Pakistan v Australia, 3rd ODI, Sharjah September 4, 2012

Misbah stands by decision to play four spinners

ESPNcricinfo staff

Misbah-ul-Haq, Pakistan's captain, has said he changed a winning line-up for Monday's match to play to the team's strengths. Pakistan had won the second game but, after replacing fast bowler Sohail Tanvir with Shahid Afridi in a four-spinner attack, lost the final match in Sharjah and also a chance to record their first ODI-series victory over Australia in ten years.

"Spinners are our strength. Moreover, everyone knows that the Sharjah track is slow and so opposition players struggle against spin, so we went in with only one pacer," Misbah said after the final ODI. Afridi had missed the second ODI due to a back injury but the decision to recall him backfired, with Afridi failing to contribute much with both bat and ball - he was out for 7 off 6 balls after being promoted to No. 3 in wake of Pakistan's solid opening stand, and then conceded 62 in his ten overs without picking up a wicket.

Misbah said: "I've already said that [bringing in Afridi] was because we wanted to strengthen our spin department, and he bowled okay in the first game. So that is why we just brought him in and went in with one fast bowler. [When batting] we promoted him up the order so that he could get some time to settle in, but unfortunately he could not get runs."

Offspinner Saeed Ajmal was the most potent of the Pakistan bowlers, at one point his bowling figures reading 5-1-11-3. He could have had Michael Hussey, Australia's top-scorer, out without scoring when the batsman got caught in front of middle and leg deep in the crease to one that skidded in. But umpire Billy Bowden turned down the appeal and Pakistan didn't call for a referral. That, Misbah said, was an error in judgement. "That was a big mistake," he said. "We couldn't agree on a decision to take the review, and in the end it proved very costly."

Pakistan's fielding, once again let them down. In the ninth over, Afridi put down David Hussey at mid-on - he leapt well enough to get both hands to the ball, but could not hold on - on 22, and the batsman doubled his score. In the 45th, Azhar Ali dropped a simple chance at deep midwicket to give Glenn Maxwell, who eventually took Australia home, a life.

However, Misbah said, it was not just their fielding that needed improving. "I think we have to improve in every department of the game, especially [with regards to] finding the right combination of fast bowlers - an area in which we are really struggling.

"Also, we have to improve our batting. At important stages of the game we collapse while batting. We have to improve [our batting in the Powerplays] because if you keep losing wickets in Powerplays, that is only going in favour of the other team. We have to understand that Powerplay are only for the set batsman out there; they can play the Powerplay just like Nasir [Jamshed] and [Mohammad] Hafeez did - they took full advantage of the bowling Powerplay, that is the way we have to play the batting Powerplay also.

In Monday's game, though, given the conditions Pakistan's batsmen did decently, Misbah said. "The bigger difference [than the dew] was the behaviour of the pitch and also the outfield. Edges off even spinners went for boundaries [in Australia's innings], but when we batted the ball wasn't traveling. Even if we played the fast bowler to fine leg and third man, it was not going to the boundary.

"I think, also, the wicket was slow in the first innings; it was not easy because ball would stop and come. So whenever a new batsman went in, it was tough for him: the ball was reversing and also stopping, and Australia also used variations effectively. I feel our score, according to the conditions, was good. If we played a bit more well [in the field], I think it was a good total and we held the match if we got a few more early wickets."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • ilyas on September 5, 2012, 11:23 GMT

    To win any game, including T20, you need match winning bowlers. Guys who take wickets and put pressure on the opposing teams. To have 4 spinners is unbelieveable with only one capable of taking wickets. Rehman is ok for tests but for one day cricket definitely not. Hafeez is an average cricketer who will only do ok in the sub continent and even then mainly against Bangla. Afridi has put on weight and its affecting his bowling. Is the fast bowling cupboard bare so poor that we have to pick a load of average spinners? We should have taken risks against bangla earlier in the season and blooded some of the raw fast bowlers but we didnt and we are relying on a medium pacer. Pakistan need to sort this out otherwise we will continue to get annhilated in limited ovrs cricket

  • Dummy4 on September 5, 2012, 8:08 GMT

    Fielding, fielding , fielding....that's it. what if pak had consumed one review already n none left to review? so point to the ways one has control over the game. Australia cut the 4 fours n 2s to 2s n singles count those n own dropped catches.

    misbah batted sensibly otherwise team wouldn't have last 50 overs as proved often. consuming 50 overs was at least a achievement. Misbah provide strike to others like asad, akmals afridi to play stroke n keep his play till the end. Misbah although handled badly by inzimam did very well when returned to team. He must be in T20 squad as well.

