January 8, 2010

Pakistan puzzle, Dhaka squib

How did it all go wrong for the visitors in Sydney this week?
64

Australia may find themselves in occasional strife and at the receiving end of jibes that have long waited for the moment, but they are not in decline. The Ashes may have been lost, and remember, there was a generation that didn't know what that meant, and India and South Africa may have moved ahead on a slightly dodgy ranking system, but there is still much fight in the dog, as Pakistan have discovered. Shorn of match-winners and with a captain currently not matching the high standards he has set, Australia must seem vulnerable. But they have gone back to doing what they do best: scrapping for every run and putting a price on their wicket. At any time these are admirable virtues.

These are also qualities that define Australian sport. When you have a solid system, when work ethic is largely non-negotiable, when athletes follow a fairly robust process, decline is unlikely to be as dramatic as the one West Indies suffered. Pakistan, on the other hand, must be kicking themselves for letting a great opportunity go by. You beat good teams when you compete over the entire duration of the match; Pakistan discovered that you can be ahead on points but still lose on a knockout.

Admittedly their tactics against Michael Hussey and Peter Siddle were hugely inexplicable, but 176 should have been achievable against a rookie quick, a spinner still finding his way in international cricket and not destined for greatness, a promising but underachieving new-ball bowler, and a genuine quick only just back in form. But Pakistan have always been more about talent than about steel and it was the latter quality that was needed here. You sensed that the result that eventually arrived was round the corner.

About a year ago there were indications that, for the first time, Pakistan weren't throwing up the kind of explosive talent they seem to store in their belly. Since then Mohammad Aamer has arrived, and he is here to stay for a long time, and Umar Akmal will be one of the better players in their history. Only six matches old, he is already the second best batsman in this team. But when talent is not backed by a reverence towards work ethic, it loses its way pretty rapidly, as another fine player, Mohammad Asif, discovered before he was hauled back from the precipice. One day I want to know what players from Pakistan seek from the game, because a lot of them sell themselves very short. I sometimes fear too that the Pakistan Cricket Board is a bit like the Indian Hockey Federation - happier with the perks of the job than an intense desire for the greater good of the game.

One day I want to know what players from Pakistan seek from the game, because a lot of them sell themselves very short

Hopefully there are a couple of opening batsmen among the many uncut diamonds that are strewn there, who they can stick with. Every great team in world cricket has used a top pair of openers as the base from which to mount an attack. West Indies, with Greenidge and Haynes; Australia, first with Taylor and Slater and then with Hayden and Langer; and if you want to go further back, with Lawry and Simpson, Barnes and Morris, Woodfull and Ponsford. Perhaps only the fine West Indies team of the mid-sixties, which had 10 excellent players and someone to open with Conrad Hunte, would be an exception.

Meanwhile in Bangladesh, where the home side has made definite gains in 50-over cricket, a one-day series rather weak in conception is battling along. For a start, India play Sri Lanka for the zillionth time - the players must start thinking they are old classmates now, but worse, the matches are being played in an atmosphere where the conditions dominate the game. That can never be good. I know cricket is all about overcoming conditions, but those must be similar for both teams. Where the toss is half the match, you cannot have good cricket.

Indeed, this series would have been the perfect experiment for a one-day game played over two innings of 25 overs each. Both sides would have bowled in dry conditions and then both would have had to bear the brunt of the dew. And since, ideally, an innings must resume from the score at the break, the wet ball would probably have been used against lesser batsmen, thereby further minimising the effect of the dew.

And so, chances are the cricket is going to be more interesting in Australia and South Africa than in Dhaka.

Harsha Bhogle is a commentator, television presenter and writer

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • D.Nagarajan on January 11, 2010, 17:38 GMT

    I fully agree with Harsha, the tri-series in Bangladesh is purely a waste of time plus more torture for the bowlers on the dead pitches. India Vs Sri Lanka is almost a joke now, if teams keep playing against each other with such alarming frequency the interest is gone both among the fans as well as the players. Aus Vs Pak Sydney test was fabulous match inspite of the bizarre result. Pak deserved to win purely for the wonderful bowling of Sami and Asif in the first innings which I feel will be the best test bowling day of the year, it was way better to watch than the nightmarish ODI at Rajkot and the dull ODI's being played out in the tri series. Pak have a lot of raw talent that just has to be nurtured properly, I wonder how Imran Khan views the Sydney debacle. SA vs England have been playing a delightful test series, Dale Steyn's scorching spell to Collingwood on Day 5 of the Capetown test was a treat. Really it seems now to watch quality cricket we have to look outside of Asia.

  • kgkg on January 10, 2010, 0:40 GMT

    Cool metaphors. And thsi time they are apt for Pakistan. Too little discipline for Test cricket, which is and will be the dominant proving ground for world class cricketers versus the also rans.

  • VENKATASAIPRAVEEN on January 9, 2010, 17:37 GMT

    The current Pakistan team is one of the weakest of all pakistani teams.Iam sure it will struggle even to beat Bangladesh.When the bowlers do well, the batsmen let the team down & vice-versa.They donot have a quality match-finisher like Dhoni or Yuvi.Their batting lacks the much needed aggression.Wicket Keeper Kamran Akmal must be sacked immediately.The only positive that Pakistan can take from the recent past is the emergence of UmarAkmal,a promising young talent. Strike Bowlers like Kaneria have been let down by players like Kamran Akmal who dropped even the simple catches.

  • voyager on January 9, 2010, 17:11 GMT

    Pakistan's problem is talent also, not just steel. Especially in batting and fielding. Batting is due to not much batting talent available. When most of you specialist batsmen are averaging 30 or below! with no real replacement then statistically you should expect more incidences like sydney, dunedin and srilanka. Three failures to execute the victory in 8 test matches. 20-20 is one exception where pakistan seems to specialize at the moment and strong nerves comes naturally. Fielding problems are due to lack of culture of athleticism in the country and also the facilities. Geo political conditions are not helping either. What needs to be done is to promote sport(s) and have trust that we have enough sporting talent in the country that if provide and encourage sporting activity at every level we will find world class athletes not just in cricket but in many other sports. As a reaction to sydney defeat we should demand that board to develop hundreds of grounds across the country

  • pdkhan on January 9, 2010, 17:09 GMT

    Thank you Harsha for your objective comments on pakistan and its woes! Your analysis is succinct and true - PCB is the culprit, and to an extent the captaincy but that too is the creation of PCB. Is it sensitive enough to know that it must leave the podium in view its incompetence and lack of knowledge!

