Sunday, February 27, 2011

Team Pakistan Huddle Following Victory

What a fantastic sight. This team is united and working well together for the betterment of the team. This team has many capable match winners and deciated professionals who are giving their best efforts and producing the goods.

I have a feeling that this could be the Pakistan Cricket Team that goes the distance and re-lives the glory of 1992 at the MCG on the 25th of March!

In Younis Khan they have a world class batsmen who is determined to prove his worth in ODIs. He has the credentials to produce a match winning knock time after time.

In Misbah they have a responsible top class batsmen who can build an innings and play a key role in handling a number of different situations. Also, a cricketing expert, sound fielder and assistive senior when it comes to advice, coolness and on field assistance.

In Afridi, they have a charismatic impact match winner who is at the top of his game in the bowling department and could fire with the bat down the line somewhere. Brilliant catcher too. In the field he provides energy and is a good motivator.

The above aforementioned seniors are key players and leading the way successfully. Long may this continue.........

A Day To Remember In Colombo!

277/7 Misbah 83*(91)
Sri Lanka
266/9 Afridi 4/34

Summary and Assessment

Congratulations everyone to start off with as winning a WC fixture against a top class opponent is always a challenging stage to play on and a special feeling if you get the desired result. Even more so when you're playing on their home ground with a packed electrifying atmosphere. Therefore, this is a cause for celebration. Pessimists who previously were writing off the team's chances can now take a step back as this victory represents hope, optimism and the genuine potential of this unit as a threatening world beating force who could do wonders which include actually winning the World Cup as highlighted beforehand by many of the regular and experienced followers including myself, but that was the talking and now we are seeing the results shine in front of one and all. It was a truly brilliant performance today in a thrilling contest at Colombo and some key names came to the party and clicked under pressure. This should now definitely have kicked started the team campaign with a sense of pride and belief which should win the hearts and minds of the cricket mad but starved nation which has been dominated by hardships and turmoils. They could really do with a major global triumph to reunite the public and rejuvenate the national spirit in several walks of life. This soon might become a reality.

Key Notes

- Pakistan make it 7/7 and remain undefeated against Sri Lanka in WCs.

-Pakistan have won 5 out of their last 6 one day internationals.

-They currently stand at the top of Group A above Australia, Sri Lanka and New Zealand.

-Afridi is currently standing as the leading wicket taker in the World Cup with joint figures of 18-3-50-9 which is astonishingly good. This also suggests that the 5/16 against Kenya was not a one match fluke and that he has actually re-discovered that magical golden spark in his bowling which makes him a dangerous trump card match winner. What better time to find it than in a World Cup, especially when your captain!!! He could well conclude the tournament as the leading wicket taker. The early indications are pointing towards a special tournament for the experienced talisman.

-Misbah Ul Haq currently averages 148 in the tournament. Continuous brilliance from the Vice Captain.

Memorable Moments

1) Shoaib's delivery to Jayawardene where the ball swung prodigiously and shattered into middle stump. The top class batsmen was beaten through his defences in phenomenal fashion. It was a game changing moment which broke a potentially destructive middle order partnership and also inspired the whole of the Pakistan Team on the field.

2) Afridi dismissing Samaraweera with a gem of a delivery where he extracted sharp drift, dip and turn away from the right hander. The teasing delivery dragged him out of the crease and he lost his balance to provide Kamran Akmal with an opportunity to dislodge the bails in time which he successfully managed to do.

3) Afridi dismissing Sangakara in the deep at a crucial time in the match which pushed the game in favour of Pakistan and also brought up a famous landmark for him of reaching 300 ODI wickets. He is only the 2nd person behind Sanath Jayasuria to reach the milestone.

Potentially 7 more wins are on their way? Don't rule out the possibility of Pakistan winning the World Cup in style by being undefeated!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

A Big Asian Group A Rivalry!

Afridi had the perfect start to the tournament with his magical 5 wicket haul against the Kenyans on Wednesday. He also scored a century in his last match he played against Sri Lanka. Also, scored 50s against them in the 2009 ICC WT20 Final at Lords and in his first T20 as captain. The 26th of February could be another memorable day for him as he leads the side with some personal confidence behind him.

Pakistan take on Sri Lanka tomorrow in their first real competitive match of the World Cup at Colombo. This will provide a stern test for Afridi's side and really give us an indication of where they stand and how far they could potentially go in the grand scheme of things during this World Cup. Continuing and consolidating on the winning and positive momentum will be crucial in order to help the green tigers peak at the right time and deliver when it matters during the knock out stages. Pakistan should be looking to win as many fixtures as possible in the group stages in order to aid achieving this and will want victories against Test Playing Nations: Sri Lanka, New Zealand and Australia as opposed to just turning over the minnows as expected. What's more is that if Pakistan are able to finish higher up in their group (preferably 1st or 2nd) they will gain an easier quarter final fixture against a lesser in form and prepared outfit and the likelihood is that they will not have to face firm tournament favourites, India on their home soil which looks an uphill task for any side at present. By finishing high up in the group, this should also help the cause in delivering in the knock out days in between the 23rd and 26th March by gaining that psychological edge which could be assistive in reaching the latter stages of the 10th ICC Cricket World Cup. This undoubtedly is a big game where the actual significance of a victory will show down the line as the tournament progresses and one looks back on at where things went well or went wrong for the goodness of the overall team campaign. The adrenaline must be pumping and the players must be raring to go like energetic school kids at the start of the holiday season.

