South Africa v Pakistan, 1st ODI, Bloemfontein March 10, 2013

Misbah ponders all-round failure


A batsman to see off more than half the overs, bowlers who could continually apply pressure, and committed fielding on the biggest ground in South Africa, is what Misbah-ul-Haq felt he needed in Bloemfontein. In other words, "everything went wrong," and he admitted as much.

Everything from selection - Pakistan were a seamer short - to the toss, where AB de Villiers was happy Misbah sent him in, to the efforts with bat and ball.

On a flat pitch, Misbah conceded that although he would have preferred a target of around 280, "even nine an over was chaseable," to fall so far short was not a good reflection on Pakistan. The bowling was challenging - there was some swing from Lonwabo Tsotsobe and some bounce from Ryan McLaren - but it was not impossible to score.

What Pakistan lacked was someone with the temperament to stay at the crease. Mohammad Hafeez was unlucky - "what can you do?" Misbah said in response to questions about the run-out - but Nasir Jamshed and Younis Khan chased wide deliveries, Asad Shafiq misdirected a hook, Misbah was found wanting against the short ball and Shoaib Malik did not pick a slower one.

"We needed someone to bat through," Misbah said "It's difficult when you are losing wickets to chase a total like that. Wickets in hand is key. You want your main batsmen to go in and keep scoring."

Having conceded a large total, it was important that Pakistan's batsmen showed more discipline than their bowlers. The attack did not escape Misbah's criticism. "We did not manage to take wickets, we could not manage to create pressure and the fielding was mediocre," he said.

It is not the time for crisis talks yet, though. Misbah chose to take a measured view of the defeat. "Everybody knows what we did wrong. We need to improve the areas we are bowling, build more partnerships and every batsmen who is set needs to carry on."

Not so for South Africa. Even though the next match is five days away, AB de Villiers said the boost this has given the team will serve them well for the rest of the series. "We've got confidence now," he said. "We had a really good performance with a lot of pressure on us."

Expectation on South Africa was low before this series because they appeared an unsettled unit. It is only one performance but already they look ready to shelve that notion as the former bit-part players had starring roles. Colin Ingram, Farhaan Behardien and Ryan McLaren were under the most scrutiny coming into the match and all three put in impressive performances.

Ingram had to build an innings and a partnership, and faith in him appeared low when de Villiers came in at No.3 instead of him. "It's taken us a while to come up with some sort of plan for batting. When we have a solid foundation, like we did today, it's a good time for me to come in," de Villiers explained. "I enjoy playing against the spinners and I can work it around a little."

Ingram followed soon after and helped de Villiers create the "game changer," with a 120-run stand. "We hussled between deliveries, we showed intent and we showed two good cricket brains," de Villiers said. "We played the spinners well so it was easy for me to bat with Colin."

Behardien showed his ability to finish, something that he has not managed to do so far. The end result was that the bowlers went into the second half with an advantage and McLaren exploited it fully.

On his home turf, he used the short ball well and formed an important part of the seam quartet that tied Pakistan down. McLaren has not had his standout performance in ODI cricket yet, and with Dale Steyn returning and Morne Morkel close to recovery, he needed to do something to prove his worth.

"It's probably the most pleasing thing of all to watch Ryan develop," de Villiers said. "Every game I have ever played against, he has been a real fighter and even though he struggled in the past, to see him perform like this is great. He looks comfortable at this level now."

With an all-round effort from his charges, de Villiers found the captaincy less of a burden and "felt more in control." He was also able to gauge the level of commitment from the men he commands, and on the evidence of this effort, he was satisfied. "I can see guys wanting to be in this team and perform in this team," he said. Even those who didn't do that emphatically in previous games.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Imran on March 13, 2013, 7:44 GMT

    Pakistan team for odi should be: (1) Nasir Jamshed (2) Kamran Akmal (3) Hafeez (4) Asad Shafeeq (5) Umar Akmal (6) Haris Sohail (7) Afridi (8) Anwar Ali (9) Ajmal (10) Junaid Khan (11) Irfan For God sake please try this combination for once. there is no place for misbah, younas, azhar, gul and imran farhat in odi's. Misbah and Younas should only play in test matches now. shoaib malik and gul are only good in t20's. pakistan must find a replacement of Abdul razzaq quickly.

