Sunday, January 30, 2011

Possible WC Playing Combinations For Pakistan

Possible WC Playing Combinations For Pakistan:-




Saturday, January 29, 2011

Random Thoughts

1)Just a week to go till the verdict of the trio is revealed. Expect the worst. Let's hope justice prevails. The credibility and integrity of the game is the biggest winner of all. Cricket Zindabad. Pakistan Zindabad.

2)It has been exactly a year since the under 19 World Cup final between Australia and Pakistan 2010.

3)It has been a year since Afridi decided to physically bite the cricket ball at Perth.

Predict The World Cup?

The glory of 1992 was an unforgettable achievement under Imran Khan's captaincy on the 25th of March that year. One wonders and dreams if Pakistan can repeat such a feat on the 2nd of April 2011? An outside chance is a possibility and a team not be underestimated is what I feel are the chances of the men in green. Above all, anything but a repeat of 2003 and 2007 is something which needs to be prevented as a matter of expectation.

Maaz says Predict the placings of Group A in the World Cup. Teams include:-
New Zealand
Sri Lanka

Maaz says Predict the placings of Group B In The World Cup. Teams include:-
South Africa
West Indies

Pakistan effectively only need to beat Canada, Kenya and Zimbabwe to progress to the quarter finals in the World Cup. They can actually afford to lose to Sri Lanka, New Zealand and Australia without harming their prospects of reaching the knock out stages as long as they beat the minnows. Nonetheless, you'll expect them to beat New Zealand and if they could win their encounter against either Australia or Sri Lanka as well, that will put them in an excellent position to get the momentum, psychological edge and in-form confidence to deliver when it matters. Also, will give them an easier fixture in the quarter final against a lesser in form outfit. There are absolutely no excuses for not reaching the quarter finals. Reaching the semis should be the target and where I think they will be, come 26th March! The tournament structure certainly suits Pakistan as it is all about easing your way into it and peaking at the right time. In short, a very open World Cup where Pakistan stand a good outside chance in all seriousness.

Well it's the same for every Test Playing Nation in their group. The ICC purposefully changed the structure to make it more favourable for Pakistan and India after their early elimination in the 2007 WC. Usually, we all sit here criticising the ICC, but this goes to show they really genuinely care about Pakistan.

3rd ODI Reaction: Pakistan Win =D

A memorable scorecard indeed.

Sorry for the lateness of the reaction guys! I stayed up for the whole game, but immediately had many things to do once the match had finished so couldn't afford to get carried away too much! Obviously I am absolutely overwhelmed as I am sure you are with today's 43 run victory at Christchurch to level the series with 3 to play in due course. We all should be really pleased for Mohammad Hafeez aka Professor for reaching his maiden ODI century in his 61st appearance. Finally he reaches the magical all important 3 figures which will do a world of good for his confidence, especially with it coming in a winning cause. He deservedly received the MOM award.

Shahid Khan Afridi demonstrated his unique nature today which made great viewing. When he fires with the bat like we saw today, he has the capabilities to take any attack to the cleaners and become a true world beater. Never has one doubted that. Although it may only happen in rate proportions, when it does happen, it feels so damn good. Well played BOOMBOOM. That was a breath taking 65 from just 25 deliveries which absolutely dominated proceedings. Nonetheless, I reserve my judgement about him NOT being the best man to lead Pakistan as our chances of success and playing more consistently are significantly easier under a more cool and composed figure. However, individually we must give utmost credit where its due and if the team performs like they did today and makes the equation straight forward, then his mediocre captaincy limitations can be compensated for.

Additionally, the skipper bowled beautifully. He beat the bat on numerous occasions and his variations were coming out really nicely. One can only hope that he has regained his effectiveness and venom in the bowling department which could be a key factor in Pakistan's World Cup prospects.

Umar Akmal also came to the party which was a refreshing sight. His 29 ball 44 helped the innings acceleration at the death. His involvement in the field was fantastic with 3 cool catches and one crucial outstanding run out which probably sealed New Zealand's fate. Pakistani fans and followers can only hope this young tiger has re-discovered his international cricketing brilliance after a sparkling display today. Is this the Umar Akmal we all know? The star teenage attraction which took the world by storm in 2009?

Credit also has to be given to the middle order anchor role stability Misbah Ul Haq provided. Not every player in the team has to be a match winner and we have to notice the contributions of structured methodical players and the underappreciated significance they bring to the team. Misbah played a significant hand and engaged in an important partnership which battled through the potential difficult patches. This enabled the big star power houses to play with freedom, positivity, intent as soon as they arrived at the crease rather than them being exposed earlier in the piece where things would not have been easy without a platform set where they could unleash.

Pakistan will now be looking to consolidate on the good work by winning 2 of the next 3 ODIs which are to be held on the 1st,3rd and 5th of February respectively and subsequently win the series too. Will this thrilling tour come to a series decider on the 5th at Eden Park? Watch this space and watch out for the cornered tigers!

Good News: Pakistan's premier spinner Saeed Ajmal will be fit and fully available for selection in the 4th ODI. He is a key part of our plans. It's important they draft him into the starting line up somehow. Squad rotation perhaps?

