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Pakistan's mediocrity raises questions

Does Mohammad Hafeez deserve to be in the Test side? Who after Misbah? What is Whatmore doing? Does the board have a plan to safeguard the future?

Saad Shafqat

September 14, 2013

Comments: 86 | Text size: A | A

Mohammad Hafeez trudges back to the pavilion after a low score, Zimbabwe v Pakistan, 1st Test, Harare, 1st day, September 3, 2013
Mohammad Hafeez averages 20.8 with the bat outside Asia © AFP
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Zimbabwe have just given Pakistan an enormous surprise. This is great news for Zimbabwe, but terrible news for Pakistan. On their previous trip there, precisely two years ago - things had been far more one-sided, with Pakistan making short work of the opposition in all three ODIs and both T20s, and pocketing the one-off Test by a comfortable seven wickets.

This time Pakistan got their nose bloodied when they lost the opening ODI, and now comes the shock defeat in the second Test - the equivalent of a kick in the most sensitive parts, leaving Pakistan's cricket edifice doubled over.

Undoubtedly Zimbabwe have improved tremendously. For over a decade, they have looked terribly out of sorts, but today they have a penetrative seam attack, a nettlesome offspinner, and solid upper-order batsmen.

Meanwhile for Pakistan, several disturbing questions arise. Defeat in a limited-overs encounter can always be written off as a slip on a banana peel to which anyone can occasionally succumb. But a Test match is a far more comprehensive and probing examination. It measures your true cricketing worth far more accurately than any ODI or T20. When you have lost a Test, there are few excuses left.

In fact, the 1-1 tally for the Test series does not do justice to Zimbabwe, who nearly outplayed Pakistan in the opening Test as well. Pakistan's eventual winning margin of 221 runs may be massive, but it was almost entirely accounted for by a solitary performance in the form of Younis Khan's 200 not out in the second innings. In the first innings Pakistan's total remained modest and they conceded a lead of 78. Even during his otherwise magnificent double-hundred, Younis had a few close calls, including a convincing lbw appeal when he was on 10. Had he failed in the second innings, Zimbabwe would have been celebrating a Test whitewash.

Batting was Pakistan's most obvious failure, but the bowling proved disappointing too. On the opening day of the second Test, Pakistan reduced Zimbabwe to 187 for 6, but their bowlers failed to close the deal as the last four Zimbabwean wickets took the total to almost 300, including a tenth-wicket stand of 46. With Pakistan having to bat last, everything thereafter depended on securing a sizeable first-innings lead, but Pakistan's batting line-up more or less crumbled, and the Test turned. On the final morning Pakistan came out needing 106 runs with five wickets left and Misbah-ul-Haq still at the crease. It was a decade, almost to the day, from the memorable Multan Test against Bangladesh, when Pakistan needed 113 with four left and Inzamam-ul-Haq not out on 53. But Misbah, despite his valiant rearguard, is no Inzi, and this Zimbabwe team are a cut above that Bangladesh side of 2003.

A good bit of Pakistan's mediocrity can perhaps be explained by improper selection, of which there is no more apt an example than Mohammad Hafeez. His batting average in 14 Tests outside Asia is only 20.80, which is in the tailender range, yet he has played each of those matches as an opener. He has managed to extend his Test life by offering a competitive bowling option and by creating the posture of a captain-in-waiting, but by now his batting abilities have been thoroughly exposed and he doesn't merit Test selection on the basis of his bowling alone.

Another Pakistan batsman who appears horribly exposed is Azhar Ali, whose Test average is in steady decline since it peaked at 45 last year. The talented and technically competent Asad Shafiq has also looked sadly adrift. These players are experiencing a rough patch but they have shown enough mettle in the past to still be considered the nucleus of Pakistan's future middle order. In the case of Hafeez, however, the excuses have simply run out; interesting alternative options - Haris Sohail, Fawad Alam, and perhaps even Umar Amin or Umar Akmal - are available to replace him.

A captaincy crisis is also looming. Misbah is nearly 40 and, with Hafeez undeserving of a Test spot, there is no longer any successor in sight. Hafeez is still a sound option for limited-overs, but the Test captaincy has suddenly been flung open. After Misbah's retirement the authorities will inevitably turn to Younis, but that can't be a long-term appointment. Plus, he has refused the honour before, so there's no guarantee that he will accept. From the younger crop, Azhar projects an air of leadership potential, but he first needs to prove his value as a batsman.

The spectacle out in the middle - mistimed strokes, suicidal shot selection, wickets gifted away - is what everyone naturally focuses on, but there is scant evidence to suggest the elaborate support infrastructure is doing its job properly. What, for example, is coach Dav Whatmore's contribution to this Pakistan effort beyond relaxing in the pavilion, appearing in silly soda ads, and collecting a fat paycheck? What is being done to sort out the uncertain status of the selection committee, whose chair appointment remains in legal limbo following a court challenge? And what is the PCB doing to identify and nurture batting talent in the country? Najam Sethi, the interim PCB chief hastily appointed by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, has so far done little to inspire confidence among fans that their beloved game is being tended to.

There is an important silver lining here too, and we must not lose sight of it: Test cricket is in great health, and its pleasures are infinite. This series produced ten days of a highly absorbing contest, with all the twists, surprises and drama that the most evolved form of the game is known for. What a shame that the organisers lacked the foresight to schedule a third Test, and the sponsors and broadcasters lacked the gumption to support it. We really have to stop depriving audiences of Test cricket's delightful possibilities.

Saad Shafqat is a writer based in Karachi. His latest book is Breath of Death, a medical thriller

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Posted by   on (September 20, 2013, 22:30 GMT)

Also why aren't we playing more home matches in Dubai/Sharjah/Abu-Dhabi or even Canada or USA.

Posted by   on (September 20, 2013, 22:27 GMT)

We need to give Ahmed Shezad , Nasir Jamshed , Umar Akmal , and Fawad Alam all talented and gifted batsmen a chance together in one team . If Misbah , Coach and Management cannot handle the exuberance of a younger mind then they either need to learn or move quickly as it is causing our cricketing pride and joy a huge loss. Is it so hard to understand ??

