Pakistan's World Cup strategy needs a lot of thought
There should no weak links in the bowling attack which can be exploited by tougher opponents.
With such a low total to defend, Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi led from the front again and as it ended, Pakistan were home with a bit to spare despite facing a lot of anxious moments on the field.
Afridi bowled very intelligently, keeping in view the inexperienced Canadian batting line-up.
Mostly, he kept a good line and bowled to a good length, on and about the off stump with clever use of googlies and flippers. A lot of Canadians lost their wickets while going for the cut shot.
There are very few right-arm leg-spinners in this World Cup but almost all of them are doing very well and this is a good sign for spin bowling.
Surprisingly, almost all Pakistan batsmen appeared to be out of sorts with most of them falling to inexplicable shots against some very ordinary bowling.
But it was really heartening to see the team coming out with a very positive frame of mind to defend the little total. Bowlers bowled with great heart and fielding was far better as compared to the last match against Sri Lanka.
A lot of credit should be given to the skipper. Apart from his excellent bowling, Afridi affected a brilliant runout with a direct throw, a rarity by a Pakistani fielder in recent times.
Afridi displayed great leadership skills. His bowling changes were sharp and he was constantly motivating the boys who in turn responded magnificently.
The match against Canada was Saeed Ajmal’s first outing on the tour. The off-spinner was a bit off-colour and couldn’t settle into a good rhythm.
He was frequently changing from over to round the wicket and also sent down a few wide balls.
Normally, an attacking bowler, Ajmal mostly employed a flatter trajectory. It may be said that since Canada was chasing a small total, the ploy was on show.
However, it was clear that the only way Pakistan could defend the meagre total was by bowling out the opposition. I think Ajmal’s below-par performance was only due to lack of match practice. Given another outing, he should be able to regain his confidence and the attacking mind-set he’s renowned for.
Then there is the oft-repeated question of Pakistan going one bowler short. Yes it could cause problems against stronger outfits like Australia and New Zealand. Not necessarily an additional spinner, but Pakistan can also do with an extra spinner in the squad given the conditions.
Wahab Riaz showed that a left-armer slanting the ball across the right-handed batsman brings good variety to the attack.
The decision should be taken with due consideration to the opposition and the conditions. Still, taking into view the sub-continent pitches and especially what we have been witnessing in this World Cup, another spinner appears to be a more suitable option.
After the first three matches, Pakistani bowling, particularly the spin attack, appears to be their main strength.
There should not be any weak link in the bowling attack which could be exploited by tougher opponents. For this all the bases should be covered.