Cool and collective Umar reminded us of his outfielding usefulness

Friday, January 28, 2011

28/01/11 National One Day Tournament Updates

Hammad Azam is pictured

Domestic updates 28/01/11

In the ongoing domestic National one day competition between various cities and departmental sides here are some of the key individual performances worth highlighting in the various matches which were contested around the country today.

-Imran Farhat scored 150 for HBL.

-Fawad Alam scores 78*captaining NBP.

-Young emerging fast bowler Mohammad Talha claimed excellent figures of 6-38.

-Young future all round prospect Hammad Azam scored 54 for NBP to add to his 93* in the previous fixture he played in.

-Imran Nazir scored 51 and claimed 3 wickets.

- Highly rated Ghani scored 105* for PIA.

Salman Butt - A Machiavellian Character

Apparently douchebag supreme Salman’s Butt has not been properly satisfied with the amount of gaalam galoch he has received due to his involvement in the spot fixing scandal. There are many reasons I can think why the loudmouth and slimy former Pakistan captain very conveniently gave an interview labeling Shahid Afridi as a clueless captain.
The Future is Safe Man
Here is what he had to say to a News One reporter about Afridi and Pakistan’s prospects in the upcoming WC.
“Aik banda jo khud clueless ho woh agar aap ko kuch kahay bhi tw us ka khaak asar hona hai"

Somebody should ask this conniving, scheming SOB whether he had any clue where his off-stump was during the majority of his career?
Why was he so clueless during the post-match press conference of the Lord’s test where he had guilty written all over his face and had to consult with the blind and deaf Pakistan manager Yawar Saeed before answering each question?
Why is he still so clueless when answering the question of where the money found in his hotel room came from? First it was his sister’s dowry and now it was for the ice cream parlor.
Butt has absolutely no moral & ethical authority whatsoever of questioning anyone let alone Lala, when his own dealings and character are so dubious. The amount of verbal diarrhea he has spewed after he was caught fixing tells us of a man who is awfully manipulative, is of a dubious character, is envious and is no less than a Machiavellian character.
My dear friend/club captain Nadeem Shahzad who is a big Afridi fan took offence and started a Insult Salman Butt Week Campaign, let's see what he has to say.
Fact 1: Salman Butt's Favorite Indian Movies are Badmaash Company, Jannat and Rajneeti : None of which he has seen beyond intervals coz otherwise he would have known that you reap what you sow.
Fact 2: Contrary to the Rumors, Salman Butt is not the love child of Salman Taseer and Ijaz Butt. Oh and a bookie by the name of Mazhar Majeed confirms he can get Salman Butt to accept the fact he just might be.
Fact 3: According to Salman, his Butt Can speak better English Than Afridi, and so often he is seen talking to his butt while the bowler runs in. I guess Butting into Business is not Salman's fault, he has no control over his Butt.
Fact 4. Salman Butt was Out First Ball on His Debut, Whereas Afridi cracked the fastest ton on his. Thats coz Lala spent the evening before the match hitting Wasim and Waqar out of the park in a Net Session !!! and Butt must have spent his learning how to marinate a Duck on Hell's Kitchen.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Yasir Arafat Interview

Yasir Arafat, the Pakistani seam bowler who has been a key member of past tours was interviewed by a friend of mine called Shaikh Zain who is an administrator of a Pakistan Cricket Team Fan Page on Facebook which is closely affiliated with this blog.!/pages/Pakistan-Cricket-Team/199312210647

Yasir Arafat was at my place yesterday (26-01-2011) had a great time with him. He was not allowed to give a video interview by PCB, so I asked few questions which were post by some of our members in the group and ofcourse MAAZ and Kalim Khan also posted their Questions too. The members include:

Faran Ghumman
Zeeshan Ahmed
The Interview:

Shaikh Zain [SZ]: Yasir bhai thank you so very much for time you taken out for the dinner. As you know im the admin of the Pakistan Cricket team page on facebook along with KK and Maaz, there are some questions asked by our members and would like to know about yourself.

Yasir Arafat [Y.A]: I would love to answer them “minus” anything about PCB which im not allowed.

S.Z: You’ve done brilliant in domestic matches and as a result you were the highest wicket taker in the T-20 Format. Why are selectors ignoring you?

Y.A: There are lots of reasons and as I told you im not allowed commenting about anything regarding PCB. But I believe in Allah and jo Allah ki marzi ho.

S.Z: This season, Rana was signed by Sussex and how about you?

Y.A: Surrey approached and today they confirmed the media. Before leaving to England, I’ll be joining South Africa for a week to play T-20 league for Dolphins on feb 2nd along with Hashim Amla and Imran Tahir.

S.Z: What do u think about Imran Tahir?

Y.A: We’ve played together in under 19 and few league matches. Goras never approach asian players to play for their national side but imran tahir is a fantastic bowler and dangerous for the opposition team and as a result of his ability he is now playing WC for S.A.

S.Z: You’ve played under waqar, Inzi, Younis, malik, and Afridi. Under whoz captaincy you’ve enjoyed a lot?

