KARACHI: Former spin maestro Saeed Ajmal has called on Pakistan’s bowlers to deliver the goods going into the second ODI against New Zealand after they conceded more than 300 runs in the first game.
The Men in Green ultimately lost that game at Wellington by 61 runs on the Duckworth-Lewis method in a rain-affected match that saw the visitors struggle with both bat and ball. “In the practice match, the openers did well and put a strong base for the remaining pack but in the first ODI Azhar Ali’s wicket early on meant they could not do so this time around,” said Ajmal, while talking to the media.
However, the former off-spinner felt the middle-order should have done more out there in the middle as well. “Babar Azam, Muhammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik all lost their wickets within the first 10 overs, which of course meant the chase was realistically over very early on. Had Azhar, who has so much experience behind him, or Babar, who is one of the finest batsmen in the world at the moment, stayed out there in the middle with Fakhar then the situation may well have been very different.” Ajmal also praised the Black Caps for successfully stifling Pakistan. “New Zealand knew that Pakistan won the Champions Trophy in similar conditions in England so they had to nullify the visitors; and they did that very well.”
The 40-year-old was critical of Shadab Khan though, feeling that the leg-spinner should have provided Pakistan with vital breakthroughs in the middle of the New Zealand innings. “Shadab can be a very effective bowler but he was unable to claim even a single wicket,” he said. “The coaching staff and the captain need to look into this.” Pakistan’s most successful bowler on the day was Hasan Ali, who capped a stellar 2017 by finishing as the world’s best ODI bowler, but Ajmal believes even the 23-year-old pacer has room to improve going into the second match.
“Pakistan will need to overcome the mistakes they committed in the first game if they are to claim the second ODI,” he said. “Hasan took wickets but he was also quite expensive. Pakistan cannot afford to let the hosts score more than 300 if New Zealand once again bat first.” Former chief selector Sallahuddin Sallu was critical of Pakistan’s effort in the field. “In recent times we have had some good fielding displays; the youngsters are very active in the field and have great fitness.
However, this was not one of those displays,” he said. “Having said that, Pakistan have the ability to come back strongly and win the next game; they had won nine on the trot before this one so they shouldn’t let their confidence dip just because of one poor outing.”