Birmingham Review: Pakistan

Batting Lets Pakistan Down. Again.

Pakistan’s Commonwealth Games performance was a case of more of the same, poor starts with the batting combined with slow run rates. It is a pattern that has plagued this talented team for some time.

That struggle was evident in the first match against Barbados and continued through the tournament. That first encounter should have been a victory but too much was left to do at the back end. It was a poor start from which Pakistan never recovered, completely outplayed by India, then Australia to leave Birmingham without a single victory. It could, and should have been, so much more.

Results:

Batting

Every combination tried at the top of the order produced the same result: batters bogged down leaving the heavy lifting to be done in a frantic last few overs. Concerning, this has been the pattern for the last 24 months.

Other teams put their blockbusting batters at the top of the order, boasting strike rates of 100+. Pakistan for some reason hides them down the order, the openers seemingly oblivious to the need to score runs. Even rotating the strike, scoring singles – anything at all – but it was not to be.

Muneeba Ali struck at 94.23 which admittedly is better than her career strike rate of 71.36. Muneeba is the preferred wicket keeper to Sidra Nawaz. It’s a concession  because the latter is far better behind the stumps, while Muneeba is seen as the more adventurous batter. Sidra’s strike rate is 73.28, so the important role of wicket keeper is compromised yet the promise of runs is not fulfilled.

Fellow opener Iram Javed‘s strike rate was just 50.00, compounded by ducks in the first two games. At number three, captain Bismah Maroof topped the runs with 52 – an indicator of just how low the bar has been set – with a strike rate of 65.82. That’s your top order. It just isn’t firing.

There are runs and decent strike rates after that. Nida Dar‘s 50 not out against Barbados was the team’s highest score and scored at 161.29. The next highest score was from Fatima Sana with 35 not out against Australia, at 134.61. Ayesha Naseem is a true striker of the ball and should be opening the batting, but in this tournament left with too much to do and so few deliveries to do it in.
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One talent the top order is missing is the ability to change tempo. A player who has shown she has this ability is Aliya Riaz, yet wasted down the order when she would be more ideally situated at number three where she can dictate the pace of the innings.

This issue with the batting has plagued the team for quite some time and displays a lack of understanding or indeed strategy in this part of the team’s outlook. A little tweaking would make the world of difference if there was a willingness to do so.

Bowling

It was a tough campaign for the bowling group where every bowler except Diana Baig went for more than 6 runs per over. That Diana only bowled 48 out of a possible 72 deliveries is puzzling. Still the premier quick bowler in the team, and that was evident against Australia where she was superb, it beggars belief that she only bowled two thirds of her allotted deliveries while others were getting hammered.
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Normally bankable in the Powerplay, Anam Amin was not at her best and even dropped from the team after two matches. Star on the rise, leg spinner Tuba Hassan was used sparingly. Curious. She’s a wicket taker and wickets were hard to come by.

The best figures were returned by Fatima Sana with 2-41 but even that talented youngster went for runs, going at 9.66 per over. Only five more wickets were taken by the bowling group for a total of seven over three games.

With the bowling group bleeding runs and taking fewer wickets than any other team at the Games, again, why did the most economical bowler fall short of her overs and a proven wicket taker bowl just half? Questions that need an answer.

Fielding

The ground fielding was good for the most part – one expects as much from this team as they have displayed good form in this part of their game over the last couple of years. That only three catches were taken is more a reflection on the bowling and the lack of opportunities created.

Alyssa Healy dropped at slip from the bowling of Diana in the game against Australia is the only dropped chance one can recall so in the main the fielding was good.

Muneeba behind the stumps was fair, without playing a starring role. One wonders what impact it would have on the team if she were allowed to concentrate solely on her batting while bringing Sidra Nawaz and the energy she brings with her behind the stumps?

There are brighter days – very bright indeed – for this team if they can allow themselves the opportunity to address the issues mentioned above. The talent is there. The strategic thinking is not.

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