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

Mohammad Akram satisfied with raw attack's performance

Firdose Moonda in Centurion

February 22, 2013

Comments: 29 | Text size: A | A

Ehsan Adil took a wicket in his first over in Test cricket, South Africa v Pakistan, 3rd Test, Centurion, 1st day, February 22, 2013
Ehsan Adil started well on debut but his effectiveness tapered off and then he got injured © Associated Press

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

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by dontlikecricket 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.

Posted by Hira1 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...

Posted by Syed_imran_abbas on (February 23, 2013, 9:24 GMT)

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

Posted by   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.

Posted by   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.

Posted by   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.

Posted by omairhameed 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.

Posted by Resultpredictor 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.

Posted by Cricket_Man 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.

Posted by   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!"

Posted by mg_asim on (February 23, 2013, 3:37 GMT)

Pak is the land of Recommended persons, think about this man Muhammad Akram, what had he done in his carrier, did he know something about cricket, but he is Bowling Coach, although Waqar,Waseem, Sarfraz, and so many others are there, but he is coach, you know why, he is paying Zardari. think about misbah, even he has no his space in any format of cricket, but he is Captain........Tanvir Ahmad, a fast bowler, his speed is less then Afridi, bowling Speed....

Posted by Guduji71 on (February 23, 2013, 3:23 GMT)

The team selection has been really bad throughout this tour. They selected Rahat for first test when Irfan should have played. They selected Tanveer for second test bad selection and now they selected Adil instead of Abdul Rehman, and we all know it is bad selection. I don't know why did not they go for Wahab and Cheema instead of Rahat and Adil, at the first place. I believe Abdul Razaque would have been very effective both with the bat and the ball on these SA pitches. Abdul Razaque is a match winner on his day, he can assist the lower batting order and for sure can provide good bowling option particularly on these SA pirches. I am surprised that he is not even selected for one dayers.

Posted by   on (February 23, 2013, 2:19 GMT)

new bowlers have bowled well. the left arm pacers were impressive. pakistan need more tests then we would definitely see more star bowlers emerging

Posted by SaleemHatoum on (February 23, 2013, 1:47 GMT)

Who in their right mind made this M. Akram the bowling coach? Was it because of his English> His test record indicates that he avarages 50+ per wicket with best 5-138. My goodness these people have no competitive mind, they love to live the life of an average.

Posted by vswami on (February 23, 2013, 1:40 GMT)

Is this the best Pak attack without Gul and Junaid Khan? Where is the famed depth in Pak fast bowling attack.

Posted by da_man_ on (February 23, 2013, 0:35 GMT)

In fairness, Wahab Riaz can't swing the ball at all. Aizaz Cheema bowls short, and doesn't have an away swinger (kinda important for a test level bowler)

Adil bowled ok, and Rahat bowled ok. I think we just have to simply accept, that this SA team is in fact better than us in these conditions. Of course Pak haven't helped themselves, but then when do we ever help ourselves?!

Posted by haq33 on (February 23, 2013, 0:19 GMT)

Spelele so ajmal is overrated? He has performed on pitches that dont turn square from day 1. Give him a tiny inkling of assistance and he will bag a 5-for. I agree with ure indictment of the pace bowlers but leave ajmal out of it. He has fought admirably. The 2nd tesr pitch was far from a raging turner, it helped him a little and test he extracted the benefits single handedly. I already put him up there close to murali and warne albeit not of such legendary status yet in his short career. He is not at all to blame for pak's failure here. It is rsa's supremacy together with our poor pace bowling, poor selection and poor rotation of bowlers by misbah. The batting frailties were expected but in the 2nd test we lost because we couldn't nip out their tail.

Posted by CanGrit on (February 23, 2013, 0:14 GMT)

I can't wait for Mohammed Amir's return..hope he is keeping fit and PCB taking care of him!

Posted by   on (February 23, 2013, 0:12 GMT)

pakistan has been ignoring fast bowling for last many years under Misba ul Haq captaincy, he is more prone to spinning. He and Dave Whatmore dont know what is their best eleven in the playing condition. Second test - has abur rehman in the team pakistan woul have won the match by getting SA out quickly in the first innings.

Posted by HellDiver on (February 23, 2013, 0:10 GMT)

Firdose has been too kind. This Pakistani team is about to get slaughtered in this game. I can smell an innings defeat coming up. Some of poor play is undoubtedly the strong SA side, some can be put down to injury of course but team selection has been puzzling. Why is Wahab Riaz at home when he just had a nine-for at a local game less than a month ago and instead they sent an out of sort Tanveer to bolster the side? This series reminds me of the last tour to Aus where Pak were badly beaten in the first, had a great chance to win the second but blew it, then were wiped out on the third. Feels like deja vu.