  • wizman on January 9, 2010, 16:52 GMT

    It is remarkable that Aus gets no credit for winning the game at all. If you believe the comments here, they could have sent out the Coogee Under-14 Girls B Team and still beat Pakistan. Guess Aus didn't take the field, bowl any balls, take any catches, or field anything at all.

  • cricsamrat on January 9, 2010, 4:25 GMT

    Guys come on..... this is just another sports, why so much of hype and analysis. The good team wins on any given day. I do feel sorry for pak with its current circumstances, but they gonna over come it. I believe Pak selection committee and board probably is always steered by the "bhai-bhai" culture rather than on merit basis.

  • Ashwin_Mysore on January 9, 2010, 3:14 GMT

    Agree with ILoveTestCricket

    Instead of playing a meaningless cricket, particularly given injury hit SL and against BL and given that Indian Bowling is suffering so much, all the topflight players should have been made available for the knockout stages of Ranji trophy.

    It would have been a fine contest of established top order batsmen versus fresh young fast bowlers.

    Would have been fun watching Mithun, Vinay, and Aravind v/s Sachin or Zaheer v/s Dravid, Utappha, Manish in the finals.

    Young Karnataka bowlers would have learnt a lot just by playing against Sachin and young batsmen would have tasted the aggression of Zaheer.

  • sarathy_m2 on January 9, 2010, 2:50 GMT

    A small but with wonderful words, this article touches many facts of cricket in current era.

    Australians 'work ethics' to be very much appreciated. Also, good pitches would bring interest to watch plays between any teams. Thanks for writing these two.

  • Anneeq on January 9, 2010, 1:32 GMT

    We need a whole restructuring from the very top!!! We need to do an English football league style where, we have major towns of Pakistan in different divisions, where the bottom three are relegated etc. I dont just mean Lahore, Karachi, Quetta and Islamabad either all major towns need to be involved like Toba Tek Singh, Gujr Khan, Mirpur etc. Having teams where people play for their home cities is more appealing to the normal people than having your 'Khan research Lab' and 'PIA.'

    Politics needs to be taken away from cricket too, we shouldnt have Asif Zardari calling the shots for the PCB, he has more pressing stately issues to deal with. Also we need to get a grip on this fielding above everything else. It really does need to be emphasized whatever domestic format we choose. We are lagging far behind everyone else now in that!! We need to concentrate most of our resources on that, batting and bowling standards will improve thru competition but fielding needs special attention.

  • D.Nagarajan on January 11, 2010, 17:38 GMT

    I fully agree with Harsha, the tri-series in Bangladesh is purely a waste of time plus more torture for the bowlers on the dead pitches. India Vs Sri Lanka is almost a joke now, if teams keep playing against each other with such alarming frequency the interest is gone both among the fans as well as the players. Aus Vs Pak Sydney test was fabulous match inspite of the bizarre result. Pak deserved to win purely for the wonderful bowling of Sami and Asif in the first innings which I feel will be the best test bowling day of the year, it was way better to watch than the nightmarish ODI at Rajkot and the dull ODI's being played out in the tri series. Pak have a lot of raw talent that just has to be nurtured properly, I wonder how Imran Khan views the Sydney debacle. SA vs England have been playing a delightful test series, Dale Steyn's scorching spell to Collingwood on Day 5 of the Capetown test was a treat. Really it seems now to watch quality cricket we have to look outside of Asia.

  • kgkg on January 10, 2010, 0:40 GMT

    Cool metaphors. And thsi time they are apt for Pakistan. Too little discipline for Test cricket, which is and will be the dominant proving ground for world class cricketers versus the also rans.

  • VENKATASAIPRAVEEN on January 9, 2010, 17:37 GMT

    The current Pakistan team is one of the weakest of all pakistani teams.Iam sure it will struggle even to beat Bangladesh.When the bowlers do well, the batsmen let the team down & vice-versa.They donot have a quality match-finisher like Dhoni or Yuvi.Their batting lacks the much needed aggression.Wicket Keeper Kamran Akmal must be sacked immediately.The only positive that Pakistan can take from the recent past is the emergence of UmarAkmal,a promising young talent. Strike Bowlers like Kaneria have been let down by players like Kamran Akmal who dropped even the simple catches.

  • voyager on January 9, 2010, 17:11 GMT

    Pakistan's problem is talent also, not just steel. Especially in batting and fielding. Batting is due to not much batting talent available. When most of you specialist batsmen are averaging 30 or below! with no real replacement then statistically you should expect more incidences like sydney, dunedin and srilanka. Three failures to execute the victory in 8 test matches. 20-20 is one exception where pakistan seems to specialize at the moment and strong nerves comes naturally. Fielding problems are due to lack of culture of athleticism in the country and also the facilities. Geo political conditions are not helping either. What needs to be done is to promote sport(s) and have trust that we have enough sporting talent in the country that if provide and encourage sporting activity at every level we will find world class athletes not just in cricket but in many other sports. As a reaction to sydney defeat we should demand that board to develop hundreds of grounds across the country

  • pdkhan on January 9, 2010, 17:09 GMT

    Thank you Harsha for your objective comments on pakistan and its woes! Your analysis is succinct and true - PCB is the culprit, and to an extent the captaincy but that too is the creation of PCB. Is it sensitive enough to know that it must leave the podium in view its incompetence and lack of knowledge!

  • wizman on January 9, 2010, 16:52 GMT

    It is remarkable that Aus gets no credit for winning the game at all. If you believe the comments here, they could have sent out the Coogee Under-14 Girls B Team and still beat Pakistan. Guess Aus didn't take the field, bowl any balls, take any catches, or field anything at all.

  • cricsamrat on January 9, 2010, 4:25 GMT

    Guys come on..... this is just another sports, why so much of hype and analysis. The good team wins on any given day. I do feel sorry for pak with its current circumstances, but they gonna over come it. I believe Pak selection committee and board probably is always steered by the "bhai-bhai" culture rather than on merit basis.

