South Africa v Pakistan, 2nd ODI, Centurion March 14, 2013

Pakistan face selection conundrum

  shares 25

What seems to be keeping Misbah-ul-Haq from panicking is the faith that Pakistan can only get better after Bloemfontein. Given what he called their overall "mediocrity," in the first match, even just a more spirited display will prove him right.

But to achieve that Pakistan will have to do more than simply up their motivation levels. They will have to get their selection right because that was one of the primary reasons they were shut out of the contest last Sunday.

Pakistan went into the match with only two quicks who, as Misbah said, "gave us a very good start in the first eight overs." Umar Gul and Junaid Khan moved the ball off the seam and beat the bat but after them there was little else.

It was not long before Pakistan discovered leaving out a third quick on a South African surface was the equivalent of touring the subcontinent without a spinner: it just does not work. Their slew of spinners were unable to make breakthroughs or keep the run-rate down even though have established themselves as the team's strength.

"South Africa played really well against them on a pitch where it was gripping and turning. Our bowlers did not find the right length," Misbah said. "Offspinners are our strength and we could not get Colin Ingram out."

As a consequence, even someone as cagey about starting XIs as Misbah was forced to admit his team is considering an obvious change. "We might need another fast bowler after looking at the last game," he said ahead of the Centurion match. Mohammad Irfan may come into contention on surfaces that will offer bounce or Wahab Riaz could be used.

Either way, Pakistan will have to sacrifice either one of their frontline batsmen or one of the two allrounders. Shahid Afridi found his boom-boom in the latter stages of the first match which puts Shoaib Malik in the firing line. Other suggestions would be dropping Younis Khan and even considering finding a way to make room for Umar Akmal in the team.

Misbah acknowledged that changes have to be made in the batting but ruled out sweeping personnel swaps. "Just because we lost one match, does not mean we have to make a lot of changes. If we do that players could lose confidence. At the moment, we've got a few batsmen who are still waiting for their turn. They are good enough to be in the side but the combinations we are looking at are keeping them out."

Instead, the alteration will come in approach. Pakistan will look to create more run-scoring opportunities and turn around both the strike and their reputation as middle-overs' stagnates.

"We need to be more aggressive, rotate the strike and take a few chances so we can push the fielders a little bit back in the circle. We need to improve that because when we play dot balls in the innings it creates pressure on the batsmen who are playing and the batsmen coming in," he said. "The batsmen need to show a little more responsibility and we also have to understand the opposition's line of attack. Most of the time, they are bowling back of a length so we have to be able to play that.

Allan Donald has promised South Africa will send down more yorkers so Pakistan will know they have to watch out for that as well. What they should also be wary, according to Misbah, is the moments in which the opposition could take the game away from them because that affected their morale.

"Once they got us on the back foot we lost a bit of confidence," he explained. "The most important thing in one-day cricket is wickets. When we didn't get wickets, automatically and slowly, it drained us." That goes back to the opening point. If Pakistan can play with more energy they will better their Bloemfontein showing and repay Misbah's faith. If they get their selections right as well, then they can have an eye on winning too.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on March 14, 2013, 19:54 GMT

    Pakistan should bat and bowl aggressively if they want to win this ODI. My side for the match Jamshed,Kamran,Hafiz,Younus.Asad Shafiq,Misbah,Afridi,Gul,Ajmal,Junaid and Irfan.If we want to be more aggressive then you can bring Umer Akmal.Fast bowlers should use Yorker and bouncer effectively.Fieldind specially catching and running out opposite batsman must be improve.Batsman are taking lot of singles due to sloppy fielding.

  • wrenx on March 14, 2013, 15:26 GMT

    Gul, Junaid and Irfan worked very well together in India. Given Gul's form though, and his need for a rest, I might be tempted to pick Wahab instead of him, but then an all-left-arm pace attack might be a bit one-dimensional. Where's are next right-arm speedster coming from? Surely we can do better than Sohail Tanvir. Leaving Cheema out of the squad isn't looking all that sensible right now

  • on March 15, 2013, 11:35 GMT

    We have too many players who have proved with consistency that they are not fit to play in the ODIs forPakistan . The most obvious in this lot isounis Khan and Misbah . Then we have players who have very successfully demonstrated that they are not fitti play for Pakistan in any form of cricket . these are Imran Farhat , Shoaib Malik , Afridi , Kamran Akmal . They may with luck perform in about one inning in about ten . Team selection is clearly not on merit . This is Pakistan,s biggest weakness.

