Mar 302014

Pakistan made light work of Bangladesh on Sunday, winning their World Twenty20 group encounter by 50 runs in Dhaka thanks to a century from Ahmed Shehzad and some experienced pace bowling from Umar Gul.

The result, with Bangladesh failing to reach the 191 required and making just 140 for seven, also saw Australia knocked out of the tournament as they needed the Tigers to win to stay within sem-final reach.

This also means the Pakistan’s next match, against the West Indies, will essentially be a quarter final game, with the winner joining India as the two sides to advance to the final four.

Pakistan batted first and actually didn’t do all that well, aside from Shehzad’s ton. The opener was the only one of the top four to reach double, let alone triple, figures, as Kamran Akmal, Umar Akmal and Mohammad Hafeez all fell cheaply.

But Shehzad was the backbone of the knock, smacking his fifty off 30 balls and his century off 58, sending the ball directly over the ropes five times. He was assisted at the death by Shoaib Malik, who made 26, and then Shahid Afridi, whose 22 came off just nine balls.

The Tigers were pretty much done from the get-go, with Gul removing Tamim Iqbal and Shakib-al-Hasan, and Saeed Afridi also confounding the home batsmen. They were four down for 47 at one point.

Shakib top-scored with 38 off 32 balls, while at the end it was Mahmudullah and Mashrafe Mortaza in the middle, both on 17, when time ran out. Mortaza would want to forget the game though, as he gave up 63 runs in his four overs.

Bangladesh: Tamim Iqbal, Anamul Haque, Shamsur Rahman, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim, Nasir Hossain, Mahmudullah, Ziaur Rahman, Mashrafe Mortaza, Abdur Razzak, Al-Amin Hossain

Pakistan: Kamran Akmal, Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Hafeez, Umar Akmal, Shoaib Malik, Sohaib Maqsood, Shahid Afridi, Sohail Tanvir, Umar Gul, Zulfiqar Babar, Saeed Ajmal

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Jan 182014
Shehzad unhappy with Sri Lanka's 'negative' approach
Ahmed Shehzad reached 50 off 150 balls, Pakistan v Sri Lanka, 3rd Test, Sharjah, 3rd day, January 18, 2014

Ahmed Shehzad was ‘surprised’ by the negative line Sri Lanka bowlers adopted on the third day © AFP

Pakistan might have been conservative with their batting approach on the third day in Sharjah, but their opener Ahmed Shehzad said he was “surprised” by the negative approach adopted by the Sri Lanka bowlers. He stated that the opposition got “afraid” and looked insecure despite having a hefty total on the board.

“I was surprised with their negative approach,” Shehzad said. “Although they had 400-plus runs on the board, they had packed the leg side. But yes there are some captains who are aggressive and then there are some who are defensive.”

Almost throughout the day, Sri Lanka had six fielders on the leg side, letting Pakistan score only 23 runs in the first hour of play.  

Pakistan still trail by 137 runs with four wickets in hand after what was a lengthy and toiling day for scoring runs. They might have shelved their plan to maintain a run rate of around three but still have a lot to do to think of a win. They crawled for most parts of the day and played with caution in the first two sessions but the final session saw fearless attacking as they piled up 122 runs in 31.3 overs.

“It’s Test cricket,” Shehzad said when asked about what took him so long to play his natural game. “Whatever the conditions are, you have to play according to that. We were just playing normal cricket, that’s it. To build any kind of score it’s very important to negotiate the new ball and do well with that. So that was our first plan and to score some runs as well, so yes we did well.”

Pakistan lost four of their batsmen to edges behind the stumps. Azhar Ali took a bizarre review, even though he had edged a ball to slips, only to be struck down and Pakistan continued to struggle with their calls on DRS as day three saw all their reviews being unsuccessful.

Sri Lanka are already up 1-0 in the series and they adopted a safety-first approach. Rangana Herath frustrated the batsmen by bowling outside the leg stump with Shehzad facing 85 balls against him and scoring 37 from them. He negotiated well during his hundred but lost his patience and played an unorthodox reverse sweep to edge the ball onto his stumps.