  • Ashwin_Mysore on January 9, 2010, 3:14 GMT

    Agree with ILoveTestCricket

    Instead of playing a meaningless cricket, particularly given injury hit SL and against BL and given that Indian Bowling is suffering so much, all the topflight players should have been made available for the knockout stages of Ranji trophy.

    It would have been a fine contest of established top order batsmen versus fresh young fast bowlers.

    Would have been fun watching Mithun, Vinay, and Aravind v/s Sachin or Zaheer v/s Dravid, Utappha, Manish in the finals.

    Young Karnataka bowlers would have learnt a lot just by playing against Sachin and young batsmen would have tasted the aggression of Zaheer.

  • sarathy_m2 on January 9, 2010, 2:50 GMT

    A small but with wonderful words, this article touches many facts of cricket in current era.

    Australians 'work ethics' to be very much appreciated. Also, good pitches would bring interest to watch plays between any teams. Thanks for writing these two.

  • Anneeq on January 9, 2010, 1:32 GMT

    We need a whole restructuring from the very top!!! We need to do an English football league style where, we have major towns of Pakistan in different divisions, where the bottom three are relegated etc. I dont just mean Lahore, Karachi, Quetta and Islamabad either all major towns need to be involved like Toba Tek Singh, Gujr Khan, Mirpur etc. Having teams where people play for their home cities is more appealing to the normal people than having your 'Khan research Lab' and 'PIA.'

    Politics needs to be taken away from cricket too, we shouldnt have Asif Zardari calling the shots for the PCB, he has more pressing stately issues to deal with. Also we need to get a grip on this fielding above everything else. It really does need to be emphasized whatever domestic format we choose. We are lagging far behind everyone else now in that!! We need to concentrate most of our resources on that, batting and bowling standards will improve thru competition but fielding needs special attention.

  • santhoshkudva on January 9, 2010, 1:21 GMT

    ahem, while i completely agree with harsha on the 'dodgy ranking system', elsewhere he'd been telling how good this indian team is and why the no 1 ranking is so well deserved!

  • Maui3 on January 9, 2010, 0:41 GMT

    Agree with 'thebrownie'. What Dodgy rating system? India hasn't lost in 12 tests now and winning 6 out of those. They've played Australias, England, Sri Lanka and NZ. #1 ranking is not about beating everybody everywhere. It's about being better than anybody else. Given Englands performance in SA (even if they just managed 2 draws), SA looks like a distant second to India now.

    Regarding Pak losing, While Pak has a tendency to be erratic, chasing even a target 100+ is always tricky. At effectively 88/8, the thought of Aus win certainly crossed by mind (even without Hussey's heroics). Just look at the history of test cricket. I think more than 70% of test teams would have lost chasing 178 against Aus. What's lost in this Pak-bashing is that Pak almost pulled out an unexpected win, at a time when they play very little test cricket and in a team full of inexperience.

  • pankajkumarsingh on January 8, 2010, 22:37 GMT

    @thebrownie - Totally true. Cricket has such a diverse framework that no rating system can be perfect. It is impossible to rate a team - especially considering that there is no Test World Cup. To call is dodgie is not fair. This is a good rating system and unless we have a better one - this rating sytem should be accepted.

  • The_Wog on January 8, 2010, 22:34 GMT

    I'm not entirely sure what the objection to the ranking system is. If IND and RSA are not the top teams, who is? AUS? Hardly - couldn't beat a mid-ranking ENG and frankly have been awfully lucky not to be 1-1 in each home series. SL? Got hammered by the teams above them. ENG? Playing above themselves but NO way the best team in the world. RSA? On 2009 form they're closer to the worst.

    I'd be speculating, but I think the complaint about the system might be less about the teams nominated than the conditions placed on them - IND has almost no Tests scheduled so aren't forced to defend the title like (say) a boxer might. Other than that, I have no problem with the formula. I hope the whispers about it (starting when IND claimed the trophy) weren't started from IND itself in order to perpetuate the paranoia that seems to be galvanising many of its supporters.

  • pankajkumarsingh on January 8, 2010, 22:21 GMT

    @gnat9 - I missed the point you are making. You are picking on Harsha's comment about Aussie bowling. Regardless of what they can do (or have done against India in one-day series) with this inexperienced side, the fact remains that Aussies are going thru a change. You cannot pick two Aus bowlers and say "they are going to take Aus thru the next decade". Less than 200 was always achievable. Pakistan screwed up, no matter how excellent (and inexperienced) Aussie attack is. Harsha is right in saying that.

    Secondly, you do remember 4-2 win by Aussies (not a whitewash) but forgot 2-0 tri-series loss about a year ago.

    Point I am making is - You cannot say that "even with a B Team, Aus will beat the world". That is not true. Aus has had a major share of loses this year and past year - something they havent had in the last decade. Aus is not a world-beater anymore but at par with Ind and SA.

  • Hassan.Farooqi on January 8, 2010, 21:58 GMT

    Nobody is stating the obvious. Pakistan's problem is fielding ... and the coach happens to be the worst fielder of his time. He also happened to be the most out of shape fielder of his team, with his belly hanging visibly. He also happened to be a bad captain. I remember under his captaincy Pakistan forced Australia to follow on and then lost due to a dramatic batting collapse. Deja Vu? First as captain and now as coach. A mere coincidence? Then he had the audacity to criticise Kaneria, the guy who took 5 wickets and three dropped catches in one day. He practically took 9 wickets. THE COACH NEEDS TO BE SACKED.

  • Rahulbose on January 8, 2010, 20:51 GMT

    A Pakistan team with lot of talent and inconsistent performance, so what else is new? When it comes to this particular team, one point to note is how little test cricket they have played in the last 2 years. I think that contributed to their tentative approach in this test. Plus they have left some good players back home due to internal politics.

    I was also thinking about the classmate syndrome with Ind and Srl, but with so few good team left in cricket most series will be repeated.

  • Samrachana on January 8, 2010, 19:54 GMT

    What a worse deed of mis-deed for Pakistan.They have many a times spilled such chances.What a surprise for the team with large chunk of talents?What it lacks is not skill but spirit. They usually never seem to be playing for a win,rather they are always in a rehearsal.They do not look to be caring of millons of supporters behind them,otherwise they wouldn't have broken those hearts ever-willing to see Pakistan supremacy in World Cricket.

