Pakistan batsmen living with the fear of ‘Unknown’


CT13 Pakistan vs. South AfricaPakistan batsmen for a while now are living with some fear which is so deep rooted in their hearts and minds that it would take a huge psychological counseling effort from someone for this fear to be conquered. Nobody really knows what is this fear of theirs and thus we are calling it the fear of ‘unknown’.

This fear has been haunting them for a good no. of years now. It roughly started around the time when Inzamam-ul-Haq retired from International cricket and since then has gone on to scare almost all the Pakistan batsmen of the current generation. And in the past few years it has become hugely grave.

More that anything else, what this fear has done is that it is killing their bowlers. Pakistan bowlers try their level best each time they take field, they are hard to face, they get good sides out for modest totals and they are a highly respected attack. But invariably Pakistan’s batsmen have failed theirs bowlers and if this continues any longer it shouldn’t be surprising if we see these bowlers burn out and not perform as well. The reality is, there is only as much one can do to keep the morale going and for Pakistan bowlers its been a little too much.

Pakistan side is loved by their fans around the world for their signature attitude. An attitude which is about natural raw talent expressing itself and that is the very reason that all these batting mishaps are so much more disheartening. Pakistan batsmen aren’t expressing themselves. There is a mental block, there is fear of failure and there is a burden of not looking casual while batting. If Pakistan has to do well, all that has to go away. There has to be an expression of that famous attitude and there has to be an acknowledgment that bowlers cannot do it all.

235 is all they were chasing against the South Africans last night and with all the caution in the world, they could only accumulate 167. There was no reason for the way they approached this modest South African target but its not the first time they took this approach, they have done it in the past as well.

Without Steyn and Morkel, the South African attack was not as sharp, but right from the word go Pakistan batsmen went into their shell and were overly defensive. There was no intent to keep the score ticking over and thus a lot was left to be done towards the end. Misbah cannot do it all, always.

The Pakistan batsmen must learn that it is time they change the way they approach batting. They must let go this fear, whatever it is. Pakistan cricket otherwise, isn’t heading anywhere.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Pakistan at their anxious best


Pakistan vs. India Super Eight
(Photo Credit:Jiggs Images)

What promised to be an intense romantic tale turned out to be a sorry one-sided affair. Of all the times that India and Pakistan have clashed in the recent past, this one stands out as the most lacklustre display by Pakistan. Nerves got better of them yet again and they were spooked enough to throw it away without showing any real resistance. Pakistan were at their “anxious best” and that pretty much describes the day for them. More than anyone else it was the skipper Mohd. Hafeez who went into his shell and never really came out till there were no more Indians left at the Premadasa.

Virat played a beautiful and commanding innings yet again and it is hard to find a better batsman around. All due credit to him for his performance but for Pakistan the match was lost even before Virat took guard. The way Pakistan batsmen batted is hard to explain. They made part-timers look like genuine bowlers who could do no wrong, Yuvraj in particular. Yuvraj bowled a good spell but in between he bowled numerous half-trackers which were punched to extra-cover or third-man for singles. On another day these were six hitting deliveries, right over mid-wicket, at least 85 meters; ask Shane Watson and he would know.

Afridi’s promotion didn’t make sense at all given the fact that he is seriously out of form and has turned into a bowler who can (read may), bat a bit. Also, with him coming at 3, the overall batting order gets skewed and someone like an Umar Akmal then has to walk in at 7, well, you don’t want your class A batsman bat that low, do you. In T20 you cannot have people who chew up deliveries at the top; that puts tremendous pressure on the middle and lower order.

Another strategic error that Pakistan management has made in this tournament is leaving out a match winner of the class of Abdur Razzaq. He, in matter of few overs can turn a match on its head. Also, with his experience he can bring some calm to this highly effervescent Pakistan side that can so easily fall apart in crunch matches. They are one side who really need someone to ease out the things a little. Razzaq can be the man for this job.

India held their nerves and thus emerged winner. There is something special about this Indian side; with skills they have the temperament to conquer big matches. Both India and Pakistan have one game each to go in the Super-eights and these are must win games for them. India seems to be on a roll after this win and looks like beating South Africa. Pakistan however have to be back with their A game to be able to fight a tough Australian side on the Super-Tuesday.

Duckworth-Lewis, What a relief !


Taken by myself, this morning, at the Sydney C...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

ICC World Cup 1992, 2nd Semi-final – England vs. South Africa, Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG). SCG was buzzing with capacity crowd. It was March 22 and when rain stopped play for the last time during this match, 22 (off 13 balls) were precisely the runs required for South Africa to make it to the World Cup final. South Africans didn’t know then, that, when play resumes they would be faced with their worst moment after a long 21 years exile from international cricket. When the play resumed, they did know. The large screen at SCG displayed, 22 REQUIRED OFF 1 BALL.

Cricket is primarily an outdoor sport and like any other outdoor sport, a possibility of it being interrupted by rain or bad weather is always on cards. For years, various rules have been applied to calculate targets in curtailed games. South Africans, at SCG, found themselves at receiving end of one such rule. The rule applied during this game was the “best scoring overs” rule. As per this rule, for the amount of time lost due to interruption, no. of overs that the side chasing gets to bat are reduced proportionately. And, the achievable target is arrived at by adding up runs scored in the ‘best scoring’ overs of the previous innings. So, let’s consider an over lasts for approximately four minutes, if 20 minutes are lost due to interruption, a team gets to bat five overs less and they would be chasing a target by including runs from five ‘best scoring’ overs of the first innings. Thus, in such a situation, if five maidens are bowled in the first innings, target for the team chasing remains unchanged, though they lose five overs. At SCG around 10 minutes were lost in that fateful semi-final. Well, some rule, but not quite.

Two English statisticians, Duckworth and Lewis, addressed this problem and provided a beautiful solution that is now being used in all modern day limited over cricket formats. It is scientific, mathematical, logical and thus widely acceptable. The core concept on which Duckworth-Lewis (D/L) method has its foundation is ‘available resources’. Resources in this context means remaining overs and wickets in hand. As per this rule, these two resources, more or less define a team’s chances of chasing down a target. Thus, at a given point of time, if a match has to be abandoned due to rain or any other reason, a potential victory or defeat is assumed to be based on wickets standing and overs remaining. D/L have nicely derived a table in which, if you input remaining overs and wickets in hand, you know how much is a team looking at.

For D/L to apply, a minimum of 20 overs in an ODI game and at least five overs in a T20 game should have been completed. A major criticism of D/L is, that via this rule, result of a game is driven more by wickets standing than by overs remaining, and thus that ‘balance’ between the ‘resources’ is missing. But isn’t it so much better than what we saw at SCG, ahh, such a relief !!! WW6PXY4QQTKV