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Pakistan win but creases remain

No end to opening woes as the team management continues to support out-of-form batsman Jamshed.

Written by Sriram Veera | Napier |
Updated: March 5, 2015 9:07:14 am
Pakistan, Pakistan vs UAE, UAE vs Pakinstan, Pak vs UAE, UAE vs Pak, World Cup 2015, Cricket World Cup 2015, Cricket Pakistan will take this 129-run win against the UAE though and understandably so. (Source: AP)

His burly frame went down slowly, his left leg bent as he crouched into a conventional fielding position at third man. The ball, though, was out to embarrass him and squeezed through his frame. Nasir Jamshed somehow managed to turn around in quick time and dived to stop the ball from crossing the boundary. (Full Coverage| Points table| Fixtures)

A sparse crowd that had turned up at Napier to watch an extremely dull game between Pakistan and UAE laughed. Some in the press-pack quickly checked their twitter app to see if his parody account comes up with a wisecrack. Meanwhile, the big screen showed a replay cuing more laughter.

What’s the line between backing a player by giving him chances through a horrendous run and cruelty by wringing him through public humiliation and thus, destroying whatever confidence is left? Pakistan team management is living on that line with Jamshed. Some might say they have already veered towards the latter. The thing is this move doesn’t just seem to be a case of backing a player in trouble as much a desperate hope.

The curious case of Jamshed and Sarfraz Ahmed is a good frame to view the muddled state of Pakistan cricket. It will take a real foolishly brave man to give Jamshed another go in their next game against South Africa and it will be cruel if Sarfraz Ahmed, the man who can replace Jamshed, is judged harshly if he fails against South Africa. Assuming he is now given a go, that is.

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Things could have been so much simpler if Pakistan had done the sensible thing to give Sarfraz a go against the UAE. But if things were so simple, then it wouldn’t be Pakistan. Right?

Their coach Waqar Younis added to the chaos. “Sarfraz is a wicket-keeper batsman who bats down the order and we don’t have a third opener.” And of course the questioner, who had wanted to know why Sarfraz was again not picked, pointed out that he was picked as the third opener for this World Cup.

“That’s your opinion,” Waqar replied. The Pakistan journalists very politely informed Waqar that it was the opinion of the chief selector after the squad was announced.

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Waqar recovered magnificently, though. Without betraying any emotion, he went, “He might have said that, he would have said that, but you also have to see the conditions here.” Which is, of course, a fair point. As Waqar himself said earlier, you can’t be harsh on a talent like Sarfraz by exposing him as an opener against South Africa. But then why wouldn’t you give him that chance against the UAE, give him some confidence. Waqar did have the answer: The management doesn’t view Sarfraz as third opener.

Pakistan will take this 129-run win against the UAE though and understandably so. Waqar had a big smile when he said, “I will take this win at the moment, yes.”

The top order had looked shaky. Both men who scored — Ahmed Shehzad and Harris Sohail — had dropped chances, and looked pretty patchy for quite a while before the bowling eased out and they prospered. It didn’t make for pretty viewing but Waqar and Co weren’t complaining.

The big test

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It’s not as if Waqar is whistling in joy and turning a blind eye to the way the team is clinching these unconvincing victories.

“I still feel that we need to win against a bigger opponent to really tell the world that we are around. Two victories, fair enough but we need to do well against South Africa. The body language of the team has changed because a win always makes you feel comfortable and confident but, yeah, we need to beat a bigger opponent.”

Pakistan play South Africa on March 7 in Auckland and it will be the time to show that these two wins have helped them get better.

Belatedly, Pak join the 300 club at WC’15

NAPIER: Pakistan finally joined the 300 club at theWorld Cup on Wednesday, scoring 339-6 and holding the UAE to 210-8 to complete a 129-run win in Pool B which improved its chances of progressing to the quarterfinals. Ahmed Shehzad scored 93 and Haris Sohail contributed 70 in a 160-run second-wicket stand which helped Pakistan recover from a hesistant start, then captain Misbah-ul-Haq (65) and Sohaib Maqsood, who hit 45 from 31 balls, helped add 124 from the last 10 overs.

Pakistan was out for 224 in losing to India by 76 runs, 160 in losing to the West Indies by 150 runs and 235-7 in beating Zimbabwe by 20 runs. Its failures with the bat were more glaring at in a tournament in which teams have surpassed 400 twice and 300 12 times in 24 matches. If Pakistan had won Wednesday’s match by more than 144 runs it would have moved ahead of the West Indies on net run rate, further improving its chances of qualifying from a tight group. But it had to win first and foremost, with difficult matches remaining against South Africa at Auckland on Saturday and against Ireland, which also remains in quarterfinal contention. “That was a much-needed win for us and obviously we won by a margin so we can relax a little bit that we improved,” Misbah said. “But the next game is very, very important and I think we need to focus on that.”

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Pakistan may have suffered a setback ahead of the match against South Africa when giant fast bowler Mohammad Irfan limped from the field after bowling only three overs, with what appeared to be a hamstring strain. The loss of the 7-foot-1 Irfan from Pakistan’s already-depleted bowling lineup would be a heavy blow. (AP)

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First published on: 05-03-2015 at 02:51:14 am

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