Sri Lanka v Pakistan, 2nd Test, SSC, 4th day August 17, 2014

Many questions for Pakistan's batting

Following yet another Pakistan batting collapse, it's time to take a good long look at team composition and strategy

Misbah-ul-Haq has scored 67 at 16.75 in the series © AFP

The tale of the Pakistani batting slump is nothing new. A combination of poor shot selection, insecurity, lack of confidence and a fear of Rangana Herath led to a familiar story repeating itself at the SSC. Pakistan was given a target of 271 to chase down in four sessions but it took only one session for their batting to unravel to an extent where victory was only a remote possibility.

The famous victory in Sharjah this January is a one-off in recent years as Pakistan have rarely been strong chasers. It isn't a lack of ability, but more about losing it within their mind.

On day three, Grant Flower tried to make sense of Pakistan's problem, but Herath dominated his answers; several times he applauded Herath and put Pakistan's first-innings collapse down to his skills. Perhaps his responses reflect the sense prevailing in the dressing room, that the opposition can dictate their fate.

Flower was also confident Pakistan could do well the second time around. That did not happen; their top order did not look comfortable at all. Sarfraz Ahmed is the only positive Pakistan can take forward. The average opening partnership in their previous 13 Tests is 26.15, and the experiment with Ahmed Shehzad and Khurram Manzoor does not seem to be working. Both have been guilty of throwing their wickets away with poor shot selection. While Shehzad will be persisted with, Manzoor is not likely to get too many more chances.

Azhar Ali suffered a dip in form in 2013 and was replaced by Mohammad Hafeez, but his impactful hundred in Sharjah pushed him up the pecking order once again. Expectations of him grew as well, but he hasn't been able to meet them. He resisted hard while scoring 32 in the first innings, before falling to an inadvisable shot to Herath in the second.

Younis Khan, apart from his 177 in Galle, has scored just 34 in three innings. Being a senior player, the attempted sweep which led to his dismissal today, with the side already reeling, could be termed erratic. Captain Misbah-ul-Haq has scored 67 at 16.75. He is having a hard time as captain, too, with Pakistan not having won a Test series since beating England in the UAE in early 2012. A 2-0 defeat here could be decisive for him.

While the defeats must hurt, what could hurt Pakistan more is if they do not learn from them. It is vital that the team management gets the team selection right. The likes of Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq seem to be the future for Pakistan, but Umar Akmal and Fawad Alam could probably work well too. The captain and coaches have also rarely been critical of the batting in public.

Minutes after the stumps today, the team had packed up its stuff and left the ground. The media had requested that coach Waqar Younis attend the press conference, but they were told none of the Pakistan contingent would be taking questions. Even if they do not do so for the media, one hopes that Pakistan is answering the many questions that persist over their batting for themselves.

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. @kalson

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on August 18, 2014, 13:45 GMT

    It was lack of imagination that Pakistan lost First Test.In second inning at least 2-3 players should have been told to play their natural game to drawn the game. In second test Pakistan was beaten fair and square. Herath was great but Sarfaraz showed that Herath is not unplayable. It was one off bad series for Misbah. He is bound to bounce back. Unfortunately we dont have a back up for Misbah other than tired and tested Yunus and Hafeez both served well and now past their prime to be captain again. I can not understand the fuss about Asad Shafiq. Among under 28 he is probably the most technically correct test batsman in Pakistan with Azhar Ali and Fawwad Alam falling distant second. Umer Akmal is very good for ODI. The moment Umar Akmal walks into playing Test Eleven there will again be a strong lobby to bring back Adnan Akmal. Pakistan bound to bounce back against Aussies they must have settled vice captain,Asad or Azhar as Misbah will not last long. Good Bye Great Mahela

  • Muhammad on August 18, 2014, 12:24 GMT

    I am tired of hearing that Asad Shafiq is very talented, future of Pakistan cricket, next captain and what not. They say he has not been given enough chances.

    How many chances does he need? HE HAS NOT MISSED A SINGLE TEST SINCE HE CAME. I think he should be given more than one chance in all of his innings.

    How many matches has he won for his team? Please come up with numbers. Everyone can score when platform is set. Even Rehman scored a half century in first match of this tour. If he is so good, why does he not open and face the new ball or come one down or even two down.