Posted by merchantcricket on (September 17, 2013, 10:00 GMT)

The biggest issue is selection on merit. I just find it difficult to accept the idea that you can't find better test players than Asad and Hafeez (even Azhar, although his average better). Another issue, is captaincy, Misbah is good as a player but not as a captain, we need to have gutsy captain. Misbah's conservative approach is a bigger problem for the moral of the team. Pakistan selection committee need to adopt some sort strategy to remove/add batmans and I think one indicator could be that if a player (after five matches/innings) has an average of less than 40% they will out. Similarly approach of minimum average could be adopt for the ODI.

Posted by fkhawaja on (September 17, 2013, 8:01 GMT)

i think everyone agrees that it was apoor performance and we need changes, 1st coach. whatmore has failed and needs to go. infact he should resign. he has taken the team which defeated england 3 nil to loss against zimbabwe. 2nd captain.. needs a change but unfortunately no clear choice. azhar ali is not even sure of his position. younis is temperamentally not suited and also his age. only person I can see is Umar Gul. he has the experience and is the bowling spearhead. we have had successful bowling captains like wasim . if he is fit he should lead the test and ODI. 3rd batsmen. hafeez has to go from tests. asad shafiq and azhar are in a bad slump.we can bring taufiq umar or ahmed shahzad for hafeez and umar akmal for shafiq. 4th. bowlers. umar gul junaid irfan 2 spinners and keeper.

Posted by   on (September 17, 2013, 4:59 GMT)

A simple solution is to give a serious thought to the test cricket and getting a better scheduling for tests in any given year. Where are the allrounders and the 140 k + bowlers? Its mentally incapacitated to keep Hafeez in the test squad and please get international teams back in Pakistan. These departmental owned teams are producing nothing and we should bring city or region based teams sponsored by the departments so the locals show interest in backing their respective city's team. Who in the hell wants to take side in PIA vs Sui gas match?

Posted by Desihungama on (September 16, 2013, 20:02 GMT)

@Arrow011- Most sensible comment. A bowler should always be a captain, at least for Team Pakistan. Bowlers mind is innovative and always tinkering with unknowns. And when you have a gem in Ajmal why waste time? Weren't we on top when Kardar, Intakhab, Imran, Wasim and Waqar lead?

Posted by legsidewide on (September 16, 2013, 13:18 GMT)

@Rohit Sen Sammy is a bad point of comparison for Misbah. Sammy is not a good enough player to make it into his team as a batsman or a bowler. He's essentially a specialist captain. Misbah deservers his spot on batting alone, and he is a good fielder to boot. His captaincy, in my opinion, is very good, considering what he has to work with.

Posted by legsidewide on (September 16, 2013, 12:54 GMT)

Really glad to see someone calling Whatmore to account. It's impossible to see what he's actually done for the team. Selection has not improved or shown any signs of strategy. Neither has technique in batting or fielding. He just seems to keep quiet and in the shadows, not obviously doing anything. Both Waqar and Mohsin were clearly more pro-active and had a clear strategy. Waqar wanted to leave, but it's a real tragedy that Mohsin was treated so badly, like a temp rather than being appreciated for his test successes. He even said as much, that he didn't want to be taken for granted. It's no coincidence that players like Azhar and Asad performed best under him.

Posted by   on (September 16, 2013, 12:42 GMT)

The result was not surprising. The world calls Pakistan team unpredictable which is an alias for minnows who manage upset or two. If anythnig Ireland is also similar in strngth and capbility. This result was no suprise

Posted by   on (September 16, 2013, 11:13 GMT)

People are writting their comments over and over again bring this player in, this player is good that palyer is good, but again selectors do what they want to do. Misbah and coach Whatmore have job to bring the talant in and let them sattled but the story is entirly different. They wait for the selection authorities to select the team and they say yes sir we will play with this team. Pakistan have never seen the captain and coach like this before, who do not have their say in selection at all. Either they are trying to save their own positions or what. It would be really good to hear vary soon that Pakistan is out of international cricket same like hockey.

Posted by   on (September 16, 2013, 10:25 GMT)

no more chance for the hafeez in next test plz i dont know why not give the chance muhammad yousaf to play test match nasir umar akmal and many more

Posted by   on (September 16, 2013, 9:14 GMT)

NO....hafeez dont desrves to be in test team.

Posted by   on (September 16, 2013, 7:34 GMT)

Long back i said :being An Indian i see pakistan cricket differently.So emotions are out. Some points which can considered.

1. Make Nasir jamshed captain of ODI team.Give him a long rope.Looks like a thinking cricketer from outside. misbah captaining for tests.hafeez for -20.

2.Play hafeez more as a bowling all rounder.Just a capable replacement for abdul razzaq.

3. Make hafeez as a captain in T-20 where he looks the most comfortable.

4.Play hafeez in the lower middle order in all the formats..bcoz he's a good slogger.

5.For me, Misbah should play 1 down in ODI.

6.Azar ali should be playing Tests and ODI more often than he is been doing now.

7.Make Umer akmal as a keeper for all the formats till you find a reliable keeper/batsman.

And lastly give them enough back up and confidence they deserve. which is lacking mostly all the pakistan youngsters.

Thank you-An Indian.

Posted by Arrow011 on (September 16, 2013, 5:31 GMT)

Ajmal should be captain, bowlers are best for captaincy.

Posted by   on (September 16, 2013, 3:05 GMT)

5 years ago people were praising hafeez. now what is this fuss all about? fans are hypocrites. Misbah has been blamed all the time and fans want him to be removed. They should know that he is the only dependable and best batsman we have. If he leaves captaincy, there is no replacement and hafeez will fill his boots. That's a disaster. The problem can be clearly seen. Pakistan cricket has been overtaken by senseless management and fans who don't know anything about cricket. I don't know how much this loss to Zimbabwe matters. I doubt this will be an eye opener for PCB. I am more happy that Zimbabwe have won. Cricket deserves a balance and all teams should do well. People should stop using the word minnows for Zimbabwe. They have simply slapped all those faces who think Zimbabwe were minnows. This is a beginning of a long way. Good luck!!!

Posted by   on (September 16, 2013, 1:13 GMT)

We Need Imran Farhat and Tawfeeq Umar as opener. Because of the poor form Hafeez should be drop at no 3. Azhar Ali at number 4. Shoaib Malik at 5. Misbah at 6. Adnan Akmal at 7. Abdur Rehman at 8. Ehsan adil at 9. Asab Ali at 10. Wahab Raiz at 11.

