April 6, 2001

Pakistan lost without a fight

It is not insulting to lose but it is humiliating not to fight. It is, however, unfortunate that the latter part of the phrase describes Pakistan's meek and poor performance in the Hamilton Test. The Black Caps supremely dominated throughout the match and the tourists abjectly surrendered, by an innings and 185 runs. It was Pakistan's one of the worst defeats. On the other hand, it was the biggest win for the jubilant New Zealanders in 288 Test Matches.

The more gloomy aspect of Pakistan's defeat is that its cricket is again, quite noticeably, in disarray. Bitter memories of Pakistan's shocking defeat in the last World Cup Final and of its recent defeat against England at Karachi, for the first time in 45-years, are yet to be erased from the minds of the followers of Pakistan Cricket, the humiliation suffered at Hamilton has further added to their depression. It is the need of the hour that the Cricket Board takes remedial steps to restore order and prestige of Pakistan's Cricket.

The match review
Pakistan suffered its heaviest innings defeat ever in Test Cricket at Hamilton, being completely crushed by New Zealand.

The match total of 222 was the lowest after their 208 (77 + 131) against the West Indies at Lahore in 1986-87. Pakistan missed the services of captain Moin Khan because of an injury. Still no one expected from the team which had convincingly won at Wellington (by 299 runs) and had gained a first innings lead in the drawn second test at Christchurch, to fall so horribly at WestpacTrust Park, Hamilton. New Zealand completely dominated the proceedings right from the start and dictated terms to the tourists till the end. As a result, at the end of the first day New Zealand were 56 runs ahead after Pakistan were skittered for 104, with only Younis Khan (36) displaying some grit. Daryl Tuffey (4/39) and Chris Martin (4/52) chiefly accounted for Pakistan batsmen's annihilation. For Pakistan's temporary relief the second day's play was washed out. But New Zealand took a stranglehold of the match on the third day. Matthew Bell and Mark Richardson became just the third New Zealand opening pair to score a century apiece (both scoring maiden hundreds) and put on 181 for the first wicket, the fifth highest opening partnership in New Zealand test history.

More dramatics followed the next day. New Zealand further consolidated their position and enhanced their lead to 303 runs before declaring at 407 for the loss of only four wickets. A remarkable feature of New Zealand innings was Craig McMillan's whirlwind knock of 98 runs off just 97 balls (the last 48 coming in meager 17 balls), setting a new record for the maximum number of runs in one over (26 off Younis Khan).

The story of Pakistan's second innings was not much different from the first, yet it was more painful this time around since there remained no chance to come back in the game. Pace men Daryl Tuffey, James Franklin and Chris Martin helped finish Pakistan's second innings inside 50 overs, lasting 17 minutes short of four hours, for a paltry 118. In the end New Zealand were the well-deserved winners with Daryl Tuffey being declared the player of the match. The series drew 1-1.

Post match analysis
The failure of Pakistan's batting in the two innings defies explanation. Neither the wicket nor the other playing conditions could be blamed for the debacle. How then could Pakistan with such a strong batting lineup fail so disgracefully and surrender so abjectly? Injuries to some of the key players could perhaps be offered as one excuse, which indeed is not too valid an excuse for the dismal display. The fact that only three of their batsmen reached double figures in the first innings and five in the second is proof enough of the over all deficiency of the team. Not a single batsman seemed to have shaped or planned his innings to last long; rather most of them indulged in indiscriminate stroke play against excellent seam bowling, resulting in their downfall.

Cricket, for all its notoriety as a game of glorious uncertainties, is not all that unpredictable as Pakistan has proved it to be. The guts, grit and tenacity were lacking. Their batsmen threw in the towel much too easily without putting up any semblance of a fight. In fact, they were just not equal to the task. It really beats me how such a talented bunch of cricketers could be so unpredictable. Naturally, one is bound to think there must be something inherently wrong within the team to take every ounce of fight out of it. When all seems to be lost, one can only hope that Pakistan immediately sorts out all its problems to restore the lost reputation.