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    March 18, 2006

    Pakistan vs. Sri Lanka, 1st ODI

    Pakistan kick started their short tour to Sri Lanka with a one-day international D/N game in Colombo’s Premdasa Stadium. It started raining like cats and dogs only seconds after Pakistan had completed their first innings (send into bat by the home side after Atapatu had won the toss) so unfortunately we couldn’t get a result.

    It could have got interesting had this gone the distance. Even though we only got 201, the pitch wasn’t the easiest to bat on (held a bit and contained some moisture underneath the top soil) and the outfield was also very sluggish because of persistent rain running into the game. We might have got more swing in the evening, plus there was no Jayasuriya (who missed out with some kind of injury, I’m forgetting what).

    But then we could have been disadvantaged by the dew factor, and we did have a very inexperienced attack who for the exception of Asif by and large struggled against India recently, and then we also had, a bit surprisingly, no frontline spinner in our XI (Adbur Rehman, the left arm orthodox bowler, it was reported in the Express was injured, Tahir Khan, the offie from Sialkot, was not picked in the XI and Danish Kaneria didn’t even get into the 17 man humongous squad). So, Sri Lanka would have certainly fancied their chances too.

    But if you’re going to get cynical then you can say the rain might have been a blessing in disguise for Pakistan, who totaly was fairly modest. In fact, on second thoughts, that wouldn’t be being cynical at all, after all, we did lose four straight games against India batting first. So our bowlers, who I always think, as opposed to our batsman, go out there and try honestly no matter what, might have been saved from another demoralizing day in the field.

    I certainly don’t want to accuse our batting line up of lacking commitment, I’m sure the likes of Salman Butt and Mohammad Yousuf, even Inzi, I may add, work very hard in the nets all the time working at their games. But frankly, I’m getting a bit sick and tired of seeing these guys make decent bowlers look like demigods match after match after match.

    How many times will people get bowled through the gate before realising that a good length ball pitched in line and hitting either middle or off deserves to be played like a good ball, good old fashioned front defensive shot anyone?Chapter 1, Page 1, Line 1 from Geoff Boycott’s text book for batting; how possibly can any forget this?

    Yet look at Malik’s dismissal today. Gun barrel straight ball and he attempted it to drive it on the back foot through mid on! And this on a pitch where the ball wasn’t conducive to stroke play! I can’t be bothered to check the stats right now but Malik gets out clean bowled far too often for my liking and most of the times he looks absolutely horrible in doing so.

    That happens to people who have got shaky techniques; they look awful no matter how they get out, even if they get out to very good balls. That’s why I wasn’t that annoyed at Kamran Akmal’s dismissal; he was got out, off an utter peach, beaten by movement off the pitch despite attempting to play a blocking shot.

    You don’t mind this kind of dismissal as a fan, sure you’re disappointed, but at least you don’t feel as if the batsman’s gifted his wicket, you know there is more credit due to the bowler in such cases. That doesn’t happen too often with Salman Butt, or Battass as I call him when he gets out tamely, which is pretty much always.

    Usually his preferred mode for getting out is a nice healthy nick through to the keeper or 1st slip, but today he went after a really (reaaallly) wide off break type ball of Nest Malinga, and slapped it straight to short cover. This after he’d done all the hard work of getting 26 of 64 balls; sighs! When will they learn? Or will they learn at all?

    But then, should I criticise the younger members of the team this much when the seniors are not doing any thing positive by way of setting an example? Mohammad Yousuf got out misting the canny Lokuarchchi to cover, it wasn’t a stupid shot ala Buttass, but if was a half hearted short, not hit properly, but still hit, neither here nor there.

    In other words, I didn’t like the dismissal. Soft. Tame. And err….again after getting set, after bad hair, people getting out after getting set is my next very low or zero tolerance level discipline. I tend to get really annoyed at this.

    Inzi edged behind trying to dab one to third man, Mahroof was the man again. It was a fairly goodish ball, but Inzi has started getting caught behind while attempting to steal a single from third man a bit too recurrently off late, didn’t he get out like this at least one or twice against India too? And he too got a start, which proves that 11,000 odd runs and a small matter of 300 odd games do not make you immune from making basic mistakes.

    I won’t blame Younis Khan much for the way he got out, it was so late in the innings at that stage he had no choice but to go for everything (though he did get a life when he was on 18, by Upal Tharanga), ditto for Razzaq. But I do have a word for Afridi.

    I know he might have been unlucky; the ball could have missed leg, bat that was the biggest, wildest, maddest ugliest slog sweep ever, given at that time Pakistan were already 5 down for less then 150! Premeditation was not how the phrase ‘the new consistent Afridi’ was coined, shot selection was.

    Charlie Austen, who did the match bulletin for Cricinfo, is not wrong, Sri Lanka certainly did bowl well; Lokuarchchi impressed, and reminded Pakistan why they shouldn’t completely alienate Danish Kaneria from their one-day plans; Mahroof bowled straight and made the batsmen play almost always; Murali was Murali, Prasad and Nest Malinga too both bowled decently without being extraordinary. It was a good all round disciplined performance from their bowlers, backed up well by their fielders, but Pakistani batsmen once again made their task easier.
    Cross posted from Sundries

    Thus spake Zainub Razvi @ 12:17 AM |
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