  • Tanvier on March 13, 2013, 4:44 GMT

    will u pls retire misbah and give young players a chance

  • Dummy4 on March 13, 2013, 4:27 GMT

    Hafeez comes in and gives his best every game. It is the others who need to pay attention and value the selection in the national team. They should be proud to play for Pakistan but also learn the skills that are necessary for a professional cricketer.

  • aziz on March 12, 2013, 23:05 GMT

    Pakistan has the best ODI player Fawad Alam with an average of 40+ and a temprament to bat under crisis. He has played many match winning knocks for Pakistan and Karachi. After the efforts of Misbah and Youn us Khan in the ICC WC semi-final they should never ever have been consi9dered for any ODI. Both are good test players. I would select Umar Akmal and Abdul Razzak uin place of Asad Shafiq, Younus Khan, Misbah and Imran Farhat. The selectors kicked out Fawad Aolam after one bad performance, while Kamran Akmal, Younus and Misbah are failing regularly. Pakistan need a new captain, a new coach and a couple of middle order batsmen who can play in a crisis situation.

  • aziz on March 12, 2013, 20:36 GMT

    Fawad Alam has an average of 40+ and he is the best ODI player under crisis. His records are for everyone to see. After the disasterous show of Misbah and Younus Khan in the ICC WC semi-final they still get selceted is a mystery. They are good test players. Asad Shafiq, Younus Khan, Misbah and Imran Farhat have tried anf failed many times. The selectors did not selcet Fawad Aolam after one bad performance, while Kamran Akmal, Younus and Misbah are failing regularly. Pakistan need a new captain, a one reliable middle order batsmen who can play in a crisis situation.

  • Dummy4 on March 12, 2013, 18:11 GMT

    Afridi has started getting his batting form a bit. Even with good batting his bowling was just horrible. Misbah,younis,asad should be replaced with umar akmal, ahmed shehzad, and abdul razzak. Instead of having shoaib malik in the side replace him with muhammad irfan. As you know Kamran akmal is a horrible wicket keeper and hasn't been batting. If possible replace him with Adnan Akmal. My selection and batting order would be: Nasir Jamshed, Ahmed Shezad, Mohammad hafeez, Afridi (capt) , Umar akmal, Abdul razzak, Adnan Akmal (wkt), Umar gul, Saeed Ajmal, Junaid khan, Muhammad irfan.

  • Pak on March 12, 2013, 9:43 GMT

    Well like everyone else said, the gap between the teams is just huge. Pakistanis don't have the batsmen who can stay at the crease. Their skills are mediocre. I don't want to say the bowling is THAT bad, but it could be better if the fielding gets better and the bowlers show some discipline.

    I think it is all about intent and dedication. These Pakistani players are not out there for greatness or victory. It is a culture of survival. Each player wants to stay in the squad as long as possible to earn the money. With that mindset you can only go this far. That's it.

  • zaf on March 11, 2013, 21:09 GMT

    kingsland selection board ODI TEAM 1.Afridi(CAPT) 2.Razzak(Vice-Capt) 3. Hafeez 4. Ahmed Shahzad 5. Imran Nazir 6. U. Akmal(WKT) 7.Irfan 8. Junaid 9. Sohaib 10. Ajmal 11.Haris/Owais Zia

  • Dummy4 on March 11, 2013, 17:57 GMT

    On a batting wicket Misbah opted to field first. That was wrong. With this batting unit they can't chase a total of 300 against a time like south africa in south africa. The selection was also wrong, they should have played irfan or wahab. Kamran may be used as opener and hafiz at 3. Pakistan team should also learn to bat full 50 overs so that margin of defeat would be lot lesser than this.

  • zaf on March 11, 2013, 17:33 GMT

    Misbah, Younis, Asad should say BYE to ODI. Lala Afridi should be CAPT, bring back fast players like; Ahmed Shahzad, Abdul Razzak, Haris Sohail, Imran Nazir and little boom Owais Zia.