KARACHI: Pakistan’s ODI captain Azhar Ali admitted that the team made too many mistakes in the rain-affected first one-dayer which hosts England won by 44 runs through the Duckworth-Lewis method in Southampton.
Pakistan set England a below-par target of 261, and England were cruising towards it when rain halted play with their score at 194-3 after just 34.3 overs, helped by some poor fielding that also included a dropped catch by wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed.
And Azhar was forthright when claiming that the team was below-par in all three departments. “We didn’t bowl in good areas and were too short in the beginning which allowed the in-form English openers to score quick runs,” Azhar said in his post-match press conference. “Fielding wasn’t good either and I know we can field much better. When you are defending a total of around 260 you need to be disciplined in your bowling and fielding.”
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Pakistan were criticised for consuming too many dot balls and skipper Azhar was particularly culpable in his slow 82-run knock, leaving Pakistan with a mountain to climb in the second innings on a pitch where 300 didn’t look out of reach.
Azhar admitted that Pakistan need to reduce the number of dot balls they face as that leads to the players coming under pressure and playing rash shots in order to make up for lost time.
“260 runs just aren’t enough in modern cricket. There were too many dot balls at the start. This is something we need to improve upon,” said Azhar. “We could have also covered that towards the end but we didn’t finish that well and were 30 runs short.”
Azhar justified his own knock by stating that one of the top-order batsmen need to stay out there in the middle and play for the long haul.
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Pakistan much weaker than England, says Latif
Former Pakistan captain Rashid Latif said the entire Pakistan squad looks very light on paper compared to England and it would be difficult for the visitors to play a balanced eleven out of the 15 that they have.
“The Pakistan team looks very weak in comparison to that of England’s and you can’t expect much from this side since there are too many weak links,” Latif told The Express Tribune. “They lack a power-hitter down the order, while there are hardly any wicket-takers apart from Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz, but they are also struggling.”
Latif further added that he felt Pakistan should have played leg-spinner Yasir Shah — who impressed in bursts during the recently concluded Test series that finished 2-2 — to give themselves more wicket-taking options.
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“Yasir could have come in as an attacking option because spin all-rounders Imad Wasim and Mohammad Nawaz both didn’t look threatening,” said Latif. “Yasir could have been a better option.”
The 47-year-old believes the selection committee made some poor choices when selecting the final 15. “There is a lot to think about for the team management and selectors because some players who are better than the ones in the team are currently playing domestic cricket rather than representing Pakistan.”
Published in The Express Tribune, August 26th, 2016.
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