It was a contest between a movable object and a stoppable force as Pakistan took on UAE at the quiet seaside town of Napier in New Zealand. The crowd for a World Cup match, first (of three) at Napier in this edition of the tournament, drew such poor crowd that at one point there were more media personnel and volunteers than the fans in the stands.

Pakistan have stuttered and sputtered in this tournament, a lot of their problems arising out of a fragile top order. UAE have tried gamely but they were always going to be a push over against established cricketing powers. Even a side story of two former Pakistani compatriots and now opposing head coaches – Aaqib Javed and Waqar Younis – could bring life in to this sedate affair.

Despite Pakistan’s obvious struggles while chasing a target, UAE decided to bowl after winning the toss.

Nasir Jamshed was inexplicably included in Pakistan’s world cup squad as injury replacement, and an even more confounding matter is that he has been persisted while falling with the pull shot repeatedly without much to show for. Not to mention, he isn’t exactly Jonty Rhodes in the field. Today he fell again to a poorly executed pull shot and was gone for 4.

UAE had the opening but they dropped Ahmed Shehzad a couple of times and by the time the second Pakistani wicket fell, the game was as good as over. Rest of the Pakistani batsmen filled their boots up while UAE’s hard-trying-but-limited-in-skill bowlers kept watching balls disappear over the boundary. A merry moment in this stretch of UAE’s struggle came when a yellow-turbaned Sikh fan, holding two drinks bottles in his left hand, caught one of these sixes in the crowd with his free right hand.

As Pakistan rolled easily to their first 300 total of the tournament – 339/6 all said and done – the only question in the minds of the people watching would have been: How quickly can Pakistan wrap up UAE? As it turned out, 129 runs. Shaiman Anwar helped himself to another 50 and Amjad Javed provided some late-hitting entertainment but it was all headed only one way.

Besides Jamshed’s obvious lack of form, it is not quite sure what Pakistan can learn from this game and utilize against their next opponent South Africa who are coming off their own mauling of another Associate nation.

Although anyone that traveled to this game would have had the opportunity to learn that the Hawke’s Bay region, in the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island, of which Napier is part of, produces some of the best wines in the world with 70 wineries in the area, and was ranked 3rd in the world amongst the “Best Wine Destinations 2015” by Wine Enthusiast magazine. Ah the small mercies!

Edited version of the piece first appeared at: http://www.mid-day.com/articles/icc-world-cup-wonder-what-pakistan-learnt-from-a-dry-contest-like-uae/16037185

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