  • Dummy4 on September 5, 2012, 7:55 GMT

    Following three reasons of Pakistan's defeat in last ODI:

    1. Saeed didn't go for referral. 2. Two important catches dropped by Afridi and Azhar 3. weather conditions


  • mohammad on September 5, 2012, 4:41 GMT

    The defeat is not for Misbah but for Afridi and Akmals. Misbah made few mistakes, true, but think about the runs scored by Afridi and the famous Akmal. think about the horrible bowling of Afridi, the drop catch by Azhar and the missed review chance for LBW. It is a combination of all these plus the determination of Australian to win from 159 for 5 to 250. Pakistan is not at per with Ausis, just accept the fact. Pak selectors are more responsible for not bringing young players. Old are becoming useless, sad but true.

  • Andrew on September 4, 2012, 23:55 GMT

    I like Misbah - but I think his comment about "...Edges off even spinners went for boundaries [in Australia's innings], but when we batted the ball wasn't traveling..." - I think that was more to do with Oz's more athletic fielding. Most edges off a spinner should be picked up by 3rd man comfortably. @dsig3 - "....doesn't mean you can play scrubs, which is what Hafeez and Rehman are..." - I don't agree with labelling Rehman or Hafeez as scrubs. Rehman is a good frontline spinner, & Hafeez is a very good part timer, just shy of being frontline material. I do agree that 4 spinners was not a great plan, it would work for a country like Bangladesh who have very few seamers combined with a plethora of offies, but Pakistan do have decent pacers & they should of had a 2nd one. @TRIN999 - mate Oz have plenty of pitches that suit spin bowling, the thing is, most of those pitches help pacers as well - that is a SPORTING pitch.

  • Azim on September 4, 2012, 22:12 GMT

    @Chris_P: Our team is Australia and we are not hard on them.

  • Peter on September 4, 2012, 21:38 GMT

    I think you guys are way too hard on your team. You say Misbah is conservative, yet he gambles on Afridi at #3. The bowlers did their job, we were doing it hard. The biggest gap between the sides was the fielding. Therein was at least 20 runs difference, if not more. Conditions were tough as well, this wasn't an easy series to play in. These sort of matches toughens you up for later games. From an Aussie pov playing against Pakistan, I would prefer Afridi didn't play as he is so destructive when on song. Look for the positives, you were up against a good side as well.

  • Ejaz on September 4, 2012, 19:55 GMT

    If I have to say one reason for the defeat of Pakistan. i.e. "Bad Captaincy". I could not comprehend Misbah's captaincy e.g.taking the bowler out of attack when he has just taken another wicket in last over, giving easy singles when you need to defend 5 run a over rate, not using your only fast bowler in power plays, adding too much burden on a player when he is injured etc. I would not complain about batting collapse and poor fielding this is routine problems not this match specific issues.

  • Dummy4 on September 4, 2012, 19:31 GMT

    Most stupid captain Misbaha

  • Dummy4 on September 4, 2012, 18:06 GMT

    Pakistanis should not be disappointed with the result as this team is very average. TEAM PAKISTAN definitely need to plan for World Cup 2015 and to start with it should end ODI careers of Misbah, Yunus and Afridi and I do not think Ajmal will be available come 2015 world cup. As for Hafeez (batting), Umar Gul and Sohail Tanvir they are too inconsistent and they need to perform regularly otherwise they too should be given their marching orders. Hafeez in my opinion would also not make a good captain and I would appoint Azhar Ali as ODI captain and he should proof to be a good number 3 batsman as there are now two new balls used. He should also be encouraged to bowl more as he started his career as a spinner. The team should be constructed around plus other youngsters 1. Nasir Jamshed, 2.Ahmed Shehzad, 3. Azhar Ali (captain), 4. Umar Akmal, 5. Asad Shafiq, 6. Hafeez, 7. Kamran Akmal (w/k batsman), 8. Umar Gul, 9. Junaid Khan, 10. another fast bowler / spinner, 11. Ajmal or other.

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