The highlight of Pakistan's ODI series win against India was no doubt the ability of its fast bowlers to ruffle the opposition, a pleasant throwback to the golden era. Barring the third ODI, the batting seemed decent and backed up with spirited fielding it looked like an all-round effort capped by the individual performances of Nasir Jamshed and Junaid Khan. Here's a look at how Misbah-ul-Haq's men shaped up.
“[Nasir] Jamshed can pull the fast bowlers, he has good wrists, he can play the ball late, he can drive through the off side - the hallmark of a very good cricketer,” said former captain Ramiz Raja of the Pakistan opener as he displayed his full range during one of his fifties against Australia in the 2012 World T20. Jamshed was still making a mark for himself then but his haul in India has meant that he has left a lasting impression on teammates, opponents and experts alike. His three innings in the ODI series fetched him 241 runs, including two back-to-back centuries. His runs were scored at a healthy strike-rate of 75.31 and were characteristic of his new approach to batting, albeit the off-side play still needs to be tightened. Early on in his career he was a strong bottom-handed player who preferred to stand and deliver, whereas against India, Jamshed was willing to work the ball around and accumulate. Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq attested to that fact saying, “What has been pleasing to see is the maturity he is showing. He is trying to bat according to the situation, his temperament is what will make him a very good player in the future.” Jamshed's push towards midwicket, is a cross between Saeed Anwar and Matthew Hayden's execution of the shot - a little bit of elegance and a whole lot of punch. The shot seems to encapsulate what Jamshed is all about. His ability to bat deep into the innings at a brisk rate has been the most assuring feature about him for Pakistan fans who punctuate every wonderful performance by their bowlers with a “Don't forget we have to bat too.”
Junaid Khan's first notable performance on the big stage came during the first Pakistan-Sri Lanka Test at Abu Dhabi in 2011. In a first innings spell that returned figures of 14.1-38-5, Junaid had even left the great Kumar Sangakkara split wide-open. Coming around the wicket, he accounted for Mahela and Prasanna Jayawardene in one over, the former with one that moved away and the latter with an inswinging yorker that would have left the batsman hopping had he not moved his feet in time. That yorker capped the left-armer's ability as a strike-bowler even on the most harmless of wickets. Pakistani fans had taken notice but much like Jamshed, Junaid truly captured the imagination during the India series. His performances in the ODIs left one wondering why he was not preferred over Sohail Tanvir in the T20s. Former captain and bowling great Wasim Akram has already likened Junaid to himself and said, “In some ways, the way he sprints in for every ball, he reminds me of myself. I just don’t understand why Pakistan keep dropping him every now and then. Junaid needs to play every format of the game for his country.” He picked up 8-99 at an average of 12.37 in the series and won all his duels with India's best batsman, Virat Kohli, of which his the last one probably left the Indian star feeling like he had faced Akram.
Hafeez had come under severe criticism for his ability to turn it on with the bat in T20s. But he came down the order and drowned that noise out with his willow. Although he was only able to replicate that effort once in the ODI series, his value as a bowler made him one the most vital cogs in Misbah-ul-Haq's machine. He scored 97 runs in three matches and returned figures of 30-99-3 in the series. His ability to step on the gas while playing proper cricketing shots put paid to any notion that Kamran Akmal should be opening the innings in ODIs.