South Africa v Pakistan, 5th ODI, Benoni March 24, 2013

Fragile batting lets Pakistan down again


Even in the final match of the tour, Pakistan's concern was the same as in their first match: the batting was not up to standard. This time it was not the fault of the pitch or the bowlers. Despite the inconsistent bounce, the return of Morne Morkel, the fire of Dale Steyn, the discipline of Lonwabo Tsotsobe and the committed fielding of their opposition, Pakistan's line-up still conspired to entangle themselves.

Mohammad Hafeez and Imran Farhat fell to a plan but everyone else from Kamran Akmal to the tail caused their own downfall. Either they picked out fielders, like Shahid Afridi did, or they chanced an arm like Akmal and Shoaib Malik.

"That's the one area which really let us down," Misbah-ul-Haq said. "When you look at the scorecard, everybody got starts like 20s or 30s but no-one converted and made that into 70s or 80s. If the six main batsmen keep doing that, the team can't do well. The way we started, we felt 250 would have been a good total but the shot selection was not good and there were a lot of irresponsible shots. We can only blame ourselves. The way we batted was unacceptable."

For a while, especially during the Test series, Misbah explained the batting collapses by making reference to the conditions. He said Pakistan's line-up had not been exposed to pace and bounce in a while and that they needed a longer period of adjustment. He was not simply making excuses.

Pakistan had not faced a challenge as tough as South African pitches since they played in England in 2010 so he made a valid point. They had only one tour match before starting the Test series, which obviously was not enough, and they made noticeable improvements as that went on.

"The shot selection was not good and there were a lot of irresponsible shots. We can only blame ourselves. The way we batted was unacceptable"

The same strips are not as tough a prospect as the Test matches but with two new balls and late-season surfaces which can go up and down, they still require some analysing before a batsman settled in. That's why in the final throes of the tour, Misbah still harked back to the difficulties of "adjusting to conditions, especially for the batsmen."

It was a rare occurrence when someone gave themselves time to assess and play themselves in. Misbah himself did it twice, Kamran showed glimpses, Younis Khan tried and mostly failed and Hafeez could not even try because the bowlers had his number.

Younis, and Hafeez in the opening role are two points of debate that came up throughout the series. Indications are that Younis, despite his 7,000 one-day runs, will be forced to make way for a younger batsman like Asad Shafiq and may have played his last match in coloured clothing for Pakistan.

Similarly talk is rife that Hafeez will be asked to bat at No. 3 and more will be invested in Nasir Jamshed to partner Imran Farhat or Kamran Akmal at the top. Misbah would not be drawn on whether those are two of the changes Pakistan would consider ahead of the Champions Trophy but he hinted something would have to give before then. "We will have to go and look at conditions, which teams we are going to play, all of those things and then see what we need for the future."

One thing that does not need tampering with, according to Misbah, is the team's culture. Despite their return of just three wins from nine matches across all formats on the tour, Misbah could draw some positives from the outing. "We started poorly in the Tests but we tried to come back. We made mistakes like we did today, especially in batting but the team showed some character.

"They showed that even when they are down they can fight back so overall there were some positives. In South African conditions, with such a tough opposition, the team did well especially in T20s and ODIs."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on March 26, 2013, 6:19 GMT

    why not Misbah & Shoaib go? everyone seems to have problems with Afridi but what about other performers who are not performing. competitively Afridi is much better player than all other all rounders in pakistan

  • roy on March 26, 2013, 1:39 GMT

    I agree Asim, it is high time for afridi to go. We need to bring hammad azam for umer akmal, i bet u anyday hammad is more sensible and a better batsman than umer akmal who i think have had enough chances. Asad, hammad, ahmed shezad ,umer amin and harris sohail ...these are the future for us and pls someone find us a keeper. I am sick and tired of Kamran Akmal.

  • Dummy4 on March 25, 2013, 23:52 GMT

    such a dissappointing match for pakistan they let this match slip away from a good start from kamran akmal and younis, instead of settling down after a good start they had to ruin there job welldone same goes for misbah and shoaib malik and well afridi is afridi he never plays for the team always play for records, pakistan seriously needs young blood especially in middle order batting line up if they r to win icc champions trophy tournament my playing XI should be 1. Nasir jamshed 2. Kamran akma/ umar akmal wk 3. Mohammed hafeez captain 4. Babar Azam 5. Abdul razzaq 6. Hammad Azam 7. Saeed Ajmal 8. Umar gul/Anwar Ali 9. Junaid khan 10. Mohammed Irfan 11. Ehsan Adil. Hammad Azam can learn how to play with the tail with abdul razzaq on his side drop afridi n malik for ever they r a waist instead of waisting these too stupid pcb r waisting abdul razzaq's talent he is much better than afridi or malik combined!!

