DUBAI: Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi has urged his batsmen to pull their weight after another top-order failure put Pakistan on the back foot in the One-Day International (ODI) series.
In an identical way to the second ODI – except this time there was no Abdul Razzaq at the crease – Pakistan were given a boost by the lower order but failed to get past the finish line, falling agonisingly short by two runs. Despite the misfields and dropped catches by South Africa, one of the best fielding sides in the world, and a charged-up Wahab Riaz, Pakistan came close to taking the lead in the series but fell back for the second time.
“Although we lost the match, our morale is still high which is the most important thing for me,” said Afridi after the loss at the Dubai Sports City Stadium. “We went through a lot of positives and negatives during the match but for the next game we will concentrate with a positive state of mind and body.”
Continued failure of the top order to take responsibility has worried the all-rounder who has contributed just 57 runs in the three ODIs after 28 in the two Twenty20s. He said the batsmen failed despite having a moderate total to chase.
“Our batsmen went in with a negative approach but if you look at [Hashim] Amla’s innings, he wasn’t reluctant at all even though wickets were tumbling at the other end.”
Amla, who hit his fifth ODI century of the year, carried his bat through the innings and finished with 119. While the second-highest scorer was JP Duminy with 26, Amla crafted his 126-ball knock to take South Africa to the highest total at the venue. In reply, Pakistan’s top order crumbled as they hoped for a repeat of Abu Dhabi where Abdul Razzaq single-handedly won the match.
“I think we have to be mentally strong,” said Afridi on the inconsistency of the performance. “I think we should have been played with a different approach by forgetting the previous victory. Actually I’m not satisfied with the fielding either as we gave 25 to 30 extra runs and dropped catches which shouldn’t have been put down.”
In a clichéd response, the captain praised South Africa and hoped that the team would improve before the next ODI that takes place at the same venue tomorrow.
“South Africa are a professional team and plan ahead which is why they are so far the better team. We aren’t delivering our best. It’s not like we are not ensuring our best but we need improvement. We’re here to play good cricket and entertaining people but I agree we have to win and in the next two matches we will try and not repeat the mistakes.”
Akmal ruled out of ODI series
In another setback to the Pakistan batting, Umar Akmal has been ruled out of the remaining ODIs after an MRI scan revealed a grade one ankle sprain.
“Akmal twisted his ankle while playing volleyball during the training session,” team manager Intikhab Alam told The Express Tribune. “We wanted him to play the third ODI in place of Misbahul Haq but as a precaution we sent him for the MRI which revealed the sprain. He has been advised a three-day rest but before the final ODI we will decide on his possible inclusion depending on his fitness.”
Published in The Express Tribune, November 4th, 2010.