With this team Pak will win against any team of the world.

Posted by CricketChat on (September 16, 2013, 0:47 GMT)

Pak needs to address a few problems in batting order for tests: 1) Find stable opening pair. Hafeez does not fit the bill as an opener. He had his chances and failed to deliver consistently. 2) Needs to nurture suitable replacements for Inzi and Yousuf in the middle order. 3) Must find an aggressive captain. Misbah did the job for a while but his over defensive approach will not serve Pak in the long run.

Let's not blame the coach. Whatmore did wonders with SL and to a decent level with sub standard Bangladesh talent pool. He is not the reason for Pak's losses. It is their lack of batting strength.

Posted by njr1330 on (September 15, 2013, 23:01 GMT)

Pakistan needs a chief selector/board chairman etc. Someone who knows the game; has international credibility, and has the respect of the players....isn't there a guy out there somewhere, called ... Imran Khan !!

Posted by   on (September 15, 2013, 21:36 GMT)

Even as an India, I can't see how Umar Akmal and Fawad Alam don't make the test eleven. Akmal, for all his inconsistency, is an impact batsman who can take the game by the scruff of it's neck. In a tricky chase, on a tough wicket, a quick 30-40 runs from Akmal might have made the difference as every Pakistan batsman doesn't have the tools to switch from defense to attack at will like Misbah does. And Fawad Alam? I mean, for a side so perennially underwhelming on the field, that guy should make the team on fielding alone, perhaps he would save a good 20-30 runs over an innings there itself. He is a talented bat who never got a good run. Let's just hope Pakistan don't lose Alam, Akmal and the likes of Shafiq and Ali like they lost Asim Kamal and Ali Naqvi in the past.

Posted by   on (September 15, 2013, 21:14 GMT)

The selection board and the batting coach should be changed immediately of PCB. Hafiz,Asad Shafiq and Misbah should be rested or sent into retirement

Posted by imranmujtaba on (September 15, 2013, 20:49 GMT)

very good article - Misbah has killed whole agreesion from the team he kept his spot and average and destroyed talented player like Umar Akmal - he should be given chance to play number 3/4 and fill the gap created by Inzi and yousf in team ..... Misbah should retire or play at lower middle order.

Posted by mzm149 on (September 15, 2013, 20:24 GMT)

QingdaoXI: But the irony is that the same Pakistani team defeated Indian team at their home last year.

Posted by hamza1982 on (September 15, 2013, 19:53 GMT)

The test top order must be: Jamshed, Taufeeq, Azhar, Younis, Misbah, Harris, Umar Akmal WK...That should be the top 7....

Posted by   on (September 15, 2013, 18:00 GMT)

I think main problem lies with Misbah. Don't get me wrong, In my view Misbah is a very good batsman but he is not a good captain.

1- When Misbah is the captain, everyone plays in Misbah Mode and forget their natural game e.g. See approach of Ahmad Shahzad under Misbah and Hafeez.

2- What wrong Taufeeq Umar has done for opening slot?

3- Hafeez is a good limited overs player but does not deserve a test spot.

4- New players like Sohaib Maqsood, Umar Amin, Fawad Alam, Shan Masood or Harris Sohail are not being given the chances they deserves.

5- Last but not the least, Pakistan's main problem is batting Still 264 was not a very big target. We need a batting coach like Inzamam. Who belongs to modern school of thought and played modern and competitive cricket. e.g. Note Coaches and mentality of the teams. Andy Flower, England; Garry Kristen, South Africa; etc, they belong to modern school of thought.

Posted by golgo_85 on (September 15, 2013, 17:21 GMT)

Well deserved wake up call for a joke of a team management. For how long must they keep Umar Akmal away in the name of being "irresponsible"???? A counter attacking strokeplayer is being forcefully restrained by a brainless management. After Hafeez is gone, we will have Hafeez 2 - Umar Amin but still no sign of Haris Sohail. Are they really waiting for Younis and Misbah to make way for Akmal and Sohail? They've already ruined Fawad's career. Hamad Azam should've been groomed by now as the additional seamer in any squad, who also could've well been the 3rd seamer in tests where the brains decide to play only 2 pacers, that would've also meant having that extra batsman to boost a feeble order. Why not groom that sort of players? I will never know. And they expect a young Umar Akmal to play restrained innings. Why, when there are other seniors around him anyway? Shambolic mindset starting from the team selection has always cost Pakistan matches and series the last 5 years.

Posted by ALiQamar on (September 15, 2013, 15:47 GMT)

My opinion is that because of Misbah (I still believe he is important part of this team) all the player are in defensive mind set. All of them have started to stay at the crease instead of going in and play their natural game. I think Misbah's defensive approach has everything to do with it. All we need is an attacking captain and every player should be given enough chances and not just 1 or 2 games. Afridi used to give full chance to each player he brought in the team and his attacking approach made other players play their natural game. We need a captain like Afridi, Wasim or Imran. The sad part is I cant see anyone in this team who can come even close.

Posted by   on (September 15, 2013, 15:44 GMT)

Younis Khan as captain? He resigns at the drop of a hat ;) he may resign in the middle of the match if DRS decision goes against him... Misbah appears to have more fans outside Pakistan than within... Pakistan public, like the West Indies in the past, are used to success. Sometimes the cricketing stock of a country does not have the dazzling captain that the cricket loving public crave for... Darren Sammy would never be as illustrious as Viv Richards and Clive Lloyd. Sammy got enough stick from the public for not being as illustrious as some of the greats... He did a job and Windies look a better team that when he assumed the helm... Misbah deserves some patience as well... If right players are not coming or if players are not ready... Changing the captain is a creative inertia... It will be more of the same.

Posted by   on (September 15, 2013, 15:07 GMT)

I personally think, any individual performance hardly affects Pakistan in any way. It's always unexpected with them. And when people complain about this team's "mediocrity," I think they forget this is the same team that can win anything on their day. People now need to get used to and accept Pakistan playing like that. I don't understand why they keep criticizing players or management when they know that nothing will change. Pakistan will do well when they want to, and won't when they don't. Stop trying to find replace/drop/reorder every time they lose something. Is it really that hard to just keep encouraging those that are playing?