“It was a tough time [in the end], I was trying to accelerate when my wicket fell,” Shehzad said. “I was set and was seeing the ball well and tried to keep the scoreboard going, my wicket fell at a very difficult time. I think I should have stayed and scored more runs for the team. Had I not been dismissed, we would not have lost three wickets at a time which is difficult for any batsman.

“We had to move the scoreboard, we had no other choice. We had lost one match, it’s a do-or-die match for us. But they can’t bowl us out with negative bowling in a proper Test match, it’s not possible. They were afraid after lunch that we would go after their bowling.”

Along with the acceleration, Pakistan lost four wickets in the final session. Shehzad said he was not very optimistic about the result of the match. “The captain is playing and I hope he knows better than me,” he said. “I think we should play two more sessions and equal their score, that’s the present target. I think we will play normal cricket and we will try to come back into the match and then go for a result.”

Jan 182014
Shehzad hits fifty as Pakistan reach 169

SHARJAH (United Arab Emirates): Opener Ahmed Shehzad scored a fighting half-century to guide Pakistan to 169-2 at tea on the third day of the third and final Test against Sri Lanka in Sharjah on Saturday.ScorecardThe right-handed opener was unbeaten on…

Jan 062014
Whatmore rues Pakistan's complacency
Ahmed Shehzad drives through the off side, Pakistan v Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Abu Dhabi, 5th day, January 4, 2014

Dav Whatmore: “Debutant Ahmed Shehzad had a pretty good game and he knows that” © AFP

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Dav Whatmore, on his final assignment as Pakistan’s head coach, picked out complacency on the part of his side as one of the main reasons for the first Test against Sri Lanka ending in a tame draw.

Pakistan had dominated the first three days of the Test in nearly all departments, but their bowlers were unable to close out Sri Lanka in the second innings. Angelo Mathews struck a career-best 157 not out to help his side draw the game. “It wasn’t the batting collapse [of the lower order in the first innings]. It was a case of thinking it would be easy,” Whatmore said. “The boys batted extremely well but everyone was thinking that it will be easy thereafter, despite talking about it and letting each other know that more hard work had to be done.”

Pakistan started well in their first innings courtesy centuries from captain Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan, but slipped from a strong 301 for 3 to finish 383 all out. “At that point, there were still nine sessions in the game and the reality is that we lost regular wickets. We could have got more runs but we left the door open.”

Whatmore was appointed head coach in March 2012 and Pakistan are yet to win a Test series under him, and have been successful in only two out of 11 matches during his tenure. He was eager to correct those statistics, especially in his last chance to do so. “[The goal is] obviously to win, particularly against Sri lanka, the team I coached for six years,” he said with a genial smile. “It is my country of birth and I am keen on doing well against them. Some of them are very good friends but when I enter the field we are enemies, so I am keen to finish the stint with a win.

“It [Abu Dhabi] was a decent Test pitch but day three was the turning point for both teams, in a negative way for us and positive way for them,” he said. “They had us under a bit of pressure in their second innings, but still we did a pretty good job and with little bit of luck – had we not lost Ahmed Shehzad [in the chase] – we may have certainly thought about going on to win the match.”

Pakistan’s search for a resolute pair at the top of the order has been a long and arduous affair, but Whatmore was pleased to note how Shehzad, on Test debut, showed his credentials to open the batting.

“There have been so many positives to take through to the Dubai Test. Our top-order batting carried on with the form they had been in in the recent limited-overs series. Debutant Ahmed Shehzad had a pretty good game and he knows that and young [Bilawal] Bhatti demonstrated that he’s got the ability to take wickets.

“We wanted to sort out the top order sooner rather than later. One of the areas of concern was negotiating the new ball and we did that well. We didn’t lose a wicket until say 20 overs and they [openers] made good contributions, but we need consistency.”

