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Poor captaincy, batting led Pakistan to series defeat

19 February, 2013

ISLAMABAD: Poor captaincy and casual batting spoiled all the good work done by Pakistan's premier spin legend Saeed Ajmal, who took 10 wickets in the match, but failed to prevent Pakistan from four-wicket defeat in the second Test at Cape Town, thus giving Proteas an unassailable 2-0 lead in the 3-match Test series.

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Smith after winning the toss opted to bowl first, a decision which immediately paid off as once again Pakistan batting flopped miserably as they lost four wickets with just 33 runs on the board. Younus Khan, who was completely written off by his critics and demanded his exclusion from the squad, shut his critics mouths with a superb hundred in the first innings. He not only batted tremendously but also helped Asad Shafiq a lot in settling down and scoring a big and much-needed hundred.

It was the partnership of Younus and Asad which helped the green caps in posting a very decent first innings total of 338 on the board. Things could have gone worse, had Tanveer Ahmed not scored a valuable 44 runs in the first innings as after the departure of Younus, Asad followed him on the same overnight individual total, as wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed once again failed to contribute with the willow.

Pakistan went into the game as underdogs and nobody was ready to give them even an outside chance of doing well in the match, but to the great credit of Younus, Asad and Tanveer, Pakistan posted a fighting total on the board.

Hero of the first Test Dale Steyn was kept at bay by Pakistani batsmen as he managed to take just one wicket in the first innings conceding 55 runs in 25 overs but it was the turn of his new ball partner Philander who destroyedPakistanbatting with figures of five for 59 in the first innings. One thing, which needed to be mentioned here, that the selectors once again looked completely confused while announcing the playing XI as medium pacer Tanveer was given priority over Rahat and left arm spinner Abdul Rehman, a move that failed to take off as both Tanveer and his attacking partner Umar Gul failed to take even a single wicket in the first innings. Ajmal was the hero of Pakistan bowling who grabbed six for 96 while lanky fast bowler M Irfan, who was surprisingly dropped in the first Test, looked very impressive with 3 wickets for 86.

Had Misbah utilized his bowlers properly Pakistan could have easily taken a first innings lead of around 80 runs as seventh-wicket of South Africa was down at 210, with just bowlers remained to bat, but overcautious approach and defensive-minded tactics by Misbah allowed Peterson to score match-turning 84 runs, which resulted in only 12-run first innings lead to Pakistan.

Pakistanfinished the third day's play at 100 for the loss of three wickets and was in comfortable situation, but the fourth day started with some poor shot selection by skipper Misbah, who has developed a habit of trying to paddle sweep and on numerous occasions, he had thrown his wicket away. He was lucky to survive a confident appeal of catch in the slip but he soon edged a ball to smith and his departure proved disaster for batting as Pakistan lost last seven wickets for just 55 runs.

None of the batsmen could provide any resistance to South African bowlers and the second innings folded at 169 in 75.3 overs.Pakistan could have easily set a target of 250 plus when Misbah and Azhar Ali were at the crease but Misbah failed once again to lead from the front, Tanveer once again scored unbeaten 10 runs. Philander was once again the pick of the South African bowlers with four for 40, thus taking nine wickets in the match while Steyn took three for 38 and left arm spinner Peterson grabbed three for 73.

Misbah wasted both reviews in the first innings and he repeated the same mistake in the second too.Pakistan lost their first reviews in the very first over and soon after Misbah wasted the second and last chance going for a reversal on Ajmal's bowling, a captain should be very clear to go for reversal, but it was a different case as far as Misbah a captain is concerned. Ajmal bowled his heart out and picked four wickets in the second innings too thus grabbing 10 wickets in the match, but none of the other bowlers could provide him any support. Pakistan missed a golden chance to level the series and none other than captain Misbah is to be blamed for this defeat. Pakistanis were known for their aggressive nature of play, but the current coach has badly effected that reputation as the entire squad had adopted a defensive approach. One can't win Test matches with over-cautious or lenient approach but only those could achieve success who could dare to have eye contact with the opponents.

After coming so close to win the second Test, it would be almost impossible for the green shirts to stage comeback in the third and last Test but only a miracle can save Pakistan from a most-likely whitewash in the hands of Proteas.

The team management and especially PCB Chairman Zaka Ashraf should take notice of the team's pathetic performance and immediately seek explanation from the team management. The selectors have made a blunder by not asking for a middle order batsman. They should give chance to Faisal Iqbal, as Nasir Jamshed and M Hafeez both had failed to provide even a modest opening stand.

End.