Sarfran Ahmed, one of Pakistan’s overnight batsmen coming into day four, was out to a tame shot © AFP
If you Google “Pakistan batting collapse”, you will find dozens of results. Batting lapses are a recurring feature for the team, with hardly a series going by without their batsman being rattled. They became the No. 1 Test team this year, but the ride to the top was not always smooth, featuring quite a few such slides.
In another example of this, Pakistan suffered collapses in both innings against West Indies in Sharjah, making a dead rubber a compelling contest. On Wednesday they lost five wickets for 33 runs, setting West Indies a target of 153 runs in five sessions. It did not look good for Pakistan but the game taken a 180-degree turn when their bowlers five quick wickets to shake the chase. Once again, though, the match swung with Kraigg Brathwaite and Shane Dowrich’s unbroken stand of 47, which left West Indies needing 39 on the final day with five wickets in hand.
The day started with batsmen Azhar Ali and Sarfraz Ahmed at the crease; both were out to soft dismissals, before Mohammad Amir seemed to indulge in a bit of slapstick to be run out. It seemed like, more than West Indies tripping up Pakistan, a touch of laziness and complacency was plunging them into trouble.
Head coach Mickey Arthur put their batting troubles down to “fatigue”. He dismissed comments on complacency, though he did admit that it felt like their job was already done coming into this Test with the scoreline 2-0. “We haven’t been at our best in this Test match and we will continue to talk about it,” he said. “We didn’t meet our standards but I can’t fault the players. They have been here for eight weeks now after having a 10-day break after a very long UK tour. And it was almost mission accomplished for us before this Test match.
“I think we should have been way more patient with the bat. West Indies’ tactics were good, they set us up and made us make mistakes but then we gave them opportunity to do so. This got us in trouble in these conditions particularly, where we needed to score big in the first innings. We didn’t do that and ultimately that put us under pressure for the rest of the Test match.”
He said that Pakistan were by no means out of the match, though. “Maybe a bit of fatigue has crept into our performance. We really wanted to win every Test match, every game we play, and this game is not over by any stretch of the imagination. We would like to be more clinical and it’s a pity that we got ourselves into this situation, but we still can get ourselves out of this.”
The Pakistan selectors have already retained this squad, with minor changes, for the upcoming tour of New Zealand. The squad will travel straight to New Zealand from the UAE, flying out on Friday. When asked how the fatigue factor would affect them on that tour, and the series against Australia after that, Arthur said: “When I talk about fatigue, it’s about the whole package: it’s about playing against same opponent, being in a one hotel all the time, playing in the same conditions, at a ground that we know well.
“We certainly need a refresh, we need to get into a different environment, need to think about the good cricket we have played and reassess where we want to be in the two massive series that we are going to play.”
Pakistan play two Tests in New Zealand starting on November 17, before three Tests and five ODIs in Australia from December 15.
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo’s Pakistan correspondent. @kalson
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo