“Do nothing just pray “.
This is a familiar statement amongst Pakistanis whenever we are supposed to chase down a total. Our national cricket team has found it extremely difficult almost every second time when a task of successfully achieving a target is in front of them. This problem aggravates even further when you find out that nothing is being done about this. Just look at our overall stats while chasing totals of 250 runs or more:-
|Number of Occasions Side Set 250 plus to Win||129|
|Wins (Team Achieved Target)||35|
|Losses (Team Failed to Achieve Target)||94|
Does not look pretty right? More than 70% of the time we fail to chase those kinds of totals down. If I narrow it down to the last 5 years Pakistan has just won 5 times and lost 24 times during this phase. So the already nauseating record is going from bad to worse.
So what should we do about it?
Let’s just see what the root causes behind these pathetic displays are:-
- OPENING PAIR
Its starts from the top of the list that is the opening batsmen who are bound to give teams a strong start in order to lay a proper foundation for others following. The way modern cricket is played it is absolutely imperative that those two batsmen up front play in a manner that shows some aggressive intent and approach which is usually lacking. At a time where teams have the services of explosive batsmen like Warner, Dhavan, B McCullum, Gayle etc but we don’t have that sort of talent or potential but that does not mean that you do not express yourself. With good bats, short boundaries and fielding restrictions that favor the batsmen it is just not acceptable that you bat with a run rate of less than 5 runs an over during the first ten over’s which are under power play restrictions. So the Pakistan batsmen need to be positive and take the attack to the opposition. No matter which bowler you are facing whenever you attack them they are bound to feel the heat and that’s when you can capitalize.
- STRIKE ROTATION
Rotation of strike is another embarrassing feature of Pakistan’s batting display. We just don’t know how to get down to the other end. Considering the fact we produced batsmen like Zaheer Abbas and Javed Miandad who were masters of turning over the strike to the batsmen batting with them. Maybe they don’t want to learn that art but that’s going to lead them now where.
Especially during the mid overs when the field is well spread out, and boundaries are difficult to cultivate, singles and doubles are so important and this becomes a more critical issue when the team is chasing a total. Not doing this leads to a higher dot ball percentage and most of the Pakistan batsmen face more than 50% of dot balls during their stay at the wicket which is just not acceptable.
- ONE DIMENSIONAL
Another problem that Pakistan batting faces is the one dimensional and almost similar batting of all the top order and middle order batsmen. Shehzad, Younis, Misbah, Haris play in almost identical style. They need someone in the middle who can play with a different approach in that crucial part of the game. Some of the younger Pakistani players who make it into the team eleven plays in the same kind of fashion which is sometimes difficult to interpret as modern cricket has significantly changed and the old approach is going out of the box.
Another aspect of Pakistan’s game which we witness sometimes is the lack of courage and intent to take on the weak link in the opposition bowling attack. Its vital to a team’s cause that a bowler who is not that threatening should be put under pressure and not allowed to bowl his quota of overs and get away cheaply. For example what Sarfraz Ahmed did to JP Duming in our match against South Africa which is precisely the reason AB de Villiers had to turn to his premier pace bowlers, who would normally bowl at the back end of an innings. So Pakistan needs to improve in that field as well so that their chances of getting closer to targets can improve.
- BIG HITTERS
The above two points ensure that whenever a hard hitting batsmen comes to bat in the shape of Afridi and the rest its becomes a daunting task for them as they have to make up a lot for what had been done by the batsmen coming into bat before them. This is why the team never comes near those totals and gives up earlier than they should have.
- The Tail
The tail of Pakistan in the shape of fast bowlers and the odd spinner hardly contributes even if they are suppose to just hang around with a proper batsmen. They should give time to batting in the nets and work on their batting skills so that in times of need if we need their services we can utilize them and get over the line.
Finally in conclusion it is safe to say that we have loads of stuff to do in the batting department to rise up to challenges presented by top sides. Once we become a better batting team we are going to be a hard side to beat as we always have the services of a fantastic bowling attack whatever the circumstances