Posted by   on (September 15, 2013, 13:38 GMT)

pakistan are always an unpredictable side. who ever thought after beating 3-0 against world no.1 (at that time) they 'll lose to minnows zimbabwe. but still i say misbah is very calm and cool captain and he should not be changed. its not a time to press panic button. just retain him time till 2015 wc. i am sure he will prove his mettle once again. he is one of my favourite pakistani player and very mature cricketer and a person. he took up the captaincy when pakistan was in turmoil after match fixing saga and fights and conflicts were among the team. but after his appointment we never heard of such things. so credit must be given to him to make this team more stable and controversy free side. yes i agree there should be some changes in batting order. bring young blood in the mix with experience players like younis and misbah.give them full opportunity they will do well. after 8-0 suffering selectors kept their faith in dhoni and now u all can see the results. all d best(indian fan)

Posted by J._Doe on (September 15, 2013, 13:31 GMT)

Saad Shafqat raises a number of fascinating points to make a compelling case of what ails the present Pakistani cricket team. Undoubtedly the biggest problem, in my opinion, is the captaincy. Misbah is a very defensive captain at best and an aggressive and inspiring leader is nowhere to be seen, at the moment!

Posted by   on (September 15, 2013, 13:09 GMT)

Among the many selection mysteries, the biggest one seems to be the non-selection of Fawad Alam and Sadaf Hussain. Fawad is already 27, and should have given more chances, could have played 30+ Tests by now. I hope they don't finish their careers without another Test cap to their names.

The Pakistan batting line up is also without any aggressive batsman who can change gears at will and counter-attack, Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq are good, but too much in the Misbah mould without being nearly as consistent, Pakistan could give Umar Akmal one last decent run to see he can step up, and Taufeeq Umar should open with either Manzoor or Jamshed,at the expense of Hafeez, who can compete for a middle order slot. Other tried and discarded players like Imran Farhat, Faisal Iqbal should only be considered if they have a Bradmanesque first class season. Bowling-wise, I don't think Tanvir or Wahab are world class fast bowlers Pakistan is known to produce

Posted by MianMoosa on (September 15, 2013, 12:35 GMT)

Some immediate steps should be taken 1) get rid of dav whatmore & appoint inzamam ul haq as a head coach 2) replace misbah with younis as a captain for a year or two & made azhar or asad his deputy in test cricket,,,azhar & asad though don,t perform well in this series but we need to keep faith in him,,, 3) drop hafeez & open with khurram & jamshed or open with khurram & azhar & play umar amin at No 3 4) keep misbah ul haq in the team as a player

Posted by Sachit1979 on (September 15, 2013, 12:07 GMT)

Pak board should trust Misbah's captaincy for an year more atleast. Between they need to find atleast 3 stable batsmen with intent of grooming one of them as future leader. Hats off to Misbah's calmness despite all odds. He is the one who never gives up even he does not get support from anyone else.

Posted by Markdal on (September 15, 2013, 12:02 GMT)

Nrs Veda, you are sadly mistaken about Misbah. When he took over, Pakistan was a rabble. There was the spot-fixing drama, no home Tests, Misbah himself was a fringe player. His poise and expertise have turned Pakistan around to be a force again, along with Dav Whatmore. Pakistan has always been the "loaded gun" of international cricket. They can be breathtaking or dismal, often within the same series. You will probably find that they will win their next series comfortably.

Posted by   on (September 15, 2013, 12:00 GMT)

This Zim bowling attack is more than respectable. Perhaps more credit needs to be given to the Zim bowlers. On the other end of the spectrum, Ajmal was just not as effective as he usually is. The Zim top order and even lower order seemed to have coped with him pretty well.

Posted by muzika_tchaikovskogo on (September 15, 2013, 11:56 GMT)

I think Misbah Ul Haq never gets the credit he deserves. True, his batting is extremely slow, but you don't expect a batsman who invariably comes out at 20 odd for 3 to get after the bowling. He gives Pakistan's batting a solidity it desperately needs. But for him and Younus Khan, Pakistan would have been whitewashed by Zimbabwe.

Posted by   on (September 15, 2013, 11:53 GMT)

When India tour Zim with a second stream team. All the 5 ODI's were one sided. It was almost the same Zim team who played against Pak as well. Don't forget that Pak sent its best available team. Every ODI, T20's and test was close one. As said by the writer it might be a whitewash in test, thanks to Younis Khan experience. Future doesn't seems to be good for Pak Team at least in test match.

Posted by   on (September 15, 2013, 10:55 GMT)

Asaf shafique is only over rated batsman.hafeez is occupyng a place in test team widoit any justification and azhar ali he is just a stubborn like a donkey there is nothng good in him 15 runs on 100 balls.

Posted by Stark62 on (September 15, 2013, 10:43 GMT)

"interesting alternative options - Haris Sohail, Fawad Alam, and perhaps even Umar Amin or Umar Akmal". I like the probables selected but I disagree with the inclusion of Amin and I think that is the problem with Pak cricket.

Players like Malik, Hafeez, Shafiq and Azhar all look good but their FC averages will tell your otherwise, hence if Amin is selected for the Test side, then we should all prepare for a Shafiq 2.0.

Amin had a solid domestic T20 tournament but he is below average for Tests and okay for ODI's, plus I remember Ramiz Raja jnr being selected because he played well in the domestic T20 tournament and got a chance against Zimb but failed miserably and other deserving players were neglected.

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge on (September 15, 2013, 10:10 GMT)

I don't think Pakistan have changed that much, Zimbabwe were just the better team last test. This Pakistan team look like they're going to get hammered by South Africa though.

Posted by M.Nouman on (September 15, 2013, 9:06 GMT)

Pathetic batting performance by Hafeez,Azhar Ali & Asad Shafiq.They need to evolve themselves..Dave Whatmore needs to do something now..

