• Sunday, September 21, 2014

Reverse Swing

Wasim Akram

The jinx continues for Pakistan. Another World Twenty20 match lost to India, so it's five World Cup games (50 overs) and four World Twenty20 matches that we have now lost to India.
Friday's match highlighted obvious differences. While Indian players were calm and composed, Pakistanis looked perplexed, maybe overawed by the occasion. True to his character MS Dhoni had a clear plan. His composure and coolness, stressing in his pre-match comments that the match is not a high key issue for him, paid off.
Pakistan lost a crucial toss because India is very strong in chasing. Worse, Pakistan did not have a plan in batting. Kamran Akmal was looking good during his brief knock but he got run out in a silly manner. His early exit, may be the guilt of Kamran's run out, had the better of Ahmed Shehzad. He looked out of sorts after that, never convinced what strategy to adopt, he could neither attack nor play as per the situation. He is such a talented batsman but is not learning fast. In this age of prying and unforgiving media, if he doesn't learn fast he will be out in the dumps.
The rest of the batting looked ordinary. It was like a school team batting.
I think Dhoni played a master stroke by playing Amit Mishra. He took two wickets in the Asia Cup match as well and on Friday he bowled superbly, never allowing Pakistani batsmen to attack. To add spice to his bowling, Dhoni's field placing was excellent. He had a plan for every Pakistani batsman. Umar Akmal looked good for a brief period but he too perished when it mattered. He should have stayed till the end.
India's chase was off to a good start despite Shikhar Dhawan being shaky in the beginning. Pakistan let him off by not attacking and at 65-3 Pakistan had a sniff. I would have taken an attacking field because the only way Pakistan could have won the match was by taking wickets, but Hafeez did not attack well.
Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina showed their experience in handling pressure situations. Pakistan let off Raina, with not fully fit Shahid Afridi in the slips. Had that catch been taken and then Dhoni dismissed quickly, Pakistan would have sneaked through but the 130-total was always below par.
It looked disappointing the way Umar Gul bowled. He is Pakistan's spearhead and has been the best Twenty20 bowler in 2009 World Twenty20. What is noticed was that he has a flawed run-up. He is struggling in his run-up and when a bowler is not in a rhythm in his run-up he is bound to suffer.
Many people asked me if the presence of Asian Bradman, Zaheer Abbas, as batting consultant was helping or not. I think it will help in the longer run. Zaheer doesn't have a magic wand to improve batting.
For the rest of the tournament a lot will depend on Pakistan's batting. If they pull up their socks they will be in the race for semis. If not, it will be an earlier exit.

The writer is a former Pakistan cricket captain and one of the finest swing bowers and currently a TV commentator and presenter

Published: 12:00 am Saturday, March 22, 2014

Last modified: 3:29 am Saturday, March 22, 2014

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