  • on March 15, 2013, 10:28 GMT

    A team that can bench its best batsman without looking into the records can never win. Umer Akmal's stats prove that he has been pakistans best ODI batsman over the past 4 years... Avg of 37 and Strike Rate of 84. Non of the players in current batting lineup hav a better record.

    The coach , captain etc have been selecting players who are not even close to umer akmal as far as the average and strike rates are concerend.Its frustrating to see that not only the coaches , captains etc fail to understand whats best for your team but even fans don't realize it.

    YK is a great test player , but he has been a proven failure in ODIs over 200 ODIs ... and yet we prefer people like YK , Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq( who i think can be persisted with still and given a longer run) over Umer Akmal . If there is one player who has performed consstently at a level which is required for ODIs is umer akmal and still no body wants him in the team

  • satishchandar on March 15, 2013, 10:18 GMT

    Personally, i would open with Kamran and have Umar Akmal in the 11. Would play only two of Haafeez, Afridi and Malik as all rounder. Bring Malik into top 5. Drop one of Misbah/Younis. Kamran, Hafeez, Jamshed, Asad, Malik, Misbah, Umar, Riaz/Irfan, Gul, Ajmal, Junaid.

  • AleemLatif on March 15, 2013, 9:58 GMT

    This Pak team needs inclusion of some fresh players who can bring the life back in the team ...

    My winning team is:

    1)Kamran Akmal, 2)Ahmed Shehzad, 3)Hafeez, 4)Nasir Jamshed, 5)Umar Akmal, 6) Misbah, 7)Afridi, 8)Gul, 9)Junaid, 10)Wahab Riaz, 11)Saeed Ajmal/Rehman

  • on March 15, 2013, 9:15 GMT

    Nasir=hafeez=malik=umar=misbah/younis=asad shafiq=afridi=gul=junaid=irfan=saeed ajmal/rehman

    Misbah only because he is captin and asad only because no other option as haris sohail or umar amin are not included in the saquad.

  • on March 15, 2013, 8:18 GMT

    Ahmed Shahzad and Umar Akmal should be in the side and Pakistan should play with at least 3 fast bowlers. but centurion is also good for spinners.

  • on March 15, 2013, 7:01 GMT

    Where is Haris Sohail, He is the Michael Hussy of Pakistan, but our seniors are frightened from him that they are giving him a single chance because he will prove himself and some seniors may lose their place in the team.

  • on March 15, 2013, 5:12 GMT

    It is same whether pak play umar akmal or kamran , they both are club level players , who can play some lottery games here and there but at the end of the day ,they are same batsmen with pathetic technique and temperament . Pak wanted to catch up the bits and pieces players ,but spoiling the career of geniuses i,e mohammad yousf and rszaaq, hafeeez can somehow paly in subcontinent but is such a gaebarage at offshores that even chris martin , can play better than him to steyn , shoib malik should be ashamed of himself by consuming place of someone better talanted player, he is most medicore player in the world ...

  • on March 14, 2013, 19:54 GMT

    Pakistan should bat and bowl aggressively if they want to win this ODI. My side for the match Jamshed,Kamran,Hafiz,Younus.Asad Shafiq,Misbah,Afridi,Gul,Ajmal,Junaid and Irfan.If we want to be more aggressive then you can bring Umer Akmal.Fast bowlers should use Yorker and bouncer effectively.Fieldind specially catching and running out opposite batsman must be improve.Batsman are taking lot of singles due to sloppy fielding.

  • wrenx on March 14, 2013, 15:26 GMT

    Gul, Junaid and Irfan worked very well together in India. Given Gul's form though, and his need for a rest, I might be tempted to pick Wahab instead of him, but then an all-left-arm pace attack might be a bit one-dimensional. Where's are next right-arm speedster coming from? Surely we can do better than Sohail Tanvir. Leaving Cheema out of the squad isn't looking all that sensible right now

  • on March 15, 2013, 11:35 GMT

    We have too many players who have proved with consistency that they are not fit to play in the ODIs forPakistan . The most obvious in this lot isounis Khan and Misbah . Then we have players who have very successfully demonstrated that they are not fitti play for Pakistan in any form of cricket . these are Imran Farhat , Shoaib Malik , Afridi , Kamran Akmal . They may with luck perform in about one inning in about ten . Team selection is clearly not on merit . This is Pakistan,s biggest weakness.