Posted by QingdaoXI on (September 15, 2013, 8:45 GMT)

India has four teams at present which can beat this present Pakistan side teams at Present First team: Vijay, Dhawan, Pujara, Tendulkar, Kohli, Jadeja, Dhoni, Ashwin, Ishant, Bhuvi, Umesh Second Team: Sehwag, Gambhir, Rahane, Rohit, Kaif, Yuvraj, Karthik, Harbhajan, Zaheer, Ojha, Praveen, Third Team: Uttappa, Jaffer, Rayudu, Badrinath, Raina, Nayar, Saha, Irfan, Iqbal, Aaroon, Mishra. Fourth Team: Jagdeesh, Jivanjot, Juneja, Pandey, M.Tiwary, S.Tiwary, Tare, Rasool, Nadeem, Mohit, Unadkat

Posted by QingdaoXI on (September 15, 2013, 8:32 GMT)

Pakistan cricket is in turmoil, its time to revamped the domestic structure and make it more competitive so, more good players will be produced and they should open the academy to train the batsmen, train in sense technique not only hit and miss. Pakistan batsmen lacks Patience and dont have temperament to stay long at crease and bowling has also became weak, weak in sense more weaker than India, India have winning the series after series because not only of there batsmen but also there bowlers. India has India A as well as India B team ready to take on any International side inspite of bad adminstration and Hit and miss IPL cricket. I hope PCB looks after all this problem and take good decision. Test squad should have good solid batsmen who can atleast leran something from seniors like Yunus and Misbah not like Hafeez, Taufiq or Farhat, all three were find out in last decade vs India. Umar Amin and Umar Akmal looks good for ODI and they should have tried vs Zimbabwe side.

Posted by Arrow011 on (September 15, 2013, 8:19 GMT)

Ajmal should be captain, bowlers are best for captaincy.

Posted by HonestObserver on (September 15, 2013, 8:12 GMT)

Continued from an earlier post................ Younis would be the ideal option for captain in tests, if not PCB should look for someone in demestic circuit with the right temperament for test captaincy. I know it's a far fetched idea in Pakistani cricket, but I guess the time has come, unfortunately Azhar and Shafiq both seem to be operating in the same Misbah mould of play. It's a wishful thought, specially when you consider the obsession with a foreign coach when Mohsin Khan gave you all the right results...... Good Luck Pak Cricket..

Posted by   on (September 15, 2013, 8:08 GMT)

With exception of Umar Akmal and Junaid Khan, there is no talent from Pakistan.

Misbah is the worst thing to happened to Pakistan Cricket, as he never bothered to nurture Talent and always looking forward to maintain a HIGH test match, one day batting average.

Afridi clicks once in 5 matches, forcing youngsters to benchwarm frustratingly. In my opinion, Pakistan cannot sustain in Cricket, if they allow this team to play for 2 years or so.

Posted by HonestObserver on (September 15, 2013, 7:59 GMT)

Hello guys, I will try to make some brief observation here. Misbah ul Haq...people either love him or hate him, there is no middle ground, the answer is simple. He has been perhaps the most consistent batter for Pakistan recently. On the flip side, people now have to realize, though he has been an honest and committed guy in the cricketing field, but he is not as gifted, talented or skillful. To counter that he has to take a defensive approach . I strongly believe he is a passive person by nature, he is not a risk taker or proactive . He has already exceeded his own expectations. Unfortunately his brand of cricket has been deeply instilled into the rest of the group, u cannot expect to go with less than 3 per over in tests or less than 4 per over in ODI's.patience while batting in tests is paramount , but u cannot play just predetermined cricket or let go of scoring opportunities . I think it's high time to replace him as a captain in tests and Hafeez as a player. See next post....

Posted by Pathiyal on (September 15, 2013, 7:19 GMT)

Its apparantly a case of under preparation!!! the better bowling lot of Zimbabwe caught them by surprise this time.

Posted by   on (September 15, 2013, 6:42 GMT)

why they have sideline taufiq umer last i saw him getting 200 against sa and also there were options like imran farhat too but i think its a downfall of pak cricket when you dont see anyone in the team to replace a captain when he retires

Posted by siddhartha87 on (September 15, 2013, 6:13 GMT)

some of the ex pakistani players keep saying that they need to drop guys like Younis and Misbah. To be honest the only good in the the team are these vets only. Misbah definitely needs to be more positive in his captaincy and batting.It's right time to bring someone like Fawad Ahmed into the team who averages 55+ in FC.Harris Sohail is another bright prospect. But it's difficult to see them featuring in playing XI considering Azhar and Shafiq doing descent job.I hope Pakistani selectors show more faith in the duo. Probably it's time to drop Hafeez and promote Azhar Ali as an opener.Younis Khan has a tremendous record at no 3 as well.The top 6 should be-

1. T.Umar 2.A.Ali 3.Younis Khan 4.Harris Sohail 5.Misbah 6.Fawad

Posted by   on (September 15, 2013, 6:03 GMT)

Natural stroke making players is the simple answer of Pakistan batting line problems.

Posted by   on (September 15, 2013, 5:20 GMT)

The Pakistan team will continue to taste defeat in the most bizarre ways considering how pathetic the team selection has been, and how clueless the management has been with regards to team planning.

Hafeez does not deserve to be selected in the test arena. His value is nil as an allrounder in test matches, as he didnt even bowl 10 overs in either test match. He needs to be replaced.

How Umar Akmal, Haris Sohail and Umar Amin are being overlooked is a big question mark on the selection committee. If they have any honour, they should resign.

The bowling selection is poor as well. Why Irfan wasnt played is beyond me. and then have 4 left armers in one team, how is that sane? Out of so many good fast bowlers, the selection committee could not find even ONE right armer?

All Misbah haters will do just that.....hate Misbah. He has been the only batter with consistent performances around very poor ones. Once he's retired, the true poor calibre will come to light.

Doc Sahab, well written

Posted by   on (September 15, 2013, 5:17 GMT)

39 years & 110 days old Misbah, who has played played 41 TESTS & 110 ODI matches, does not know that he should not exposed tail enders when Pak was chasing a moderate total of 264 runs, he himself was playing well but ....if Pak loses match against the weakest team in test ranking by 24 runs ONLY it indicates that skipper Misbah did not act/play according to the situation ....Misbah must have completed this match as winner captain but his BASIC style of TUK TUK batting ...skipper with defensive approach also played role for losing this match ...his 79* (181 BLS) innings is absolutely useless.....He plays for his own benefit of good batting average....he was also responsible for defeat in T20 final against India and 2011 World cup semi final against old rival India.....now its high time to change in team selection ...include Umar Akmal, Haris Suhail and Shoaib Malik....we need to have some dashing players like Umar Akmal/Haris Suhail & experienced plus now in-form batsman Shoaib Malik.