Ahmed Shehzad
He will be a key name I am putting in the hat for this fascinating encounter at Colombo. He has a great deal of freshness, youthful exuberance, positivity and fearlessness about him. He has done exceptionally well in his comeback and made some eye catching and match winning contributions with his adorable stroke play and excellent intent. He looked off colour against Kenya, but I am expecting the selectors to persevere with him and for him to come out with a buzzing game plan to show what he is made of and announce himself to the world as a teenage batting superstar. The stage could be his. He has the talent. He generally has the form. This could be his day to shine and that too against a proper bowling attack?

Needs no introduction. The sky is the limit. A legendary world class bowler who holds records and has reached many illustrious milestones throughout his career. He is the second leading World Cup wicket taker of all time. This will be his 5th and final World Cup so he will want to start off well and what better place to do it than against Pakistan in their first real competitive match of the 49 match tournament. Could be a key factor. Pakistan will be need to be weary of him and do their homework.

I am anticipating a high scoring match here. If Pakistan bowl first and are able to restrict the Lankans to under 260, they will fancy their chances. However, they will definitely need a better opening start than what they got against Kenya in order to post a competitive and challenging total against the Lankans batting first. Either way, they will have to be at the top of their game to stand a chance. Given the strength and depth of Sri Lanka's batting and the nature of the pitches, an extra front line seamer will be a wise choice and open up the options for the skipper as well as prevent relying on liabilities which could be fatal. This will help in keeping control of proceedings out there in the field.

Sri Lanka have beaten Pakistan 7 out of the last 10 times the team have met and on paper they are the stronger unit. Pakistan have beaten Sri Lanka all 6 times the teams have met in a World Cup Fixture. At this particular venue where the match will be contested, Pakistan have won 5 out of 12 matches. Umar Akmal also made his maiden ODI century at this venue.

Sri Lanka have the edge, but as always you never quite known with Pakistan and there should never be any shortage of excitement and mysteriousness in their approach. The game is a big opportunity for them to stamp their authorities which could be crucial in the chain of events which follow as outlined above. Here's hoping from a Pakistani perspective they have realised its significance and take it with a sense of purpose. In closing, all eyes are firmly focussed on Colombo for this good old Asian Rivalry between two teams who have a decent shout of doing the distance right through to the Mumbai Final on the 2nd of April, but who is the better one at this stage?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Imran Tahir Has a Dream Debut!

Misbah's ODI Comeback

Misbah's scores since his return in the ODI side
50, 35, 93*, 25, 100, 25, 65: Average: 56

For someone who's career started so late and has been so short, Misbah has accomplished a lot and been an inspirational figure who has regularly produced the goods and been a great servant in the dressing room with his experienced presence, tactical expertise and calming responsibilities. Arguably our best batsmen at the moment? We should all rate and acknowledge his credentials as reasonable and unbiased people. He has been an influential member in the team success, during 2007 and ever since his comeback following him being named as Test Captain, it has been second to none.

Pakistan Start With a Bang!

Pakistan started their World Cup Campaign with a bang today by defeating Kenya by an overwhelming margin of 205 runs. It was a clinical all round performance with some record breaking performances as Pakistan eased their ways to a comfortable victory. Pakistan will want to use this victory as an opportunity to set up their tournament where they have gained that victorious tone which they can build on and carry through in the fixtures which proceed. This could be the start of what plans out to be a successful and memorable tournament for Afridi's side. The captain himself bowled magnificently and claimed some remarkable figures during a breath taking spell of leg spin bowling where he concluded with 8-3-5-16. He demonstrated a great degree of skill and uniqueness which absolutely puzzled the Kenyans as they faltered in quick succession against the brilliance of the Pakistani skipper. They struggled to combat his sharp drift, variations and dip he was getting which was always going to be a challenge for them to combat and counter, especially if he was on the money.

Earlier Pakistan amassed 317 having won the toss, despite the early losses of the openers with the score line at 12-2 after just 7 overs. Kamran Akmal played a good hand in re-building the innings and getting Pakistan on track with his 9th half century, Younis set the platform with the help of his class and experience to bring up his first half century in a World Cup encounter whereas Misbah played an important hand in accumulation and carrying the good work through in his first World Cup appearance, Mr consistent did not fail to live up to our expectations and continued his magnificent purple patch of form. However, it was Umar Akmal who stood out and played with freedom, intent, aggression and energy once the foundations had been laid and the situation was ideal for him to do what he does best! He notched up 71 off just 52 deliveries. The Kenyan bowlers were sloppy and undisciplined which helped the Pakistani cause with 46 extras contributing to the overall total.

