Pakistan defeated Bangladesh by a comprehensive margin in the Second Test at Mirpur to cleansweep the Series 2-0 but overall the team did not show any spark in its performance with the bat and the ball. The fielding which generally is Pakistan's weakness was pretty good and agile. The problem that could haunt Pakistan against the better oppositions is both batting and bowling.
It was an easy win for Pakistan in the Test Series with Bangladeshi still trying to find their feet at the international level. The Tigers collapsed twice in the Mirpur Test on what was a docile pitch to let Pakistan ease to a victory which wasn't quite deserved. In a Test match, where weather certainly was playing a big factor, with fog and misty conditions eating up nearly a day's play, Pakistan never quite showed any urgency with the bat. After bowling out Bangladesh for 338, Pakistan replied with 470 consuming more than 150 overs and scoring their runs at a little over 3.00 runs per over against what was an average bowling attack.
The Pakistani Team management including their Skipper got their team composition wrong. They went into the Test Match with just the two fast bowlers despite the coditions being overcast. The outfield in the mornings was generally wet and because of that minimized the chances of the spinners gripping and turning the ball properly. On the first day's play, a superb new ball spell from AizazCheema and UmarGul had Bangladesh in tatters at 43 for 4. It was just the finishing job that was needed to be done for the Pakistanis but the lack of a third pace bowler hurt them very badly. Afterall, the two speedsters can't bowl all the time and their body does require rest after a given point of time unlike spinners who can easily bowl plenty of overs unchanged.
The spin pair of SaeedAjmal and AbdurRehman proved to be ineffective atleast on the first day's pitch. With an additional spinner in opener Mohammad Hafeez always available, Pakistan should have thought of having a third pacer instead. Having said that, it was left arm spinner AbdurRehman who outperformed SaeedAjmal, who for once didn't get amongst the wickets easily. Misbah-ul-Haq should have taken the gamble of excluding one of those two spinners and may be tried out the left arm pace option of Mohammad Khalil.
Batting wise, as already mentioned the run rate from the Pakistanis was very poor, they let the Bangladeshis bowl their lines and lengths. It is pretty easy to dominate the Bangladeshi bowling attack which at the most was the standard of a first class domestic side. The Pakistani batsmen could have so easily taken on these bowlers which could have upset their lines and lengths. Never did the Pakistanis put the Bangladeshi bowlers under any sort of pressure during their first innings. Even the likes of the experienced Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq failed to stamp their authority. The visitors didn't quite dictate the pace of the match and it appeared that they were happy to play for a draw which didn't happen only because of the amaeturish Bangladeshi batting show twice in the match!
Against better oppositions like England, Pakistan could struggle to put up a good show unless they lift their standards. Again they may get away playing on the dead slow wickets in the sub-continent and also in UAE, but for the team's overall developement, Pakistan will have to move ahead with the times to compete with the rest of the nations. The Pakistani team is on the defensive, it could well be because of all the off-field controversies have surrounded them in the recent past along with the not-so-good situation back home. Most of the players are not quite performing freely like how a ShahidAfridi does in the limited overs version. Few of the players who could be exceptions like Afridi are perhaps Mohammad Hafeez and SaeedAjmal. Pakistan also need to have the energetic UmarAkmal by default in all the three formats of the game. He is an exciting young talent who could do wonders for Pakistan in the future if persisted with. UmarAkmal could go onto become a special player like an Inzamam-ul-Haq if the team management and the selectors show the faith in him. Pakistan needs such attacking cricketers who can rub their game on others.
Its time to move to the next level for Pakistan. Its time to bring on the youngsters and give them the freedom to express themselves freely with the bat and the ball. Pakistan has been known to play attacking aggressive cricket in the 90s when they had all the big names and its that brand of cricket that really clicks at the highest level against top cricketing nations not the soft brand that was played by Misbah's team.
- BV Swagath