3rd Eng ODI: What should be the game plan for Pakistan?
It was heartening to watch the first two Pak-Eng ODIs as both turned out to be good matches in every sense of the word. At least, the Pakistan side showed some zeal, vigor, determination and fight which was thoroughly lacking in both the T-20s earlier.
The Pakistan cricket team showed that they can bat as they finally made runs which went beyond the double-digit mark. In fact, Pakistan’s batting was far from it. In the first one-day, Pakistan batted second and made 250 runs in 41 overs, averaging an impressive
run rate of above 6 runs per over. Even though Pakistan lost that match, it was refreshing rather than tormenting to watch them bat.
While in the second ODI, Pakistan won the toss and elected to bat first. They made 294 runs in 50 overs, with a competitive run rate of around 6 runs per over, however, they were not able to win this match either despite the nail-biting finish.
The highlight of the two matches was the brilliant batting while a mediocre bowling performance from the Pakistan team. Kamran Akmal managed to get his form back by hitting two back to back half centuries, Mohammad Hafeez played the supporting role and there
were some fruitful contributions by all the middle-order batsmen. However, Shahid Afridi disappointed his fans once again by making just 9 runs in the second innings; his batting in the first ODI wasn’t any better either.
Looking at the Pakistan bowling attack, there was definitely an inevitable void created after the provisional ban of the two main opening bowlers, Mohammad Aamir and Mohammad Asif. Consequently, Afridi was left with limited bowling options. It was surprising
to see him drop Abdur Razzak from the second one day even though the team clearly needed an all-rounder to bat decently and anchor the innings in last ten overs of the match, while also take wickets.
Mohammad Irfan, known to be the tallest cricketer in the world, was simply over-rated. He has disappointed the team twice in a row now, with his expensive spells and poor fielding, where he dropped one of the most crucial catches that might have cost Pakistan
Even though Abdur Razzak isn’t a good fielder, at least he is a handy all-rounder, who has the potential to contribute significantly with the bat. About ten years back, he used to come one-down as a batsman playing a crucial role to anchor the innings in
the initial ten to twenty overs. He is also a decent one-down bowler, who was once a leading wicket taking bowler for Pakistan. Although, he has aged over the years but he can still be counted on at a time like this when there are very limited bowling options
Another puzzling decision of Captain Shahid Afridi is that of not including Raza Hasan in any of the matches so far. Raza is a left-arm spinner who created a huge impact in the first class cricket of Pakistan. Still in his debut, he took 3 wickets and gave
away just 24 runs. He played brilliantly against Zimbabwe Under-19 and took 9 wickets in the series. It would be a good idea for Pakistan to explore its spinning options for the third ODI as the fast bowlers haven’t been successful in taking too many wickets
due to the flat nature of the pitch.
The fielding also needs a lot of improvement for the third game. Not only do the Pakistani players have to make sure that they will take all the catches, but they would also have to ascertain that any needless two runs are not given away when a single could
clearly be saved. Similarly, a boundary should not be given, the fielders on the third man positions have to start diving and making a better chase of the ball. Better fielding can really change the results of the match. England’s fielding is a great example
To sum it up, for the up-coming third ODI, Pakistan cricket team should drop Mohammad Irfan and replace him with Abdur Razzak, Raza Hasan should be included for an additional spinning option. Meanwhile, batting line-up should remain the same, but Razzak
and Afridi should move themselves up the order, and most importantly, Pakistan should field very well.