Pakistan v England, 3rd ODI, Dubai February 17, 2012

Misbah troubled by wicketkeeper issue


Misbah-ul-Haq has admitted that the frailty of Pakistan's batting is affecting the balance of the ODI side and obliging them to select an inferior wicketkeeper.

Misbah, Pakistan's captain, said the travails of the batsmen were responsible for the decision to press Umar Akmal into service as wicketkeeper. While 21-year-old Umar is a talented batsman, he has looked raw - at best - with the gloves and missed important chances in both games as England took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the four match ODI series.

In the first game Umar missed a tough stumping offered by Ravi Bopara when the batsman had just 1, while in the second he dropped a straightforward chance offered by Alastair Cook when he had scored 28. Bopara went on to make a half-century; Cook went on to make a century. Had Umar taken either chance, Pakistan may well have won.

Pakistan do have other options. The 26-year-old Adnan Akmal, one of Umar's older brothers, has established himself as Pakistan's first choice wicketkeeper in Test cricket. His problem, however, is a relative inability with the bat - he has scored two half-centuries in a 59-match List A career - while Umar is good enough to win a place as a specialist batsman.

While the rest of Pakistan's batting line-up continues to struggle - they have registered a score of 250 or more just three times in their last 27 ODIs - it renders it difficult for the selectors to compromise the team's batting strength further by recalling a wicketkeeper who is unlikely to contribute meaningfully with the bat.

"It's a really difficult decision for us to keep a wicketkeeper - especially such a talented wicketkeeper who performed well - out of the side," Misbah said. "But it's due to the pressure on our batting line-up. It's not clicking so it's troubling us at the moment. It's really a problem for us.

"The balance of the side is the problem. In the Sri Lankan series we had the same problem. We are not having contributions from the lower middle-order. It is really an area of concern for us to play a specialist wicketkeeper. In future, we have to concentrate and find a permanent solution to that problem. The PCB, the selectors and the team management, we're all looking for that."

Pakistan also have the option of recalling Kamran Akmal. While Kamran, at 30 the oldest of the three Akmal brothers, has not played international cricket since a poor display in the World Cup, he has five ODI centuries to his name and offers something of a compromise between Umar and Adnan. The fact that Kamran was mentioned in the spot-fixing trial that saw three of his former team-mates - Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir - jailed may also have counted against him. No charges have ever been brought, however, and Kamran continues to produce good performances at domestic level and in the Bangladesh Premier League.

Misbah did offer some mitigation for Pakistan's struggles. He said that losing the toss and batting under lights was a substantial disadvantage and that his side's faults had been magnified by the conditions in the UAE.

"Chasing has always been a problem for Pakistan," he said. "Even with great players in the batting line-up we've struggled most of the time. When it comes to UAE conditions it's difficult. With two new balls and batting under lights in the evening, the ball moves around a bit. Sometimes it skids; sometimes it seams. It's really difficult for teams - particularly Asian teams - batting second. But as professionals we have to adjust.

"England's fast bowlers are bowling really well and the performance of our fast bowlers is not like that. It's maybe due to bowling first rather than second - it's totally different bowling under lights - so I'm really pleased the way our bowlers are performing."

Misbah also defended the selections of Imran Farhat and Shoaib Malik. Perhaps, though, there was a little more passion in his defence of the former than the latter.

"Imran has played three games for us," Misbah said. "He has scored one fifty against Afghanistan and in the last game he scored 47. So how can you say that he's underperforming? Everyone in the batting unit has to take responsibility

"Our batting line-up is underperforming and we need a sixth bowler. That's why we asked for Shoaib Malik . He gives us five or six overs and, in the lower middle-order, he can add some runs. Sometimes you take decisions but they don't pay off, but you still have to take decisions.

"At the moment, the way everybody is performing, we have to improve. Throughout the Test series and in the ODI series, both teams are really struggling in batting. Most of the time, it is the bowling that is saving the teams.

