Former Pakistan fast bowler, Shoaib Akhtar has said that the players in the present national team need to show more heart and courage if they are to bounce back against Sri Lanka in the ongoing series. (Also read: The pride of wearing India cap has gone: Gavaskar)
Akhtar was critical of the team's performance in the first Test which Pakistan lost on Sunday after being bowled out cheaply within a day at Galle. (India gifted wickets to Moeen Ali: Gavaskar)
"It was abject surrender and our players showed no heart, courage or a positive mindset. If they don't work on these things they can't bounce against Sri Lanka," he said. (India's fighting ability questioned after Manchester loss)
The fast bowler said it was a fact that Pakistan presently lacked quality world class players. (Sachin Tendulkar granted leave despite attack for Rajya Sabha absence)
"It is a fact and what is worrisome is we don't have much quality talent coming through from domestic cricket at the moment. In such circumstances the players need to put in a huge collective effort to do well and that was missing on Sunday against Sri Lanka," he said.
Pakistan lost the first Test in an exciting finish only the 11th time in Test history that a team has lost a match after posting 450 plus in their first innings. Akhtar pointed out that at present Pakistan had no batsmen equal to the calibre of Kumar Sangakkara or Mahela Jayawardene with exception of Younis Khan. "We don't even have a player of the calibre of Angelo Matthews who understands the game and plays according to the situation," he said.
"I have played a lot of cricket and I know at the end of the day technique does not matter that much as does how much heart and spirit a player shows on the field in pressure situations. "Against Sri Lanka in the second innings our players just played without any purpose and tried to plod away. No one tried to attack the bowling and it was disappointing to watch such a performance," he said.
Akhtar pointed out that Test cricket had changed in the last few years since the advent of T20 cricket.
"Pakistani players need to look at their approach now. They are playing at such a slow rate that they hardly manage a run rate of 3 in tests while the other teams nowadays start off with run rates of plus three and even four," he said. Akhtar also made the point that people needed to reconcile with the fact that Pakistan nowadays didn't have the same quality pace attack it had few years back.
"We just don't have the quality pacers who can really bend their backs. Our bowlers just didn't bend their backs in the first innings when we should have restricted Sri Lanka to around 400." Akhtar, however, still pleaded for the present team management to be given a proper run. "Give them one year two years or even three but I would say now stick with this management and let them get the results. This chopping and changing only complicates the situation," he said.