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“What will be more worrying for the Pakistani team management, apart from such depressing stats, is the impact that such a merciless drubbing can have on the mental levels of the players”

Trent Bridge, Nottingham – the ground which boasts of being the most batsmen friendly surface in the whole United Kingdom. A ground which has seen an average scoring rate of 6.10 runs per over in the ODIs played in the last decade – easily the best among all the English decks. The very same Trent Bridge was expected to unfurl yet another hitting spectacle in what was the second game of the mega event.

The expectations were fully justified as the two teams locking horns i.e. Pakistan and West Indies had ample arsenal in their reserves to produce the desired run-fest for the Trent Bridge crowd. Yet what unfolded in the end, was an utter disappointment for the cricketing fans as the Pakistani batsmen wrote an epic failure story on what was perceived to be a run-filled deck.

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Before the start of their World Cup campaign, Pakistan were given a kind of extended warm-up opportunity in the form of a 5-match ODI series against the hosts England. Though they were whitewashed 4-0 in that series, they had some really good positives to take heart from that series loss. They crossed the 300-run mark in three of their four possible innings in the series while falling short by just three runs on the fourth occasion. So, at least their batting was believed to be very well oiled for this clash.

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On the other side of the spectrum lay Jason Holder’s men who were relying on their aggressive and flamboyant brand of cricket to sound danger alarms for the perceived favorites for the World Cup glory. This aggression was very much visible today in each of the craft they undertook on the Nottingham field. They bowled with a lot of intensity and fire and batted with great intent too to make a mockery of the already meagre total managed by the Pakistanis.

Pakistan came into this match with a winless record in their previous 11-ODI encounters and when they were put into bat, their openers signaled an intent to shrug off the winless streak but the West Indian pacers, who had done their homework well, had some other plans. It all started with the dismissal of Imam-ul-Haq on the last ball of the third over when he tried to pull a rank bad half-tracker from Sheldon Cottrell but ended up gloving it to Shai Hope behind the stumps. It was perhaps the only ‘unlucky’ dismissal of the Pakistani inning.

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Even after the dismissal of Imam, Fakhar Zaman continued his merry ways as he notched up 22 runs from just 15 deliveries. In the meantime, Holder had roped in the bowling services of Andre Russell who left no stone un-turned in unsettling the Pakistani batsmen with his uncanny short-ball barrage, an example of which is the stat that his first 16 deliveries were all short of the length balls. His efforts were rewarded in no time as Fakhar got late in his attempt to pull one such short ball and ended up deflecting the white cherry, which first hit him on his glove and then struck a blow on the grill of his helmet, on to the stumps to bring about his downfall.

Haris Sohail was next to go who, again, got befuddled by the pace and bounce of Russell as he nicked one back to the keeper in his attempt to steer the ball away towards the third man. After getting reduced to 45 for 3, Pakistan had their hopes pinned on their young prodigy Babar Azam (22 off 33 balls) who looked to drop anchor to steer his team to safe waters but he too had a rush of blood, seeing a short and wide delivery from Oshane Thomas, as a result of which Hope got his third catch of the match and Thomas, his first wicket in the World Cup.

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Another short ball from Holder, the first of his second spell, accounted for his counterpart Sarfaraz Ahmed who tried a fine glance but ended up gloving the ball to the keeper. Sarfaraz’s wicket was more a result of Nicholas Pooran convincing his skipper for a brilliant review call as the on-field umpire had deemed it Not Out on the pretext of the ball brushing the pads instead of the glove as was evident later when the DRS came into the picture. With half the team gone for just 75 runs, West Indian attack didn’t allow the lower-order to offer any kind of resistance and their wicket-thirsty approach saw them skittling their opponents out for a paltry 105-run total.

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Thomas took a four-for while Holder registered a three-for but without taking much away from their relentless approach, this collapse was engineered by Pakistani batsmen’s remarkable unwillingness to adapt against the short-ball tactics employed by their opponents. According to Cricviz data, Pakistani batsmen went after attacking the short-ball barrage from the West Indians which was the prime reason for their crème-de-la-crème of batting going back cheaply to the pavilion. They attacked almost half of the short balls they faced and didn’t even stop after losing 6 prized wickets with such a self-immolating strategy.

West Indies, though lost three wickets in the chase, but hardly looked like slipping in their chase of 105 which was the lowest first inning total for a Trent Bridge List A match since September 2009. With just two wins from their 16 ODI games this year, Pakistan have the second worst winning percentage of 12.5%, only better than Sri Lanka’s 11.10%.

What will be more worrying for the Pakistani team management, apart from such depressing stats, is the impact that such a merciless drubbing can have on the mental levels of the players. They need to put this ignominy behind and regroup fast to get back to winning ways, which surely won’t be an easy task going ahead into the tournament.

stats courtesy: Cricviz

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