  • on March 15, 2013, 10:28 GMT

    A team that can bench its best batsman without looking into the records can never win. Umer Akmal's stats prove that he has been pakistans best ODI batsman over the past 4 years... Avg of 37 and Strike Rate of 84. Non of the players in current batting lineup hav a better record.

    The coach , captain etc have been selecting players who are not even close to umer akmal as far as the average and strike rates are concerend.Its frustrating to see that not only the coaches , captains etc fail to understand whats best for your team but even fans don't realize it.

    YK is a great test player , but he has been a proven failure in ODIs over 200 ODIs ... and yet we prefer people like YK , Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq( who i think can be persisted with still and given a longer run) over Umer Akmal . If there is one player who has performed consstently at a level which is required for ODIs is umer akmal and still no body wants him in the team

  • satishchandar on March 15, 2013, 10:18 GMT

    Personally, i would open with Kamran and have Umar Akmal in the 11. Would play only two of Haafeez, Afridi and Malik as all rounder. Bring Malik into top 5. Drop one of Misbah/Younis. Kamran, Hafeez, Jamshed, Asad, Malik, Misbah, Umar, Riaz/Irfan, Gul, Ajmal, Junaid.

  • AleemLatif on March 15, 2013, 9:58 GMT

    This Pak team needs inclusion of some fresh players who can bring the life back in the team ...

    My winning team is:

    1)Kamran Akmal, 2)Ahmed Shehzad, 3)Hafeez, 4)Nasir Jamshed, 5)Umar Akmal, 6) Misbah, 7)Afridi, 8)Gul, 9)Junaid, 10)Wahab Riaz, 11)Saeed Ajmal/Rehman

  • on March 15, 2013, 9:15 GMT

    Nasir=hafeez=malik=umar=misbah/younis=asad shafiq=afridi=gul=junaid=irfan=saeed ajmal/rehman

    Misbah only because he is captin and asad only because no other option as haris sohail or umar amin are not included in the saquad.

  • on March 15, 2013, 8:18 GMT

    Ahmed Shahzad and Umar Akmal should be in the side and Pakistan should play with at least 3 fast bowlers. but centurion is also good for spinners.

  • on March 15, 2013, 7:01 GMT

    Where is Haris Sohail, He is the Michael Hussy of Pakistan, but our seniors are frightened from him that they are giving him a single chance because he will prove himself and some seniors may lose their place in the team.

  • on March 15, 2013, 5:12 GMT

    It is same whether pak play umar akmal or kamran , they both are club level players , who can play some lottery games here and there but at the end of the day ,they are same batsmen with pathetic technique and temperament . Pak wanted to catch up the bits and pieces players ,but spoiling the career of geniuses i,e mohammad yousf and rszaaq, hafeeez can somehow paly in subcontinent but is such a gaebarage at offshores that even chris martin , can play better than him to steyn , shoib malik should be ashamed of himself by consuming place of someone better talanted player, he is most medicore player in the world ...

  • on March 15, 2013, 4:16 GMT

    Players U.Akmal A.Shafiq Misbah Younis I.Farhat S.Malik Match 71 36 110 249 51 207 HS 102* 78* 93* 144 107 143 Average 38 29 41 32 32 33 SR 84 69 74 76 71 78

    How we can drop umer Akmal, give him long run at no. 4, he will win matches for you.

  • CanGrit on March 14, 2013, 23:06 GMT

    Umar Akmal and Irfan should play in this game. Umar is a very talented player he should not be sacrificed for his brother Kamran.

