Pakistan find themselves in a bit of hot water after losing by a big margin to England. They now need to win big against the Netherlands to avoid the embarrassment of getting eliminated in the early stages of a premier tournament.
A lot of Pakistan’s problems were self-inflicted. I was surprised that they decided to go without Sohail Tanvir on the grounds of him being off-colour in the warm-up games. Tanvir is a proven performer, and the purpose of warm-up games is to make off-colour bowlers get back into rhythm. He would have been hard to put away in overcast conditions, with his nippy pace and unusual action.
England took full toll of the pace and predictability of Yasir Arafat as well as of the inexperience of the raw Mohammad Aamer.
The hosts were under immense pressure to do well after their last-ball loss to the Netherlands, and they dominated the game from the start. It was due to the guile and experience of Umar Gul that England did not reach 200.
Kevin Pietersen was exceptional, and once again showed that he performs when it matters. The England unit looked determined to do well, and full marks to them for coming through.
Once the run chase started, there seemed to be no thought as to who should bat where. Misbah-ul Haq came below Shahid Afridi when the latter has been going through a prolonged run drought. Afridi has been doing well with the ball in both 50-overs and T20, but he has been very poor with the bat of late. Misbah, on the other hand, has been quite consistent in the few games Pakistan have played, and needed more balls to face. When he came in, the asking rate was over 12 an over. I do not subscribe to the theory of holding back your best batsmen since it is always easier to avert a batting crisis rather than to bat in a crisis.
Pakistan need to look ahead to Tuesday’s game, which they should win easily. The only worry is that with all teams on the same points, net run rate will come into the picture. Pakistan have to ensure that they win by a big margin so that they can go ahead. I would expect them to accomplish this. If they do make it to the next stage, Younis Khan should ensure that his best strikers get the maximum balls to face.