On the whole, it was a perfect outcome and a victory which should be celebrated and applauded appreciably. The manner in which they went about their business and produced the goods is the area which should be looked at and not the strength or depth of the opposition. Moreover, in the previous WCs where Pakistan faced humiliation in the preliminary stages, they lost their opening fixture so perhaps this change is a refreshing spark of better things to follow?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Pakistan vs Kenya Tomorrow!

Pakistan's 2011 World Cup Campaign commences tomorrow when they take on Kenya in their opening fixture from Group A. It is highly significant that they set the tone, seize the initiative, set the standards and gain a moral boosting win in order to kick start their tournament where they stand a reasonable chance of realistically actually going the distance which is not at all beyond their sights and capabilities.

However, lets bear in mind the opponents we are playing actually reached the semis in the 2003 World Cup and we all have flashbacks of what happened on St Patricks day in 2007 where the Irish eliminated Inzamam's side in the preliminary stages. Therefore, complacency is never an option and Pakistan must ensure they turn up and deliver the goods.

My Line Up

Shehzad, Hafeez, Younis, Umar, Misbah, Afridi, Razzaq, Wahab, Junaid, Akhtar, Ajmal.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

WC Warm Ups Round Up 16/02/11

England defeated Canada today, but by 16 runs in their warm up fixture following Broad’s 5 for. Arguably a significant area of concern for Strauss’s men? An excellent fight and effort put up by the Canadians and in particular by KC (a guy I know) and the flamboyant attacking stroke maker, Rizwan Cheema. I am looking forward to see Canada in this World Cup the most out of all the associate sides. England now will take on Pakistan on Friday in the last warm up fixture before the real thing starts. Both teams will be determined to go into the campaign on a high by winning both their warm up fixtures.

In other stories, the ICC is not at all amused by Salman Butt’s TV contract with channel 5 where he is set to provide expert views as a studio guest during the course of the competition. The ICC is currently investigating whether the 26 year old is breaching the conduct of his ban. Butt was banned for 10 years by the ICC at the Doha hearing on the 5th of February, 5 years which are to be suspended if he participates in an anti-corruption educational programme and does not commit any further wrong doing. The reaction to his involvement with the TV Channel following the verdict has generated a mixed reception, with many people raising serious eyebrows over the appointment.

Australia have lost both their warm up matches against India and South Africa with some poor batting performances. In Cricket WCs they have made 6 appearances in a final out of the 9 times the tournament has been contested. I have a strong feeling they will not be able to repeat their success in previous tournaments. It will be a triumph for the cricket world if their WC domination ends and we do not see them in a final this time!

Elsewhere, in Bangladesh special sprays are being utilised in order to swipe out a whole proportion of mosquitoes which could cause potential harm during the course of the competition. Action is being taken near the venues and hotels in order to prevent complaints emerging and help everyone enjoy their experiences of playing in Bangladesh with everything running smoothly without any disturbances or interferences being caused.

Meanwhile, tomorrow (17th) there will be an official opening ceremony taking place in Bangladesh which is getting the golden opportunity of hosting their first major global sporting spectacle since gaining independence in 1971. The ceremony will remark the start of the 43 day campaign where 49 encounters will be contested amongst 14 teams all with one firm vision. It’s a spectacle of unity, patriotism, fever, intensity and excitement. May the party commence......

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Open World Cup-India/RSA can win it?

It’s an open World Cup in all seriousness and fairness. It would be unwise to rule out the capabilities of the majestic cornered tigers. Going the distance and triumphing is not beyond them. Nonetheless, I feel India and South Africa look like favourites to win this 10th WC tournament. Pakistan should target a spot in the semis at least; I will be satisfied if they are able to reach that far. That would be a good showing and a successful campaign.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Random Thoughts-Mohammad Asif

Mohammad Asif surely has to be up there as one of the most unpleasant individuals that has ever represented Pakistan? If only his discipline and conduct could have been half as good as his bowling, he could have done wonders. For someone so exceptionally gifted his track record is heavily unaccomplished. It seems as if terms such as "normality" and "civilised" do not exist in his vocabulary.

Warm Up Match vs. Bangladesh

Warm Up Game tomorrow (15th February) vs. Bangladesh. Will be televised. Valuable last minute preparations and its essential they take full advantage of its potential usefulness in the longer chain of events which follow. They should be following the footsteps of the philosophy “proper preparation prevents poor performance.”Should be interesting to see what happens in terms of team combinations and performance. Good Luck Pakistan!! Lets get this job done and dusted well.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

India BEAT Australia By 38 Runs In 2011 WC Warm Up

WOW. INDIA start their World Cup Campaign with a bang by winning their warm up!!! What a remarkable turnaround from them. Australia were just chasing 215 for victory and at one stage were 118/1 in just the 22nd over! However, the Aussies collapsed and were cleaned up for 176 to give India a 38 run victory! Young leg spinner Piyush Chawla claimed figures of 9-0-4-31. Congratulations to the Indian supporters.