  • LittleFinger on January 8, 2010, 19:53 GMT

    re: thebrownie - well it (the rating system) was dodgy then too (when australia was #1), it was just that the answer it came up with was irrefutably the right answer, beacuse there was so much gap between Australia and the other teams. why don't people simply accept that the rating system is a formula and so it will have its limitations. so either come up with a better formula or accept this one with all its "dodginess". End of story. the only question that should be debated is why have a rating system at all? Looks like our choices are between an imperfect rating system or none at all. i'd say work with the rating system but know it is not gospel truth. No body should live or die by it. what's the bfd?

  • krajk on January 8, 2010, 19:27 GMT

    PS: to all Pakistani fans/supporters. I can understand you guys feeling the pain at Pak's cricketing affairs but take note that when Indians have started feeling the loss and hurt, things have gone too far and it is time for the peole of Pakistan to take matters into their own hands and put an end to this rubbish called PCB. No one else will help you. You can pray to God for all the help but he will help only those who help themselves.

  • krajk on January 8, 2010, 19:16 GMT

    Most of the bloggers and Harsha are spot on; Pakistan batsmen need to learn how to handle pressure.This is a deep seated problem stemming from the PCB and a reflection of the political turmoil in the country. This cannot be changed overnight but maybe bringing in a sports psychologist would be a better option than a batting coach. Lets not forget that Pak batsmen are as good as any other test playing nation and their pacers world class.It is all in the mind.Though being an Indian supporter, I always admired the pace talent of Pak and the great Khan. Iam saddened to see the current state of the gamein Pak, the administrators and the country in general.God help.

  • usman.akhter on January 8, 2010, 18:47 GMT

    it is well said by every one but i would like to present my views. first Pakistan does not have any incapability in terms of talent and steel. though they have lost the last match but did any one noticed that Pakistani team is much better than it was before? have you seen such a situation before while playing with Australia? d answer is NO! There were some mistakes done and as acknowledged by the skipper himself dt he played unnecessary shot d turned d game upside down, couple of mis judged catches also pile up d pressure yet these things are common in d game of cricket. secondly, playing with any other team n playing with Australia is smting diffrent PAK board has changed d captaincy from younis to Muhammad Yousuf and i believed that team is performing much much better thought yousuf have to face d most promising team as its captaincy challenge and it ll take little time to emerge as one of the best teams of all times.

  • lion7379 on January 8, 2010, 18:43 GMT

    i totaly disagree with brownie and aru. firstly, i to dont know how india is no1 in tests, what have they done to earn this, (nothing), india has alot of money pumping into the icc, thats the only reason why they are no1, in my opinion they should be no4 or no5, they have only beat new zealand, whuich is nothing big, drew with australia which again shouldnt give to many points. and aru, pakistan has much more talent than aust, its a fact pakistan is the most telented side in the world its just politics dont allow the players to play with freedom.

  • Jarr30 on January 8, 2010, 18:13 GMT

    Last when Australia won in Sydney was with HELP of umpires against India. This time Australia won because of Pakistan lack of confidence to win & Kamran Akmal's dropped catches. Seem like Aussies always get LUCKY in Sydney.Can they win by themselves?

  • VENKATASAIPRAVEEN on January 8, 2010, 17:55 GMT

    on One day, Pakistan can beat even the best team in the world with tremendous ease. On the very next day,it can collapse in a spectacular fashion.Pakistan is a highly unpredictable team.The problem with Pakistan is that they have been too aggressive or too defensive & over-cautious in their approach.There is not much aggression at the top of the order now .Unfortunately,seniors like Yousuf,Younus, have been out of form. Needless to say about Kamran Akmal who is failing both as a batsman & as a keeper...Another big worry is the security situation in this terrorist hit country.Pakistan was given a target of a low score of 176 to chase and had ample time.Was it a situation which can create pressure on the players?Yet,Pakistan faltered .This is a clear indication that Pakistan cricket time is lacking in confidence bcoz of lack of cricket in the recent days due to the poor security situation in the country..

  • mayuri78 on January 8, 2010, 17:43 GMT

    Agree with you Harsha. The problem is deep rooted. They lack a quality finisher. They don't have a Javed Miandad who was the greatest batsman for them. Yousuf could have been one but he has wasted himself.

  • thebrownie on January 8, 2010, 17:07 GMT

    "Dodgy rating system" ? - Not again! Harsha has been one of the neutral voices around and surprised to hear this. Why wasnt it dodgy when Aus was no 1, even thought they werent winning in India and India drew ther series in Aus, and why is it dodgy now, inspite India being consistent and Aus losing big time in India and also in England, and against SA at home???

  • Arru on January 8, 2010, 16:45 GMT

    I watched both the tests... and I honestly believe if it was India or South Africa instead of Pakistan, Australia would have lost both the test matches. Dropped catches, poor captaincy, indiscipline and lack of responsibility sums up Pakistani team. And I do not agree with Pakistanis having more talent than Australians, applying your talent is also considered big part of talent.

  • funnykid on January 8, 2010, 15:46 GMT

    Its absolutely fair and honest analysis by Harsha, this situation hasn't arrived in a year or two. Its a deep routed problem with Pakistan cricket for over a few decades and will take lot of hard and sincere efforts by the Pakistan Cricket administrators but alas; there appears to be no one interested in doing so.

  • Govindrajan on January 8, 2010, 15:29 GMT

    Spot on, Harsha. Though the ODI featured India , I switched to that channel only after the Cape Town Test ended!

    Pakistan's surrender was baffling. Sydney was the venue of one of their finest victories way back in 1976 when Imran Khan took 12 wickets to help Pakistan square the series after a heavy defeat in the earlier test (the same team went from Australia to West Indies and ALMOST did what was then considered the holy grail - draw a series in West Indies!). Those days, sub-continent teams beating Australia in Australia was HUGE news.

    This Pakistan team is by no means short of talent (in fact this team has a more potent bowling attack than Pakistan had in 1976 - though the batting line up in 1976 was far better). But as you say, it boils down to work ethic. And that critical thing called killer instinct!