  • ubaid on March 25, 2013, 20:02 GMT

    The common theme seems to be " our team is unpredictable". I disagree. This team is as predictable as can be. Batsmen with averages 22-32 will score runs once in a blue moon. So when they all score the team wins. More often then not they won't score 250 ( thus the low averages) and the team will not win. Numbers do not lie. Your thoughts emotions and cognitions can decieve you but numbers will not. Its time to put aside personal biases and who you "feel" is a good batsmen. Don't think about who you "feel" is a better batsmen. Don't trust your "guts" or " instincts". Trust the numbers. I love afridi but numbers say he has to go. I love younis khan but the numbers say he has to go from ODI's. Malik has to go. Hafeez has to go. Farhat has to go. We will not win all the time with Jamshed and Shafiq and they won't succeed all the time but we'll win more than we loose. Why? . The numbers say so. Time to stop the emotion driving the head.

  • shahid on March 25, 2013, 19:22 GMT

    SOME SUGGESTIONS: 1- Get rid of Younis Khan in ODIs, If you neccesarly want to play Hafiz then bring him down to no.4 while playing on fast and turning wickets. Play Nasir Jamshid, Asad, Umar and Haris Sohail in all matches and give them time to learn and establish themselves. Afridi came as a bowler and failed badly. He has played a good innings but that should not be enough to keep him hanging, let him be only a T20 player. 2- PCB should always try to play ODIs before a test series while on foriegn soil 3- PCB should start sending A-team to play series' in Australia, South Africa, England and NZ. They have failed very badly on this front.

  • Zubair on March 25, 2013, 19:19 GMT

    We lost one ODI because of W.Riaz and the rest because of Misbah's incompetence. He should have dropped Riaz and Younis and strengthened the batting by introducing inform batsmen Shehzad and Umar Akmal. Team going forward should be Shehzad, K.Akmal, Jamshed, Hafeez, Asad Shafiq, U.Akmal(Capt), PLUS 2 young ALLROUNDERS for grooming, Ajmal, Junaid, Irfan. Despite Umar having some crazy potential I fear he may go same way as Afridi with his knack for hitting unless we place some responsibility on his shoulders to anchor his innings forcing him to play more responsibly. I'm sure this will surpress the Afridi in him, and help him mature faster than his bro, I say it again that Akmal has the temperament to go all the way and thats what Misbah is scared off when leaving him out despite poor batting performances.

  • Khalid on March 25, 2013, 18:08 GMT

    I do not agree completely with the subject, "Fragile batting lets Pakistan down again" as Pakistan did enough with the bat apart from 1st and 5th game. The real issue that let Pakistan down is fielding. Had Hafeez or Kamran held Amla's catch in the 3rd game and had Younas not grassed AB aur had Kamran not missed the stumping in 5th game; it would have been 4-1 to Pakistan. Now come to bowling department, apart from 4th game there wasn't any good show of 1st change seamers or spinners, they were ineffective enough to nullify opening Pacers' efforts. In particular Wahab and Shahid Afridi. This is the right time for Pakistan to re-organize team by saying goodbye to Younas Khan and Shahid Afridi.

  • Haroon on March 25, 2013, 17:50 GMT

    @all DEAR expert cricketers, please realistic Pakistan is on # 5-6 in all type of cricket ranking and South Africa is almost on the top in each type, except TEST i think T20 and ODI Pakistani team did pretty OK.....i am really surprise you all are criticizing them like they loose series against Bangladesh or Zambabewe... please understand passing comments is very easy...playing in front of Top team and in their own country not so easy...WELDONE PAKISTAN...i do agree there should be some changes required but its looks not sensible to replace all the seniors at once there should a combination of senior and junior players. Pakistan Zindabad...Best wishes for CHAMPIONS TROPHY.....BE POSITIVE

  • aziz on March 25, 2013, 17:46 GMT

    People seems to be targetting Afridi. But if they want him out because of his performance then compare his batting and bowling average [runs per over] with other members like Hafeez, Umar Gul, Younus Khan, Asad Shafiq and Nasir Jamshed. A man sittting in Pakistan with little cricketing knowledge advised the team selection to play Mohammad Irfan in the first test and Abdul Rahman in the 2nd test. If they have done that there would not be a white wash. The selection team insisted on Younus Khan and Wahab Riaz dispite repeated failiures. Same for Azhar Ali and Hafeez in tests, after how many failures they will be replaced. If we remember Fawad Alam was replaced after one failure. So there is a lack of consistency in selection matters. We need experiende players in English conditions. Abdul Razzak, Mohammad Yousuf and Imran Nazeer needs to looked at the camp by the captain and coach.

  • Dummy4 on March 25, 2013, 17:40 GMT

    Guys lets face it. Our cricket was and always will be unreliable. NO matter how much the Board pays for foreign coaches or conducts drills to improve. I mean i Cannot remember when Pakistan was a serious threat in any format for a long period of time."Consistency" has never been a part of our game.This somehow adds a different flavor to the international cricket. But i have noticed that Pak team lacks the 'thirst' to do well.It's almost like a pattern that they have been following for years. And it does not seem to bother them. As the 2015 WC is heading closer , i do not see a single sign of preparation. But as always they may 'Surprise' everyone ! As far as Afridi is concerned , he is one of my fav players.But i think the shot he played in the last game was the most stupid thing one can do. He had the perfect chance to cement his place.But he ruined it and there is no justification for that. Plain Horrible !

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