Imran Khan backed India to successfully lift the World Cup on home soil. He also mentioned how highly he thought of MS Dhoni's captaincy. I agree with both of these points. Here you have a top professional who avoids giving unbiased statements. On balance, India are hot favourites for this World Cup.

Razzaq at #3

Ideally, Razzaq should bat at number 3 as a floater. It's sad how they waste his talent and treat him. He wants to bat higher up as well. He can dominate attacks if he gets more time to get his eye in and a better opportunity to show what he can do rather than coming in during a crisis most of the time. Need to use him more effectively and give him the added responsibility which he deserves.

We can afford to be flexible with Kamran. For other players it makes a significant difference where they bat as they are more effective in certain positions whereas for Kamran this does not necessarily matter. He can score at a good rate and play in the same manner wherever he ends up playing.

2011 World Cup Pakistan Player Portrait Day!

Photo Shots of the Squad members displayed below

The young rockstar :) - AHMED SHEHZAD

The one and only! He has a burning ambition to win the WC and retire with a legacy. He has been prioritising and focussing on this since his comeback in the side in June at the Asia Cup. Probably will retire after it finishes. We have heard from himself that he hopes to be clocking up 95mph during this tournament!!! Best Wishes Shabby.....

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Junaid Khan Time!

Junaid Khan is a local hero at the moment. Very soon he could become a national hero. A front line new ball option who has all the ingredients to trouble top order players IF he plays. An excellent decision by the selectors. It was a creative and brave move. Traditionally Pakistan have discovered gems at high profile events that have provided a “surprise package” with their fresh presence and burning desires.

*In 28 FC appearances Mohammad Aamir took 120 wickets
*In 35 FC appearances Junaid Khan has taken 167 wickets
-Statistically and technically they are very similar.
-I have hope that Junaid will become a special name!
-I won't at all be surprised if he emerges so brilliantly and bursts on the scene just like Aamir did in 2009!
-The whole of Pakistan is behind this sensational left arm pacer. The world is waiting and there is no better place to make a name for yourself than in a World Cup! We wish JK every success............

Pakistan vs Sri Lanka Thread Build Up

It’s a big encounter and one which we are all intriguingly looking forward to. The home side and hosts take on their Asian Rivals. It should be a fascinating, exciting and interesting encounter for all concerned and is clearly up there as one of the best games in the group stages. Both teams will be eagerly determined to win this in order to kick start their campaigns and place themselves in a good position to finish high up in their group and generally go far and do well in the overall tournament. I reckon this match will be absolutely crucial in giving us an insightful indication of how far we can expect PK to go and what they are capable of achieving. A date for your diary: Saturday 26th February 2011. Bring on the challenge and comeon Pakistan.........

Friday, February 11, 2011

Rana in Big Bash 2010/11

The excellence, skill and expertise of Rana. When he gets it right, he can be deadly. In the shortest version of the great game, he is a world class performer and established match winner. He is someone I have always liked and rated personally. Enjoy the footage. There are some unplayable deliveries on view.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Pakistan's World Cup Journey - An atroicious beginning - 1975

Pakistan, a team which since its inception in 1952 has become an epitome of capriciousness , has lived up to its ability to explode and annihilate their opponents on their day regardless of the fact who it is yet implode in front of a paltry force such as Ireland  when it comes to their World Cup campaigns.

Pakistan initiated their World Cup journey along with seven other countries of whom all were Test sides barring Sri Lanka and East Africa, as the first edition of ICC’s cricket world cup, officially called the Prudential Cup, kicked off in England on 7th June 1975.

Pakistan was drawn with Australia, Sri Lanka and West Indies. West Indies entered the tournament as a formidable unit boasting names such as Clive Lloyd, Andy Roberts, Derek Murray, Gordon Greenidge, Alvin Kalicharan and Roy Fredericks. Meanwhile, Australia had a fiery bowling department with Lilee and Thompson, who were further complemented by a batting line-up consisting of the Chappell brothers, Alan Turner and Rod Marsh. Sri Lanka was an unknown quantity on international stage and the three teams together with the unpredictable Pakistan formed a seemingly group of death.

Having one of the most balanced squads, Pakistan was being led by an able leader in Asif Iqbal and the young Javed Miandad, maestro Zaheer Abbas, swift Wasim Bari, composed Sadiq Muhammad, sensational Sarfraz Nawaz and the wonder Imran Khan were all part of the first contingent that left Pakistan to attain cricket’s highest honor. In spite of being looking a competitive unit on paper Pakistan imploded on the field to make an early exit from the showpiece event.

Pakistan got their first World Cup campaign underway against Australia at Headingly. Batting first Australia amassed a challenging 278 on the board from their 60 overs. Five of the top six Australian batsmen chipped in with handy contributions of which Ross Edwards’ 80 off 94 stood out due to his calculated attack and immaculate timing of the ball. Chasing a total of 279, Pakistan were under immense pressure from ball one. The pressure soon started telling on them as they lost Sadiq Muhammad, Zaheer Abbas and Mushtaq Muhammad in quick succession, leaving them tottering at 68 for 3.

