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For all the Pakistan fans who were seeing their team in national colors after almost a 2-month gap, it was frustrating. The meager crowd in the Sharjah stadium was shouting its heart out, but nothing was happening.
Six of Pakistan’s first choice players were rested after the PSL. So, it is assumed they will just walk into the playing XI for the World Cup. And most players in the playing XI yesterday seemed to be playing for their places in the World Cup squad, and not for victory.
Shan Masood and Imam started comfortably, but were in no rush to score. Their strike rates were in the sixties when they finally got out. No other team has two openers who score so slowly. And even after such a slow start, both got out tamely.
Then there was a 98-run stand between Haris Sohail and Umar Akmal in 18.3 overs. Right throughout the middle overs. It felt like they were trying to get some game time and runs under their belt and justify their selections for the big event. Umar waited on the bad balls and hit 3 sixes but there was no rush to take the scoring rate above five until the 45th over. Umar seemed obsessed to get at least a half century and finally that got the better of him and he fell for 48.
Haris played till the end scoring 101 off 115, his strike rate improved at the end because of the few edges that flew for fours. By modern standards, this is very poor for a guy who was at the crease for more than 40 overs. But it appeared all he wanted was a maiden hundred.
Finally, when Imad stepped in with a cameo, 28 off 15, to get Pakistan to a respectable 280, it seemed good on a sluggish pitch. But their bowling was flatter than the pitch, they never threatened to take any wicket, both wickets that fell were off mishits. After Khawaja’s miscue in the 12th over, Shaun Marsh and Aaron Finch had some nice batting practice, milking the Pakistan bowling and getting their form back because the Pakistanis were in no mood to fight for the win. They seemed detached and indifferent, happily letting the game drift away from them.
It appears that Pakistan has taken this series to be an audition for the World Cup. But at the end, when a loss was inevitable and there were some fielding mistakes, the ever-expressive Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur’s face reddened. We have to wait and watch if he can make them fight in the next game for the team victory, rather than for their places in the squad.
Aus – 281/2 in 49 overs (Finch 116, Marsh 91*; Abbas 1-44) chased
Pak – 280/5 in 50 overs (Haris 101*, Umar 48; Coulter-Nile 2-61)