South Africa v Pakistan, 3rd Test, Centurion, 1st day February 22, 2013

Mohammad Akram satisfied with raw attack's performance


A combination of injuries and illnesses compelled Pakistan into fielding a pace attack with only two Tests worth of experience in Centurion. It gave their bowling coach Mohammad Akram insight into their resources - a look into the future - and he said he was "pretty satisfied" with what he saw, although there are some concerns.

The most obvious issue is that the 19-year old debutant Ehsan Adil may not be able to take further part in the match after pulling his calf muscle in the fourth over before stumps. He went off the field after the first ball of his 13th over and Akram could not confirm the severity of the injury. "He will get 14 or 15 hours of rest tonight and we hope he will bowl tomorrow," was his only answer.

Should Adil be ruled out, it will be a sad end to what must have been a dream-like few hours for the teenager. He was under no illusion that he was brought to South Africa to play Test cricket. According to Akram, Adil knew he was traveling to gain experience. "We brought him on this tour to give him some exposure," he said. "We started a policy to take young players with us since we do not have international a cricket in Pakistan because then they can learn from being around the squad."

Only because Junaid Khan's thigh wound had not healed and Umar Gul's fever had not broken, was Adil was given a debut. "We didn't have any choice," Akram said. "There are a lot of injuries in our camp but Gul and Junaid were our first choice."

Circumstance dictated the strength of the side Pakistan could play and it would be unfair to judge them on the performance that ensued. Their inexperience showed. In between challenging deliveries, there were too many runs offered, particularly off wide deliveries and an unacceptable number of no-balls. Hashim Amla said as much. "There were times when they bowled well but then we would often get a loose ball and we could take advantage of that," he said.

Rahat Ali showed improvement from his debut at the Wanderers, where he was both expensive and ineffective. In Centurion, he was only the former. He persisted with a length that was too full and invited the drive and could not rein it in. Adil had a better measure of the length, although he was not as quick as he had been talked up to be.

Akram was impressed with Adil's early spell, in which he claimed the wicket of Graeme Smith, but saw him taper off towards the end of the day. "He bowled well this morning even though there were a bit of nerves because of the debut," he said. "It became difficult later on, especially against players like AB de Villiers and Amla. It is never easy. Our bowlers are still learning and they will learn."

South Africa's top six have 296 matches of experience to draw from and only Mohammed Irfan looked a real threat. He did not make the batsmen play enough but he was dangerous because of his bounce. "It wasn't a bad start for the youngsters," Akram said.

He was hopeful things could only get better, especially because of the conditions. "I expected the cracks would open up by day three but I see they are opening up on day one," Akram said. "When that happens, you can't keep Saeed Ajmal out of the game. I don't expect him to do wonders on day one. Maybe later on."

For now Akram can only hope Adil pulls recovers overnight and the injuries, for which he had two explanations, don't mount. "At home, we are used to soft ground but here in South Africa, the ground is very heavy. That could be one reason," he said before placing more responsibility on the players and staff for the spate of niggles. "We really need to work on our fitness as well. I admit that."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • A on February 23, 2013, 12:51 GMT

    I am not sure why people are criticizing Mohammed Akram? Yes he was not a great bowler but it does not prove he is a bad coach. In time he may well turn out to be a bad coach. I think PCB should have appointed Aqib as a bowling coach as he has proven himself by coaching various teams in PAK. I know for fact that most famous and brilliant boxing coaches were never in fact boxers(or good boxers) themselves. So according to fans' theory those coaches should not be training boxers? I recall Miandad being coach for PAK on few occassions, he did not have much effect on batsmen either and he is one of the legends of PAK cricket. I guess you can't accept much apart from another emotional argument by PAK fans? PAK team has new batsmen like Azhar, Asad, Jamsheed in the series and have tried 3 new fast bowlers (add Junaid so 4), I am not sure how many new players should be tried in a series but I think that's more then enough for a 3 test series.

  • Hira on February 23, 2013, 10:42 GMT

    as per mohammad akram standards all performances are satisfactory as he has achieve nothing in his career either. Its a pity for Pak young bowlers to have a coach like akram when the country has great talents still available like wasim akram, waqar, aqib javed, shoaib and others...

  • Imran on February 23, 2013, 9:24 GMT

    they are missing junaid khan.. fittness is something to work on. and also some fair selection.

  • Dummy4 on February 23, 2013, 8:38 GMT

    Pakistan have done well in this series. The first innings in the first test was a disaster, but a batting collapse is part of the game, it happens. The main thing is that they pick themselves up and get on with it... which they did. The second test was a great contest, Pakistan was just guilty of not applying pressure at the right times... but it's not easy to do against a quality side in their own country. So the media and the fans shouldn't take a series defeat too badly, it's the first time Pakistan toured SA in 5 or 6 years and the conditions takes some getting used to - hopefully it won't be that long before their next tour either.

  • Dummy4 on February 23, 2013, 8:12 GMT

    I'm a South African and I feel it's grossly unfair to criticize Ajmal for not extracting turn and bounce on a day 1 green, centurion pitch. There is no doubt that he is a world class bowler and give him a sniff and he'll run through any batting line up. He proved it in Newlands. Still think SA will win this match comfortably. I don't see Pakistan batting for 2 days on this green tinged, two-paced and invariable bouncy pitch.

  • Dummy4 on February 23, 2013, 7:41 GMT

    I think the main thing thats come out of this series once again is that you cannot afford to give too much power to a person in Pakistan whether its sports,politics etc because they can't handle the lust and charm of it and start making blunders. Look what happened to Inzimam and he ended a wonderful carrier in WC 2007 as a disgrace. Same thing is happening here with Misbah.After some strong perfomances in the last 2 years hes been given too much power and has started calling the wrong shots and everything is falling apart. People might argue that Imran Khan was also given immense power but he had the charachter and personality not to be thrown over and abuse it.He used it to great effect,called the right shots and left us with players like Wasim,Waqar,Saeed,Amir,Inzimam etc. All captains in Pakistan cricket try to be like Imran.They want the power to call all the shots but unfortunatley there have been none to match his calibre and command to handle such a sitatuion.

  • omair on February 23, 2013, 6:52 GMT

    i wouldn't disagree with utkarsh singh . And to be honest i don't see Pakistan would have had come out of the turmoil. Idealistically there isn't a man who could take test team forward with such calm mentality. And please do not forget it is because of him that we cannot except losing, because the man has delivered good results in the past couple of years. So give him some room to breath guys. His experience , his age and his measured calmness is required for this fairly inexperienced side. Yes! we need to win against better sides more often than not. I dont see how do we bowl the side out with an inexperience fast bowling unit. So stay calm and keep supporting the team. Though i would have loved more of Hafeez's bowling to do the necessary job of a 5th bowler. And just remember every human has his on way of expressing. Lets not get carried away.

  • MOHAMMED on February 23, 2013, 6:48 GMT

    When your bowlers pick 6 wickets on a bowler friendly wicket by conceding above 4RPO and your no.1 bowler does not pick a wicket, then on what basis is Akram happy with this bowling unit. I think Akram is not at all fit for coaching job. The reality is that Pakistan has now became a worst team that even Afghanistan can defeat them. Pakistan bat well for innings defeat.

  • Faizan on February 23, 2013, 6:24 GMT

    @dontlikecricket, I completely agree with you. We, the Pakistani fans, feel that a newcomer has to to take wickets right from the beginning. These bowlers aren't Mohammad Aamir and the fans want to see something in terms of the bowling skills Aamir had. Guys we've already lost the series. I don't understand the point of " playing for the pride". The pride was lost when we lost the second test. The only positive we can take out from this test is the experience our young bowlers would get. We've got to look at the future and this was the right time to introduce the youngsters. Also, I feel that Nasir Jamshed should have been given another chance. Again, Imran Farhat is not our future. He has been in and out of the team for 12 years. Jamshed's exclusion is bad for his confidence as we consider him as bright young talent.

  • Dummy4 on February 23, 2013, 5:24 GMT

    "I don"t know why most of my Pak friends throw their anger on Misbah;; atleast that man is not a match fixer a perfect gentleman and a man who is not making any lobby in team.Now as far as his battimg is concerned that may not be too mutch attractive but still that hasn't been worst either.As far as the failure of Pak in Sa is concerned is not because of Misbah's poor capataincy but its a complete team failure you failed as a team.And the reason is too obvious as you guys are not touring overseas from a long time but you shoud not blame Misbah for everything.You should realise this thing he is the best possible option for you to lead the team as that person has lead the team by keeping it away from all controversies. So you must support him in this tough situation besides of Criticizing him for all the things!"

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