Posted by tanstell87 on (September 15, 2013, 4:54 GMT)

Indian fan here...time for Pakistan to change the batting line up and also the captain....Misbah is already 39 and will not be around when the Test Championship begins in 2017...so time has come for Pakistan to look beyond Misbah...Hafeez should get the boot....i would like to see Umar Amin & Umar Akmal back in test team...Asad Shafiq should bat at 4 and should take responsibility..Umar Akmal looks a good number 6 prospect in the batting line up & Kamran back as wicket keeper in test team...Nasir Jamshed should be given opportunity again...

my 11 - 1.Jamshed 2.Taufeeq Umar 3.Umar Amin 4.Asad Shafiq 5.Younis Khan 6.Umar Akmal 7.Kamran Akmal 8.Umar Gul 9.Ajmal 10.Junaid 11.Irfan

who should be the captain...how about Umar Gul being the captain has the experience remember his debut against India at Lahore in 2004 took 5 wickets in 1st innings....can be a good captaincy prospect....Pakistan have had history of bowler captains(Imran,Wasima & Waqar )...all the best

Posted by Diaz54 on (September 15, 2013, 4:41 GMT)

Well done to Zimbabwe . They should fix up a return fixture in Pakistan which PCB would oblige...and secure 3 - 0 win and go up the rankings. I for one am pleased for Zimbabwe given their troubles. Pakistan though are a shocking side, tactically very poor, planning wise even poorer and batting viewpoint clearly worst batting side in international cricket. Nobody has been able to address the decline. The fact is the problem starts with openers and 3 and number 3 and 4 batting spots. Pakistan does not have 4 top batsmen and a bowling all rounder. To me we need to find proper batsmen with right temperament to be able,to open the batting. Having done this need to stick tot he players. Current crop must go...including thensomcalled professor. Look to u 19.

Posted by   on (September 15, 2013, 4:36 GMT)

where is taufeeq umar please answer my question if he was playing in the last two series i bet only for test he would have bein a perfect option.

Posted by vik56in on (September 15, 2013, 4:33 GMT)

Pakistan's entire series can be summed up by noting that it needed a 40yr old to carry its batting on his head.The other notable contributor Younis Khan is no spring chicken either considering that he is 35.Unless younger batsmen step into their shoes the decline seen in Pakistan's cricket is irreversible.

Posted by   on (September 15, 2013, 4:33 GMT)

where is taufeeq umar where is he people mr saad can u answer that question please id would mean a lot i mean who is the best test opener right now for pakistan leave odis and t20s aside. give me another name he is the most stable batsman we have

Posted by RaadQ on (September 15, 2013, 4:08 GMT)

Zimbabwe deserved victory as they played their hearts out. Pakistan deserves this result because of their poor selection policy. Why is Hafeez (who has pointed out only has an average of 20 outside of Asia) being picked ahead of better openers, such as Taufeeq Umar. And why is Asad Shafiq being picked over much better talents such as Umar Amin, Umar Akmal, Fawad Alam and Haris Sohail? These four youngsters MUST be transitioned into the team over the next two years. Azhar should be given another AWAY series before being dropped (not flat pitch HOME series), he has been our third best batsman in the last few years after YK and Misbah.

Posted by   on (September 15, 2013, 3:06 GMT)

Zimbabwe have improved quite a bit since their return in 2011. They have potential to challenge most top order side in favorable conditions. However Saad makes a great point about Hafeez's spot in the test line up he has not done much to justify his spot in the test team. I also agree with Saad on Whatmore he hasn't really done much since his appointment 18 months ago since he has been appointed coach Pakistan have not won a test series and have only one test even in ODI performance has been disappointing. As for Sethi he as an administrator is not a bad option but he doesn't really have clear direction as to what powers he has as an interim president first thing we need as a permanent Director and board with a defined term of 3-4 years. Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq need to also realize that they need to perform in upcoming series as they have under performed in 2013.

Posted by FourthStump on (September 15, 2013, 1:58 GMT)

A very misguided Pakistani article.

Lose one test match and all of the sudden we question the entire top order, coach, selectors, chairman, anyone and everyone. Instead of intelligently focusing on the problem and solution. Attitudes like this are the reason Pakistan is constantly going through overhauls.

Azhar Ali averages over 40 in test mates, he's still finding his feet is he not allowed to go through a bad patch?

Misbah averages over 44 in tests. He leads an average Pakistan side through turmoil and all he gets is grief from narrow minded writers.

Dav Whatmore frankly is doing a brilliant job. If anyone thinks he just sits around they are stupid.

Hafeez I would agree has serious technical flaws against away swing. He's mainly a one-day cricketer but the only realistic option aside him is Taufeeq Umar.

The real problem is Pakistan's inability to develop talent into quality batsmen. We need a batting coach and batting camps up and down Pakistan.

Posted by m23khan on (September 15, 2013, 1:44 GMT)

During ZIM vs IND series, one thing in cricinfo article caught my eye...something along the lines of Zimbabwe players practicing for months. Now that is the difference between teams like ZIM, IND, ENG, and teams like PAK. See, in PAK the national players are making handsome salary (rockstar like really considering local economy and avg. wage figures). But everytime when a series approach, you hear thru media that PAK players gathered at some xyz ground to 'practice' for grand total of 2-3 weeks and ten head off.

I ask you, which coach in the world can work in those situations - you have good coach in Whatmore and world class players (including players like Shafiq, Azhar and newer ones). But sadly, there is no constant practice, no serious body building or diet control, and certainly a poor domestic structure where pitches are poor and skill of fellow domestic players even poorer. I say send the top 20-30 players in the country elsewhere to play domestic league and gain skills.

