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
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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

  • 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.

  • immi2711 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.

  • Vishnu27 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

  • Vishnu27 on January 10, 2014, 9:56 GMT

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

  • 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.

  • Vishnu27 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.

  • mainul079080 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.

  • fayyaz03 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.

  • Vishnu27 on January 10, 2014, 6:25 GMT

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

  • Aasiflone 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.

  • 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.

  • immi2711 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.

  • Vishnu27 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

  • Vishnu27 on January 10, 2014, 9:56 GMT

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

  • 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.

  • Vishnu27 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.

  • mainul079080 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.

  • fayyaz03 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.

  • Vishnu27 on January 10, 2014, 6:25 GMT

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

  • Aasiflone 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.

  • SaleemHatoum on January 10, 2014, 4:27 GMT

    Rahat, not sure what is in this bowler. When I was 25 I used to bowl a lot faster then this clumsy cricketer. His fielding and running is downright horriable

  • on January 10, 2014, 4:23 GMT

    Lets be honest about the " Best Attack". Pakistan does not have a genuine quick bowler like Styen and Jhonson which is kernel for an attack that can get 20 wickets regularly. Pakistan need one genuine quick bowler while Gull, Junaid and Co take care of the reverse swing and discipline parts of the job. The fact that Sri Lanka play Saeed Ajmal better than any other team makes it even more difficult for Pakistan. Pakistan need to groom Abdul Rahman along with Ajmal to cover the spin department. Pakistan do have a lot of good quick bowlers around but so do Australia and they are much likely to take the best out of a player ( Imagine Jhonson surviving one bad series in Pak).

    Akram is right about the frustration in the bowlers. If batting fails all the time sooner or later any bowling group will lose heart and concede. The fact is Pakistan need better batting culture more than anything else. The rest will be worked out automatically.

  • on January 10, 2014, 4:20 GMT

    What is the use of playing specialist wicket keeper when he dropped a vital catch.His batting is not worth any mention but his backers keep backing for his place in the team when there are many other proper wicket keepers plus batasman like Rizwan etc.It is high time that selectors choose players on merit and not on safarish other wiseI assure you Pakistan is going to come under Bangla Desh to the delight of Haseena Wajid PM.

  • xtrafalgarx on January 10, 2014, 3:44 GMT

    Let this be a lesson to all those fans of Pakistan. You are no where near being the best bowling attack. Some bowlers have the talent but will never have the discipline that SA,AUS have.

  • BradmanBestEver on January 10, 2014, 3:39 GMT

    Pakistan's bowling attack is much like India's bowling attack - "serviceable" only and approaching very good only when conditions favor them

  • Vishnu27 on January 10, 2014, 3:15 GMT

    Rizwan1435: the series finished 5 days ago! Of course we are still up & about! What do you expect??!! It was a fantastic win. We'll see you in October: see if you're still talking tough at the end of it.

  • on January 10, 2014, 2:51 GMT

    To all the haters and nay sayers.

    By "best attack in the world", akram meant an attack consisting of Junaid/Ajmal/Irfan/rehman not the current crop of misfits.

  • VKohlitheGraet on January 10, 2014, 1:52 GMT

    The Wicket was not as docile as Akram say. There was still some seam movement and occasions that the ball jumped up. Kudos to the SL batsman for their patience to wait for the bad all to put away, as Mahela did well, especially in the final session.

  • Vishnu27 on January 10, 2014, 1:41 GMT

    Look at the picture: it says all you need to know about the "mystique" of Ajmal.

  • 6sir on January 10, 2014, 1:07 GMT

    An innings defeat for Pakistan is very much on the card, unless some sort of miracle happens. poor team selection, poor captaincy and poor planning, the result is obvious.