  • on March 14, 2013, 22:54 GMT

    why cant try afirdi as openr with kamran let him read the pitch fr 1-2 overs n play his shots only attacking sa ballers would change the entire situation

  • Syed_imran_abbas on March 14, 2013, 21:42 GMT

    Umar Akmal need to be back in side and please give him some confidence. i am sure he has learnt his lesson and he is pakistan best talent. he is overly criticised. Its the time for likes of afridi, malik and kamran akmal to be only kept in t20 along with gul. misbah and younas in test only. Pakistan should go with this line up for next odi series: (1) Nasir jamshed (2) Ahmad Shahzad (3) Hafeez (4) Asad Shafeeq (5) Umar Akmal (6) Haris Sohail (7) Rizwan "WK " (8) Anwar Ali (9) Ajmal/Rehman (10) Junaid khan (11) Irfan

    Honestly enough with tried and tested and failed players now. if hafeez does not perform take him out and get afridi, malik anyone in good form

  • on March 14, 2013, 21:28 GMT

    Haris Sohail , Usman Salahuddin , Fawad Alam , Umar Akmal , Asad Shafiq , Ahmed Shehzad , Nasir Jamshed :) there are too many youngsters who are waiting for their turn or yet anonther chance. I think selectors now should look forward after Campions trophy for the prepration of WC 2015

  • on March 14, 2013, 20:43 GMT

    where is umar akmal y they are left out in 1st one day .he is a dynamic player remove misbah as captain

  • KarachiKid on March 14, 2013, 18:46 GMT

    some of what he says is quite right like not destablizing the team. but what he says about scoring singles does not make any sense as he himself is one of the culprits. He, Younus, Asad and others stone walled and then got out trying expansive shots.

  • on March 14, 2013, 18:05 GMT

    SA's definitely mastered their game plan as i am pretty confident they had watched past video clips of pak batsman's and identified their weak points and targeted those areas while bowling to them and result was obvious you see almost all pak batsman's struggling to play the ball to third man at boundary whereas the SA's bowlers were consistent on bowling the same length and there was almost no changes to their field. Pak management need to have better game plan identifying the weakness of other team's and their own strengths and build on that. One example is "they didn't utilized the toss and should have batted first " their perform better while batting first etc . Bowling/batting was their any game strategy/plan by pak management am not sure however If the strategy is to just go other there and slog your best then its not considered a plan/strategy in ODI's it will work for t20's by not in ODI.

  • ammar7may on March 14, 2013, 17:53 GMT

    AUS and SA both have 7,7 good young pacers with enough experience. Pak need explore more pacers and spinners in all the formats. Batting needs proper planning & management. Continuous cricket has put extra responsibility on Gul, Ajmal & Hafeez, which has affected their performance. They must be given planned breaks during tours. Umer Akmal & Nasir Jamshed must be given consistent go.

    Afridi has the correct technique to get in after over#20 to give him more overs, when the ball is not swinging. With him, score is never going to slow down or stop. After 5-6 innings at this position, he will surely be able to extend his innings towards the end of over # 50. He is the most dangerous cricketer.

    Azhar, Asad, Misbah, Younis and Malik all need to correct their technique to make 1 run/ball & 1 boundary/10 balls. They all should return to domestic circuit and return after at least one double ton to prove their match fitness.

    Captains for ODI and T20i should be Hafeez & Umer Gul, respectively.

  • on March 14, 2013, 17:20 GMT

    say no to Afridi & Younis .bring in Wahab and Farhat

  • kingpathan on March 14, 2013, 17:08 GMT

    the line-up should be{nasir,kamran,hafeez,asad,misbah,umar,shahid,wahab,saeed,junaid,irfan}

  • on March 14, 2013, 16:32 GMT

    "We need to improve that because when we play dot balls in the innings it creates pressure on the batsmen who are playing and the batsmen coming in", seems like Misbah is talking to the mirror.

  • golgo_85 on March 14, 2013, 16:23 GMT

    Umar Akmal needs to be in for Asad Shafiq and another seamer for Malik. It's amazingly lathergic team selection if a team doesn't consist of a seam bowling allrounder on SA pitches and then go on to field a team with only 2 seamers ON SA PITCHES!!!! Razzaq or Hamad Azam (who would've had an established career by now if not for PCB) should've been playing every single matches in SA. A seam bowling allrounder would've boosted the lacklusture fast bowling department PAK have had for the last 3 years or so. Again, if you have played 3 seamers in India, how on earth could you field only 2 on a SA pitch? I hope they let Umar Akmal play his natural game. His career has turned for the worst, thanks to the management and Hamad Azam is just unlucky to be playing during Misbah's defensive reign.

