The head coach is confident after Pakistan’s fighting effort in the second ODI even though they lost the match
Pakistan’s fighting performance in the second ODI, even though they lost the match, has given head coach Misbah-ul-Haq enough confidence ahead of the decider on Wednesday. If Pakistan can clinch the three-match series, Misbah feels, that will be a “remarkable achievement” for the side.
Since 2010 before the ongoing series, Pakistan has a 6-7 win-loss ODI record in South Africa but they are the only side from the subcontinent to have won a bilateral ODI series in the country in 2013-14. This time, Pakistan came with a relatively inexperienced squad but managed to keep the three-match series level at 1-1 going into the third match. Now they seem to have the upper hand as five of South Africa’s first-choice players – Quinton de Kock, David Miller, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, and Lungi Ngidi – have left for the Indian Premier League.
“The way we played the first two games, and won the first ODI, the team is confident,” Misbah said in a video released by the PCB ahead of the third ODI. “This team has now started to believe they can win or reach a winning position out of nowhere and the previous game was one big example. I have always said that it’s a young team and for them, every win is important. Now it is a decider in South Africa’s conditions and if we win, it will be a remarkable achievement not only in the series but in another perspective. It’s really important for the sake of team confidence.”
Fakhar Zaman’s 155-ball 193 almost took Pakistan over the line during their 342-run chase in the second ODI. In the opening ODI, Babar Azam’s century set up the win that Pakistan secured dramatically, on the final delivery of the match. Misbah urged the under-firing middle order to take inspiration from those two and capitalise on the starts provided by the top order.
“If you look at the Wanderers and Centurion pitches, they are purely South Africa conditions,” Misbah said. “They have bounce and pace and if your batsmen from top order score hundreds and dominate the opponent, it surely going to inspire the other players in the team. They all look up to them as an example and it gives them confidence going forward.
“In the top order, Babar contributed and then Fakhar in the second ODI did great but moving down in the middle, we need to improve and capitalise on the good start. Looking at the team performance overall, it’s quite good but in certain areas, we need some improvement.”
Pakistan bowlers, Misbah said, are putting in good efforts with fast bowlers – Shaheen Shah Afridi, Haris Rauf and Mohammad Hasnain – troubling the South Africa batsmen with pace and bounce. While Pakistan conceded 341 in the second ODI, Misbah backed them to come strongly in the final match.
“If you talk about the first game our bowlers bowled really well. In Centurion, the average total is 300 or plus but we restricted them to 270-odd. In fact, we could have stopped them around 225 but one good partnership changed that. Overall, it was a good effort by our bowlers though in the second ODI we gave away a little more because we didn’t get the early breakthrough. The credit should be given to the other team as well. They played well too but I think two big overs were the difference, which actually dented us. This bowling is fine with a blend of match-winners who have done well and you can’t judge them with just one or bad day. They will come hard in the next game.”
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo’s Pakistan correspondent
Recent Match Report – Kent vs Sussex Group 3 2021
Sussex take significant lead but unbeaten half-century gives visitors a platform
Kent 145 and 138 for 2 (Crawley 61*) lead Sussex 256 (Quinn 5-54, Gilchrist 3-51, Stevens 3-64) by 27 runs
A day of modest innings and hard-won advantage in sharp air nevertheless retained the soft magic one always associates with watching cricket at Hove. This may be a cold spring rather than summer’s highest feather but there was much to prompt recollection of a distant past and much to enjoy from a rich present.
Instead of John Langridge easing the ball through the covers for Sussex we had Tom Clark batting pleasantly before he was bowled round his legs by Nathan Gilchrist for 42. Instead of Stockport-born Fred Ridgway rumbling in for Kent we had young Gilchrist taking three prime wickets. Instead of that great old warrior Darren Stevens bowling medium pace we had…hang on a mo…well no matter, they were three absorbing sessions and a long evening ended with Zak Crawley unbeaten on 61 and stroking the ball around the place with the quiet assurance that betokens high class.