  • Pak-Board-Chairman on January 8, 2010, 14:55 GMT

    The only problem with pakistan is the loss of aggression. You guys must of heard a sheeps army with a lion as leader overcomes the lions army with a sheep as leader. Pakistan need aggressive captian first of all. Every pakistani player is aggressive by nature but they hide their aggression somewhere because they are afraid of losing their places in the team. See what happen with kamran akmal. Secondly, pakistan should side line some old players like shoaib malik, misbah etc. Now, pak definately need to put more effort on batting and need a batting coach and new player should be selected and before coming to the national team their techniques should be corrected in the nation academies. My final suggestion is unity and responsibility. If any one who knows any pak cricketer please tell them u r responsible and until unless u feel so, u can not do anygood for the team

  • ILoveTestCricket on January 8, 2010, 14:45 GMT

    Agree with Harsha. Australia and South Africa matches are much better to watch than these meaningless contests between India-SL & Bangladesh. BL are no match to these 2 sides and Ind-SL matches are overdose to all of us as you have pointed out. Why BCCI agrees to such yawn inducing programs??

  • ILoveTestCricket on January 8, 2010, 14:17 GMT

    It would have been better to watch both Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar battling it out in Ranji final between Mumbai & Karnataka than watching them playing together against Bangladesh. Cricket is funny game but I can't dream in my wildest dreams that Bangladesh is competing with this Indian lineup. What a game that would have been if both Dravid and Sachin were playing that Ranji final against each other. Only last time I remember them competing each other was in Irani cup trophy few years back. I remember Sachin plotting Rahul's downfall to precision in first innings of that match and Rahul coming back strongly in second innings. It would have been treat to watch for true cricket lovers like me. But alaas!!!

  • Arsh on January 8, 2010, 13:14 GMT

    John Wright once said that one way to beat the Aussies is to look down on them. Pakistan seemed like they were in awe of the Aussies. Even though Pakistan were on top most of the game, something didn't seem right. One felt that it was only a matter of time before Aussies got back on top. I guess that can happen when you have an inexperienced team. They need to be a bit more aggressive and take it to the Aussies like Bhajji, Ganguly etc. I'm really disappointed that Pak lost, but that's the way it is. Hope they learn from it.

  • HEARTOUT on January 8, 2010, 13:12 GMT

    Good things come to those who wait and here the wait was long enough that things were in any shapes start looking good. I like what you said to Pakistan cricket management and the fact that what ever has happend in Sydney will not make any change to their attitude.........there will be some faces changed and rest of the things will remain as they are and more surprises will come.......... Ijaz butt and rest of selection comittee should resign otherwise the losses will be multiplied by more losses in T20world cup and worldcup2011.

  • blackerthanyourhate on January 8, 2010, 12:18 GMT

    Pakistan should have won the test match provided their batting department had done their job in a sensible fashion...When you play against a team like australia backed with a lethal bowling attack, you need some backup from the batting department as well..Pakistan just dont have the ability to score enough runs on overseas grounds..Let this loss be more of an educational experience for them

  • Sidhanta-Patnaik on January 8, 2010, 12:11 GMT

    Guess Harsha missed the SA-Eng test by a whisker! Indeed he is so true with his last paragraph

  • Anneeq on January 8, 2010, 11:59 GMT

    I just dont understand why they lost, they were in the box seat, they were dominating, where was the pressure?????? K Akmal was horrendous, thats being polite!!! But what was criminal was putting 8 fielders on the boundary and letting Hussey nd Siddle back in the game, bring Aus back into the game. They saved Ponting's skin big time, because we would have all been ranting about Ponting's decision to bat first in those conditions. Yousuf's tactics were inexplainable! He basically sent the message he wasnt confident in the bowling. I bet Ponting couldnt believe his luck!

    Aus were terrible they, contrary to most claims didnt deserve to win, this 'value to wickets' was only shown in the 2nd innings. When Nathan Hauritz gets 5 fors in back to back tests, then you know there are seriously worrying times!! Pakistan handed Aus the game as a present, not only that, they wrapped it up and put a pretty little bow on it too. Im expecting Akmal and Misbah not to be there next test!

  • poderdubdubdub on January 8, 2010, 11:52 GMT

    Harsha you have hit on the head, a truly honest analysis of whats wrong with Pakistan cricket. Its naieve to believe that the 11 men on the pitch will do wonders while the rest of the 'system' is climbing new heights of chaos, mismanagement and infight. Unfortunately the chances of any improvement on the cricket pitch are strongly linked with the general improvement in the whole system. Cricket is the only thing which brings any kind of happiness and pleasure to the lives of millions of Pakistanis, unfortunately its not immune to what goes around. I really feel for the ordinary man in the street.

  • gnat9 on January 8, 2010, 11:41 GMT

    It is strange to note that a person of Harsha's calibre dismisses the current Australian side as 'inexperienced'. One should probably him that this 'inexperienced' side whitewashed India on their home turf recently. The Aussie bench strength is so strong that even an 'inexperienced' player from there will can give the most experienced side a run for their money. As for Pakistan, they have gone from crisis to crisis with captaincy issues and player politics, and all their talent notwithstanding, they simply aren't competitive enough.

  • Nas555 on January 8, 2010, 11:26 GMT

    Everyone is blaming the batting, the dropped catches etc. But I believe the main reason for this debacle was the captaincy. 176 is a very moderate total and should be chased very easily especially when the pitch wasn't doing much. But the problem with the captaincy was that Yousaf essentially told the opposition that we are afraid and are not confident of winning this match. You cannot do this with a team like Aus, even though its not their best unit but as Harsha pointed because of their system they know how to grab the moment. With the negative tactics, mindset and approach you can never win a test match. You could see the fear in the captain when he didn't attack Hussey and Siddle in the end of the third day and on the 4th day the field placing was just too pathetic. It giving all the wrong indication to the captain. Yousaf is a world class player but his captaincy is too defensive. Pakistan needs an attacking and aggressive captain to win test matches because talent is not enough !

