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Pakistan batsmen succumb to their weaknesses again

IT is not unusual for Pakistan batting in recent times to fall in disgrace against pace and bounce and it wasn’t any different here at Newlands for them to be bowled out once again without reaching a respectable score and make a case for their defense of the series.

For our batsmen, whether they bat first or at the end, the story seems to have been pre-scripted — just walk in and be decimated — and that is what they did on Thursday too. They failed to face the South African pacers with any degree of of self-belief or confidence which is the basis of all successful batsmen in the game’s history.

I remember that on my last visit to Newlands five years ago, when watching Pakistan practice in the nets, I suggested to Azhar Ali to ask the bowlers to bowl him short during practice and bounce at him so that he could learn to duck and sway away from rising deliveries.

To be successful at any level as a batsman these skills are obviously of prime importance whether one is opening the innings for that matter batting at the frontline of the order.

Five years later unfortunately neither him nor any other batsman in the team that I see has learnt the art to duck, sway away or pull and hook at deliveries coming at them at chest or head height.

From openers Fakhar Zaman, to Imam-ul-Haq and the rest, the story of their dismissals were identical as was with last man Shaheen Afridi who gloved the ball to the wicket-keeper.

When Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan were part of this jittery combination of batsmen, at least there was some sanity in their manner of handling the bowlers, but disappointingly not now.

The South African pace battery of Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada, Vernon Philander and their new star Duanne Olivier are lethal when on song, and if one is technically not sound, it is better to leave deliveries rising at them.

Only Shan Masood showed his improved skills to last for his 44 and later captain Sarfraz Ahmed scored a rare half century. The rest including the experienced Azhar and Asad Shafiq appeared in no control while handling the pace quartet employed by Faf du Plessis.

The way Pakistan, after being put in have batted, does not encourage me to say the result of this game could be any different from the one we lost at Centurion but at least the patient crowd have been enjoying the sunshine and the backdrop of the splendid Table Mountain and the aura this venue presents.

Nor there is any likelihood of any controversy which rocked the Test played here last March when Cameron Bancroft was caught red-handed while tampering with the ball with a piece of sandpaper.

An incident which resulted in banishment of Bancroft, his then captain Steve Smith and David Warner for being involved in the plot. The highly embarrassed Cricket Australia banned them from the game.

For not being able to handle a barrage of rising deliveries I don’t suppose the PCB would take such harsh action. This is a kind of shortcoming amongst the Pakistan batsmen which has to be ironed out.

For this obviously the batsmen have to analyze themselves to stay in the game and save Pakistan from another humiliation.

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