How often will you find a team losing an ODI when two of their batsmen have scored 96 not out and 50? Yet, Pakistan managed to land up on the wrong side, losing to the equally unpredictable West Indies in the second clash of the Champions Trophy, at the Kennington Oval in London on Friday. Both sides were unabashedly poor with the bat on the day, but West Indies, who batted second, had the advantage of knowing what they had to score. The fact that run rate wasn’t an issue worked in their favour, and eventually Pakistan were left to rue their lack of runs.
After being asked to bat first, there were two phases in the game, which basically cost Pakistan the match against the Windies. It goes without saying that Pakistan needed a good start at the top. Instead, Imran Farhat, Mohammad Hafeez and Asaq Shafiq were back in the pavilion even before the seventh over was completed. The shots they played pretty much indicated that they were clueless in the face of Windies’ pace assault. While Shafiq is still relatively new to international cricket, the consistent failures of the experienced Farhat and Hafeez would be worrying Pakistan for sure. The time for them to shape up or ship out is coming near.
The second stage of the innings where Pakistan totally embarrassment themselves was when the mandatory middle and lower-order collapse took place. Even though the Pakistanis are used to such cave-ins, the magnitude of the crack-up would have shocked even them. The fact that batsmen number six to eleven managed a paltry 12 runs among themselves gives away the sad tale. All this after Nasir Jamshed and skipper Misbah-ul-Haq joined forces to help rescue Pakistan from another disastrous start. Jamshed reiterated he could play the waiting game while Misbah did what he knows best – to anchor the innings.
Following the partnership between Jamshed and Misbah, Pakistan found themselves in a reasonable position. However, it must be said that what followed was an ungainly combination of rash strokes and terrible running between the wickets, as a result of which all the hard work done by Jamshed and Misbah was nullified. To his credit, the Pakistan skipper batted till the last wicket fell, but praise must also be reserved for West Indies’ bowlers. Kemar Roach’s triple strike at the top put Pakistan on the back foot at the very start. Sunil Narine also did well to crumple the middle and lower order.
Pakistan themselves fought back very well with the ball. Mohammad Irfan showed why is considered a genuine talent, ripping out Johnson Charles and Darren Bravo early on. Saeed Ajmal and Wahab Riaz also struck at regular intervals to keep West Indies under the pump. But, in between, the Windies batsmen managed to come with significant knocks in the context of the game. Chris Gayle, Marlon Samuels and the struggling Kieron Pollard all came up with 30s to keep West Indies in the game. Yes, the match was in the balance after they departed, but unlike Pakistan, better sense prevailed among West Indies’ lower-order, and to their credit, they got home calmly in the end.
--By A Cricket Analyst