LAHORE: Chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq on Saturday said Pakistan’s batsmen lacked in aggression while its bowlers might have been fatigued because of which the team experienced a whitewash in the three-Test series against Australia
The former captain, however, expressed hope that Pakistan will be faring better in the upcoming ODI series Down Under as many fresh and talented players are in the squad and are determined to do well under skipper Azhar Ali.
Talking to Dawn on Saturday, Inzamam was quite candid in his views about Pakistan’s sluggish show in Tests. “First of all we couldn’t play well under pressure and twice our batsmen failed to hold their nerve for even two sessions of the day which is quite unfortunate,” he said.
“Even when they were in strong position, our batsmen could not show aggression. In Brisbane they scored with an average of 3.1 and were even slower in Melbourne. The Australians on the other hand were aggressive, scoring at times at almost eight runs an over,” he observed.
“When you go on the defensive, it allows the opposition bowlers to dominate you and that’s what happened with our team.”
“Our key batsmen like Younis Khan, Asad Shafiq and others just played a couple of good knocks in the three Test series and only Azhar Ali was consistent with more good knocks. As for Misbah, he failed to play even a single good innings,” lamented Inzamam. “Now if that is the standard of our consistency, it is not good enough at the international level.”
“Our bowlers might have been experiencing fatigue as no bowler could take five wickets in an innings which was sorry to see,” he added. “Our main bowlers have been playing regularly in the last three series and the fatigue could have affected their performance.”
“We have also been overtly relying on leg-spinner Yasir Shah, who had emerged as our main bowler in the past few series. But he failed miserably in Australia and generally all our bowlers conceded too many runs,” Inzamam pointed out. “I feel that the bowlers, if they were not getting wickets, should have at least tried to control the flow of runs but that did not happen.”
When asked why skipper Misbah looked out of sorts on the field despite being a mentally strong person, Inzamam said: “Look, when your team is not performing and you are also struggling with the bat, the pressure is doubled and Misbah is also passing through the same situation.”
However, when asked whether Misbah would be able to come out of this grim situation at a ripe age of 42, Inzamam avoided a detailed reply and simply said, “it is up to Misbah.”
The head of selectors, though, lamented the fact that head coach Mickey Arthur could not stay in Pakistan for a longer period to watch and groom the back-up players. But he added that during the Pakistan Super League (PSL), he would sit with Arthur to short-list the best boys from the back up pool and will hold a training camp for them in Lahore.
“Yes, we can introduce new faces in the Pakistan team in the coming series, but only after polishing them in the training camp at Lahore which should enable them to face international pressure with more authority and composure,” he said.
Commenting on the morale of the ODI team ahead of the five-match series against Australia and how it could be boosted, Inzamam said it was up to captain Azhar and head coach Arthur how they work with the boys to prepare them for the tough assignment. “But we have a good number of new and fresh players Down Under for the ODI series and it should be treated like a new challenge, though it will not be easy to shrug off the Test whitewash.
On the thorny issue of team management having its way in calling leg-spinner Mohammad Asghar as back-up for injured Yasir, Inzamam admitted that the bowler should have been tested since the team management had specifically asked for him.
He also agreed that as per the professional ethics, the team management should not demand any player by name but by his profile as spinner, fast bowler or batsman. “But I accepted the team management’s demand, believing that the captain and coach may have solid reasons to trust Asghar’s ability as a possible match-winner,” he said.
The first of the five ODI matches will be played in Brisbane on Jan 13.