That Kent should have ended the day 27 runs to the good and with eight wickets in hand halfway through a match they might have already lost was also to the credit of Stevens, Gilchrist and latterly Matt Quinn, who between them shared the ten home wickets and made breakthroughs just at the point when Sussex seemed about to assert absolute dominance. Ben Brown would have settled for a 111-run lead on first innings when this game began but it is more than a statistical nicety that, though five of Brown’s top six reached 20, no-one managed more than Stiaan van Zyl‘s 52. And having reduced Sussex to 202 for 6 when the Sussex captain was beaten by Stevens’s movement off the pitch, Daniel Bell-Drummond happily left it to Quinn to take the final four wickets. Until then it had never seemed like that sort of day.
But dull orthodoxy and mere expectation have always been a provocation to this area and even conservative Hove is not as neatly separated from Brighton as once it was. As the players were warming up this morning, a man was sitting on his next-to-last legs in a shop doorway half a mile away and croaking a song of undying love, although his only audience was the can of strong lager in his hand. A couple of streets along, two women were discussing a virtual flower festival over their coffees. On Kingsway, runners and cyclists pounded out miles in their quests to achieve the idealised physiques they had once glimpsed in magazines. For the men it may have been that of Jofra Archer, whose presence has pervaded this game even when he has been merely strolling from mid-on to mid-on with his hands in his pockets or abstractedly massaging a troublesome elbow.
So perhaps it was fitting that Archer should take the first wicket of Kent’s second innings when a high-class inswinger gave Graham Lloyd little option but to send Jordan Cox on his way. However, not to be upstaged by mere fame, Ollie Robinson gave another exhibition of his own gifts, conceding 12 runs off his first ten overs and claiming the wicket of Bell-Drummond for 27 when the Kent captain appeared so worn down by the bowler’s accuracy that he edged a catch to Clark at third slip.
That wicket left Kent on 59 for 2 with 22 overs left in the evening session but a grey evening was illumined by Crawley, whose lofted straight drive off Garton to bring up Kent’s 50 was a reminder of the talent that may yet take this game away from Sussex. It was the shot of a day that had not been starved of boundaries and a boundary eased through midwicket off Robinson was almost as good. There were also three fours, two of them reverse-swept, off Jack Carson’s only over and Sussex’s drum-splitting appeal for a catch down the leg side off Tom Haines’ bowling in the final over of the day reflected their desperation to remove the England batsman
Crawley’s innings made it a more than satisfactory day for Kent, whose faster bowlers had done well to restrict a strong Sussex batting order. In the first hour of play both Travis Head and van Zyl threatened to play match-defining innings but neither survived until lunch. Head hit four fine boundaries and was dropped at slip by Cox on 10 before the offended bowler, Stevens, took out the middleman and bowled the Australian for 20 when an attempted back cut inside-edged the ball on to off stump. Van Zyl looked just as poised when taking heavy toll of Gilchrist but the Kent seamer is a proper cricketer. Two balls after being hooked for six, a shot that brought up van Zyl’s fifty, Gilchrist kept the ball up sufficiently to pitch in line and had the left-hander leg before for 52.
Should Kent leave Hove with anything more than a defeat from these four days, those wickets will be seen as the foundations of their recovery. The season is not six weeks’ old yet Hove has already seen two fine games and one tense finish. By Sunday evening the ground may have another to add to its history with one’s only regret being the absence of spectators to enjoy it all.
Paul Edwards is a freelance cricket writer. He has written for the Times, ESPNcricinfo, Wisden, Southport Visiter and other publications
Recent Match Report – Glamorgan vs Yorkshire Group 3 2021
Yorkshire 69 for 4 (Root 34*, Bess 16*) trail Glamorgan 149 (Brook 3-13, Patterson 3-27) by 80 runs
Anybody who googled “ Harry Duke” on May 14, 2021 would have found Prince Harry expounding on his newly-held belief in genetic pain. Search the scorecard and there was not a run, catch or stumping to be seen. It is fair to remark that Yorkshire’s debutant wicketkeeper has yet to capture the public eye.
But Harry Duke – that’s the teenage wicketkeeper from Wakefield and not the man sixth in line for the throne – can claim nevertheless to have made an immediate impact on his first day in the job, by playing a small but important role at the start of the Ashes phoney war.