On the other end Majid Khan stood firm signaling a fight from Pakistan’s fragile batting. Along with Asif Iqbal, he managed to raise the score to 104 with Asif carrying onto 181 with Wasim Raja before getting his stumps rattled by Lilee. Till that point it had been a case of fortune favoring the brave but as soon as Iqbal turned towards the pavilion the luck too ran out for Pakistan. Soon Lilee unleashed his searing pace as the Pakistan lower-order capitulated to lose by a significant margin of 73 runs despite Majid Khan’s valiant effort of 65 from 76 balls, giving Lilee 5 for 34 and the man of the match award.

Match Scorecard:

Four days later, Pakistan faced off the mighty West Indies at Edgbaston. After opting to bat, Majid Khan set the tone for a high scoring game with his bold shot making. Mushtaq Muhammad and Wasim Raja followed the suit by scoring enterprising half-centuries as Pakistan managed to accumulate 266 runs in their stipulated 60 overs.

West Indian top order crumbled in front of Sarfraz Nawaz who reduced them to 36 for 3 by getting key wickets of Gordon Greenidge, Alvin Kalicharan and Roy Fredericks. Pakistan went on to damage them further as West Indies were reduced to 99 for 5 at one stage with Viv Richards back in the hut. Clive Lloyd eased the West Indian nerves with a stimulating half century as West Indies recovered from 99 for 5 to 145 for 5 before Lloyd and Julien were dismissed in quick succession as Pakistan sniffed victory.

Soon West Indies found themselves staring at defeat on 203 for 9 when the last pair of Derek Murray and Andy Roberts started knitting a partnership as West Indies clawed their way back into the match. Pakistan went on to lose the thriller as West Indies rode onto a fairy-tale 11th wicket partnership of 64 runs between DL Murray and Andy Roberts to reach the target with a wicket and two balls to spare. It effectively ended Pakistan’s first ever World cup campaign, who earned a crushing 192-run consolation victory over not-yet-a-Test-side Sri Lanka at Nottingham.

Match Scorecard:

What has Afridi done for Pakistan in ODIs?

Career Span

312 Matches

ODI batting averge=24

ODI bowling average=35

Judge Afridi as a 'bowler?'
Afridi bowling vs. New Zealand: 41-0-4-200 (average 50 runs per wicket)
Afridi bowling vs. South Africa: 50-0-6-258 (average 43 runs per wicket)
Afridi bowling vs. England: 43-0-4-229 (average 57 runs per wicket)

He can be a useful and effective operator every now and then when he finds a magical spark, however by and large his bowling is rather average by international standards and can no longer be solely used as an excuse to justify his continuous selection in the ODI team. His batting is heavily inconsistent and unreliable as we all know and by no stretch of the imagination something which could be banked upon to deliver. Afridi's bowling form does no longer possess the same threat, venom and attacking trump card tag which he has shown at times and overall stats in both departments do not make great reading although one could argue he has served well(barring a few moments of stupidity). In my view, generally a good long term servant but an average player if anything. A good World Cup campaign where he shows some responsibility and produces some match winning efforts could slightly tilt the balance in favour of his overall rating, but for now let's consider the bigger picture and face the reality.

Nevertheless, he is leading the side in the World Cup so your support is needed. He can be a key impact player who can be unstoppable when he clicks. Surely he wants to achieve some sort of ODI legacy to somewhat justify the over excessive hyped up fan base he has attracted over the last decade or will he simply be renowned as a Mickey-mouse one dimensional cricketer for his heroics in twentyT20? The next 2 months shall decide...........

The Official Kit Launch 08/02/11 good job indeed! Impressive design. Personally am considering purchasing them.

Pakistan's Next 'Mohammad Aamir'......

The bans which were imposed on the trio at approximately 3pm GMT on Saturday 5th February 2011 were realistic, reasonable & totally fair as far as I and many are concerned. We should acknowledge and appreciate the ICCs attempt to set the example straight and eradicate corruption from the game, regardless of personal abilities, past heroics and previous tendencies. The integrity and credibility of cricket is arguably a dying art and something which needs to be restored with immediate effect in order to prevent such disgraceful incidents from being witnessed on the cricketing field time and time again. If that means we have to use Pakistan, provide no exemption for age and prevent giving them second chances, so be it. If we don't take action NOW we will NEVER and cricket can continue to be expected to be dominated with controversies and acts of shamefulness. The trio have been found guilty of bowling pre-arranged no balls during the 4th Test Match at Lords this summer. They have purposefully sold out the name, image, pride and dignity of the country in return for money. Such individuals do not deserve to represent a nation at any capacity. Mohammad Aamir's career could and perhaps should be used as an example setter for the strictness to follow. There is no room for any degree of fixing in some professional society.

