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Pakistan walking a tightrope

cricket Updated: Mar 10, 2011 00:35 IST
Amol Karhadkar
Amol Karhadkar
Hindustan Times
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A problem of plenty is one of the clichés used whenever cricketers and coaches are asked about multiple options while finalising the XI. Pakistan, being as unique as they are, don't really have options to choose from.

With two matches remaining in the group stages, Shahid Afridi's men have a problem of plenty in terms of the "areas to work on" during the five-day gap before the match against Zimbabwe.

That they went into the game against New Zealand with a clean slate was a combination of luck and the individual brilliance of Afridi. Barring the opening victory against Kenya, they were far from being table toppers during scratchy victories over Sri Lanka and Canada.

On Tuesday, none of the three departments got working. Despite Umar Gul bowling an exceptional spell, the rest of the bowlers offered full-tosses liberally. Naturally, Ross Taylor and Co made full use to compile a plethora of records as New Zealand leaped from 210 for six after 46 overs to 302 for seven in 50.

When it came to batting, barring Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan, the rest made up the numbers. It wasn't surprising that the batsmen crumbled against two tall swing bowlers, who made full use of the evening breeze. Then, there was Kamran Akmal and his catastrophic missed behind the stumps.

More than the 110-run loss, the deficiencies were visible during altercations on the field. In fact, Afridi appeared to be so upset with his bowlers for not bowling to the field that he preferred to stay at the long-on boundary during the closing stages.

Coach Waqar Younis was honest in admitting to the problems. "It's certainly a big defeat," he said. "We have been performing badly in several areas. We haven't been batting well. We haven't bowled well and our fielding has been bad. But I must say there is no need to panic. We have five days to work on our mistakes and make sure that we don't repeat them."

If Pakistan get their act together and even make it to the last eight, they would be far from singing "All Izz Well" going into the knockout stage.