Desperate Pak seeks recipe to avoid home defeats

Published: Tuesday, March 12, 2002, 1:11 [IST]
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Lahore: Pakistan was on Monday looking for a new cricket recipe to avoid home defeats after Sri Lanka dealt it a rude wakeup call in its eight-wicket defeat at the second Asian Test championship final.

"Lambs at home, tigers abroad," sums up Pakistan's poor home run and a better away record, unlike its arch rival India, which takes flak over its abysmal record abroad, but is hard to beat at home. "The Pakistan team struggles on home grounds because it doesn't bat and field properly. It must stop taking home series easy and add more professionalism in its approach," former captain Zaheer Abbas said. Pakistan was bowled out for 234 and 325 and conceded a mammoth 528 against Sri Lanka in the Asian Test championship final on Sunday. That poor showing resulted in Pakistan's sixth defeat in the last 14 home Tests with only two wins. It has lost home series against Sri Lanka, England, Zimbabwe and Australia since 1998. "The team didn't look settled in this match and lost to Sri Lanka, which has only Muthiah Muralitharan as its only match winner," Abbas, known as the 'Asian Don Bradman' in his heyday, said. "Home defeats prove there is lack of planning and that's why I left the coach's job," former captain and coach Intikhab Alam said. Alam was sacked mid-way through Pakistan's home series against Sri Lanka two years ago. "You can't win a Test without an experienced spinner and it was a poor selection because Shahid Afridi and Shoaib Malik can't win you a Test with their bowling," he said. Pakistan surprisingly left out their experienced off spinner Saqlain Mushtaq and opted for all-rounder Malik and did not consider veteran pacer Wasim Akram and opener Saeed Anwar. "Openers are not allowed to settle, with Pakistan playing every time with a new set of openers so after such results the chief selector must go," he said Chief selector Wasim Bari defended the selection process. "We select 14 or 15 players and it's up to the captain and coach to select the final 11," Bari said. "In my opinion pressure of expectations on home grounds and lack of experience of our curator are the reason behind our poor home record," he said. Pakistan's only curator, Mohammad Bashir, has little experience and everyone, including himself, was left wondering how the pitch would behave. "Even England is facing such problems and is considering using Australian pitches." Bari denied there was a lack of harmony between the selection committee and captain Waqar Younis. "There is no disharmony, we take all the aspects into consideration and then select the squad and pass it to the team management," he said. The chief selector defended Akram's omission. "There is no doubt in Akram's ability and experience but in the last one year he has struggled with his fitness and its our wish he regain full fitness to assist the side in the 2003 World Cup," he said. Pakistan now takes on New Zealand in a two-Test and three-match One-day series in April-May.

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