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Sports

June 16, 2019

Poor fielding continues to hamper Pakistan against India

Sports

Sun, Jun 16, 2019

MANCHESTER: Rohit Shrama hit his career’s fastest fifty at the biggest stage in international cricket. He then went on to score his second hundred of the World Cup at a packed to capacity Old Trafford filled mostly by vocal Indian fans. That he did all that against India’s arch-rivals Pakistan was an icing on the cake for the prolific Indian opener.

Sharma couldn’t have achieved any of those feats had the Pakistani fielders done their job. Twice in the early stages of his innings, Sharma was let off the hook by Pakistani fielders. Fakhar Zaman chose the wrong end for his throw while Shadab Khan threw it too wide from less than 20 yards away. Sharma was batting at 32 when Fakhar faltered and was at 38 when Shadab, Pakistan’s best fielder, failed to control his throw towards the stumps. Sharma gleefully took both the opportunities as he made Pakistan pay with some exquisite shot-making on his way to 140 from 113 balls. But his job was also helped by awfully bad deliveries from the Pakistani bowlers.

The biggest culprit was Hasan Ali, the man of the tournament when Pakistan won the ICC Champions Trophy two years ago here in England. Looking like a shadow of his past self, Hasan was hit out of the attack when he began with the new ball. Sarfaraz brought him back later and the result was no different. It was a small consolation that Hasan Ali finally managed to scalp Rohit, only his second wicket in the tournament, but by then he had done the damage.

Pakistan were horrible with the bat against West Indies and barring Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz didn’t bowl really well in their 41-run loss against Australia. But it’s their fielding that has so far been their Achilles heals in the World Cup. They dropped crucial catches against Australia while senior players like Shoaib Malik leaked runs because of sloppy fielding.

Fielding has almost always been Pakistan’s weakness but it has been particularly bad in the World Cup. But there was some improvement in the first half of Mickey Arthur’s stint as Pakistan’s head coach. Since then the graph has dipped. And the net result is that Pakistan are making their job a lot more difficult in this World Cup. They did that again by allowing India to pile up a 300-plus total after opting to bowl first.