Y.A: I think each of the above captains were different and great in many ways. I actually loved playing under Younis Khan. Brilliant and intelligent.

S.Z: Which county stint you enjoyed the most?

Y.A: Sussex, brilliant and great team mates.

S.Z: Your prospects of playing for the national side again?

Y.A: Performances in domestic and county seasons will INSHALLAH help me to be in national side again.

S.Z: Your Role Models growing up?

Y.A: Imran khan as a cricketing role model and Waqar younis as a bowler.

S.Z: Your Great achievements up till now?

Y.A: Representing Pakistan itself is a great achievements but recently I was booked in gunnies book of world record, 90 wickets in 69 matches which is the achievements which I will never forget.

S.Z: Your Views about the captaincy policy and WC?

Y.A: Zain you will put me in trouble as I told you I can’t comment on PCB issues. But I would want Afridi to take charge atleast for the WC. But this is Pakistan everything is Possible [Laugh]. Play with unity and concentrate and give 100 percent will make us qualify for semi finals. I wish them Best Of luck.

S.Z: Your Close friends in Pakistan national side and who has helped you most in your family?

Y.A: IM very close to Shoiab Bhai [Shoiab Akhtar] along with Younis, Malik, and kami.
My father helped me a lot and still supports me for every single match I play.

S.Z: If given a chance, which batsman would you like to bowl most?

Y.A: I would love to bowl Saeed Anwar, Majid khan and Viv Richard and ofcourse Sachin Tendulkar.

S.Z: Were You named after Palestine Leader [ Yasir Arafat]

Y.A: [ Smiles] Yes that is right.

S.Z: Yasir bhai anything to your fans?

Y.A: Thank you very much for supporting me and keep praying for me and Pakistan. And I would like to add something. Ive got no id on facebook. So guyz better don’t follow that fake Yasir Arafat.

S.Z: Yasir bhai, on behalf of our admins and members of Pakistan Cricket team, we wish you a very best of luck for future and hope to see you soon in the national side.

Y.A: Thank you very much

Shehzad The Opener

A 3rd wash out in 9 ODIs does not make great reading for a stunning venue. A paradise surrounding, but the weather was not kind and ended up being the overall winner.

2nd ODI
31/0 4.2 overs
Match Abandoned
New Zealand lead the series 1-0 with 4 to go

Ahmed Shehzad scored 25* from 16 balls before rain took over at Queenstown

Ahmed Shehzad epitomises the beauty of controlled and calculated aggression. This is something Umar Akmal could/should take a leaf out of. He demonstrated glimpses of genius in whatever play which was possible in today’s wash out. Loved the intent and positivity. This was not the first time either! In short, both Umar and Shehzad have the capabilities to take the world by storm in the forthcoming fast approaching World Cup with their fearlessness, flair & exuberance of youth. Pakistan continues to thrive, lead the way, pride & flourish in producing and throwing in young gems and Ahmed Shehzad is no exception. I have always backed, hyped and rated this youngster since he was catching the eye in the domestic arena and will continue to do so in the future. What a mouth watering prospect in the making, probably one of the most talented teenage batsmen on the planet. He is someone I have felt needs to be utilised at the top of the order instead of inconsistent, overrated, unnecessary, unreliable and to a large degree tainted performers like Kamran, Nazir, and Shahzib to name a few. AS from Lahore, give us more, the sky is the limit.......

Monday, January 24, 2011

Afridi vs Misbah

It is turning into a heated debate. Afridi is definitely under the pressure. Majority of the Pakistani population want him to lead the side, however some strong intellectuals have argued differently and gone in opposite directions when referring to the issue. I for one, am more then willing to gamble on Misbah with a sense of confidence and positivity.

The captaincy dilemma is simply coming down to:

Potential negative political effects (without Afridi) vs. more organised, controlled, composed, structured, collective, professional, responsible team effort (with Misbah).

I am not underestimating the importance of unity and spirit in the long term, however when looking at Pakistan's best bet to go further in a global tournament my eyes are firmly attracted to the second thought. Screw unity and spirit. Performance matters on the field and you can bank on Misbah to hopefully keep things under control off the field with his education and experience. He is the way forward as far as I'm concerned, if he gets the chance the results should show and certainly have the potential to do so.

Source News

KARACHI, Jan 22 (APP): Former Pakistan Captain Aamir Sohail and legendary leg-spinner Abdul Qadir on Saturday lashed out at captain Shahid Afridi for highly irresponsible behavior in the first One-Day International against New Zealand at Wellington earlier in the day.“How a captain can ask other players to show responsibility if he himself is guilty of such horrible strokes to let the team down”, former Chief Selector Abdul Qadir said in his comments at Pakistan Television.

It seems as if Lala has provided details against him when he appeared before the tribunal. Good on Lala. Clean cricket, save Pakistan.