“The battle that will decide the Ashes: Root v Labuschagne” was how one national newspaper billed Yorkshire’s visit to Glamorgan. Only Joe Root has made more Test runs than Marnus Labuschagne since he played in his first Ashes Test as a concussion replacement for Steve Smith at Lord’s nearly two years ago. If Ashes series can ever be determined by a single match-up, it’s a fair enough theory.
Root’s judicious unbeaten 34 was comfortably the outstanding innings on a taxing batting day in which 14 wickets fell, so enabling the game to stay “live” after the loss of the first day to rain. Yorkshire are still 80 behind on first innings with six wickets left, aware that the world could collapse around their ears at any moment. Kent were dismissed for 72 in the last match on this ground and conditions can’t have been much different.
Labuschagne, by contrast, only managed 10 from 18 balls for Glamorgan before he fell lbw to Ben Coad, displaying his frustration at his error with an incredulous shake of the head and a route march to short leg and back. But that error might not have happened had Duke not dared to stand up to the stumps to Coad, force Labuschagne to abandon his method of batting well outside his crease, and contributed to the malfunction.
Jonny Tattersall, who had been dropped to give Duke his chance, also stands up at times to Coad, who clocks around 80mph. But this was the first morning of a debut on a devilishly difficult pitch which offered the bowlers swing, seam and some uneven bounce. This was a 19-year-old on debut. This was a world-class batsman who might just nick one that would be easier to take standing back than standing up.
His boldness brought to mind the pre-match comments by Martyn Moxon, Yorkshire’s director of cricket, when he reflected on the fact that the match would be televised. “Harry is a real competitor, a real scrapper and a battler, and he’ll thrive on that. He’s the kind of character who will relish the stage.”
No need to fret unduly then, about the damage that could be caused by giving Duke an unexpected headline then, even in Yorkshire where “too much too soon” was once the catchphrase of every club chairman in the county.
Labuschagne is having a lean time in this challenging English Spring. He has talked about the need to adjust his technique again for county pitches after becoming a little square-on to find more run-scoring opportunities against an India attack that bowled straight to him. His anxiety was perhaps illustrated before he had scored when he was sent back after Dom Bess had pulled off a fine stop at cover and would have been run out by a direct hit.
Jimmy Anderson, who also dismissed him cheaply for Lancashire last week on their first-ever meeting, pointedly said with the Ashes in mind that it was “nice to get the first blow in” and then probably messed with Labuschagne’s mind even more by adding: “It’s like when you see a girl at a club and you try to play it cool; you want her to be impressed.”
Glamorgan were 82 for 7 immediately after lunch, total calamity prevented by David Lloyd and Billy Root, backed up by some tasty late-order flourishes. Lloyd, advanced up the order to opener this season, still drove freely during his 31, and survived missed slip catches by Root, at fourth, and Brook, at third, in reaching 10. Root’s was difficult; Brook’s was simpler, but the England captain (uncommonly) was to his right as well as the ball and these things can have an effect.
This was the day that Billy Root was awarded his county cap, a nice touch with Joe available for the brotherly fist bump after the ceremony at the tea interval. He has developed into a decent county player in his own right and, after he reached 23, it took a smart catch in his follow-through by Brook to remove him off a leading edge.
Brook, Yorkshire’s fifth seamer, collected 3 for 15 with his medium-paced inswing, Chris Cooke and Dan Douthwaite also falling lbw. Whenever Yorkshire’s attack lost its discipline the skipper, Steven Patterson, restored it. There were three wickets for him, too. Lloyd inadvisably left one which came back to hit his off stump and though the in-form Kiran Carlson got off the mark with his signature square drive, he then edged one that bounced a bit to first slip.
Yorkshire subsided to 36 for 4 in return, three of them to Michael Neser, whose presence enhances Glamorgan’s already competitive edge. Lyth’s dismissal owed everything to a springing catch at square leg by Carlson, Ballance cut to third man in somewhat giveaway fashion and Neser no doubt observed Brook’s pronounced, unbalanced trigger movement across his stumps and thought “I’ll have a bit of that”.
