Pakistan vs West Indies: Batting is Pakistan’s Achilles' heel
Our bowling has rescued Pakistan many times but our batting could be our undoing.
So far so good. Pakistan have made it to the quarter-finals of the World Cup.
And despite a few hiccups along the way, they have done it in style by not only topping their group but by beating world champions Australia in the process.
Now they play the West Indies who are showing signs of life and have had some good games in the group stages. They have created opportunities to win, but so far have failed to convert those opportunities into victories.
This was painfully obvious in their last two games, against India and earlier against England, where the top-order fired, but after that the middle and lower-order collapsed like a house of cards. On both occasions they managed to lose games that they should have won convincingly.
This works out to Pakistan’s advantage because the Pakistanis have problems of their own. If there is a chink in their armour, it’s their batting. It was the batting which let us down and we collapsed to our only defeat against New Zealand in the group matches. And it was our batting, yet again, which almost led to what would have been an embarrassing defeat at the hands of minnows Canada.
And in the last group match against Australia, it was once again our batting that turned what should have been a fairly easy chase into a real task. If Brett Lee had got any support from either of the other Aussie quicks, Shaun Tait or Mitchell Johnson, Pakistan could have ended up on the losing side.
The bowling has rescued Pakistan many times, but if our batting continues to wilt under pressure, it could be our undoing in the knockout stages.
Is it any coincidence that our batting is in such a shambles when both the teams’ full time coaches are specialist bowlers?
Many senior players argue that professional cricketers do not need coaching; they just need to focus on their fitness. If that is the case then why do we have any coaches at all? And this may be true for some, but in Pakistan, where the domestic structure offers little or no specialist coaching and guidance to the bulk of our youngsters, a coach is very important for the national side. And this is more important considering that many of our players end up making their Test debuts while still in their late teens or early 20s, when it is still possible to rectify some of their technical flaws.
On top of that, the lack of common sense displayed by selectors in announcing the final playing eleven and the batting order often leaves one wondering. Abdur Razzak is all but wasted so low down in the order. We need to stop relying on Shahid Afridi as a batsman.
Pakistan’s saving grace in the quarter-final against the West Indies is perhaps the fact that their batting line-up is even more brittle and unreliable.
Published in The Express Tribune.
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