Not all Pakistan’s mistake

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When Misbahul Haq led Pakistan’s Test side to a 2-2 draw in England, everyone was praising the 42-year-old’s marvellous approach. Against West Indies, in UAE, his team once again proved their mettle with a 2-1 victory but as soon as the side walked into New Zealand and was ripped apart on seaming and bouncing pitches, everyone started questioning Pakistan batting’s prowess in the five-day format.

It is without any doubt a reality that Misbah and his men did falter when the ball moved laterally but one theory that we do not consider is the performance of all visiting teams in the recent times.

Meanwhile, when considering teams’ overseas performances, we observe that there are very few occasions when visitors actually came out victorious in away-from-home conditions.

If we take a look at the year 2016 in a chronological order, in January 2015, the Windies visited Australia and lost 2-0 in a three-match series.

The first outlier of our observation happened at the start of the year when visiting England downed hosts South Africa 2-1 in a four-match series.

As we move forward to February, we see Australia beating the Kiwis 2-0 in New Zealand – another outlier for us. March and April went without any Tests being played in those months.

In May, however, Sri Lanka visited England and lost 2-0 in a three-match series – the point under consideration that home teams are enjoying an unprecedented advantage on their own turf.

Later, after a Test-less June, the cricketing season entered spring in July. Pakistan went to England and drew a four-match series 2-2, India went to West Indies and won 2-0 in a four-Test series, Sri Lanka hosted Australia and whitewashed them 3-0 and lastly New Zealand beat Test minnows Zimbabwe 2-0 in as many matches in latter’s home.

Enter August, South Africa hosted New Zealand just to beat them 1-0 in a two-Test series and in September, the visiting Black Caps were whitewashed 3-0 by the home-dominant Indian team.

Pakistan welcomed West Indies to UAE in October to beat them 2-1 in the three-Test series while Sri Lanka visited Zimbabwe to grab a 2-0 victory in a two-match series. England, meanwhile, drew the two-Test series 1-1 against Bangladesh after late drama in the first match and then levelled the series with a 108-run loss to the hosts in the second.

Pakistan welcomed West Indies to UAE in October to beat them 2-1 in the three-Test series while Sri Lanka visited Zimbabwe to grab a 2-0 victory in a two-match series. England, meanwhile, drew the two-Test series 1-1 against Bangladesh after late drama in the first match and then levelled the series with a 108-run loss to the hosts in the second.

A quick look at the series results from 2010-2015 reveals the same trend which can be witnessed in the on-going year. Out of the 97 series played between the aforementioned period, 45 have been won by host teams. Out of the remaining 52 series, 23 were drawn while 29 were won by visitors. An interesting number to notice when it comes to overseas wins by visiting teams would be 14, which is the number of series won against less threatening hosts namely Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and West Indies.

The whole purpose of this analysis is to argue that home sides, if they are not Bangladesh, Zimbabwe or West Indies, mostly have an edge over the visiting teams. The change in weather, pitch conditions, alien playing environment and in Pakistan’s recent case, lack of practice in New Zealand’s home conditions, can always put one in a tight spot.

The first match, thus, is not enough to judge Pakistan batting’s faultiness. The second Test in Hamilton will be able to provide us more authentic measure of Pakistan’s ability on foreign pitches since the visitors had an on-job training of how to play against seam bowling in the first outing.

Moreover, although there is no metric to measure nervousness, however in Pakistan’s favour, before the first match, players’ focus was also dismantled by an earthquake

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