The day on Sky ended with both commentators, Robert Croft and Eddie Bevan, covering an entire over in Welsh. At the end of the over the umpires decided enough was enough and called off play early. The two incidents were not thought to be connected.
David Hopps writes on county cricket for ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps
Recent Match Report – Surrey vs Somerset Group 2 2021
Surrey 191 for 4 Burns 55) vs Somerset
On the sort of surface which might convince an opening batsman they should give it all up and become a plumber, Rory Burns made his fifth half-century in seven innings and fourth in succession. Nobody in the land has reached 50 more often this season.
But these are uncertain times for Burns. He lost his England place in India and is far from certain to win it back in the New Zealand series. With Zak Crawley and Dom Sibley seemingly assured of their places in the top three, Burns’ involvement may depend on where England decide to play James Bracey, who they appear to see as a utility player capable of fulfilling a role in the top and middle-order. In that light, Dan Lawrence’s eye-catching century for Essex might not be great news for Burns.
But, at his best, Burns’ batting has a phlegmatic quality that rises above such concerns. His maiden Test century, made against Australia in Birmingham, was in many ways a masterclass of mental strength overcoming every challenge. He was dropped often and beaten frequently but not for a moment did he lose his composure.
It was similar here. With damp conditions denying any chance of play before 2pm on the second day, this pitch had been under cover for a long time before Somerset’s bowlers took first use of it. Inevitably, the ball nipped around and edges were beaten.
But apart from one occasion, when Burns followed one he could have left, he refused to be drawn into pushing at the ball and was able to put any play-and-miss behind him. Eventually, as the ball softened and the bowlers tired, more poor balls were his reward. He failed to fully capitalise on his start but in terms of the basics of opening the batting, he looked in fine order.
He would have been relieved to hear that Somerset had rested Craig Overton. Overton bowled 40 overs in the second innings of Somerset’s win over Hampshire last week and has already clocked over 200 this season already; heaven knows he has earned his break. But, with three five-wicket hauls in his last three Championship matches, his absence leaves quite a hole in this attack. Jason Kerr, the Somerset head coach, later confirmed the decision had been taken in collaboration with the England management. If Overton does win an England chance in the coming weeks, Somerset want him in the best possible shape to seize it.
Perhaps more of a surprise was the absence of Jack Leach. He, too, was rested, though having bowled only 129.5 overs this season, this was more with a view to the challenges ahead; Leach has spent a long time in bubbles and there is more of the same to come. Perhaps the lush green surface persuaded Somerset that he would be surplus to requirements anyway. There wasn’t an over of spin in the day.
Somerset were also without Steve Davies, who was absent to undergo a minor medical procedure. That left Tom Banton as designated keeper for the first time in first-class cricket.
As it was, having beaten the bat regularly but without fortune in the first hour, Somerset’s control slipped. Burns, having weathered the storm, was able to accumulate neatly off his legs and drove a couple sweetly through the off-side when the bowlers over-pitched. Kerr later conceded that he found the performance “a bit frustrating”.
“We haven’t quite capitalised on a surface which had been under cover for two days,” he said. “We didn’t ask the batsmen questions often enough.”
Indeed, Somerset might consider themselves a bit fortunate with a couple of the wickets. Hashim Amla, who was starting to look ominously sound, pulled a long-hop to the long-leg fence – it provided Lewis Gregory with his 300th first-class wicket – and, after a couple of typically elegant cover drives, Ollie Pope top-edged an attempted pull shot from a ball that was too full for the stroke.
Burns was, perhaps, a little unlucky. In attempting to defend a good-length delivery, he saw the ball bounce off the face of the bat and roll back onto the stumps. His consistency is impressive, certainly, but he will know that it is centuries, not half-centuries, that force selectors to take notice.
“In those conditions, we have a decent score,” Surrey head coach, Vikram Solanki, said. “We needed a bit of luck early on, with playing and missing, but that is always going to be the case on that sort of pitch. I thought both Rory Burns and Mark Stoneman played well to overcome the new ball.”
With the forecast grim, there is every chance that none of this will count for much. But if progress in the weeks ahead is decided by a point here or there, perhaps Somerset will reflect on this match and rue a squandered bowling point which they probably should have been able to claim.
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo
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