Although this is a less significant point I am about to make, but for of the emotional ones this could provide some relief. Pakistan is blessed with endless talent and continues to lead the way and thrive in producing gems from the youth and domestic circuit, especially in the fast bowling club which is second to none and thankfully has been for several generations and doesn't look like dying out anytime soon! Therefore, rest assured there are capable world beaters waiting in the wings, developing and performing who have the capabilities of being as effective, sensational and brilliant as Aamir was without being tainted and shameful. Pakistan can literally afford to lose Aamir and co for the non cricketing reasons and there are various replacements who can do equally as well or if not better when it comes to the cricketing stuff. Here below I have a look at some young mouth watering fast bowling prospects which are worth keeping a close eye on and could break into the national side very soon and do exceptionally well as long as the selectors are creative and brave like they once were with Aamir! Remember this line :" Pakistan will find their next 'Mohammad Aamir' within the next 12 months." Watch this space and never underestimate the greatness of our long lived fast bowling legacy. We do not need cheats and traitors in OUR team. Anyhow, without further ado let's get on to having a look at them:

1) Junaid Khan: A highly rated left arm fast bowler and the guy which looks like being the obvious successor. He has claimed 167 wickets in 35 First class appearances. He can move the ball both ways with control at sharp pace and swing the ball enough to get the in roads. Generally has a smooth run up and orthodox point of release. At 21 years of age he has a good head on his shoulders and is pushing through the ranks very nicely indeed.

2) Mohammad Talha: In the recently concluded Faysal Bank One Day National Cup Division One, 2010/11was the joint leading wicket taker with 21 scalps at an average of just 14 for his domestic team NBP. He has made his Test debut before in 2009, but unfortunately had it coming on a flat bed. Nevertheless, this Tall skinny skiddy seamer is progressing nicely and it will be hard for the selectors to ignore him for much longer.

3) Anwar Ali: The wonder kid which bamboozled the Indian U19 line up in the intriguing low scoring U19 WC final in 2006 from Colombo to give Pakistan their 2nd consecutive U19 triumph. He has been well spoken off amongst the closest of Pakistani cricket fanatics. He has apparently developed on the "outswinger" to go with his prodigious inswingers and also worked on his batting and voiced aspirations of becoming a genuine all rounder too.

4) Sadaf Hussain: A Tall Left arm fast bowler from Rawalpindi who was the leading wicket taker in the 2010/11 Quaid E Azam Trophy Season. He has notched up 85 scalps in just 15 FC matches which is astonishingly good and suggests he has something "special" about him.

5) Asad Ali: A young tall seamer from Faisalabad. He played league cricket in 2010 for a club in the Staffordshire league called Moddershall CC which has previously signed the likes of star internationals, Imran Tahir & Rangana Hearth to name a few. During his stint with the club he made an immediate impression totalling with 37 wickets from just 12 matches including 4 5fors. His First Class stats make excellent reading with 246 scalps from 54 games at an average of approximately 22. I recall viewing some footage of his bowling where he successfully managed to move the ball appreciably.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

HBL Are Winners

HBL won the National One Day Tournament Division 1 Final by 64 runs against National Bank Pakistan today. This is their second silverware of the season to add to their QEA glory just under a month ago!

Congratulations to Hasan Raza on captaining the side so successfully. He definitely seems like a good captain with credentials. Potentially could even captain the national side in the future. He is not even 30 yet! Don't rule out this possibility!

Pakistan vs New Zealand 2011 ODI Series Ratings By Maaz

Pakistan's ODI Series Ratings

Ahmed Shehzad 8/10

Mohammad Hafeez 7/10

Kamran Akmal 4/10

Younis Khan 5/10

Misbah Ul Haq 9/10

Umar Akmal 6/10

Shahid Afridi 7/10

Abdul Razzaq 3/10

Wahab Riaz 9/10

Umar Gul 6/10

Shoaib Akhtar 3/10

Asad Shafiq 4/10

Abdur Rehman 3/10

Sohail Tanvir 3/10

Monday, February 7, 2011

2011 WC Commentators

Commentators for the World Cup:
Rameez Raja,Wasim Akram, Harsha Bhogle, Sourav Ganguly, Navjot Sidhu, Tony Greig, Sunil Gavaskar, Ravi Shasthri, Sanjay Manjrekar, Alan Wilkins, Mike Atherton, Ian Botham, David Lloyd, Nasser Hussain, Ian Chappell, Tom Moody, Danny Morrison, Simon Doull, Pommie Mbangwa, Robin Jackman, Ian Bishop, Tony Cozier, Russel Arnorld, Athar Ali Khan, Alastair Campbell and Pat Symcox.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Domestic One Day Division 1 Tournament Final

It will be NBP vs HBL in the Faysal Bank Domestic One Day Tournament Division 1 Final on Tuesday. Imran Farhat from HBL has been the stand out performer so far during this competition with 476 runs at an average of 95. Young emerging fast bowler from NBP Mohammad Talha is currently the leading wicket taker with 19 scalps in 6 games at an average of just 12. Both in form players will be participating in the final on Tuesday which will be played at the Gaddafi Stadium Lahore. Hasan Raza will be captaining HBL whereas Fawad Alam will be captaining NBP. Should be a good contest and good luck to both sides.