However, his statement has no seriousness and is not credible for obvious reasons. He is after Afridi purposefully. He may not be, however considering how things have fared this is a strong front line possibility. Nonetheless, I totally agree where Butt is coming from, but his tainted view is not one to be taken with any seriosity at the moment considering the deep hot water he currently lies in with allegations of extreme magnitude lying against his name and many cricketing socieities worldwide convinced about the reality.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

QEA Round Up 2010/11

The Quaid E Azam Trophy Final was held between the 13th and 17th of January 2011 at the National Stadium Karachi. It was a fascinating historical spectacle as it was the very first day night first class match being held under the lights within the country with an orange ball. The match was an exciting evenly balanced contest in which HBL emerged as the winners and PIA were the runners up. The traditional fixture also received media attention as it was telecasted by the local TV sports channel, Geo Super.


Exclusive Pictures:-
The Pavilion
View from one of the stands

Autographs of Anwar Ali & Faisal Iqbal below:

Meanwhile, in the division 2 final contest which was held earlier, SPB beat KRL to take the honours in a largely rain affected innings reduced timeless fixture.


Overall Stats

Top 5 run getters Division 1

Rameez Raja 801
Shoaib Malik 799
Mansoor Amjad 784
Kamran Sajid 781
Kamran Akmal 767

Top 5 wicket takers Division 1

Sadaf Hussain 64
Abdur Rauf 63
Mohammad Khalil 61
Nasrullah Khan 61
Aizaz Cheema 57

Top 5 run getters Division 2

Usman Saliuddin 927
Asif Zakir 797
Raheel Majeed 673
Wajihuddin 752
Wajid Ali 716

Top 5 wicket takers Division 2

Sohail Khan 50
Saeed Altaf 50
Riaz Afridi 49
Mohammad Irfan 45
Atif Maqbool 40

Top 3 WKs

Ahmed Said 50 dismissals
Jamal Anwar 41 dismissals
Kamran Akmal 33 dismissals

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Kamran Akmal - A cringeworthy character

My general dislike for the man knows no bounds. This "hatred" if you will, comes from something that I for the life of me cannot explain. Missed catches, stumpings, match fixing, oath-taking are just a few things I associate with him.

The amount of catches he has dropped (34 at last count) in the last few years make him one of the worst wicket-keepers to have played in this era. No WK has ever been retained after such miserable showings but the man with "The Teeth" has made numerous comebacks just like a Pakistani salesman who refuses to go away after being shunned numerous times.

10 reasons why Afridi should be Captain

After being humiliated by the Blackcaps today, Pakistan cricket team captain Shahid Afridi must be cursing the day he took on this job. Pakistan cricket captaincy has always been a poisoned chalice ever since the incomparable & unrivaled Imran Khan left the scene after winning the 1992 world cup.

Board shenanigans, infighting, back-biting and bad press are just a few things a Pakistani captain has to deal with besides other off-field issues. Add to that, managing and leading a bunch of supposedly professional players who act like 8 years old makes the job less appealing than leading French forces against the Wehrmacht in WW2.

Afridi - Contemplating hi ball-biting skills

Ever since the PCB decided not to name a captain for the upcoming world cup, the Pakistani cricketing grapevine (which apparently only consists of the macho MIB and Yahya Hussaini for the Geo Super head honchos) has been rife with rumors of a rift between the captain and coach. Cricketing pundits are expecting a swift coup by none other than Misbah-burn-my-kit-if-not-selected-ul-Haq just before the mega event.

At the risk of being labeled as an Afridi fan-boy I present to you 10 reasons why Afridi should lead Pakistan in the upcoming World Cup.

1.    Lala comes across as a man who does not know the meaning of the word tactically astute but there is no one else in the team who is as inspirational as the Khan from Khyber Agency.
2.    The man is a livewire in the field and continuously inspires confidence in the field with his now trademark pat-on-the-back after every delivery.
3.    Afridi was the ODI captain of Pakistan during its toughest time and led the team to 2 close series losses against two very good ODI units.
4.    The respect and adulation the fellow players have for Afridi is immense and cannot be discounted in a team where being a senior is akin to being untouchable.
5.    You CAN NOT change captains so close to the World Cup.
6.    Despite of what people say, he has been the leading run scorer and wicket taker for Pakistan during the last 12 months.
7.    Performs when it matters, refer to his two MoM performances in the T20 WC 2009.
8.    Is honest and dedicated to the cause. Can’t say that about many Pakistan players.
9.    After 15 years he still is, and there should be no doubt about it, Pakistan’s talisman.
10. Stripping him from captaincy can have a negative impact on his and the team’s performance since he is an integral part of the setup.

Did I mention his hair?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Pakistan vs. New Zealand Stats

A 6 Match ODI series will get under way in less than 12 hours ahead of the World Cup.

Pakistan have only won 12 out of 34 ODI matches they have played in New Zealand. Last time they toured New Zealand they lost the series 4-1 in 2004. Last time they played an ODI series against New Zealand they lost 2-1 in UAE November 2009. They have not won an ODI series in New Zealand since 1994. New Zealand are not be underestimated, but in all fairness Pakistan should definitely win this ODI series rather comfortably.

Overall Pakistan have won 48 out of 82 ODI encounters against the Kiwis.

Younis Khan has never played an ODI in New Zealand!