  • dr_sachinfan_chennai on January 8, 2010, 11:20 GMT

    Not just Pak performance but even the interviews of Pakistan team are bit hilarious. Pak coach has criticized Kaneria for failing to be a match winner. But please do tell if they have one such batting. After all its Danish who brought the side into the match by dismissing the middle order. Also remember had Kamran taken those chances he had every chance of running through the lineup. Does he think if Kaneria had been economical would have Pak chased? Problem here is not economy but the attitude. Is n't this hilarious?

  • ww113 on January 8, 2010, 9:59 GMT

    @pakistan_rules. I too am a Pakistani fan but I can do without this sort of "charm." Pakistan sides have long been programmed to self destruct.As for Shahid Afridi being made the captain,what will happen when he makes a series of first ball ducks ? Everyone will then start clamouring for his head.

  • shankarbali on January 8, 2010, 9:40 GMT

    Its not as if Pak lost to a sucker-punch out of the blue. I think they had, kind of surrendered their hand on Day-2 itself. They lost 6 wickets for nothing to absolutely rash, unnecessary strokes. Then in Australia's 2nd innings we know how they gave up once Hussey began to show some spunk. Finally their batting in the last innings was a disaster.

  • Subra on January 8, 2010, 8:59 GMT

    Harsha, you have made a good case for diving the 50 overs into two 25 over segments, then it would be fair whether the dew favouring the team batting second or the Premadas when the batting first has an undue advantage. True, the Toss is one which makes one of the components of the 'glorious uncertainty'! Another thing anout England (after their third Houdini act) and Australia, you have to play well right through - they don't give you a centimetre and will fight all the way. When will the sub-continent teams develop such 'steel'? Siva from Singapore

  • arun_39 on January 8, 2010, 8:00 GMT

    I was hoping to see a Pakistan win which would have been doubly satisfying as its against Australia in Australia - which doesn't happen too often in recent times. The key factor was letting Hussey and Siddle get 50 runs too many as anything above 150 is challenging for sub-continent teams with a penhcant for collapses. India has crossed this threshold only in the last decade or so. Given that Pakistan has not played Test cricket often enough in the last 2 years and the lack of experienced talent this fact assumes great significance considering its an away game in AUSTRALIA. As Harsha rightly says inspite of the lack of experience Australia on the other hand were able to conjure a win merely by their dedication and work ethic which is a byproduct of their system. A lesson for all upcoming international cricketers!!

  • dr_sachinfan_chennai on January 8, 2010, 7:53 GMT

    Rather than Pakistan I feel Aussies deserve this win. Remember Watson's interview that they have a chance still at 80/8 effectively. Problem with Pak is more with administration than with players. They are given false hopes and undeserving chances. Why is Farhat, Misbah in the side. Alam would be better choice. I also feel Malik should play because he is better fielder and can chip in few overs off spin too. Afridi must be back as captain.

  • Tijara on January 8, 2010, 7:35 GMT

    I think that the main blame for Pakistans defeat goes to 4 or more dropped catches and not batting patiently as is need in test cricket. So no use sacking people and changing the team all the time, just approach the problem professionally.

  • Muhammad.Ali83 on January 8, 2010, 7:32 GMT

    I am a Pakistani fan and Yes very very disappointed. There is no doubt that Pakistani batting is in slump which is clearly not because of lack of talent but because of mental toughness to perform under pressure. Its a dilemma of Pakistani sports all round. See what our hockey team does, great on attack and one of the weakest in defence, just because they cannot bear the pressure. Its in their blood which gives opposition a huge handicap. As far as the captancy is concern, yes Yousuf's captaincy is a big question mark but one has to look at the experience he has as a captain. One good thing i see in his captaincy is the unity of team, there is no politics (as in case when Younis is captain) he is ready to support his players and like Inzamam, i believe he'll learn through time the art of great captaincy. He is a cool customer and thats important. Lets not forget how they fought first three days of the match, it gives us a glimpse of potential they have.

  • akpy on January 8, 2010, 7:13 GMT

    good article harsha. Ardent followers of indian cricket will know our mental block in 80-90s which resulted in losing many matches which we should have won both in tests and one-dayers, against australia (in australia) and pakistan (mainly in sharjah). I remember we lost B&H finals once chasing paltry scores, rain playing a part but border also frustrated us in test matches which we should have won comfortably, the famous losses in sharjah. The advent of 2000s mindset amongst viru, dhoni, yuvi, bhajji, zaheer, etc complemented the talent of sachin, saurav, anil, srinath, laxman,rahul - and now we dont have the mental block atleast - We may still lose but not bcos of a mental block. Pakistan & Windies should have won against australia but they still have the mental block. Credit to australia for taking advantage and fighting hard with whatever side/runs/conditions they have.

  • mayurbaruah on January 8, 2010, 7:12 GMT

    It was exactly wat I was doing...watching Test Cricket being played with higher content and intensity being on display at Cape Town & Sydney rather than watching ODI's being played at Dhaka wid the similar old foes!! Test Cricket at itzz nail biting best..Bangladesh Cricket Board was ridiculous in saying that they DINT knew about the dew falling in so early!!

  • RobOfBruce on January 8, 2010, 6:50 GMT

    I think that this latest test between Pak and Aus is an example of the difference in the cricketing systems between the 2 countries. While it's exciting that the Pakistani selectors regularly unearth raw talent to play for their country, in Aus, players have to work their way through a junior system and then prove themselves in the best First Class comp on the planet- just to be even considered for selection. Through this process they are taught the basics of the game such as fielding and running between the wickets, but also other aspects such as tactics and mental approach. I love the Pak team, but the Sydney Test highlighted the gulf in professionalism between the 2 cricket systems. I appreciate the financial cost, but surely it's not too much to ask for a system of similar quality and organisation. Or perhaps it's more entertaining for us all that Pakistan remain an extremely talented team of nearly-there players - perhaps that's the appeal for those of us that love them.