With the second Test beginning on Wednesday, Pakistan chose to rest the bowlers who played in Abu Dhabi at training. Whatmore has placed the onus on them to pick up 20 wickets.

Saeed Ajmal, an important factor in that regard, went wicketless in 49 second-innings overs, but Whatmore was quick to support his ace offspinner. “I don’t think it [Ajmal’s performance] was a worry, it was a combination of the difficulties he faced extracting something out of the wicket as well as opposition playing very well,” he said. With Dubai traditionally known to provide turn, Whatmore also hinted at Abdur Rehman getting a game, “but we have to look at the pitch. It rained today in Dubai and the weather changed so we have to look at the pitch.”

Whatmore was wary about Sri Lanka’s skill at playing spin but reiterated that the nature of the pitch would have a major say in the team selection. “Well, you can say that but I am a firm believer that regardless of who you play against, it [the composition] depends on what pitch you play on. The nature of the pitch determines what combination you play.”

Oct 302013
South Africa Take Thrilling One-Run Win
Wednesday 30 October 2013 

by John Pennington

Wayne Parnell was instrumental with bat and ball as South Africa beat Pakistan by one run in Sharjah

REUTERS / Action Images

South Africa 183 (Parnell 56, Saeed Ajmal 4-30) beat
Pakistan 182 (Ahmed Shehzad 58) by 1 run
First One-Day International, Sharjah

Pakistan collapsed from 165 for four to 182 all out as South Africa won the first One-Day International in Sharjah by one run.

There was little hint of the drama to come as they looked to be making serene progress towards victory until Wayne Parnell, Imran Tahir and Morne Morkel bowled South Africa to a dramatic win.

The Proteas had also collapsed during their innings, slipping to 63 for five but thanks to Parnell’s 56 in 70 balls, were able to mount a recovery, and eventually reach 183 before they were bowled out. And that proved to be enough.

Mohammad Irfan struck with the second ball of the day to remove opener Colin Ingram without scoring before Graeme Smith and JP Duminy both made 20.

However, Pakistan had the South Africans on the ropes as Faf du Plessis (12), AB de Villiers (4) and Ryan McLaren (8) fell cheaply.

It took Parnell and David Miller (37) to take the Proteas past the 100-run mark and although Shahid Afridi  (3-37) struck to remove Morkel for four, Parnell found support from Lonwabo Tsotsobe, who made 16 not out in 42 balls to frustrate Pakistan.

Their 52-run partnership for the ninth wicket effectively turned the game into a no-contest into a match with the potential to deliver some entertainment.

Parnell, who hit six fours and a six, fell when he was caught by Ahmed Shehzad off Saeed Ajmal (4-30) and the innings came to an end when Tahir was dismissed by Sohail Tanvir for one.

Like South Africa, Pakistan also lost an opener without scoring when Morkel had Nasir Jamshed caught by Miller for a 12-ball duck.

They responded strongly through Ahmed Shehzad’s 58, Mohammad Hafeez’s 28, Misbah-ul-Haq’s 31 and Umar Amin’s 20 before the wheels came off.

In the 41st over, Amin fell to make the score 165 for five as Tsotsobe had him caught behind by de Villiers. Even at that point, Pakistan were favourites to score the 19 runs they required to win the game, but they couldn’t manage it.

Umar Akmal fell one ball after Amin for 18, trapped in front by Tahir and Tanvir followed six ball later for two when he was caught by de Villiers of Tsotsobe (2-28).

174 for seven and 10 required to win became 176 for eight when Afridi was caught by Miller off Tahir. Three runs later Wahab Riaz (0) was trapped in front by the leg-spinner and South Africa were back in the game – perhaps for the first time since Jamshed had fallen.

Ajmal (1 not out) and Irfan (2) managed to nudge their way to 182, and the point when one more run would have levelled the scores, but they couldn’t get there, South African celebrations beginning when Irfan was bowled by Morkel.

The two sides meet again in game two of the series in Dubai on 2nd November.

© Cricket World 2013

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