Umpires announced for ICC Cricket World Cup 2011

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has announced the list of umpires and referees who will officiate the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 being held in Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka from February 19th. The 12-member Elite Panel of Umpires will be joined by six members of International Panel of Umpires for the ICC Cricket World Cup. The six umpires were chosen by David Richardson (ICC’s General Manager of Cricket), former match referee and player David Lloyd, former umpire S. Venkatargahavan and match referee Ranjan Madugalle.

Following is the list of umpires for 2011 ICC World Cup:
  • Billy Bowden
  • Aleem Dar
  • Steve Davis
  • Billy Doctrove
  • Marais Erasmus
  • Ian Gould
  • Daryl Harper,
  • Tony Hill
  • Asad Rauf
  • Asoka de Silva
  • Simon Taufel
  • Rod Tucker
  • Kumar Dharmasena
  • Richard Kettleborough
  • Nigel Llong,
  • Bruce Oxenford
  • Amish Saheba
  • Shahvir Tarapore
Enam ul Hoque-Moni from Bangladesh is named as the reserve umpire and he will be umpiring in warm-up matches.
Following is the list of match referees announced by International Cricket Council (ICC):
  • Chris Broad
  • Jeff Crowe
  • Ranjan Madugalle
  • Roshan Mahanama
  • Andy Pycroft

The Future Is Safe

The tainted trio
Sunday afternoons for me are a snooze feast, I spend most of them dozing away in front of the idiot box except for when Asia United have a match to play.  Though the Sunday in question here is the 29th August 2010, and since Bangkok Cricket League season 2011 was still a couple months away, I was busy with my favorite pass time visiting dream factory on my bed.
It was also the 3rd day of the now infamous Lord’s Test between England and Pakistan. England had pilled up runs, 444 of them and with Pakistan bundled out for 74 in the first innings, and an innings defeat was imminent.  Watching cricket on Tele therefore was out of the question so once again brings me back to my dreamy afternoon snooze. I must have been just about to blast a short ball for a six to get to my first even half century for Asia United when an SMS sent my IPhone 4’s Ferrari engine ringtone roaring.
The SMS was from my dear friend Ahsan Awan. With Ahsan being a bigger Cricket Fanatic than me, I tend to rely on news and updates on PCT from him, as he is very resourceful when It comes to anything cricket.  I remember his SMS vaguely as I had just woken up and after reading the news of no balls, I for once thought I was still dreaming and ill soon be up in to see a revival in batting fortunes by PCT batsman. I kept reading and though I have never been a big fan of Salman Butt, I was in a state of shock over the involvement of the young speedster and like I said was waiting for someone to pinch me out of this nightmare.
I tried to make some sense of what I was reading about the players, the agent and the ultimate betrayal as it was being termed. I tried so hard to doubt the video (maybe it was doctored, maybe the Mazhar Majeed was or is party to a setup). Questions kept arising to all those questions; I could find none to answer them for me. Why and how did this happen? Where is PCB in all this? Why was the manager so clueless about everything that had been brewing under his nose? How can an 18 year old favor Money over a career, which had been promising to be extraordinary? Asif again? Two Tests into a captaincy and promises of future being safe, could Salman Butt pull something off like that, he looks so harmless? 
No matter how much of an eternal optimist you might be, your mind can never really deny the comprehension of your eyes. The proof was clearly there, it was in your face. They had been caught red handed. The sting operation was so comprehensively executed that the players and their agent had no clue as to what sort of shrewd but necessary entrapment they were falling into.
Some have said that the players were framed into delivering the spot balls, but then can someone please explain to me as to why were they even party to such an arrangement knowing fully how this could affect their careers?  And I am not even going to talk about the country as the representation for which was long forgotten by these players in question.
For me what frustrated me to the point where I stopped giving them any benefit of the doubt was the look on Salman Butt’s face at the press conference, which was held after the conclusion of the lord’s test match. Why did he not have any answer to the media scrutiny? Why was he so damn confused? Did he see the walls closing in on him? Guilt is not a word I would use for him, as we have seen over the course of this emotional rollercoaster for all PCT fans that he has not once come out and said anything in his defense, or to assure his countrymen of his innocence.
Over the course of six months or so since the NOTW blew the case wide open on what had been happening for sometime, these three have not only lost so much credibility but also the trust of each other and their countrymen. The ultimate betrayal surely it was. For a country raged with War on Terror, little insecurity from its government, cricket was seen as the shining beacon of hope and a game that albeit for a few hours made us one, freed us of our troubles.
For those few hours we were all praying, enjoying, sitting on the edges of our seats, rejoicing in victories and disappointed in losses. At least during those simpler times we could just get back to our lives knowing out team did their best, or it wasn’t their day. But now every loss in the aftermath of this spot-fixing saga is being labeled as dubious. It’s a stigma that might stay with the fans of PCT for quiet sometime.
Many of us kept ourselves from judging these players as guilty unless proven, and now that they are all proven to be anything but innocent, we can all just now move on and rejoice the fact that this did happen. Because, if the leadership which promised us a secure future, stabbed us in the back and took away one of our most promising prospect in the span of weeks, just imagine how bright the future would have been a few years later.  A team controlled by money would have been a bigger disgrace to Pakistan than just 3 corrupt players. 
The career of Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif are all but over, and as for Amir it is very bleak. It is their loss after all, Pakistan has never been short of talent, and already there is no sense of void owing to their absence from the team. Ahmed Shahzad might not have gotten a chance to play had we been relying to Salman Butt right now, Wahab Riaz is no Mohammad Asif and Razzaq is not Aamir either but the team has delivered us series victories in New Zealand recently but ironically I shall conclude with the words of wisdom from the biggest idiot we have had leading our team, the future of Pakistan Cricket Team without the three players is bright. The Future is safe.
Written by Nadeem Shehzad

