Never Really In The Game
The defeat at the hands of India in our opening World Cup encounter would have broken every single Pakistani heart. The game meant so much and it ended in such heart break.
It was a poor performance by Pakistan and, to be brutally honest, there was very little that, from a Pakistani viewpoint, one can take from the match except the bowling of Sohail Khan and Wahab Riaz which was excellent, particularly at the death, and the batting of the ever valiant Misbah who fought on when all was clearly lost.
His consistency has been remarkable, all the more so because of the dismal support he has had from the rest of the Pakistani batting line up.
It has to be said that realistically speaking, except for the first ten overs when Irfan and Sohail Khan bowled well, we were never really in the game. I felt we were badly let down by our spinners. For some reason that I am entirely unable to fathom, Yasir Shah persistently bowled at near medium pace and was therefore entirely ineffective. Worse still, I saw no effort being made either by the captain or any member of the team management to tell him where he was going wrong. Perhaps Misbah should be a little more pro-active on the field and one sometimes gets the impression that he is happy to allow things to drift. Throughout the middle part of the Indian innings their batsmen kept pushing singles to fielders within the circle and there was no attempt to stop these singles which was giving the Indians 5 or 6 runs an over without any risk, steadily taking the game away from Pakistan.
While one understands the grave sense of disappointment that Pakistanis have felt at this defeat, some of the reactions that have come forward are rather immature, to say the least. Images of television sets being smashed in public and the very predictable emergence of allegations that the match was “sold” do not do our cricket any favours. As Pakistanis, it is natural that we should want Pakistan to win every time Pakistan plays, but to expect it almost as a matter of course is wildly unrealistic and causes the extremely frustrated reactions we unfortunately get to see. After all, this team is ranked 7th in ODI rankings and in a game weighted heavily in favour of batsmen, Pakistan does not have a single representative in the list of top ten ODI batsmen. We should keep those facts in mind as it may help to have a more realistic expectation of what we may expect when our boys play next.