Pakistan wrapped up the New Zealand tour with two straight Test losses in the two-match series against the hosts and there was a lot that the visitors could have done to avoid the humiliation.
While there are many things which could have been improved after the first Test loss, there were the three main departments where Pakistan lacked in during the whole series.
1. Disastrous fielding
If we have to single out the biggest reason Pakistan were unable to test the Black Caps at their home, it would clearly be fielding.
While Pakistan were unable to convert difficult chances into wickets, they were at times unable to take easiest of catches during the two-match series.
Some may say that they are not doing enough work in the fielding department, but it could also be suggested that their lack of focus while attempting to cup catches was due to complacency, as pointed out by stand-in captain Mohammad Rizwan.
Catches win matches will always stand true whenever any form of cricket is being played and dropping the captain of one of world’s best teams surely means it was Pakistani fielders shooting themselves in the foot, rather than New Zealand delivering the killer blow during the Tests.
2. Dismal batting
Jury is out on whether Pakistan batsmen failed due to the lack of technique in the New Zealand conditions or it was because no other team has been able to bat as expertly in the Kiwis’ condition as the hosts themselves.
If one looks at the performances of the batsmen, apart from an individual Fawad Alam masterclass, an Azhar Ali fight and a Rizwan-Faheem Ashraf partnership, nothing great was achieved by Pakistani batsmen in New Zealand.
Openers Shan Masood and Abid Ali weren’t able to post a substantial score in all four innings. Haris Sohail was exposed in the New Zealand conditions. Some may say that the presence of a rock-solid Asad Shafiq would have helped the Pakistan middle-order, but one man can only do so much in Tests.
Pakistan next face South Africa in Tests at home and soon everything will be forgotten when they score big in familiar conditions, but what happened with the Men in Green batting in New Zealand should be taken as a lesson for future foreign tours.
3. Near-perfect, but plan-less bowling
If there was one positive during the whole episode where Pakistan were outplayed by New Zealand in both Tests, it was the Men in Green’s bowling.
Early wickets, pressure on incoming batsmen, not leaking away runs, the bowlers did all they could, but the lack of experience shown by Rizwan as captain and the lack of will clearly evident in fielders to hold on to catches was the death of bowlers’ confidence.
Pakistan have nearly always relied on their bowling to win matches, be it in any format of cricket, but if the pacers and spinners cannot reap the rewards of their hardwork due to bad fielding, it won’t be long before they also lose the will to run in hard and give it their all.
On a concluding note, Pakistan played well in T20Is and showed that they have the ability to become world beaters. They lost the first two T20Is but fought back to avoid a clean sweep.
However, their performance in Tests that too under head coach Misbahul Haq, one of Pakistan’s best Test captains, shows they are not investing in players who can grind it out for five days. Also, the formula of using Pakistan Super League as the final rehearsal before players are brought into the national mix for ODIs, T20Is and Tests is not working for Pakistan in the longest format.
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