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Pakistan in disarray after ODI series defeat

October 13, 2003 20:44 IST

One week ago, Pakistan were full of confidence following a clean sweep over Bangladesh and enjoying a 2-0 lead in the one-day series against South Africa.

But after three straight defeats the Pakistanis are suddenly in disarray.

Captain Inzamam-ul-Haq is doubtful for the two-Test series against South Africa and a late-night binge by two players before the final one-dayer has again raised question marks over the team's discipline.

"It was disappointing to lose three matches in a row and the series in this way. We were not expecting it to end this way. But I think injuries to key players affected our performances," Inzamam told Reuters on Monday.

"I hope the fitness problems are over by the time the tests start and we need to now pay special attention to our batting and will need more experience for them," he added.

Inzamam has been struggling with a hamstring injury that forced him to miss the third and fourth matches and made him a virtual passenger on Sunday.

However, the signs that Pakistan's batting remains brittle were visible even against Bangladesh when the hosts twice conceded a first-innings lead. Only Inzamam's hundred gave Pakistan a one-wicket win in the final Test.

Against South Africa in the last two games, Pakistan managed totals of just 157 and 192 and their opening stands in the series were 18, 19, 52, 11 and three.

Mohammad Hafeez, the only player to appear in all 22 one-dayers and three Tests played by Pakistan since the World Cup, is almost certain to be dropped.

Before the SA series, the 23-year-old had scored 386 runs in 17 matches and his stock bowling and brilliant fielding made him a valuable member of the side before scores of five, seven, 20, one and zero against the South Africans.

"We backed him because we didn't want to change a winning combination," Inzamam said.

"We selected him because he is also our sixth bowler and an outstanding fielder. But now with these performances I don't think he is going to play again for Pakistan," Inzamam said.

However, Inzamam was at a loss to explain the presence of fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar and all rounder Shoaib Malik at a fashion show late on Saturday evening at an Islamabad hotel.

"Our curfew timing is 1100 pm. I think they were back then but if anyone breaks the discipline, action will be taken against him," Inzamam said.

It is not an ideal situation for Pakistan going into a tough series against a team they have beaten just once in nine Tests.

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