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ESPNcricinfo assesses the Pakistan team that toured South Africa
February 25, 2013
Pakistan were not able to keep the same batting or bowling line-ups for the three Tests as a spate of injuries and a few illnesses hit their squad. None of their batsmen were able to negotiate the new ball and their attack could not sustain pressure on South Africa. Having lost all three matches, two by substantial margins, it's unsurprising that few of their players stood out.
Asad Shafiq 3 Tests, 199 runs @ 33.16, 1 hundred, 1 fifty, 3 catches Pakistan's highest run-scorer of the series displayed strong temperament at Newlands when he partnered Younis Khan in the highest stand by visiting batsmen in South Africa in seven years. His century showed his ability to deal with the short ball and dig in for a prolonged period. He did not have any other scores of substance in the series and contributed to Pakistan's batting woes, although his catching was sharp.
Younis Khan 3 Tests, 184 runs @ 30.66, 1 hundred, 3 catches As the most experienced member of Pakistan's side, Younis only showed what that means in the second Test. He was at Shafiq's side and in their best stand of the series and played an important role in ushering him to his century. Younis' hundred was of equal importance and as much patience but he could not see off the second new-ball and that proved crucial. He did not make another score of too much significance which dented Pakistan's hopes severely. His slip catching was mostly solid, although he did drop one in Cape Town which proved costly.
Saeed Ajmal 3 Tests 11 for 365 @ 33.18, 1 catch On surfaces that were not going to suit him, Saeed Ajmal was expected to struggle and he was negated at both Johannesburg and Centurion. But he put in a performance in Cape Town that underlines his status as the best tweaker in the world. He took South Africa's first six wickets with a potent mix of turn and guile and returned in the second innings to claim four more. He may have been left wondering what would have been if Pakistan had more runs in Cape Town and he could have bowled last on a cracked Centurion track but until the sides meet again later in the year, those will only be what-ifs.
Azhar Ali 3 Tests, 133 runs @ 22.16, 1 fifty, 2 catches Pakistan's No. 3 looked out of his depth until the second innings at Newlands when he was again under pressure because of the openers, but did not succumb to it. In his solid 65, he also displayed glimpses of patience and power but lost concentration to lose his wicket. His only other contribution was a 27 when he opened at Centurion.
Misbah-ul-Haq 3 Tests, 135 runs @ 22.50, 1 fifty The captain led the fightback in Johannesburg with the first half-century of the series for Pakistan but he could not kick on. A habit of playing silly shots, such as the fending off a short ball in the first innings at Newlands and the pop up to short fine leg in the second, cost him but he also appeared as uncomfortable with the conditions as many of his colleagues. Misbah tried to say the right things and campaign for Pakistan to play more Tests and return home but it was obvious his biggest problem was on the field where he could not get his men to apply themselves.
Junaid Khan 1 Test, 2 for 96 @ 48.00 For the 18 overs he bowled in the first innings at the Wanderers, Junaid Khan looked to be Pakistan's go-to man for the series. He maintained accuracy, bowled at good pace and was rewarded. He could conjure up none of the same magic in the second innings and that was the last that was seen of him in the Tests. Junaid sustained a mysterious thigh wound, which the team manager Naved Cheema explained occurred when he slipped and the skin did not heal in time for either Cape Town or Centurion. Rumours of a hamstring injury were denied by Cheema.
Imran Farhat 1 Test, 73 runs @ 36.50 Farhat replaced Nasir Jamshed at Centurion and for a while, it looked the right decision. He was strong on the drive and got a start in both innings but seemed to reach a point where he got bored and began chasing deliveries. He was part of Pakistan's best opening partnership of the series and showed some ability to deal with bounce that could have been used earlier in the rubber.
Mohammad Irfan 2 Tests, 3 for 201 @ 67.00 The find of the series, Mohammed Irfan, showed what Pakistan can look forward to in the future. At over seven feet, he was able to extract steep bounce, even on a tame Newlands pitch and his bouncer will be the source of great fear for many batsmen. He tired fairly quickly though and will need to work on coming back strongly in later spells and doing so less waywardly. He did not get to bowl at the Wanderers but that may have been where his skills could have been best displayed.
Rahat Ali 2 Tests, 6 for 227 @ 37.83 After a forgettable debut at the Wanderers, where he was expensive and went wicket-less, Rahat Ali came back to take six at Centurion. Even there, he could not keep a lid on run-scoring and benefitted from some loose strokes but showed he could persist on a good length. He also had cheeky lower-order run-scoring ability which could make him one to groom for the future.
Umar Gul 2 Tests, 5 for 234 @ 46.80, 2 catches He is supposed to lead the Pakistan attack but Umar Gul only did that in patches in Johannesburg. In the first innings, he extracted good movement and caused problems for South Africa but he tapered off as the match and series went on. Gul took two of South Africa's three wickets in the second dig at the Wanderers but managed only one wicket at Newlands where he was also expensive. High fever kept him out of the third Test in Centurion.
Ehsan Adil 1 Test, 2 for 54 @ 27.00 At only 19-years old, Ehsan Adil was thrown in at the deep when he had to replace an ill Umar Gul in the third Test. He took a wicket in his first over and another later on to make his mark on the game. He is more medium-pace than quick but has clever use of movement that Pakistan will want to make use of in future.
Sarfraz Ahmed 3 Tests, 83 runs @13.83, 8 catches The Pakistan wicketkeeper waited until his last innings to show he could bat the way his 92 in the first tour match suggested. He put on a confident 40 with frustrated the South African seamers as they went in search of a series sweep. Prior to that innings, he only lengthened the tail to make Pakistan's batting job more difficult. He let through 22 byes in the series, which left some calling for the return of Kamran Akmal or Adnan Akmal.
Mohammad Hafeez 3 Tests, 43 runs @ 7.16, 5 for 107 @21.40, 3 catches In his job as an opener, Hafeez failed. He did not see off the new ball, in fact if he saw it at all many would be surprised. Hafeez had two ducks and two scores in double figures but his highest was a paltry 18. Four out of six times, he was caught behind the stumps and the remaining two, a victim of Dale Steyn as he struggled to deal with the lengths employed in South Africa and the pace. In all, he scored only five runs off Steyn and was dismissed by him four times. Although underutilised with the ball, that was where he made his biggest impact, when he took four for 16 with the second new ball in Johannesburg to ensure South Africa were dismissed for 253.
Nasir Jamshed 2 Tests, 51 runs @ 12.75, 1 catch With the young opener's debut much anticipated, he lived up to the hype with a composed 46 in the first Test. There, Jamshed had a measure of the new ball and the conditions but threw his wicket away as he tried to reach a milestone with a glory shot. Dav Whatmore was livid with him and would have been even more annoyed after his performance at Newlands. Two single-figure scores resulted in him being dropped for the third Test, perhaps unfairly so. He will definitely be back but will have to develop his technique in the meanwhile.
Tanvir Ahmed 1 Test, 1 for 60 @ 60.00 The 34-year-old seamer's selection remains a mystery. Apart from inaccuracy, his pace rarely got out of the 120s and his habit of overstepping (in a big way) was worrying. His best contribution in the series was the 44 he scored in Cape Town which bolstered the Pakistan total even though it should never have been left up to him to do that.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondentFeeds: Firdose Moonda
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