Team announced for 1st ODI at Basin Reserve. 6 AM PST and 1 AM GMT: Kamran Akmal, Mohammad Hafeez, Younis Khan, Asad Shafiq, Misbah ul Haq, Umer Akmal, Shahid Afridi, Abdul Razzaq, Abdur Rehman, Sohail Tanvir, Shoaib Akhtar

Gul is rightfully being rested as is Wahab.It's perfectly reasonable as they deserve a rest to re-charge their batteries. Plus gives us an opportunity to tinker with the line up and look at other options available too. Look at the depth in the batting. Spin will be a key factor too. Definitely a bat first strategy should be in mind.

Exclusive PCT Photos By Maaz

Imran Tahir Selected For South Africa

Imran Tahir is pictured below

Pakistani born Imran Tahir has been included in the SA Squad for the forthcoming World Cup.

SA certainly have a mouth watering attacking spin option up their sleeves now with his inclusion and presence. Something they have always lacked and dreamt of having in their armouries.

He thoroughly well deserves his selection and opportunity. A proud moment for him and his family.

Best wishes to him. Probably one of the greatest bowler Pakistan produced that unfortunately did not get to play for them for various reasons which included having so many world class spinners at the time such as Saqlain, Mushtaq Ahmed & Danish Kaneria. Additionally, one has to feel for him as the selectors did not take enough noteworthiness of his statistics and ability when he was available for selection and lived in Lahore. Moreover, he married a South African women and upon her recommendations settled in South Africa and played his cricket there at the domestic level with overwhelming success over a number of seasons.

I have been extremely impressed by the cunning spinner each and every time I have had the pleasure to see him bowl in County Cricket fixtures, big or small. He has many lethal variations with the ability to bamboozle many a batsmen. He has been highly praised and rated by legendary artists like Warne and Qadir. This just goes to show, how effective and exciting he is. Additionally, he can be a useful lower order batsmen and add some contributions in the batting department as well.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Marks Out Of 10?!

The following are my individual marks out of 10 during this recently concluded Test Series against the Black Caps. On the whole everyone contributed at some stage and play their part in a winning effort. Excellent stuff and thoroughly well done. The only disappointing aspect if I am being excessively critical was that nobody actually notched up a ton or claimed a magical 5 for. However, at the end of the day there is very little to complain about and we can look at the outcome with positivity and satisfaction. As ever there is room for improvement and consolidation, but for the moment the boys and supporters can have their heads held up high. So without further ado let’s get on to the marks:-

Hafeez 5/10
Taufiq 8/10
Azhar Ali 6/10
Younis Khan 9/10
Misbah Ul Haq 10/10
Asad Shafiq 6/10
Adnan Akmal 7/10
Abdur Rehman 8/10
Umar Gul 9/10
Tanvir Ahmed 5/10
Wahab Riaz 5/10

Did not get a game: Umar Akmal, Sohail Tanvir & Khurram Manzoor.

PKs next Test assignment isn’t until May where they will tour the West Indies for another brief 2 match series. In their last 10 Tests they have played they have won 30% and drawn 30%. In their last 20 they have played they have lost 50%. Progression and Test form rejuvenation is being made. I will like to set PK a target that by January 2012 they are in the top 3 on the ICC rankings system for Tests and also Misbah remains undefeated as skipper in the format before he retires. In summary, enjoy the moment but this should only be the beginning.

ODI Series Soon

Umar Akmal will have a key role to play in the ODI series having been taken off the radar for some time now. His middle order aggression, stylishness and fearlessness should be an interesting spectacle for all concerned. Fingers crossed he is able to revive his form ahead of the sub continental 10th ICC Cricket World Cup which gets under way on the 19th of February.Incidentally Pakistan play their opening match in the tournament against Kenya on the 23rd.

Afridi, Shehzad, Akhtar, Ajmal, Razzaq and Kamran have all left for New Zealand ahead of the ODI series which commences on Saturday at 1am GMT and 6am PST. It will be held at Wellington. Your series predictions required? Mine: 4-2 PAKISTAN. Obviously really important and useful World Cup preparation. Hopefully Pakistan use this to their advantage. Looking forward to it. Series will conclude on the 5th of February at Auckland. Match dates include 22nd, 26th, 29th, 1st, 3rd and 5th.

1-0 Pakistan

The brief Test Series has concluded and it is the tourists who deservedly take the honours 1-0 after battling it out down and hard on the final day thanks to an invaluable 4th wicket stand between the experienced, authoritative and commanding Younis Khan and Misbah Ul Haq which ensured PK safety, stability and indeed sensation. A highly meaningful and long waited Test Series victory put 4 years and 3 months of hardships to bed.

The Tactics in the final session were debatable to an extent, however I strongly urge people not to take this with any concern or seriousness as the final outcome is what ultimately matters and it’s the greens that emerge as the final victors. It is better to be safe than sorry. A Pakistani win was least expected anyhow . A draw was the wanted outcome. A draw was we got. Moreover, we are not used to winning a series so we wanted to fully guarantee we were able to comfortably take the series honours as the wait had been a long, painful and miserable process rather than playing with risk and giving the opposition even the slightest of sniffs to get themselves back in the game and consequently level the series. It was an excellent effort which demonstrated great character, professionalism, responsibility, application, composure and gutsiness.