  • tfjones1978 on January 8, 2010, 6:47 GMT

    I agree with the toss wins the match. 5th test Aust vs Eng in Eng was won by the toss, as has been many others (pontings decision to bat first was a shocker dispite the win ... Aust would have won by an innings I believe). I believe cricket needs to be: * ODI = 2 sessions of 25 overs each (10 wickets per team in match). * Test = 20 sessions of 20-25 overs in match, teams alternate batting each sessions (20 wickets per team in match). This would: 1. Take out the win the toss win the match. 2. Make one sided matches over quicker (2 day test instead of 3 days). 3. Make close matches close each session (Aust vs SA would be exciting @ session). Test Examples (Stumps D2): Batting Pitch: 5 dec 550 vs 1/50 [OR] 3/300* vs 4/322* Bowling Pitch: 127 vs 9/331 [OR] 127 & 3/145* vs 7/295* Using this model, in the 2nd test Aust vs Pak: * Aust (7/62) & Pak (3/100) bat 25 overs@ 1st day (rain). * Aust & Pak bat even overs on 3rd day. * Pak lead lower, but higher chance of victory (both batting last).

  • amieka on January 8, 2010, 6:24 GMT

    Harsha, I liked your commentary a lot (apart from those moments when you get too excited at the sight of Indian's victory). Didn't read a lot of you till today.

    About Australia, I'm not sure what you mean by Australia not in decline. Didn't you see what our cricketers did in the recent years against good bowling attack? Are you not following Australian cricket? Don't get me wrong, we are still a good team and surely in decline.

    When the pitch is doing a bit, our batsman whine like my mother in law. I feel sorry when they call our Hussey Mr. consistent. He and most of our batsmen remind me Imran's infamous words about one Saleem Malik (flat track bully). That's exactly most of our batsman are. If Pakistan hold on to those catches in Melbourne, God knows what would happen, second test, Australia did nothing. Pakistan presented them the match. Finally, one person understood the weakness of OZ and that was Ganguly whom I admired so much.

  • DalesGuy on January 8, 2010, 6:23 GMT

    It was very disappointing to see the loss by the Pakistan team. After India and perhaps England, I always like a Pakistan win and bitterly disappointed to see the loss. Yousuf should continue just as a batsman and guide other batsmen in test match innings. No point in just blaming 20/20. He can look at players like Gambir, Dilshan and AB De Villiers. Bring on a new blood.

  • Percy_Fender on January 8, 2010, 5:52 GMT

    Yousuf has been castigated for his captaincy in Australia's second innings in the Sydney Test. Dhoni did much the same against against Australia in a Test Australia lost in India. While the critics hailed Dhoni for his shrewd captaincy, they are baying for Yousuf's blood for his strategy. This is so typical of the inconsistency of the media. It is only success which matters. Pakistan has excellent bowling. There is no doubt about that. In fact I think they have the best bowling in the world. Their batting is suspect and their fielding is awful. That is the reason Pakistan keeps failing all the time. Add to this the intrigue levels in the team and you have the complete package. They cannot have a Captain like Imran any more because the players will not accept such an autocratic figure today. In fact I think Imran has only one seat in parliament which is himself.The future of Pakistan cricket lies in naming a captain who is accepted by the players and the PCB.

  • wanderer1 on January 8, 2010, 5:52 GMT

    I think India should send us some batting coaches and maybe we could send some bowling coaches to India in payment as well. We can't bat under immense pressure and we throw our wickets away. Yousuf is being made the scapegoat which I think is wrong, the last thing we need is another Younis Khan scapegoat figure. Dropped catches and batting collapses have been around for years. They didn't start with Yousuf.

  • Pakistan_Rules on January 8, 2010, 5:40 GMT

    As being a Pakistani I am fan of my team, not because they are consistent but because they are in-predictable. I believe that if Pakistan becomes consistent then there will be no charm in cricket and also Pakistan could beat any team in the world. But I do think that Pakistan is lacking a good captain. I think that Pakistan should handover captaincy to Shahid Afridi. I saw him captaining his side (Karachi) in domestic cricket and he knows how to make use of team members. You can see that how he has improved himself for the last 5 years.

  • SatyajitM on January 8, 2010, 5:23 GMT

    As always another good piece from Harsha. Yousuf showed how much he lacks in captaincy skills when he set 8 players near boundary rope when Aus was 8 down. Then, Pakistan were cruising at 50/1 with a target of 175 and should have won from there easily but apart from Umar nobody showed any application. Inspite of me being Indian, I was supporting Pak as their first innings dominance deserved a win and they badly require a test win to get their cricket in order. But they have mastered the art of losing. If you had given the situation at the beginning of the day to even a lesser test team like NZ, they would have won hands down. Look at England, how they drew a test match from yet another losing position. And yes, Australia do not relent till the end. While their talent has waned, their hunger for win has remained intact. At Ban (in a stupid triangular contest) conditions are too heavily in favor of team batting second...

  • Phenom on January 8, 2010, 5:19 GMT

    As us Indian cricket fans over the years admired two great Ws from Pakistan and admired why our country couldn't produce such talent, a plausible explanation was given that we didn't have anyone to look up to for youngsters to inspire themselves. In Sydney test as Pakistan started their chase I was worried they didn't have such examples (current) to follow as far as batting in tests is concerned. It's not about failing to score 176 runs, it's more about knowing what you are letting go, a piece of history and for that matter to be part of it, by not putting high price on your wicket. Pakistan team should not forget, two years back India also lost Sydney test (yes, that controversial test) but came back to defeat Aussies in Perth purely knowing victory was the only option to turn things around. I hope Yousuf provides similar leadership to rally his young team in Hobart as winning test is their only option. Cricket will be better to have strong Pakistan test team (run by 'able' admin.).

  • ww113 on January 8, 2010, 4:53 GMT

    Harsha,I'm from Pakistan.This is not the first time such a thing has happened.Nor will it be the last.I have found my own way to deal with it.I don't watch Pakistan in action all that often. The list of similar matches is long but the one that stays in memory is Hobart 10 years ago when Australia needed over 300 to win with only four wickets left and they got them ! This time too, Pakistan choked.The tag of "chokers" should be applied to Pakistan,not South Africa.

  • MalikNadeemAwan on January 8, 2010, 4:11 GMT

    Its a very good article written by harsha about pakistan circket that they r talented but at time they over react and can be puzzled very quickly and in this current team there are few player need to be changed likes of misbah, Faisal and bring back younis in tests and malik if not asim kamal bcoz malik can bowl too and a good fielder. and the main thing is to improve their fielding. Bowling is spot on. But we can say about them they r unpredictable. sometime excellent sometime very poor. But best of luck PAKISTAN.

