Pakistan v South, 2nd Test, Lahore, 2nd day October 9, 2007

The Twenty20 hangover gone wrong

While the bowlers seemed to forget the yorkers against the tailenders, Pakistan's batsman did no better, appearing to be stuck in the Twenty20 mode

The Pakistan bowlers seemed to forget that yorkers are the best delivery to bowl to a tailender © AFP

Wasim Akram dropped by the Gaddafi Stadium this afternoon and wondered how South Africa's lower order - and it is a long tail - managed to make as many runs as they eventually did. It was rhetorically put of course. In Akram's days, the tail had run its natural evolutionary course, becoming basically extinct. No need to get fancy, just bring the yorkers on.

In the near-three hours that Mark Boucher and Paul Harris held Pakistan at bay this morning and afternoon, not one of the 20 toes available to target were ever threatened. Harris was hit flush on the helmet early on and that was it; he was thereafter peppered with short balls, both over and round the wicket.

Granted, he looked uncomfortable playing it, but a man with one first-class fifty to his name and a highest Test score previously of 11 probably should look uncomfortable against many types of bowling. And in any case, Steve Waugh was also famously weak against the short ball and it didn't stop him scoring nearly 11,000 Test runs.

At the ICC World Twenty20, Umar Gul bowled yorkers on demand, at will, and though he hasn't been quite right here, the absence of even one was particularly baffling. Reverse-swinging yorkers are not Mohammad Asif's thing; it is one of the few skills he hasn't yet mastered but how handy even one might have been here.

Instead, Harris mixed some cheek with some heart and played a knock in classic tail-end tradition, not just hanging around, but scoring as well. When he did get out, it was inevitably to one of the few full-pitched deliveries he faced.

But if the bowlers had unfortunately forgotten their Twenty20 script, the batsmen, equally unfortunately, had not. Even before the series began, Shoaib Malik had spotted the pitfalls of so much Twenty20 cricket, reminding his players that it would be a tough change; Pakistan remember didn't just play the tournament, they had been training for it, through a number of practice games at training camps, throughout the summer.

Possibly only Malik has heeded his own advice, for through the series so far, only he has really grasped the change of format, adjusting his game so smoothly that you wonder if there is any batting situation he can't cope with.

Pakistan are not out of this Test, and series, just yet. But on a day when the spirit of Twenty20 hit the wrong target, it slipped away a little further

Pakistan's blustery start was admittedly due in part to the over-attacking fields South Africa set them, as Mickey Arthur, the South Africa coach, later admitted. The field had gaps, runs were on offer and in any format they should be taken. And only brisk scoring could put them in a position to win this Test. But the manner of each of the four dismissals suggested they haven't quite got the World Twenty20 out of their systems.

Well as Paul Harris and Andre Nel bowled, each wicket had more of the batsman's imprint than the bowler's. So much so, that even Mohammad Yousuf seemed to have caught the bug despite having not played in the World Twenty20. Mind you, having not even held a bat for as long as he has, general runs undoubtedly played a part.

If they wanted to know what to do, they only had to put on yesterday's video to know how to go about it. Jacques Kallis and Ashwell Prince won no prizes for beauty and neither rushed the heartbeats of the spectator as Pakistan's openers did today. But in contributing 122 runs and spending nearly three hours at the crease each, they've put their side within touching distance of a famous and thoroughly deserved series win.

Pakistan are not out of this Test, and series, just yet. But on a day when the spirit of Twenty20 hit the wrong target, it slipped away a little further.

Osman Samiuddin is the Pakistan editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Shahzeb on October 10, 2007, 14:28 GMT

    Hi!First of all best wishes to the entire dedicated staff of extremely cooperating cricinfo team.Let me soak it all in by saying I am extremely grateful to Almighty for accepting what I asked for and the rest u all know 1.e Mohammad Yousuf's return to the Pakistan's ranks. I might digress a bit if I have to go by my excitement but that has been dampered a lot by the recent poor show by Pakistani team.Instead of making the big man's exit a memorable and historical one it could very well turn out to be a complete anticlimax to what have have otherwise been an illustrious legend-like career. On the performance,full credit to Smith's aggressive tactics and bowler's bulging heart to back that up derailed Pakistan's batsmen bid to erect a monumental score.Batting appeared to be Pakistan's strength on a placid wicket but the shot selection displayed first up by well-set Akmal and Butt magnified their reckless and unprofessional approach.Yousuf couldn't get the rub of green though.