This current Test Team is a pleasure to watch. PCT are finally showing encouraging signs of becoming a “good” Test Unit. The batsmen are showing responsibility, determination, character, temperamental solidness and the bounty of consistency which makes them a respectable fighting professional outfit. The bowlers continue to discover new ways and new disciplines. I really rate this Test Match outfit personally. They have the ingredients to do wonders and I am proud to be following and supporting them. Test Cricket should be the long term priority and I prefer watching this line up then the ODI and T20 one by some distance. It’s a refreshing blend of top class characters and individuals, experienced and young who are stepping up on the responsibility ladder and stamping their authority in a controlled manner.

Misbah Ul Haq lifts the Series Trophy. He continues his magnifient form as skipper with a 6th consecutive half century. Pakistan remain undefeated under his leadership.

So far 2011 is proving to be a successful year. Long may this continue........?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

On the 4th innings marvel that is YK and eternal whiners

The fact that Pakistan won their first test series in almost 4 and half years didn’t prevent some rather immature fans from whining about the result of the 2nd test. The whiners complained that Pakistan teams approach to the target was gutless, tame, and what they called “phattu mentality” of the captain and coach robbed us from clean sweeping the miserable Kiwis.

Some of them would rather have Pakistan lose and draw the test series then to DRAW a test match from a winning position so shamelessly. The legacy of the cornered tigers they say has been disgraced by the utter nonchalance Misbah ul Haq displayed in the afternoon session chasing 274.
Maybe my fellow fans are forgetting that this is test match cricket and this team is still a work in progress. The team only has one world class batsman in the shape of Younis Khan (when he was on the crease the chase was still on) who can be expected to chase down totals in excess of 250 on a 5th day wicket.  I didn’t expect them to chase down the total after we were in trouble at 43/3 and risked losing the match. Considering how much turn a part-timer like Mohammad Hafeez was getting on the 4th day it was always going to be a challenge for the sometimes brittle Pakistani batting lineup to go for the win.
Image Courtesy: Marty Melville/Getty Images

Only 3 things are certain in life, taxes, death and a Pakistan batting collapse. Could the team think tank really risk losing a series, that too after 4 long years just to win one test match? Would you have done the same, considering that only a keeper who is playing his 4th test match and the tailenders were left behind?
This is exactly what has been ailing Pakistan cricket for the past 4 years, the disability to look at the bigger picture, the incapacity to stick on the wicket and tough it out.
Younis - Pak Crickets hottest commodity

Sure we all want some entertainment out of it, but this is REAL TEST CRICKET. The still relatively inexperienced team cannot slog their way out to a win when they do not have the necessary experience to deal with a collapse. This is test cricket we are talking about folks, not a gulli danda T20 slog-fest.
To sum it up, I think Misbah ul Haq and his men made a brave choice when they gave more importance to a long awaited series win rather than a senseless chance at glory.

Speaking of Younis Khan, has Pakistan ever produced a batsman more capable of handling the pressure of the 4th innings the way he does? Well the stats definitely say a big NO to that. The man is a class above everyone who is playing test cricket for Pakistan right now, a true winner.
The incomparable Khan from Mardan has been there more often than not when the team is in crisis. It was absolutely cruel of the PCB and his fellow players (who rebelled against his captaincy) to keep him out of the test side for almost 2 years.
Here are some amazing stats of Younis Khan in the 4th Innings of a test match. Oh, and Cricinfo tells me that he is second only to The Great Don Bradman in 4th innings batting average.
Younis Khan 4th Innings Stats
Matches – 23 | Innings 21 | Not Out 6 | Runs 887 | Highest 131 | Average 59.13 | 100’s 4 | 50’s 4

World Cup Squad

Shahid Afridi
Misbah Ul Haq
Younis Khan
Kamran Akmal
Ahmed Shehzad
Wahab Riaz
Shoaib Akhtar
Saeed Ajmal
Asad Shafiq
Abdur Rehman
Umar Akmal
Umar Gul
Abdur Rehman
Mohammad Hafeez
Sohail Tanvir

*Just to clarify guys NO captain has been announced for the World Cup when the 15 man squad was announced today. Afridi has been given the message that he has to perform now in the forthcoming series and lead well, otherwise he will be sacked. For now let's get behind him, however if the worst comes to the worst we always have a highly suitable alternative option. Let's see how our beloved Lala responds under pressure. Desperate times require desperate measures.*

*Guys IF Afridi gets an injury before the World Cup, there is a high chance it will be deliberately faked in order to try and save his reputation. I hope even if he is not captain for the mega event, he realises the value and importance of himself in the team and plays in the starting line up nonetheless. For now though he still has the captaincy in his hands for the forthcoming ODI series which commences on Saturday. Waqar Younis has strong disputes and rifts about him as a leader and to a large extent, so do I. At the end of the day we want what is best for Pakistan Cricket in the short and long term vision.*


Stumps Day 4
New Zealand 356 & 293
Pakistan 376 & Require 274 to win the series 2-0

274 is on my mind! It is what Pakistan need in order to successfully whitewash New Zealand and win a monumental Test Series. The series is fascinatingly set up for a thrilling climax at the Basin Reserve. The match is wide open with all 3 possibilities in the bag.