  • Thiru.Cumaran on January 8, 2010, 4:05 GMT

    I suppose the lurch in the stomach which Kumar will eventually feel when he loses the toss will be all-too familiar for him, considering the Premadasa stadium here also places an undue importance on the toss!

  • shadedwhite on January 8, 2010, 4:05 GMT

    Harsha, good piece. U?nfortunately in Pakistan team I don't think a single member will ever read this one or any other article. Cricinfo really provides an insight for every game. If and only if they regularly read this, their perspective on the game will change entirely. When to attack, when to defend will be quite easy to understand. But as we say it in Pakistan, "jaanay do sub theek hai," loosely translated as "all is well that ends well." Had Pakistan won the game, nobody would've questioned Yousuf's bizzare fielding placement.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • shadedwhite on January 8, 2010, 4:05 GMT

    Harsha, good piece. U?nfortunately in Pakistan team I don't think a single member will ever read this one or any other article. Cricinfo really provides an insight for every game. If and only if they regularly read this, their perspective on the game will change entirely. When to attack, when to defend will be quite easy to understand. But as we say it in Pakistan, "jaanay do sub theek hai," loosely translated as "all is well that ends well." Had Pakistan won the game, nobody would've questioned Yousuf's bizzare fielding placement.

  • Thiru.Cumaran on January 8, 2010, 4:05 GMT

    I suppose the lurch in the stomach which Kumar will eventually feel when he loses the toss will be all-too familiar for him, considering the Premadasa stadium here also places an undue importance on the toss!

  • MalikNadeemAwan on January 8, 2010, 4:11 GMT

    Its a very good article written by harsha about pakistan circket that they r talented but at time they over react and can be puzzled very quickly and in this current team there are few player need to be changed likes of misbah, Faisal and bring back younis in tests and malik if not asim kamal bcoz malik can bowl too and a good fielder. and the main thing is to improve their fielding. Bowling is spot on. But we can say about them they r unpredictable. sometime excellent sometime very poor. But best of luck PAKISTAN.

  • ww113 on January 8, 2010, 4:53 GMT

    Harsha,I'm from Pakistan.This is not the first time such a thing has happened.Nor will it be the last.I have found my own way to deal with it.I don't watch Pakistan in action all that often. The list of similar matches is long but the one that stays in memory is Hobart 10 years ago when Australia needed over 300 to win with only four wickets left and they got them ! This time too, Pakistan choked.The tag of "chokers" should be applied to Pakistan,not South Africa.

  • Phenom on January 8, 2010, 5:19 GMT

    As us Indian cricket fans over the years admired two great Ws from Pakistan and admired why our country couldn't produce such talent, a plausible explanation was given that we didn't have anyone to look up to for youngsters to inspire themselves. In Sydney test as Pakistan started their chase I was worried they didn't have such examples (current) to follow as far as batting in tests is concerned. It's not about failing to score 176 runs, it's more about knowing what you are letting go, a piece of history and for that matter to be part of it, by not putting high price on your wicket. Pakistan team should not forget, two years back India also lost Sydney test (yes, that controversial test) but came back to defeat Aussies in Perth purely knowing victory was the only option to turn things around. I hope Yousuf provides similar leadership to rally his young team in Hobart as winning test is their only option. Cricket will be better to have strong Pakistan test team (run by 'able' admin.).

  • SatyajitM on January 8, 2010, 5:23 GMT

    As always another good piece from Harsha. Yousuf showed how much he lacks in captaincy skills when he set 8 players near boundary rope when Aus was 8 down. Then, Pakistan were cruising at 50/1 with a target of 175 and should have won from there easily but apart from Umar nobody showed any application. Inspite of me being Indian, I was supporting Pak as their first innings dominance deserved a win and they badly require a test win to get their cricket in order. But they have mastered the art of losing. If you had given the situation at the beginning of the day to even a lesser test team like NZ, they would have won hands down. Look at England, how they drew a test match from yet another losing position. And yes, Australia do not relent till the end. While their talent has waned, their hunger for win has remained intact. At Ban (in a stupid triangular contest) conditions are too heavily in favor of team batting second...

  • Pakistan_Rules on January 8, 2010, 5:40 GMT

    As being a Pakistani I am fan of my team, not because they are consistent but because they are in-predictable. I believe that if Pakistan becomes consistent then there will be no charm in cricket and also Pakistan could beat any team in the world. But I do think that Pakistan is lacking a good captain. I think that Pakistan should handover captaincy to Shahid Afridi. I saw him captaining his side (Karachi) in domestic cricket and he knows how to make use of team members. You can see that how he has improved himself for the last 5 years.

  • wanderer1 on January 8, 2010, 5:52 GMT

    I think India should send us some batting coaches and maybe we could send some bowling coaches to India in payment as well. We can't bat under immense pressure and we throw our wickets away. Yousuf is being made the scapegoat which I think is wrong, the last thing we need is another Younis Khan scapegoat figure. Dropped catches and batting collapses have been around for years. They didn't start with Yousuf.

  • Percy_Fender on January 8, 2010, 5:52 GMT

    Yousuf has been castigated for his captaincy in Australia's second innings in the Sydney Test. Dhoni did much the same against against Australia in a Test Australia lost in India. While the critics hailed Dhoni for his shrewd captaincy, they are baying for Yousuf's blood for his strategy. This is so typical of the inconsistency of the media. It is only success which matters. Pakistan has excellent bowling. There is no doubt about that. In fact I think they have the best bowling in the world. Their batting is suspect and their fielding is awful. That is the reason Pakistan keeps failing all the time. Add to this the intrigue levels in the team and you have the complete package. They cannot have a Captain like Imran any more because the players will not accept such an autocratic figure today. In fact I think Imran has only one seat in parliament which is himself.The future of Pakistan cricket lies in naming a captain who is accepted by the players and the PCB.

  • DalesGuy on January 8, 2010, 6:23 GMT

    It was very disappointing to see the loss by the Pakistan team. After India and perhaps England, I always like a Pakistan win and bitterly disappointed to see the loss. Yousuf should continue just as a batsman and guide other batsmen in test match innings. No point in just blaming 20/20. He can look at players like Gambir, Dilshan and AB De Villiers. Bring on a new blood.