Posted by dontlikecricket on (February 22, 2013, 23:04 GMT)

PAK fans are far too short sighted,emotional, ignorant about past cricket history and want "boom boom" style test cricket. My question is WHEN WAS the last time PAK won a test series in AUS and SA??Despite having some so called fluent run makers and top bowlers like Wasim, Waqar,Shoaib Mushy, Kenaria, Saqlin and list goes on!!! The good thing is PAK has 3 new fast bowlers in a game and so far they have provided a decent performence. Its shame Junaid is not fit enough. Thats the reason Gul so far has managed to play for such a long time; he works on his fitness.You cant accept a new bowler to start dismantling number 1 side in the world. It's very rare for a new bowler to be really effective from the begining of his career. You dont expect a new lawyer with some limited experience to start defending clients in a high court or a new surgeon to perform open heart surgery but PAK emotional and unknowledgeable fans want new players to dismantle no:1 side in the world!!

Posted by   on (February 22, 2013, 22:20 GMT)

This entire outfit (selection team, coaches, and Tanvi)r should not see another test match as part of Pakistan outfit. The only reason Akram is coaching because of Punjab connection and he can speak a bit of English. This is very disappointing selection and balling performance. Pakistan deserve better than this.

Posted by SaleemHatoum on (February 22, 2013, 21:14 GMT)

These Pakistani officials are bunch of loossers of the nth degree. rehat Ali is no bowler but a medicor bowler. Kallis bowls better then him. Why did they A. Rehman when they decided they'll not use him. I can bet Pakistan will be out with less then 100 runs and will loose this test by an innings.

Posted by Zahidsaltin on (February 22, 2013, 19:59 GMT)

Thought it was Wasim Akram. No one is more unprofessionals than the PCB, its selection committee who selects 3 first time bowlers in a squad to face worlds number 1 team. They don't experiment when playing WI and SL but they do when playing SA, AUS and ENG. Leaving behind Chema and Wahab they chose to introduce first time medium pacers. Is it an achievement if they take a couple of wickets a piece. Pakistan again should have played Rehman and not Adil.

Posted by Virtual_Prince on (February 22, 2013, 19:52 GMT)

if "Mohammad Akram" were not bowling coach he would have criticised on today's bowling performance..i dont know why cricketers criticise in TV shows still if there is good performance but when they get place in team management..then they praise badperformance... nearly 400 score with alomost 4.00 per runs per over..still satisfied amazing...!!!!

Posted by Spelele on (February 22, 2013, 19:17 GMT)

Really? An attack clearly out of its depth gets bashed around at 4 per over on a green track at Centurion for a first innings score that is likely to exceed 400 and the bowling coach is happy? I think PAK need to sack this guy asap.

Overall, the attack looked out of sorts and without a leader as Gul was absent. Yes, he has been criticized by PAK fans, but he provided important strikes in the first innings at the Wanderers and was mostly neat throughout the day.

Ajmal was basically exposed for his limitations when conditions don't assist him. That is why he is nowhere near Warne or Murali who both used to get at least a few wickets even on day one/on wickets that didn't favour them. As at the Wanderers, he is rendered redundant once the pitch is not turning square from day 1 as it did in Cape Town.

I am actually very disappointed by PAK's bowlers. They were dubbed as the best attack to land in SA for some time, but have struggled to keep the pressure on SA for long periods.

Posted by goutamaniad on (February 22, 2013, 19:03 GMT)

It ain't my call to say so, but that Adil chap's barely a quick bowler, being no pacier than Tanveer who he replaced. Him a fast bowler? inurdreams....

Ergo, it's inexplicable why the exercise of pace bowlers being categorized as fast, fast-medium or med-fast must produce such howlers with such refuting evidence on display.

For eg. Junaid Khan, when the series began was classed as a Med-Fast on the TV live telecast, but was soon re-classed into the pacier categories after he'd bowled some.

Here's hoping the other debutant, Kyle Abbot shows up considerably better than his cricinfo classification of medium.

Posted by   on (February 22, 2013, 18:49 GMT)

what? is this a university tour or what that you have policy to bring in youngster for just sitting out? if you are on tour and needed you have to have some ability to justify your place. Adil is ok bowler but very raw at this stage.

This is problem of the selection committee what they selected and what they see in selection. Paks batting was off to fail here but their bowling has also failed. Junaid impressed , irfan pretty ok but rest of the bowlers, Tanveer, rahat, ehsn adil very not up to mark. & gul is inconsistent as always. 2nd test was lost because of bowling but a collapse in 2nd innings has hidden the poor bowling show. today SA scored over 4 runs an over and picked up runs pretty easy. thats not to satisfy.

this thing may result in end of careers for these youngsters who were given a chance when they were not ready for international level.

Posted by SurlyCynic on (February 22, 2013, 18:30 GMT)

When I saw the headline I thought it was Wasim Akram commenting on the bowlers. Surely Pakistan should get a legend like Wasim Akram involved with their team.

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