Here below is my proportional verdict at this moment in time:

New Zealand: 40%
Draw: 35%
Pakistan: 25%

Umar Gul

Finishes the series with 13 wickets. Has coped well and responded with his added responsibility of leading the attack and done it superbly. He has bowled with good aggression, energy and whole heartedly given his best for the skipper and team. Certainly deserves some praise and recognition. Hopefully, for his sake it will be in a winning series cause.

Younis Khan

Champions are made for moments like these! The Pathan Tiger has the credentials and toughness to come good. Perhaps he can notch up a memorable ton to guide us to victory? I am backing him all the way personally, but doubt Pakistan can actually win this one as much as I would dream optimistically for it to happen, unless he gets going with his class, experience and authority.


In conclusion, 'GAME ON.' As long as Pakistan are able to take the series honours I will be a happy man. They should see how they go early on and where they stand at lunch and make a quick assessment about how they should handle proceedings from there on.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Promising Signs

Day 3 Stumps
New Zealand 356 & 11/0
Pakistan 376

Azhar Ali reached his 6th Test Match half century in his 10th Test after scoring a well played 67 in the first innings.
The young lad continues to impress and grow in stature.

Finally since dropping Malik, Farhat, Butt and Kamran and all these tried and tested Test Match failures, Pakistan’s batting is finally showing guts, determination, stability and authoritativeness. We are now successfully posting totals in excess of 300, something which was virtually unheard of during the English summer and before. Forget all this exaggerated aggression, stylishness and free scoring values in Test Cricket. Of course you might need the odd spark from time to time as if and when Umar Akmal returns, but I can now happily say that Pakistan’s batting is finally learning the art how to play Test Cricket the good old way which deserves our admiration and appreciation. The bowling may not be as potent as before, but will always stand a chance of being competitive and replaceable over time.

The venue for the 2nd Test is a wonderful picturesque sight

The Test at the Basin Reserve is interestingly poised. All 3 results are very much still possible. Here is my tactical input ahead of what is to follow on what should be an exciting day of proceedings.

Plan A) Attacking field setting trying to entice early wicket taking opportunities and still giving Pakistan a good shout of winning this. Seamers will need to come charging in with good intent, energy and motivation.
Plan B) Containment. If New Zealand get away early on and start pushing on, quick action is needed with a change mindset to uphold their advance and tie things up. Here Rehman would be handy with his guile, accuracy and nagging line and lengths. By all means do not go defensive too early on, but if this scenario occurs precision and thoughtfulness is required from Mr MBA Graduate.

Pakistan will feel confident and comfortable at chasing anything under 250 which is realistically achievable. Ideally, under 200 would be better as the visitors look to chase their first Test Series win in 11 attempts.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Misbah's mysterious dismissals

Pakistan test captain (and if reports coming out from the PCB are accurate, their future ODI captain) Misbah-ul-Haq has already gained a cult status as Pakistan cricket's tragic icon with yet another out-of-the-world dismissal in the weirdest of circumstances.
After dragging Pakistan to safety with yet another gutsy, determined and well thought out innings Misbah was just one away from his 3rd test century and his first after 3 years. Chris Martin, the likeable Kiwi fast-bowler was in no mood to let Misbah score the final run of his bowling and was persisting with a line outside of off-stump challenging Misbah to take the risk.
The nagging line tested Misbah’s patience but he eventually succumbed to the pressure and shuffled across to the off-stump to a delivery that was coming into the right-hander. Lo & behold in no time after he stuck on the pads the umpires finger went up and Misbah could only walk back to the pavilion with a wry smile on his face.

The reaction of his teammates who were all gathered on the boundary to applaud the captain’s innings, were even more ironic. Younis Khan (the ultimate teammate) covered his face in disbelief and quickly walked back to the dressing room whereas the coach Waqar Younis asked his son to go back before Misbah sauntered his way back to the ropes.
Of course Pakistani fans are no strangers to Misbah's heroic ways of getting out. Who can ever forget the infamous scoop shot which landed in Sreesanth’s hands in the final of the 2007 T20 WC, which handed arch-rivals India the trophy. The only thing that saved him from being a target of rotten tomatoes and jootis on his arrival back to Pakistan was his sizzling show in the tournament.

Here is another classic out-of-this-world Misbah dismissal with video, this time against India at Delhi in the 1st test match. Here is CricInfo’s description of the weird run-out.
Misbah-ul-Haq - Delhi 2007
Batsmen are instructed to get in the way of the ball while running between the wickets; Misbah-ul-Haq made all the right moves before blowing a fuse at the last moment on the second day of the Delhi Test. Patting to point, he took off for a quick single and just needed to ground his bat at the non-striker's end when he chose to jump and evade the throw instead. Dinesh Karthik's effort from point found its way onto the stumps and Misbah was out when in mid-air.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

On Adnan Akmal's 5-fer

Who says Akmal’s can’t keep? After having seen Kamran drop dollies for the last 8 years, any wicketkeeper playing for Pakistan, who takes regulation catches, is like a breath of fresh air. Pakistani fans were obviously hoodwinked by the elder Akmal into thinking that he is the most competent keeper in the family while the savior (from Kamran’s torturous wicket keeping) was living in the same house.