  • Sreecharan on October 10, 2007, 12:11 GMT

    I think pakistan does have some good batsmen in Mohd yousuf, younis khan, Inzamam-ul-haq, Misbah, shoaib malik and kamran akmal. But their openers are not upto mark. This has been weakness for pakistan for ages. The day they get good openers they would become a very good test team

  • Ketan on October 10, 2007, 11:40 GMT

    The author is dead right in terms of getting the tail enders quickly. One would rarely see Wasim or Waqar stuttering to get rid of tail enders. It only exposes the quality of bowlers picked for Pakistan. Scaring a tail ender to surrender his wicket is strategy - and continuing the process all the time is in my opinion stupidity - unless Pakistan is playing for a draw !! Scaring and restraing is okay in one day games - but in test cricker the focus has to be in taking wickets.

  • Hassan on October 10, 2007, 11:13 GMT

    Never put your money on Pakistan in a test match. In fact the word match is wrong. Match is more to do with matching similar things. In Pakistan's scenario, you better say Pakistan Vs. South Africa battle. I am wandering what Pakistan team batsmen have to blaim for in this game. The pitch is typical Pakistani , the captain is batsman and has opted for batting wicket, Even the vice captain is batsman. O I just figured out that pitch would have been made for Inzi, he again is a batsman. Then we have ICC award winner, Yousaf. Wait why are we not considering Misbah, man with nerves of steel. Waiting for miracles in every game is wishful thinking. I think Pakistan should be banned from playing test cricket. When 1 batsman does not score, all do not score and vice versa. (In fact no vice versa)

  • Daleinn on October 10, 2007, 7:49 GMT

    South Africa has put a test team together.Its something they are getting right. Pakistan still has quite a few 20/20 batsmen in their side. The late inclusion Yousuf and Inzamam, will not add to their woes on this pitch. Their bowlers are regularly taking wickets, and a 20/20 hangover is imminent, if they are to resurrect any score to come back in this test.

  • Hassan on October 10, 2007, 0:10 GMT

    About the openers. For God's sake PCB give up this farce of picking up these technically weak openers over and over again. If you have a close look Pakistan openers somehow never look comfortable, they look vulnerable all the time on each and every delivery bowled, even when they were scoring at over six an over they looked like they'll get ou any time. That's because they dont have the correct technique to play at this level. Butt can play only one shot in the book(cover drive), he doesn't know how to cut and pull, which are the two most essential shots for a test batsman, let alone a test opener. Akmal can never be considered an opener(not to say that he cannot be considered a wicket keeper as well). The other people namely, Hafeez, Hameed, Taufiq, Farhat etc. all fall in the category of Butt. No technique to play at this level. Its time we risk two totally new faces at the opening slot and if they play worse than how the current openers are playing, I'll stop commenting on cricket.

  • Hassan on October 10, 2007, 0:01 GMT

    Well, I agree that the fast bowlers didn't bowl enough yorkers, they haven't been doing so at test level ever since the end of Wasim, Waqar and Shoaib's era. the question to ask here is what was danish kaneria doing at the other end. I mean here is a guy regarded so highly by the PCB that the pitches are specially prepared for him and he always ends up giving away more than hundred runs every inning and takes away 3 or 4 wickets (Half of them are of tail-enders). If you remember well, if Wasim and Waqar failed to get the wickets of the tail-enders specially here in Pakistan, the spinner at the other end would do the job. Believe me Kaneria is not good enough to do so. Shahid Afridi is a better leg spinner than him and Pakistan must gamble with Afridi as a regular test bowler, I am really hopeful that they would come up with fruitful results.

  • J on October 9, 2007, 19:53 GMT

    Mr Samiuddin

    I have to hand it to you. I've never seen such a supporter of Pakistan team. I do appreciate the effort you take to write down your thoughts.

    Here are my 2 cents...

    From as long as I can remember the Pakistan team continues to be inconsistent and the top order is the WORST as it has ever been. It's a TEST match, 40s and 50s won't cut it. Twenty20 is over. GET OVER IT!

    We have seen teams slip away far too many times. They can bring Top coaches from all around the world, it would never make a difference. It is the will and power that comes from within you and frankly this team will never understand that.

    Pakistan is not important for cricket anymore but Pakistan vs India series is but thats about it. Pakistan should just have a couple of matches with India, once a year so people can enjoy that. Sometimes I feel Pakistan should just stick with Twenty20 tournaments, which I feel is just a bunch of high school teams getting together and having fun.

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