Third ODI defeat was turning point - Alam
Pakistan coach Intikhab Alam has said that the third ODI against Australia in the UAE was the turning point. Had Pakistan won that they would have won the series instead of losing it 3-2, he said.
"Australia never dominated us, really, and we should have won the series 3-2 rather than the other way round," Alam said. "Losing the third match was the turning point. It was a nightmare. I never thought that we will lose that one and it will remain in my mind for a long, long time. Had we won that match we would have won 4-1."
Pakistan were cruising in the third ODI in Abu Dhabi after their openers had added 95. However, they collapsed, losing ten wickets for 76 and fell short of Australia's total of 198 by 27 runs. The victory gave Australia a 2-1 lead in the five-match contest and Michael Clarke scored a hundred in the next game to secure a series win.
Former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram criticised the team management for resting Umar Gul from the fourth game. "Pakistan cricket has been reeling from problem after problem. Had the team won the series, it would have been a great boost to the game in the country, sadly we lost that chance," Akram said. "I fail to understand why you rest your in-form bowler. Pakistan was 2-1 behind, not in front, and only a winning team can afford to have a rotation policy."
Akram also felt that captaincy have affected Younis Khan's batting. Younis scored only 73 runs in five innings at an average of 14.60. "Younis has been taking extra pressures of captaincy and that's showing in his failures as batsman," Akram said. "He needs to calm down and learn from experience."
Pakistan, however, bounced back to win the fifth ODI, with Kamran Akmal scoring an unbeaten 116, a result which Alam said would benefit the team greatly. "We were playing for pride and desperately wanted to win this last match," he said. "We had to win this game, there was no doubt about that, and I think this win will go long way in making this team a stronger unit."
Australia, riding on Shane Watson's century, posted 250 in the final game, but were unable to defend the total. Their captain Michael Clarke said the defeat had taken "some gloss off our series win". "We wanted to win this one too, and with 250 on the board we had enough, but we didn't execute well enough with the ball and let ourselves down with the fielding. Throughout the series our fielding probably stands out [as needing] improvement so we are certainly focused on it and training hard."
Australia had rested Ricky Ponting, Michael Hussey and Mitchell Johnson for this series while Brett Lee joined the squad from South Africa but not fit enough to play. Clarke was pleased with the way in which the younger members of the team made use of their opportunity.
"Callum [Ferguson] really put his hand up in all the games he played, Dougie [Bollinger] got five-for the other day, so the win is a compliment to the way cricket is played in Australia, [and a] compliment to the selectors."
Clarke will return to Australia for a break but his team-mates will remain in the UAE for a Twenty20 international against Pakistan in Dubai on May 7.