"England have performed very well in both ODIs. They have beaten us in every department. They have bowled, batted and fielded well. Their fielding has been a major difference. We are still short of performances likes theirs. We need to improve."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on February 20, 2012, 12:54 GMT

    yes the entire balance of pakistan team is very ugly umar akmal is the next big thing in pakistan cricket but he must be handled well by pcb, he must bat up the order , there is no point making him bat at no 6, kamran akmal must be brought back into the side and given a permanent spot to bat and pakistan cricket board must undestand that he cannot be dhoni or gilly, his batting style is more of a grafter rather than pintch hitter so he must bat at 5 misba at 4 , hafeez has performed well with both bat and ball, imfan frath is no solution he neither has temprament not the technique, all his big runss are against minors, it wil be great to replace umar with him at top of the order and younise at no 3and if malik comes in at no 6 pakistan must play 3 smeamers and 2 spinners (afridi & ajmal ) , this wil give them good bolling attack which is their strength

  • Dummy4 on February 19, 2012, 1:34 GMT

    I don't understand why Afridi isn't up the order in the batting line up? He could come in at 3 or 4. He has the potential to score at a run a ball without taking any crazy risks. If he batted up the the order with Akmal, they can give pakistan a solid partnership up till 30 overs or so.

  • Dummy4 on February 18, 2012, 22:07 GMT

    Kamran akmal has been a decent opener and even a better lower order batsman than even full time batsmen and that's the reason I feel he at least should be playing as a batsman in the ODI and t20's. At least I unlike some miss him.

  • Albert on February 18, 2012, 13:53 GMT

    @Malti65.............DITTO! I completely agree. Misbah needs to come up with better excuses than these.

  • Cricket on February 18, 2012, 12:19 GMT

    @ Amani Imran on (Feb 18 2012, 10:24 AM GMT) :-- I AGREE. If pak are to start building the team for WC 2015, then they should get rid of the old failures in ODI, Misbah & Younis. Though Misbah & Younis are very good Test match players, but they are absolutely not required in the ODI setup. ALSO IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT PAK DUMP UMAR GUL AND GET IN SADAF HUSSAIN, J.KHAN, M.TALHA. ETC. Also decent opportunity should be given to Sarfraz Ahmed (wk).

  • gujjar on February 18, 2012, 12:04 GMT

    Any wicket keeper batsman in pakistan cant match the class of kamran akmal in batting , he is only 30 , and he shud open with hafeez , yes he drops catches but he definitely doesnt belong to category of Salman, Sarfaraz ,Zulqarnain and adnan {PAthetic 4 in batting terms}

  • Cricket on February 18, 2012, 10:27 GMT

    asimpervez24 on (Feb 18 2012, 00:16 AM GMT) :- YOU ARE RIGHT reagarding Jamal Anwar great stats But he has very few matches behind him. STATS -->

  • Dummy4 on February 18, 2012, 10:24 GMT

    can any one ask why Misbah is in the team??????? Misbah - bad captain, don't know how to set fielding, don't know how to take single doubles, no clue bout batting order, keeping is problem but speclist keeper is not in playing elven, his inclusion creating unbalance in the team, play selfish game, dont know how to use fast bowlers, don't know how to finish the game ............. misbah scores 40-50 and Pak lost both games - get rid of him and make Afridi, I hope Moshin not mess round as Waqar and Let captain do what he likes!!!!!!!

  • Peter on February 18, 2012, 10:24 GMT

    Pakistan can win if they ignore referenced players like Shoib Malik & Imran Farhat. Although Imran Farhat scored some runs in his last inning but never look like a professional international player and was playing like tennis ball player. Shame on his father in law Ilyas chief selector of Pakistan. He should give opportunity to other players as well like Imran Nazir, Ahmad Shehzad, Awais Zia etc or should search more competent players out of 18 crore Pakistani.

  • Dummy4 on February 18, 2012, 10:08 GMT

    I damn sure PAK will make Akmal a flamboyant player just like afridi, razak etc etc...PAk has seen enough flamboyant players. its time for a player lik inzi,yususf,miandad.....

    Get Umar up the order give him a specialist batsmen role, who has the ability conquer any attack in the world. Don develop him as finisher.Hes is the current best player, he has to play more overs.

    I like Azhar and Shafiq too.... My Ideal top 4 will be Hafiz,shafiq,azhar,umar then rest of the waste players of pak.

  • No featured comments at the moment.