  • on March 14, 2013, 16:16 GMT

    Pakistan batting has solid future with the current batsman's given the chance to play for long and not replaced with new batsman etc. However Bowling preferably it's GREAT if Waqar Younis comes back as bowling coach! it will be huge boost to the pak bowling side.

  • on March 14, 2013, 15:51 GMT

    Play Wahab Riaz in place of Malik and U Akmal instead of probably Younis?

  • on March 14, 2013, 15:51 GMT

    Play Wahab Riaz in place of Malik and U Akmal instead of probably Younis?

  • on March 14, 2013, 16:16 GMT

    Pakistan batting has solid future with the current batsman's given the chance to play for long and not replaced with new batsman etc. However Bowling preferably it's GREAT if Waqar Younis comes back as bowling coach! it will be huge boost to the pak bowling side.

  • golgo_85 on March 14, 2013, 16:23 GMT

    Umar Akmal needs to be in for Asad Shafiq and another seamer for Malik. It's amazingly lathergic team selection if a team doesn't consist of a seam bowling allrounder on SA pitches and then go on to field a team with only 2 seamers ON SA PITCHES!!!! Razzaq or Hamad Azam (who would've had an established career by now if not for PCB) should've been playing every single matches in SA. A seam bowling allrounder would've boosted the lacklusture fast bowling department PAK have had for the last 3 years or so. Again, if you have played 3 seamers in India, how on earth could you field only 2 on a SA pitch? I hope they let Umar Akmal play his natural game. His career has turned for the worst, thanks to the management and Hamad Azam is just unlucky to be playing during Misbah's defensive reign.

  • on March 14, 2013, 16:32 GMT

    "We need to improve that because when we play dot balls in the innings it creates pressure on the batsmen who are playing and the batsmen coming in", seems like Misbah is talking to the mirror.

  • kingpathan on March 14, 2013, 17:08 GMT

    the line-up should be{nasir,kamran,hafeez,asad,misbah,umar,shahid,wahab,saeed,junaid,irfan}

  • on March 14, 2013, 17:20 GMT

    say no to Afridi & Younis .bring in Wahab and Farhat

  • ammar7may on March 14, 2013, 17:53 GMT

    AUS and SA both have 7,7 good young pacers with enough experience. Pak need explore more pacers and spinners in all the formats. Batting needs proper planning & management. Continuous cricket has put extra responsibility on Gul, Ajmal & Hafeez, which has affected their performance. They must be given planned breaks during tours. Umer Akmal & Nasir Jamshed must be given consistent go.

    Afridi has the correct technique to get in after over#20 to give him more overs, when the ball is not swinging. With him, score is never going to slow down or stop. After 5-6 innings at this position, he will surely be able to extend his innings towards the end of over # 50. He is the most dangerous cricketer.

    Azhar, Asad, Misbah, Younis and Malik all need to correct their technique to make 1 run/ball & 1 boundary/10 balls. They all should return to domestic circuit and return after at least one double ton to prove their match fitness.

    Captains for ODI and T20i should be Hafeez & Umer Gul, respectively.

  • on March 14, 2013, 18:05 GMT

    SA's definitely mastered their game plan as i am pretty confident they had watched past video clips of pak batsman's and identified their weak points and targeted those areas while bowling to them and result was obvious you see almost all pak batsman's struggling to play the ball to third man at boundary whereas the SA's bowlers were consistent on bowling the same length and there was almost no changes to their field. Pak management need to have better game plan identifying the weakness of other team's and their own strengths and build on that. One example is "they didn't utilized the toss and should have batted first " their perform better while batting first etc . Bowling/batting was their any game strategy/plan by pak management am not sure however If the strategy is to just go other there and slog your best then its not considered a plan/strategy in ODI's it will work for t20's by not in ODI.

  • KarachiKid on March 14, 2013, 18:46 GMT

    some of what he says is quite right like not destablizing the team. but what he says about scoring singles does not make any sense as he himself is one of the culprits. He, Younus, Asad and others stone walled and then got out trying expansive shots.

  • on March 14, 2013, 20:43 GMT

    where is umar akmal y they are left out in 1st one day .he is a dynamic player remove misbah as captain