© Arun Ramkumar for Cricinfo
Adnan is now officially the 9th wicket keeper to have taken 5 or more catches in an innings for Pakistan. Topping the list is obviously the legendary Wasim Bari who took 7 catches in a match against the same opposition in 1979.

Produced using Cricinfo's StatsGuru
New Zealand are still 6 down and Akmal has an opportunity to take if not 2 then at least 1 more catch to get to 6 catches in an innings. It will be a huge confidence booster for the still relatively young WK.
Another thing I would like to mention is his batting performance in the 1st innings of the first test. It wasn’t a perfect innings and he scored most of his runs playing risky shots but it was a good indication of where he stands as a batsman. He showed positive intent and will only get better with time playing international cricket, practicing with top Pakistani bowlers on a regular basis.
I can only hope and pray that he DOES not go down the Kamran Akmal way.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

20 Interesting Cricket Facts

1. The Don (Donald Bradman) once scored 100 runs in just 3 overs (8 ball overs) in an unofficial match.
2. Aqib Javed was the youngest player in Pakistan to play First Class cricket. He made his debut at 12 years old.
3. Saqlain Mushtaq was the fastest to reach 100 wickets in ODIs. It took him only 53 games to get there.
4. Afridi is the youngest player to get a 100 in ODI's. He achieved this feat at just a tender age of 16.
5. Javed Miandad has played the most cricket world cups. He has been involved in 6 world cups.
6. Usain Bolt as a child used to Support Pakistan and Waqar Younis was his favourite player
7. Sarfaraz Nawaz invented reverse swing and took 7 wickets for 1 run against Australia in 1978.
8. Brian Lara was once dismissed by a woman cricketer in a charity match.
9. Brian Lara once scored 500 runs in a county game.
10. Pakistan's lowest total in ODI cricket is 43. It was against WI in 1993.
11. The only law of Cricket that has not had any changes or modifications, is the length of the pitch.
12. In the first ever Test in 1877, Australia beat England by 45 runs. 100 years later, In the Centenary Test, the result was exactly the same.
13. Nawaz Sharif was formerly a First Class cricketer, although he only played one match and got out on zero in the only innings he played.
14. Shahid Afridi used a bat borrowed from Waqar Younis to score the fastest century in a One-Day International and Waqar Younis borrowed it from Sachin Tendulkar.
15. Hanif Mohammed batted for 16 hours and 10 minutes - nearly 3 full days - against the West Indies, scoring 337*.
16.Wasim Akram is the first player to take hat tricks in both ODI and test matches.
17. Only 3 players have 6000 runs and 200 wickets (almost 300 wickets as well) in ODI cricket: Shahid Afridi, Jacques Kallis, Sanath Jayasuria.
18. Misbah is the only Pakistani test captain who has won a test but has not lost any.
19. Chris Martin, the New Zealand bowler has scored 100 runs after 60 test matches.
20. Amir took wickets in his first over in Test and T20.

Miandad offers to become batting consultant again

Pakistan batting legend and former captain Javed Miandad has once again offered his services as a batting consultant prior to the World Cup. In a refreshing development which will be beneficial to Pakistan’s chances in the mega event.

Miandad is said to be encouraged by the patience and determination showed by the Pakistani batsmen during the win against New Zealand in the first test. He spent a few days coaching Pakistani batsmen before they went on to tour New Zealand and his advice seems to have helped the test batting line-up.

The previous move came after various attempts by the PCB to play down the need for a batting coach for the national team amidst numerous batting failures on the tour of England during the summer.

The media and former players criticized the PCB for having Waqar Younis & Aaqib Javed as a part of the coaching staff when the real need for the team was for a batting coach.

Miandad has served the PCB in various capacities after his retirement and is currently holding the position of Director Operations. He has held the head coaching position on the famous tour to India in 1999 and was keen to replace Intikhab Alam earlier this year after he was relieved of his head coaching duties.

It will be curious to see whether Waqar Younis & Javed will establish a healthy working relationship once more or will there be another clash of egos between the two men. One thing is for sure though that our young and upcoming batsmen will definitely learn a few tricks from the finest batsmen the country has ever produced.

Justice will prevail

Whether the Pakistan trio is guilty or not is still up for debate (for me at least, but most of you have made up your mind) but the deferment of the ICC verdict can be beneficial in the long run for Pakistan cricket. If a decision had been taken in haste without putting much thought into we could have possibly seen a couple of life bans and a 5 year or longer ban for Aamir.

What the postponement tells us is that the ICC is not willing to destroy the career of the 3 players but in fact is willing to listen to the suggestion of Mohammad Aamir’s lawyer, by carefully deliberating over the case before passing the judgment and potentially leading to small time bans/fines.

Missing the World Cup is a sacrifice I’m willing to make if it makes sure that (if the players are innocent) they will be available for selection as soon as possible.