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Tour Review

On the whole, the New Zealand tour has been a resounding success. Finally, we successfully managed to break the shackles and win a Test Series and ODI series after several attempts and that too on foreign territory.

There were plenty of encouraging signs. Thanks to New Zealand Cricket for having us and providing an excellent tour schedule. It was an exciting, thrilling, significant and well contested tour where many great on field moments were witnessed.

Overall we have won 5 out of the 11 encounters across all formats on this tour. And we have only lost 4 out of 11 encounters (2 being iT20s). The next step is the World Cup which the whole Pakistani fan base is very excited about and it would be reasonable to feel more hopeful and optimistic about Pakistan's overall chances of doing well in the grand tournament now after some refreshing and pleasing outcomes.

-Misbah Ul Haq: Was absolutely outstanding throughout. By far the stand out performer.
-Umar Gul: In the Test Series was the leading wicket taker with 13 scalps at an average of just 20. Coped with the added responsibility of leading the attack magnificently.
-Wahab Riaz in the ODI series: 8 wickets for 145 runs in 3 outings effectively. At an average of approximately 18 and a SR of 20 was certainly an in form bowler who grew in stature and demonstrated his credentials in this starting line up.
-The emergence of Ahmed Shehzad who should be an integral part of our World Cup Plans. The youngster thrived, made his mark and impressed one and all. His backers and supporters who were demanding for him to break into the national team certainly showed their worth and accurate assessment of his usefulness and capabilities as an exceptionally talented young opener.

-Razzaq's batting form in the ODI series where he averaged 9.
- Shoaib Akhtar's fitness levels which is a significant area of concern.
-Sohail Tanvir's shocking and highly expensive bowling performances in the ODI series.
- Younis Khan's contributions in the ODI series which were poor by his high standards.
-Not playing a specialist spinner in the starting line up when you have 2 available in the 15 man squad and one of them will play in the sub continent during the World Cup with the assistive conditions. Questionable selection here as neither got any valid preparation and therefore face the possibility of being undercooked when the World Cup gets under way in 2 weeks time.

In short, 2011 has provided the magical change Pakistan Cricket needed. So far everything is running well. It would also be good if we could take this opportunity to congratulate the all important figures in Waqar Younis, Shahid Afridi, Misbah Ul Haq and Intikhab Alam for their hard work, continued support and achievements during this Tour. All have played their parts with their leading authority and can take a great deal of credit for the conduct, personal performance and team performance.

Afridi To Lead Pakistan

04/02/11: Pakistan's WC Jersey was revealed too.

Sahibzada Mohammad Shahid Khan Afridi is named as Pakistan's 2011 World Cup Captain. That is that. Misbah will be the vice captain. Both have key roles and responsibilities and will need to work together to get the best out of the team. Good luck Pakistan! =D

The good news is that although Afridi is officially named captain, in the PCB media report they have indicated Misbah has a lot of authority in the team when it comes to selection, on field assistance and genuine leadership responsibility. Along with the back room staff like Waqar Younis and Inti, these 4 together have a big role to play in commanding and organising the side professionally on and off the pitch.

Team Unity and Spirit

Yeah the run out in the last game from Misbah demonstrated that. Afridi immediately went to him. Everyone was playing with spirit and vision. Misbah still is the better captain, but it's understandable why they don't want to change at this stage with the results and increasing commercial pressure!

My WC Starting Line Up
Umar (WK)
Misbah (VC)
Afridi (C)

Official PCB Media Release
Official PCB Media Release:
Captain, Team Management and Tour Selection Committee for World Cup

Lahore February 4, 2011: Pakistan Cricket Board announces Shahid Afridi as captain of Pakistan Team for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011. Misbah ul Haq has been announced as Vice Captain for the event.

Commenting on the decision Chairman PCB said “I had detailed discussions with team management and players in New Zealand regarding captain and vice captain and am pleased to state that everyone fully endorsed these decisions”.

The Team Management will comprise of:

- Mr. Intikhab Alam Manager
- Waqar Younis Coach
- Aaqib Javed Bowling Consultant
- Shahid Aslam Assistant Team Manager
- Dr. Faisal Hayat Physio
- Saboor Ahmed Trainer
- Muhammad Talha Ejaz Analyst
- Muhammad Akhtar Masseur
- Wasim Ahmed Team Security Manager

Following will be the Tour Selection Committee:

- Manager (Chairman)
- Coach (Member)
- