Misbah-ul-Haq’s Pakistan side got their first win of the 2015 World Cup against Zimbabwe on Sunday, a tight 20-run triumph that had as much to do with a Zimbabwe implosion as it did with Pakistani bowling.
But they were playing cricket — and batting especially — to a formula that was last successful in the World Cups of 1987 and 1992.
That has been the biggest problem for Pakistan’s one-day international (ODI) side over the past few years — their batting has not evolved with the format.
This World Cup may in time be seen as the coronation of the rapid advances of batsmanship over the past decade.
There has been a first World Cup double hundred and it turned out to be the fastest of all time. AB de Villiers has scored the fastest 150, though that barely captures the surreality of his innings.
Already there have been 14 scores of 300-plus in 23 matches and we are not halfway through.
In all of the 2007 World Cup there were 16 scores over 300 and in 2011, 17.
The change in fielding restrictions in 2012 has made a huge difference but increasingly, 300 is becoming the new 250, the par ODI score to be competitive. All top sides are capable of getting there.
Of the 10 full members, seven have made 300-plus in this tournament. Some, like the West Indies, have crossed it three times, while India and Sri Lanka have done so twice.
Even much-derided England have gone past 300 twice and Ireland have even chased down a 300-plus target.
Other than associates Scotland and Afghanistan, Pakistan are the only one of the 14 teams not to have crossed 250.
It is a damning fact, not just of the capacity of their batting order, but also of the approach.
Somewhere inside Pakistan’s team management, the roots of their 1990s batting strategy remains embedded: keep wickets intact upfront at all costs — even at the cost of scoring — and hit out later.
That strategy stopped working a long time ago and it certainly does not work in 2015. Pakistan lost early wickets again but to scrounge together just 14 runs from the first 10 overs is not good enough.
They played out 52 dot balls in those overs. Whatever the conditions, whatever the bowling, it is difficult to imagine any team from any rank of cricket, showing so little intent.
Misbah has been a monumental Test captain, Pakistan’s most successful, but his ODI tenure has had a far more ambiguous impact.
Certainly, his ODI batting has more grey to it than just the numbers may indicate — he averages nearly 45 as captain.
As he was against Zimbabwe, he has been at the heart of this dated approach.
He has been the last man standing repeatedly in a frail batting side, but it can be argued his general inertness has filtered through to the rest of the players.
If nothing else, the weight of dot balls he accumulates adds to the burden on those who come beneath him.
There has been a heroism in his work and without his innings Pakistan would not have had a total to defend against Zimbabwe.
But it is worth questioning whether that kind of heroism is in tune with the needs of the age.
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