  • asiacricket1234 on January 10, 2014, 0:44 GMT

    I don't think Ajmal has done bad to be honest. He was very economical and SL batsmen were very careful against him. Pakistan team is consist of over hyped players by their fan. there is only few world class player and Ajmal is one of them. So I dont think people should criticise him just because he went wicketless today. He is a good player and the best Pak has and Im sure he will start getting wicket soon

  • on January 9, 2014, 23:59 GMT

    I believe that SL batsmen played really well to negate the Ajmal factor according to their game plan & that made him wicketless. By the way who on earth would believe that Pakistan got the best bowling attack in the world except Mr Akram. They are nowhere near to Aussie or SA attacks... Even the young/inexperienced Sri Lankans did far better than them in the last three innings.

  • Zahidsaltin on January 9, 2014, 23:47 GMT

    Real Culprits are the selectors, coach and the captain. Why would they select bowlers who have no sense of line or length at all. Rahat and Bhatti both have been useless as they went on to bowl shot and wide and thereby leaking runs and being unsuccesful. Bhatti might have taken 5 in the first match but over all he bowls 70% of his balls short and wide.

  • lefthandopener on January 9, 2014, 21:53 GMT

    Overrated best bowling attack cant even get out kaushal

  • on January 9, 2014, 21:35 GMT

    SL definitely is in the driving seat with a lead of 153 runs and still 6 wickets in hand. The table has turned and if SL can increase their lead by 100+ for last 6 wickets Pakistan will be struggling to save the match given their brittle batting. Bowling is also inexperienced with Rahat Ali only taking one wicket in the series so far after bowling 80.3 overs. He is simply not good enough to be in the team. Saeed Ajmal has failed too and so far in the series after bowling 90 overs remains wicketless. Given this standard of batting and bowling you simply cannot expect to win the test match albeit Pakistan batted on a difficult pitch on the 1st day. Pakistani bowling coach who himself was an average bowler reckons his bowling attack is still the best in the world. His having laugh or is he blind?

  • Stat1977 on January 9, 2014, 21:23 GMT

    Best bawling attack in the world? Seriously? Ajmal-76 Wicket less overs?

  • Rizwan1435 on January 9, 2014, 20:49 GMT

    call australia in uae and we will see. Australia 0-4 in india and 0-3 in eng and winning 5-0 in home and still bragging about it. sa may be better but aus no chance

  • rezauk on January 9, 2014, 20:45 GMT

    I agree the bowling has been a bit untidy but when you have a captain who deploys his fielders deep allowing singles you aren't going to create enough pressure. Also if the ball isn't carrying to the slips aren't the fielders good enough to come up a bit ? I won't talk about drop catches but suggest employing the U19 keeper and giving him a chance. Finally Pakistan have now had 2 blueprints from Sri Lanka on how to nuetralise the opposition by solid and patient batting. As I've said many a time test wickets are meant to be earnt not handed on a plate by somebody who gets paid a day's salary either way he performs. I thought the way forward was a foreign coach although language is always an issue. I personally would like to see a team of aggresive coaches and specialist support staff. Spell it out to the players to fight hard and play for your country - Those not up to the mark/too slow to learn or with other agendas to be removed at short notice. We need a CONSISTENT policy.

  • Buggsy on January 9, 2014, 20:00 GMT

    Best bowling attack in the world? Is he serious? These guys aren't a patch on South Africa and Australia.

  • on January 9, 2014, 19:42 GMT

    they bowled well in patches but not all the time. rahat and bhatti going around 4 per over. they were not accurate enough. rahat got some edges and a chance gone down . Ajmal's faliure has let pak down more than anything else. Rahat has been disappointing. bhatti has pace but no imrovement from 1 st test . he lacks control.

    hard for pak to come back. and the bit about good attack; i am sure that doesnt include rahat, bhatti.

  • syedzafar on January 9, 2014, 19:15 GMT

    Akram says, "Our bowling attack is still the best in the world". Hillarious!!

  • TheKeeper on January 9, 2014, 19:07 GMT

    Has Ajmal lost his mystery?

    Rangana Herath - 10.5 - 3 - 26 - 3 Saeed Ajmal - 27 - 9 - 45 - 0

  • ProdigyA on January 9, 2014, 18:08 GMT

    At his age, you cant really expect too much from Ajmal. Finger spinners find it hard after certain point, they get tired and they cant really grip the hard cricket ball.

