Pakistan Middle-Order Struggles Again In East London
The Pakistan middle-order endured more difficulties in the second innings of their only warm-up match ahead of the first Test against South Africa on 1st February.
After dismissing the South African Invitational XI for 257 in the morning, their second innings then followed an almost identical path to that of the first. Openers Mohammad Hafeez and Nasir Jamshed again added over 100, with the middle-order then struggling.
In the first innings, numbers three to six in the batting order amassed just 15 runs between them and, while things were nowhere near as bad second time around, a total of 28 when you exclude Misbah-ul-Haq does not make happy reading and means that three of the top six are still woefully short of match practice.
Misbah’s unbeaten 51 was indeed the main positive to emerge for Pakistan on day three. He helped steady the middle-order wobble and drew on all of his experience in bringing up his 50 off 110 balls shortly before the close.
Hafeez and Jamshed had earlier both hit their second fifties of the match during an opening stand of 142 which bettered their first innings one of 105. Hafeez was again the more fluent, striking at over 76 as opposed to Jamshed’s 42, but the Pakistan management will be pleased that an area traditionally regarded as a weakness appears in fine shape ahead of their examination at the hands of the finest new-ball attack in world cricket.
Junaid Khan had taken two of the last three South African wickets to fall in the morning, dismissing tail-enders Simon Harmer and Beauran Hendricks to end with three for 76 and earn the Pakistanis a 72-run lead. Saeed Ajmal picked up the other and ended with three for 66.
Tomorrow, Ajmal and the rest of the Pakistan bowling attack will have another chance to hone their skills ahead of the first Test as the Pakistanis attempt to translate a lead which currently stands at 312 into a morale-boosting win.
© Cricket World 2013
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