England break the jinx
The figures spoke for themselves. Only his Essex and England mentor, Graham Gooch, has made a higher England one-day score against Pakistan, it went on. And now his prodigy, Cook, surpassed that. Extremely delighted expressions were seen in the English media itself. Naturally, England had recovered from the debris of their exalted reputation, having been torn to shreds. They seem a heart broken side, but one week gap between the Test matches, and the start of these shorter versions of the game, enabled them to do their homework. However, not much could be said yet about their plans to have succeeded. Minus Cook, and the century partnership with his Essex colleague Ravi Bopara, who living in Cook shadow, managed a 50, there was nothing in England score of 260 for 7.
But while all praise to Alastair Cook is due for his marvelous 137 off 142 balls, an equally vehement, it not bigger, credit goes to young Saeed Ajmal too, for his career best 5-wicket haul. Until his 7th over, he had remained unrewarded, but then finished with a remarkable feat of 5 for 15 in his last 23 balls. He performed that feat after champion Shahid Afridi had sent back Kevin Pieterson and Jonathan Trot on successive deliveries to pour cold water on the England good star of 57.
Both were beaten by orthodox leg spin and googlie, which Trot was unable to read. His woeful tale has continued to haunt him throughout the series. Afridi was superb in his guiles, beating the batsmen with his line and length and variety, but Cook, and later Swann extracted considerable runs off him. All part of the game. Afridi had done his job. The Afridi-Ajmal combination stopped England from going higher up. Together, the two Pakistani bowlers shattered the rivals dream of making it 190 or 300, which looked within sight at one stage.
The first of the 4 ODIs would also be remembered for England recovery from their hapless batting debacles in Test matches, to a great recovery in the 50-over games. Simultaneously it would see Ravi Bopara playing a solid knock to remind his countryís selectors and tour management that ignoring him in Test matches, proved costly, and reflected on their reputation. Bopara displayed concentration and hit at loose ones with considerable ease and comfort. Yet another English folly was the sidelining of tall Steven Finn. He was never tested as reliance was more heavy for Test skipper Andrew Strauss on Anderson and Broad. But Finn, who was used as drink carrier during Test matches, showed the ignoring him earlier, was a mistake by the team management. He in an incisive new ball burst of 4 for 20, virtually broke the back of the Pakistan batting.
Question then arises here about Shoaib Malik being preferred over Ahmad Shahzad. Malik has been out of touch for several months. He failed with bat and ball both. True, the entire Pakistan batting line up just crumbled like house of cards for a paltry 130, half of the rivalís total, but then Rehmanís left arm spin, could have restricted England to perhaps a lower score. Rehman had done enormously well, beyond expectations in Test matches, and yet ignoring him for ODIs, when Englandís weaknesses to spin bowling had been thoroughly exposed, is something, which cannot be easily explained. Misbahul Haqís reputation as captain has soared sky high, but his preferences for friends, may not only dent but damage that badly.
He has to be cautious and keep his personal likes or loyalties away from casting aspersion on his ability to lead. Umar Akmalís performance as wicket-keeper also needs to be reviewed very minutely. He just can not move to left side. His gathering of the ball also suffers from inherent defects. Left too many byes, and let out a stumping chance also.
These minuses would not allow Pakistan to be on top. Pakistani players need to concentrate on nets. Their fielding and throw also need proper attention.A run out chance was let go, and none of the throws hit the stumps.
At times these throws were wide off the mark, away from the fielders, guarding the wickets but had to shake their heads in disappointments by seeing the throw going away from them instead of coming to the stumps. One such throw, could not even reach the target, and had to be re-thrown by a second fielder. These are not minor points. Such lapses can not make a team great.