Posted by omar_choudhary on (September 15, 2013, 1:44 GMT)

But now Nasir Jamshed's place in the test team looks to be shut out so does Taufeeq Umar's place... In the bowling department, which by the way was not our first choice attack, Rahat Ali was disappointing despite the 5 fer, he has been very expensive in the opportunities he has been given so far, he is a bit like Sami, talented but not consistent. He has pace and swing just not control or discipline. Junaid Khan, was consistent through out the series, almost like a replica of Akram in some of his spells, which were mesmerizing and unplayable, so a positive. Abdur Rehman enjoyed a good comeback to international cricket, Ajmal had a below par series for his standard but we know what he is capable of and is a world class spinner. I would like to have seen a third seamer in the test series in the form of Irfan, Riaz or Adil. But batting is where our team needs to improve, technically, mentally and of course running between the wickets, communication. All in all, Zimbabwe outplayed us!

Posted by omar_choudhary on (September 15, 2013, 1:38 GMT)

Azhar Ali, should not be dropped despite his abysmal performance in this series as we have seen before he can bat better than this against quality bowling attacks (take Pakistan's series vs England in the UAE for example)... In Adnan Akmal we found a keeper who can bat a bit, better than Sarfraz Ahmed, as he has shown through his limited opportunities and well he is a neat keeper, better than Kamran. So to choose him on the basis of being a keeper-batsman is justifiable. And positives in the batting department, include Misbah Ul Haq's golden run in ODI and Test cricket, unfortunately he has always been on the receiving end, this time in the second test vs Zimbabwe, he remained stranded and could have led us to victory also Younis Khan's return to form is a major boost, Khurram Manzoor grabbed his chance and may possibly be in contention for the series against South Africa. But now Nasir Jamshed's place in the test team looks to be shut out so does Taufeeq Umar's place...

Posted by omar_choudhary on (September 15, 2013, 1:32 GMT)

I disagree with Saad Shafqat's analysis of the team's performance in Zimbabwe. First we, as fans, need to knowledge the fact that the other team is there to play and try to win as well. As far as we, Pakistani fans, were concerned was the fact that we entering the test series, ranked 4th in the world, should have won this series by a comfortable margin. True our batting was mediocre. There were certain individuals, who really let our team down, including Hafeez, his batting was terrible and did not bowl much, Asad Shafiq, he should be thankful to be persisted with but should really have grabbed his chance, now I fear such a promising batsman with potential will be replaced with some other previously tried player like Farhat or even Faisal Iqbal, Azhar Ali, should not be dropped despite his abysmal performance in this series as we have seen before he can bat better than this against quality bowling attacks (take Pakistan's series vs England in the UAE for example)...

Posted by messi131 on (September 15, 2013, 1:06 GMT)

Hussain Talat, Sami Aslam, Umar Akmal (as a batsman only), Umar Amin, taufeeq Umar (in tests) Until & unless we see these kinds of players Pakistan will carry on getting embarrassed. But i don't think Misbah, Hafeez & Co. will give those players proper chances, so they deserve what happens to them!

Posted by messi131 on (September 15, 2013, 0:58 GMT)

This is a big slap in the face for Misbah, Hafeez, Selectors & Whatmore! By now it should be obvious to everyone that Hafeez should be no where near a test team never mind a one day team. The only way I think Hafeez can play in the one day side is if he bats at no.6, but for some strange reason he believes that he's a opener in one dayers & tests! And Misbah is a absolute pathetic captain for not seeing that. In the t20 series Sohaib Maqsood was tried at 5 & he looked a player, technically good & nice shots. Why wasn't he tried in ODI series & Test series! Also Haris Sohail was tried in the West Indies series at no.5 whist Hafeez the Joker bats at no.3 & Misbah at 4 & after a few games they dropped him! Technically Haris looked much better than Hafeez! It's obvious players & not being selected on form/stats its still favouritism, otherwise how the hell can afridi be in any team! Unless we don't see players like Haris Sohail, Sohaib Maqsood, Sharjeel Khan, Mohammed Rizwan, Raza Hasan

Posted by   on (September 14, 2013, 22:21 GMT)

The reason we have we have lost recently against Zimbabwe was due to these reasons: *Selection of make shift opener Hafeez, *No third pace option, * Misbah was over cautious as result in second innings the tail-enders lost their wickets namely Adnan AkmRehman and Juniad both cannot not tuk tuk and Misbah suggested them to play with soft hand as a result they lost patience.

Ajmal is a great bowler in any condition but cricket is a team game. In ODI Ajmal has great spin support from our all-rounders i.e. Afridi, Hafeez who can bat too but we should play with 3 fast bowler or 2 plus one pace all rounder i.e. Razzq or some emerging youngster.

However test cricket is serious business you have to be an expert in your area otherwise at some point th test matches can expose make shift batsman likes of Hafeez, Shoaib Malik or technically challenged players like Imran Farhat, Taufeeq Umar or makeshift keepers like Karan Akmal etc. Therefore we should groom expert not make shifts.

Posted by S.Jagernath on (September 14, 2013, 21:37 GMT)

Zimbabwe actually dominated this series.If not for the brilliance of Younis Khan,Pakistan would have lost the test series to Zimbabwe.Its a very sad day for cricket actually,Pakistan are a very different team from the team names like Saeed Anwar,Inzamam Ul-Haq,Mohammed Yousuf,Younis Khan,Waqar Younis,Wasim Akram,Shoaib Akhtar & Saqlain Mushtaq,all of those players were highly skilled & gifted players.Pakistan have none of that in this team unfortunately.Maybe this is the end of Misbah Ul-Haq.

Posted by Rohit... on (September 14, 2013, 21:04 GMT)

Captaincy Crisis??? I beg to differ.... Have you not seen Saeed Ajmal???? He is the core of Pakistan Bowling...And he is always there for Pakistan, be it Tests, ODIs or T20s... He can lead from the front and can demand respect from opposition and within the team... A spinner as a captain is not widely known but India had Kumble leading the team consisting of Sachin, Dravid, Laxman, Ganguly & Dhoni..... Pakistan had also given the reigns to the fame trio of Imran Khan, Waqar Younis and the Legendary Wasim Akram... I admit that they were not spinners but were Great Bowlers and Ajmal is already great.... Message from India

Posted by sgma on (September 14, 2013, 20:56 GMT)

Pakistan please stop bashing Misbah. Besides younis, he is the ONLY decent player you have

Posted by   on (September 14, 2013, 20:30 GMT)

