Despite a lot of promising, very little was delivered by the Pakistani team as they soundly thrashed down to the bumpy beating by the South African fast pacers’ mind-blowing bowling attack, in the first test match of Pakistan tour of South Africa 2013. Pakistani team settled for the embarrassing lowest Test total when they were bowled out for 49 by the fierce full South African pace attack on the second day of the first Test at the Wanderers Stadium, where they were treated mercilessly, and the green shirts succumbed helplessly.
It is not just the batting line that needs bashing, of course it does but a lot of other factors played their part in the deafening defeat of Pakistan. Even luck was not in a mood to play sides with the Pakistani team. Some of the factors including selection criterion, training on making effective use of technology, proper use of review appeals and change in batting strategy needs immediate improvements and restructuring for effective outcomes.
For starters let’s review how Rahat Ali even as a reinforcement sent all the way to SA in place for the injured experienced opener Taufiq Umar– was in fact chosen ahead of the first-choice players like Mohammad Irfan and Ehsan Adil. Although his bowling is mostly ineffective, the more serious questions are raised by the manner through which he got selected. Pakistani squad’s selection criterion now seeks and desperately needs a transparent set of rules and regulations for merit based selection.
Now let’s move towards a full coarse meal, South African team’s captain Graeme Smith gave a window of opportunity to the Pakistani bowlers to crush the batting line of SA, when he made the decision to bat first in bowler-friendly conditions. With a seaming fast pitch and bowling favorable conditions, it was a golden chance for the stronger bowling line of Pakistan to dismantle the South African batsmen… however none did what was expected of him. Junaid Khan, Umar Gul, and Rahat all failed to exploit fully the favorable bowling conditions to their advantage. Had Gul and Junaid showed a better temperament and quick wittedness they would have bowled to a fuller length and that could have turned the fate of events. Both did pick up a couple of wickets each, but a fuller length in the good line area would have allowed the ball to move in the air, stealing the chance of a stable batting partnership from South Africa- something that Dale Steyn did brilliantly well against Pakistani batsmen. He bowled to a fuller length, maintained his excellent line and length letting the bowl move in the air and gave no room to the Pakistani batsmen.
Now the worst came when Pakistani batsmen acted helplessly as Dale Steyn one by one picked, terrorized and then killed each one of his targets. In spite of poor batting by Pakistani side, nobody can rub off the credit which South African pacers truly deserve. They had the potential, the conditions and the confidence and they did not let it go by an inch.
For Pakistani side, the first test match was a baggage of some important lessons to learn. And among them one stuck prominently evident that Pakistani batting needs a lot of learning to stand well against strict bowling conditions and fast bowling pitch. The batting line is in dire need of proper coaching and tons of practicing for difficult batting conditions as most of their practice comes from the flat pitches on which they play in South Asian cricket grounds.
So as for now, the key to success is exploiting the opponent batting line, restricting them to low, achievable targets, in order to minimize pressure on our already struggling batting line.