“But with performances like the ones in New Zealand this series, Pakistan do themselves no justice. A turnaround to their woes outside the sub-continent seems pretty far away at the moment”.

Jan 26, 2007 – South Africa vs Pakistan – Cape Town

It was Pakistan’s second innings and the sensational Dale Steyn had Mohammad Hafeez in all sorts of trouble in the first innings before Makhaya Ntini reaped the rewards with his wicket the first time around. This time, though, Hafeez had no way of getting out of Steyn’s way. The banana swing, shaping away from ‘The Professor’ was too much of a temptation to let by. Hafeez pushed at it and the edge carried to backward point.

The day marked the beginning of a long, frustrating, fruitless one-sided battle between Dale Steyn and Mohammad Hafeez. In the next six years, Steyn would go on to dismantle Hafeez with his unerring accuracy, scrambled seam movement and swing. Hafeez was at best a tail-ender against Steyn’s craftsmanship. He faced the Phalaborwa Express 28 times in International cricket, got out to him 15 times with seven of them ending up in the hands of the keeper or the slip cordon.

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It reveals the kind of loose technique and abysmal temperament he has in conditions that don’t suit his style of batting. It is almost eleven years since Steyn first exploited Hafeez’s weakness outside the off-stump but little has changed.

At Dunedin, against New Zealand in the final ODI of the three-match series, Hafeez appeared clueless against Dale Steyn’s IPL teammate, Trent Boult.

“Dale is an experienced campaigner and the best fast bowler in the world. To see him practice and learning from him has been fantastic”, Boult had once said during an IPL campaign.

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Whatever he picked up from Steyn, dismissing Hafeez seems to be one of them. The Pakistan opener turned middle-order batsman was befuddled by a peach of a delivery from Boult, one that shaped away from him and took an edge on its way to first slip. It was a four-ball duck for Hafeez and Pakistan’s innings went absolutely nowhere since then.


Few months after a stunning, successful Champions Trophy campaign, Pakistan’s inconsistency and temperament is once again under the microscope after an unprecedented collapse at Dunedin in the final ODI of the New Zealand series saw them succumb to 16/6 and 32/8 with the lowest ever ODI score – Zimbabwe’s 35 against Sri Lanka – under immense threat.

Hafeez’s presence in the Pakistan side despite his flawed technique and mind-numbingly scanty temperament that Steyn exposed years ago, is in a way a reflection of Pakistan’s inadequacy as a cricket side.

There is the odd glimmer of hope arising from a 37 ball hundred or a blistering century in the Champions Trophy final or a scintillating spell in a World Cup match against Australia, but overall, as a cricketing nation, with the kind of talent that the World at times envies, Pakistan have been shoddy.

Below par. No, downright pathetic.  

Their 74 all-out was the third worst total they had registered in ODI cricket. Despite boasting of a number of talented players, Pakistan were found short of resilience and resolve, qualities of paramount importance on these kinds of surfaces.

Their record against the Kiwis speak for itself. They have lost their last nine encounters against the Black Caps and four successive bilateral series’. In this series, none of their top seven batsmen, except Fakhar Zaman, averaged above 30. More than the sheer lack of runs, the mode of dismissals and lack of control at the crease stood out like a sore thumb.

“Our batting flopped again. We will sit together again before Hamilton and try to sort it out. Our problems have come against the new ball. Will look not to give too many wickets away in first 10 overs”, Sarfraz Ahmed had said after the collapse on Saturday.

Pakistan have never been a batting team. Even in the finals of arguably their best World Cup campaign, the 1992 Benson & Hedges Cup, Pakistan got 249 courtesy blistering knocks from Inzamam-ul-Haq and Wasim Akram towards the end. It was their extraordinary skills with the ball that enabled them to scythe through a Graham Gooch-led England line-up and churn out an unforeseen victory.

It isn’t that Pakistan haven’t had great batsmen. In fact, they boast of some of the best batting talents the World has seen. But clicking in sync just isn’t Pakistan. More than their inconsistency, the utter paucity of maturity in their approach to an innings stands out.

Given their history, the Champions Trophy win was an unlikely high, particularly since they had scraped through and qualified for the tournament just ahead of the Windies.


But with performances like the ones in New Zealand this series, Pakistan do themselves no justice. A turnaround to their woes outside the sub-continent seems pretty far away at the moment. Trent Boult’s scintillating opening spell was probably all about his class in these conditions but Pakistan’s shoddy temperament played its part in the horror collapse Dunedin witnessed.


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