Let me begin here by saying, Test Cricket lives on! Truly it reflects the cricketing quality of a nation and ours is suffering. Hafeez has run out of lifelines. Its time for him to walk away. Maybe a proper opener can be fitted in or azhar ali could be asked to open. Even a make shift can work. Fawad Alam opened with Manzoor for a little while. Give some space to Azhar and Asad. They are proven performers just suffering a bad patch. whilst Adnan Akmal is doing all right with the bat. Rahat has the sting for a test bowler however i believe it is better that he be dropped temporarily so he can work on his consistency. Ajmal NEEDS some rest. But the loss wasn't one man's fault. The big guns couldn't take the tour seriously because it wasn't meant to be taken seriously. It was a chance for youngsters to put up 100% effort and earn some admiration. The Big guns lost out on rest and the youngsters mostly lost some game time. Haris Sohail, Umer Amin, Maqsood, etc will have to debut sometime

Posted by   on (September 14, 2013, 20:08 GMT)

Zim proved that they are better than BD... I always beleived it, today world saw it... and we also saw difference bw good and great player. If inzi had played 180 balls, he would have won the test for pakistan. remember his century at multan??? its no question of support from other end. its all about how u manage it. Inzi could play with tail enders with so much authority. Misbah took a single to get to strike for last ball only??? that set up the runout in perfect manner. anyway, congrats ZIM, u guys rock

Posted by   on (September 14, 2013, 19:37 GMT)

Great and wonderfully written article, Saad, thank you very much.

Posted by mensan on (September 14, 2013, 19:22 GMT)

I want 3 changes:

OUT: Hafeez, Asad Shafiq, Adnan IN: Fawad Alam, Umar Amin, some reasonable keeper

Posted by TheProfPak on (September 14, 2013, 18:47 GMT)

@BoonBoom: I unfortunately would have to disagree with you. The decline in sports is not due to unavailable talent; rather one can easily identify that it's because of dirty politics prevailing in our system. Everybody near to govt. can be appointed as the head of any sport department, without being qualified to do so. Same is the case of PCB. There are plenty of gifted players around, yet we see only Hafeez, Malik, Farhat again and again. One can only hope that fans of Pakistani cricket would get united and make their say heard at the highest levels.

Posted by asifdoc on (September 14, 2013, 18:34 GMT)

I am personally now happy to see this loss, as only an embarrassing loss like this will precipitate the change that is needed. Our best bowlers in Gul and Irfan are on the sidelines, and the young batsmen have failed when we have needed them most. Let's drop Hafeez, Azhar, and Shafiq with Nasir Jamshed, Umar Amin, and Umar Akmal. I am not one who tends to be reactionary in general, but this result warrants wholesale changes, and that is what is needed. We know that the current batsmen have some technique, but it clearly isn't good enough to handle the mildly stern exam from Zimbabwe bowlers, and more importantly they don't have the mental toughness to dig in during a test innings.

Get rid of them now. Poor Misbah.

Posted by   on (September 14, 2013, 18:30 GMT)

The only difference between this team and the team that won in WI is Umar Akmal. I hope Misbah and PCB would realize that and stop all that politics and next time select the team on merit and not on personal liking.

Posted by simpleton on (September 14, 2013, 18:22 GMT)

Sack Misbah and Hafeez and bring back Afridi and Umar Akmal.

Kamran Akmal has done decent job as a opening batsman. Why can't we try him as a opener and get an extra batsman ?

Afridi is the best bet at the present stage. He can be a captain for 2 or 3 years, till Nasir Jamshed gets settled.

Posted by Morfi on (September 14, 2013, 18:07 GMT)

This is an excellent piece that sums up all that the fans and the experts would be pondering over after today's drama. Very appropriate questions of which the batting failures is foremost. Hafeez cannot continue much longer with blokes like Taufiq Umar, Nasir Jamshed, Umars Amin and Akmal, Fawad Alam and Haris Sohail sitting out. Captaincy, of course can be decided at the appropriate time but yes, no one is in sight except Younis. God forbid the board turns to Shoaib Malik or the likes. But bowling is also a concern. Not even once did we see anything close to reverse swing or yorkers and Ajmal looked off colour.

And yes sir! Test cricket, any time please! PCB should wake up and organise at least 3 tests with teams that want 2, and push for 5 with teams that are willing to play us like Sri Lanka.

Posted by   on (September 14, 2013, 18:03 GMT)

Sideline Misbah from captaincy bring in a fresh selection committee, by fresh I mean those who have never been tested in this capacity before and things will improve automatically from there.

Posted by Bangla_Low_team on (September 14, 2013, 17:51 GMT)

Pakistan in my view are sadly in decline. Its hard to think of the team without the likes of Misbah and YK who have unsurprisingly yet again been Pakistan's best 2 batsman in this test series but they are not exactly youngsters. I think Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and Ireland if given plenty of opportunity could surpass teams like Pakistan, Sri Lanka and New Zealand and may be more. Maybe that's why fans want a 2 tier system because they don't want to lose to teams like Zimbabwe etc :)

Posted by   on (September 14, 2013, 17:49 GMT)

For captaincy , i think they have got no option to continue with misbah for 3-4 series and announce some 1 else as VC. Hafeez simply is not for test. Problem was that every body has a view that he will be captain & for past 2-3 years we have not looked else where. Azhar may be good but his batting going downwards. 1 innings in 4 isnt enough when you are batting at no3 vs ZIM. Asad has also disappointed.

yes they may be having a bad patch as most players do but selecting all in playing 11 same time is not good then. Ajmal ( no 9 ) has more runs than Asad in series, equal runs as The Professor ( who thinks knowledge of game is only requirement for selection, not practical ) .

run scorer chart has Yonas-misbah-khurram-adnan-azhar-ajaml. Not to forget adnan & azhar had only 1 innings out of 4.

I think, hafeez, adnan, asad or azhar have to be dropped. at least 3. when haris, umar amin, umar akmal, m rizwan, maqsood, fawad alam are waiting.

Posted by BoonBoom on (September 14, 2013, 17:42 GMT)

This defeat is no surprise by any means. In view of the available talent and class - which s far below even average - this is what one expect. This is also reflecting a general decline of the nation as a whole. Don't forget Pakistan just failed to qualify to Men's Hockey World Cup which is yet another example of declining state of sports in the country.

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