  • umair on August 18, 2014, 11:48 GMT

    I am baffled and gobsmacked to see people in here are bashing Asad Shafiq, are they in their right minds?Asad Shafiq is the brightest prospect for Pakistan, he is being treated unfairly ever since he made his debut.Pakistani cricket fans need to mature a bit, you cant just axe everyone on the basis of a two match series, Asad Shafiq performed admirably, he and Sarfaraz were the only one who stood up to the challenge and offered some kind of resistance.

    Did Indian batting not collapse in England? so should they drop Kohli and Pujara too on the basis of one bad series?

    Pakistani fans need to grow up really.

  • TARIQ on August 18, 2014, 10:26 GMT

    The thing amazes me is the inability of our batters to improve as a unit against a bowler who only have 2 balls and some variations, Herath's main wicket taking ball is the one which spins out from the middle and off stump to keeper and slip, this is not a surprise delivery but can't understand for the life of me that how come our batters just couldn't read it at all, even I can judge the variation and his angel & hand position when he delivers this ball, why can't PAK batters and their support staff have not been able to get them to read this delivery. AMAZING:

  • Dummy4 on August 18, 2014, 10:21 GMT

    Pak cricket team lacks temperament, technique , strength of mind and fair selection. Most cricketers in Pakistan learn cricket in streets , their mistakes in technique grow so strong that even the best coach cannot correct them .If coaching starts at primary school level then only in the next five years a breed of batsmen can be produced, otherwise history tells that in every decade a batsman emerges purely on talent ,performs on few occasions & go away. A.Rauf KSA

  • Kashif on August 18, 2014, 9:44 GMT

    No replacement of any kind is required in Batting. It is the same team that scored 450+ runs and then 330+ in the second test. The reason of failure was that they couldn't handle just one bowler, Herath. Even if Fawad Alam or Umar Akmal were in the team, they would have struggled all other Sri Lankan bowlers were mediocre. Nothing wrong with Saeed Ajmal's bowling. Sri Lankan team plays very well against him and we should acknowledge that. If this was England or Newzealand or for that matter South Africa they would have struggled against him on this same pitch. Please hold your comments against Pakistan Australia series. I am sure we will be much better and penetrative with the ball.....

  • aman on August 18, 2014, 9:22 GMT

    Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq and Ahmed Shahzad need to play one full county season in England. Wasim Akram was talking yesterday, how a full season of county cricket playing on different surfaces makes the difference.

    All of Pakistan's top bats learnt in county: Miandad, Zaheer, Saleem Malik, asif iqbal (inzi and yousuf being the xecpetion)

  • TARIQ on August 18, 2014, 9:13 GMT

    There are some questions and couple of answers for PAK now, the big positive is Sarfraz, he played like a dream in this series and hope he continue with it, Wahab showed lot of heart and I think good enough to partner with Junaid, the biggest worry is our aging spin couple, I think and many have mentioned here that the time has come for Rehman, this guy has lost his confidence completely and should be replaced immediately, we also need to think about Ajmal as well, he is getting old and wary and batters picking him with ease now so may be a good idea to have him pass his knowledge to some youngsters for future, Misbah's form dropped in this series, I'm not panicked yet but I know for fact that in older age when form deserted you,it is very hard 2 get back, it goes quickly and that will be my concern. The problem with middle order is our young players are not consistent, may be lack of tests they play or culture, Khurram's technique is awful & on Herath, good but not great as Murli.

  • Dummy4 on August 18, 2014, 9:10 GMT

    It's bit surprising that Pakistan have produced only 18 left hand batsman at test level who have played more than 5 matches . There was is no one in the current line up . I think it's a major reason behind there batting collapses .

  • Dummy4 on August 18, 2014, 8:29 GMT

    I dont know why people are criticizing ASAD SHAFIQ the only batsman with SARFRAZ who survives He is the future we should grooom him Like INDIA are doing with KOHLI PUJARA RAHANE they have class but needs to b polished only failure for me ARE TALHA KHURRAM they are not test level players please get rid of these two and made a new team like ENGLAND i am really loving them we sholud give our players time And we deadly need Fawad Alam in test ASAD SARFRAZ AND FAWAD one of them is future captain Junaid Khan is always heroooo but noone ever appreciating him

  • No featured comments at the moment.