistan lack is lacking in a Test Spinner after the fall of Saqlain Mushtaq.

  • Hasan on July 30, 2010, 12:30 GMT

    i am pure pakistan fan of cricker. and i never like kineria,, even when he took 7+ wickets against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.... kineria is over rated... highly rated... I recomment to kineria to follow afridi and retire after this test match

  • Noman on July 30, 2010, 12:07 GMT

    Totally agree with Adnan. Kaneria our co called mystery trump card is one of the most over rated spinner. He might have the talent and variety but doesnt possess the mental aptitude to succeed at this level. Despite playing so many test matches and taking bucket load of wkts cant be called as our match winner. He can only take wkts after scoring a bowling ton. Should be dropped ASAP and Ajmal shd be given consistent chance in test cricket.

  • Dummy4 on July 30, 2010, 9:37 GMT


  • Dummy4 on July 30, 2010, 9:36 GMT


  • Adnan on July 30, 2010, 9:02 GMT

    you must be kidding, when ever dansih has made his mark in test cricket? five for 150+ is not a bowler. he is one of the most over rated player in recent history of pak cricket

  • mohsin on July 30, 2010, 8:25 GMT

    pithch is offering lots of swing, but kaneria kep the very basic wrong, he was a complete fail not only on day first but n the previous two maatches agannst aus as well..............its the best time to replace him with ajmal or rehman,,,,,,,,or any other fast bowler,,,,,,,lets see wht pak batters do..........

  • Faisal on July 30, 2010, 8:03 GMT

    Kaneria's biggest problem is that he has no patience. He wants to get wickets on every ball and he can't plan for a wicket as Warnee or Kumble used to do. I still believe that Afridi was a much better bet as a leg spinner in tests. But alas, he made a pathetic decision to get retirement. He was aggressive and was a nightmare for tail enders. Kaneria can't even pick tail. :(

  • Naeem on July 30, 2010, 7:47 GMT

    That's the issue with Kaneria, despite all his Test experience he seems to be starting afresh......he should demand his fields and state his preferences. I dont think Salman can be blamed for the situation, as the bowling was awful and inconsistent. Maybe a more established captain may have persevered but Salman being a newbie reacted as expected.

    I also think Akmal and Gul have a lot to answer for...

    Gul with Kaneria, has been really wayward...there is no point in Gul showing his worth in the last period of the day when the game has slipped!!

    Aus win guaranteed no team changes, but for the bowling i would change to Abdur Rehman (decent fielder and batsman) and request for Mohd Irfan. Wahab Riaz is a very average leftie - similar to RP Singh with less experience.

    Mohd Irfan is 6'8, leftie and bowls mid-80s with natural bounce.....

  • Girish on July 30, 2010, 6:29 GMT

    Why blame Kaneria alone when non other bowler failed pick a wicket later? Ball was doing something in the morning hence the wickets. After that nothing happened and can't blame Danish alone. Pak have a poor and inexperienced captain and blame should go to him as well. Isntit?

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