Pakistan v Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, Dubai, 2nd day January 9, 2014

Lack of discipline hurting Pakistan bowlers

Pakistan's seamers failed to create opportunities as a unit. Their bowling coach Mohammad Akram reiterated that the bowlers let Sri Lanka off the hook by not maintaining any pressure

Saeed Ajmal went wicket-less. Junaid Khan was tidy. Bilawal Bhatti was ineffective. Mohamamd Hafeez was under-bowled and Rahat Ali was unlucky. That was the tale of Pakistan's bowlers on the second day in Dubai. They managed to take only three wickets, conceded 261 as Sri Lanka walked away with a decent lead of 153 runs and six wickets in hand. Pakistan walked away with few positives in terms of the bowling, on a pitch that is expected to get flatter and test them further.

Pakistan stumbled to 165 after losing the toss yesterday - an improvement from their 99 after opting to bat first against South Africa on the same pitch in October. The toss was the difference but bowlers toiled hard on both occasions to mend the mistakes made by the batsmen from day one.

The chatter in the press box was mainly about Rahat being 'unlucky'. He toiled for 26 overs with little success, with several edges dropping in front of the slips and a regulation take that was spilled by the wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed. Ajmal was economical but unsuccessful. Bhatti, playing in his second Test, was the quickest - clocking 147 kmph - but lacked discipline. Coach Dav Whatmore said before the Test that his bowlers had the ability to take 20 wickets to win the contest but today, the bowlers struggled to take half that number to try and restrict the Sri Lankan batsmen.

"The pitch played better than yesterday and it was very obvious when they (Sri Lanka) won the toss and bowled first," Mohammad Akram, Pakistan's bowling coach, said. "There was a bit of juice in the pitch yesterday. We knew that the pitch will get better (for batting) but still, our bowlers held them well. But yes, they needed to be more disciplined."

There was occasional seam movement but the lengths didn't work and the bowlers rarely troubled the Sri Lankan batsman. Rahat was in fact lucky when Kumar Sangakkara's bat was stuck under his boot, only to be trapped in front of the stumps. It was Rahat's only wicket. Akram said the bowlers didn't put in enough effort.

"When you are bundled out for 165, there is a bit of frustration (among bowlers), and you look to pick up wickets," Akram said. "That's the time when you really need to be disciplined. At times we bowled too many loose balls as well but the effort was there as the bowlers still ran in with their heads up.

"We lacked disciplined in the bowling. You can't offer a loose ball early in the day and let the batsman get set. The pitch is far different today to what it was on the first day so had we batted sensibly and survived, it could have been a different scenario for us.

"Our bowling attack is still the best in the world. But what we are lacking is the experience and if you add the number of matches the seamers have played it is hardly 17 or 18. Unless these bowlers play, they won't thrive."

Akram wasn't worried about Ajmal being off-color, acknowledging that the conditions had challenged him. Ajmal had picked up a six-wicket haul in the Test against South Africa.

"Ajmal is our main bowler, but there was a lot of grass on the pitch and hence not much purchase for Ajmal," Akram said. "The seamers had to do the job. We need not panic and there is no reason to be frustrated if he (Ajmal) isn't picking wickets. It happens and you can't judge him on these two matches as he has done a lot in the past."

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on January 12, 2014, 17:43 GMT

    As much as I respect Muhammad Akram our bowling is not the best in the world. Apart from Ajmal our pace bowling is mediocre when has junaid Khan ripped through a top side in the world. Where is our generations Shoaib or Waqar or Wasim? Our pace attack doesn't scare anyone the only person scared of pace is Hafeez when Steyn destroyed him. We need bowlers who bowl 90mph plus , who can swing the ball at will. I like junaid Khan but for me he is only good for T20. The bowling standards have slipped its time they found special bowlers not above average bowlers.

  • iman on January 10, 2014, 14:45 GMT

    @Umar Farooq (writer) .... You were quick to jump on Khurram Manzoor in your last article.... I dont see you practising your craft on Pak failures today ... Hafeez, Shehzad.... These players are not Test players, and with limited ODI succcess, how about getting on their band wagon....Very disappointed on you cricket knowledge and writings....put your talent to a good use...BETTER "FAIR" USE.

  • Cameron on January 10, 2014, 9:59 GMT

    ....right now you're getting stitched up by SL!!! This going to be an innings defeat. You need to be really careful before slating other teams, especially when your own team is performing so badly (at "home" too). Ouch

  • Cameron on January 10, 2014, 9:56 GMT

    Muhammad Tanweer: that doesn't leave Pakistan in a very good place then, does it??!! LOL

  • Dummy4 on January 10, 2014, 9:27 GMT

    I wonder whats so special about the bowling of Australia? Not very long ago, they got a bashing from both England and India. Same is the case with SA. They do good only on SA pitches. All those who are talking about Pakistan attack should probably look into how SA and AUS were punished very recently. I remember a statement from one article a few days back. "Ashes is an encounter of one mediocre team, and another team on the downfall"

    Thats what you are guys. See for yourself.

  • Cameron on January 10, 2014, 9:19 GMT

    fayyaz03: people like Pat Cummins, Jackson Bird, Mitch Starc, James Pattinson, Chadd Sayers, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Dougy Bollinger, Ben Cutting, Trent Copeland, James Faulkner, Clint Mckay, Ben Hilfenhaus, etc, may get a look in... all having represented Australia in either test &/or limited overs formats. Bowling stocks are not Australia's concern. Top order consistency is.

  • mainul on January 10, 2014, 8:49 GMT

    @ fayyaz03 ''And last but not least, In the absence of M.Irfan, U.Gul, M.Asif & M.Aamer, our bowling still posses threat to the opposition. I wonder what would Australi and South Africa do in the absence of Ryan Harris and Mitchel Johnson & & Dale Steyn and Philander.'' Gem of an answer. I agree with you totally. Pakistan is a team which is never paralyzed with the loss of any pacer. So much talents....Only their very mediocre batsmen are hurting them.

  • Fayyaz on January 10, 2014, 7:52 GMT

    @xtrafalgarx: For your information, Australia was recently white washed 4-0 but india. Their so called discipline bowling could do nothing in away series. Recently the great Dale Steyn also faced a wicket drought of more than 60 overs. It happens in test cricket. And last but not least, In the absence of M.Irfan, U.Gul, M.Asif & M.Aamer, our bowling still posses threat to the opposition. I wonder what would Australi and South Africa do in the absence of Ryan Harris and Mitchel Johnson & & Dale Steyn and Philander.

  • Cameron on January 10, 2014, 6:25 GMT

    If it was Wasim Akram making such a statement, people would listen. Mohammad, a massive: puulease

  • Aasif on January 10, 2014, 6:23 GMT

    I think pakistan wil face innings defeat,only miracle can save them from defeat that too inform of draw.

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