  • on January 9, 2014, 17:57 GMT

    Rahat Ali hasnt got the spark and that's it. Really following Irfan and Mohammad Amir's comeback, no other Pakistani pacer will get a chance in the pace department. Watching those three will be a mouth watering prospect and with Saeed Ajmal to back them up, it ll be a team to watch out for. Shouldn't be long before Ajmal comes back into form, meanwhile I think Abdur Rehman should be given a chance.

  • mzm149 on January 9, 2014, 17:55 GMT

    As long as this useless Rahat is in the team, Pakistan will remain in trouble. If Ajmal doesn't deliver tomorrow or in 4th innings (if we get one), he should be rested and Rehman should play. Ajmal's performance is on decline. He is being overused. He needs rest.

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  • mzm149 on January 9, 2014, 17:55 GMT

    As long as this useless Rahat is in the team, Pakistan will remain in trouble. If Ajmal doesn't deliver tomorrow or in 4th innings (if we get one), he should be rested and Rehman should play. Ajmal's performance is on decline. He is being overused. He needs rest.

  • on January 9, 2014, 17:57 GMT

    Rahat Ali hasnt got the spark and that's it. Really following Irfan and Mohammad Amir's comeback, no other Pakistani pacer will get a chance in the pace department. Watching those three will be a mouth watering prospect and with Saeed Ajmal to back them up, it ll be a team to watch out for. Shouldn't be long before Ajmal comes back into form, meanwhile I think Abdur Rehman should be given a chance.

  • ProdigyA on January 9, 2014, 18:08 GMT

    At his age, you cant really expect too much from Ajmal. Finger spinners find it hard after certain point, they get tired and they cant really grip the hard cricket ball.

  • TheKeeper on January 9, 2014, 19:07 GMT

    Has Ajmal lost his mystery?

    Rangana Herath - 10.5 - 3 - 26 - 3 Saeed Ajmal - 27 - 9 - 45 - 0

  • syedzafar on January 9, 2014, 19:15 GMT

    Akram says, "Our bowling attack is still the best in the world". Hillarious!!

  • on January 9, 2014, 19:42 GMT

    they bowled well in patches but not all the time. rahat and bhatti going around 4 per over. they were not accurate enough. rahat got some edges and a chance gone down . Ajmal's faliure has let pak down more than anything else. Rahat has been disappointing. bhatti has pace but no imrovement from 1 st test . he lacks control.

    hard for pak to come back. and the bit about good attack; i am sure that doesnt include rahat, bhatti.

  • Buggsy on January 9, 2014, 20:00 GMT

    Best bowling attack in the world? Is he serious? These guys aren't a patch on South Africa and Australia.

  • rezauk on January 9, 2014, 20:45 GMT

    I agree the bowling has been a bit untidy but when you have a captain who deploys his fielders deep allowing singles you aren't going to create enough pressure. Also if the ball isn't carrying to the slips aren't the fielders good enough to come up a bit ? I won't talk about drop catches but suggest employing the U19 keeper and giving him a chance. Finally Pakistan have now had 2 blueprints from Sri Lanka on how to nuetralise the opposition by solid and patient batting. As I've said many a time test wickets are meant to be earnt not handed on a plate by somebody who gets paid a day's salary either way he performs. I thought the way forward was a foreign coach although language is always an issue. I personally would like to see a team of aggresive coaches and specialist support staff. Spell it out to the players to fight hard and play for your country - Those not up to the mark/too slow to learn or with other agendas to be removed at short notice. We need a CONSISTENT policy.

  • Rizwan1435 on January 9, 2014, 20:49 GMT

    call australia in uae and we will see. Australia 0-4 in india and 0-3 in eng and winning 5-0 in home and still bragging about it. sa may be better but aus no chance

  • Stat1977 on January 9, 2014, 21:23 GMT

    Best bawling attack in the world? Seriously? Ajmal-76 Wicket less overs?