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Batting woes contribute to disturbing defeat

Batting woes contribute to disturbing defeat

FROM the first day to the last the third has been a riveting contest, with balance tilting from one side to the other with opportunity for both the batsmen and the bowlers to compete at equal level. One moment Pakistan looked in control and in the next England taking the initiative away through a couple of solid partnerships.

In the end, the Test dragged into the final day as England declared, leaving an impossible 342 for Pakistan to occupy the crease over two sessions and save the game.

Pakistan failed and that was very disappointing and disturbing.

It is a common knowledge though that no matter how reliable or a good batting side a team has, batting on the last day on any surface requires not only nerves of steel, a temperament to go with it, but also serious effort to deal with the pressure that a last day pitch has on offer.

Having seen what we have seen here at Edgbaston through all the five days, the wicket instead of wearing out continued to straighten up not providing much assistance to the bowlers whether fast or slow.

The only damage that was ominously visible was the foot marks left by the bowlers’ boots or in their follow through which remained an incessant threat for the left-handers no doubt while facing a spinner or a fast bowler trying to cut the ball back off the damaged area.

Sami Aslam like in the first innings did indeed well while choosing the right deliveries to handle and the ones outside to let go. That brought him runs in the first innings and that also kept him solidly entrenched in the second knock in Pakistan’s attempt to get out of this absorbing match unscathed.

Only if Mohammad Hafeez, who so far has had a disappointing series, had learnt from his junior partner Sami Aslam’s effort, Pakistan may not have had such disconcerting moments in their attempt to end this Test with their honour intact.

Brilliant as he was in the first innings when making 82 runs before being run out, his presence in the middle guaranteed a safe exit despite loss of Azhar Ali and Younis Khan as well.

In a game of such stake survival becomes tough and a torrid task. Hafeez’s self-destructive approach to batting as an opening batsman has no doubt its own effect on his team’s performance but to blame only an individual would be unfair.

The fact of the matter is that in a team game unless everyone contributes a desired result remains unfulfilled.

In the second Test at Old Trafford Pakistan batting was no less than disappointing. On a batting track they failed to cash in on and here once again their inconsistency continued to leave them in the danger zone.

Only young Sami stayed on watching others part without much defiance and that was not good cricket from Pakistan. Sami in the end perished too off a well pitched delivery.

Losing four wickets in 22 balls with only one run scored before tea was not what Pakistan had wished for.

A pitch which throughout this Test remained dead and docile suddenly turned out to be a minefield as Pakistan batsmen panicked and then perished.

Published in Dawn, August 8th, 2016

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