The probe into the World Cup continues April 11, 2007

Talat Ali blames poor batting for early exit

Cricinfo staff

Talat Ali reckons, with good reason, that Pakistan's batting was to blame for their World Cup exit © AFP

Talat Ali, Pakistan's manager, blamed the team's miserable World Cup performance on the paucity of their batting displays, as the probe launched to investigate Pakistan's latest failure continued into its second week.

"Our batsmen failed to set an imposing total against minnows Ireland besides failing to chase an achievable target set by the West Indies," Talat told reporters after giving his statement before the performance evaluation committee headed by Ijaz Butt, Salahuddin Ahmed and Salim Altaf.

None of Pakistan's much-vaunted middle order trio made even a half-century; only Shoaib Malik and Imran Nazir crossed fifty in the three matches. Talat added that had the batsmen shown their potential, Pakistan would have advanced from the group stage.

Referring to the last-minute withdrawals of fast bowling pair Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif, Talat acknowledged that preparations for the tournament were far from ideal.

"We went to the West Indies with 13 players and among them Shahid Afridi was not available for the first two matches, due to a ban. Therefore I think it was not an ideal situation for any team to prepare themselves for such a huge contest."

Of the media manager, PJ Mir's assertions that the squad was focused more on religion than cricket, Talat refused to comment, adding only that, "I would not like to comment but will say that prayers have their own worth and cricket has its own."

Tauqir Zia, former chairman, also appeared before the committee and seconded Talat's remarks that the issue of Shoaib and Asif created problems during preparations.

There will be no further proceedings in Lahore after Shaharyar Khan, another former chairman, did not confirm his appearance to the PCB. Shaharyar was expected to appear today but instead asked the committee to send him a list of questions in advance.

The committee will proceed to Karachi now to meet Wasim Bari, former chief of the selection committee, one of its members Iqbal Qasim, and more current and former cricketers.

They will then head to Islamabad before announcing its findings, expected before the end of the month.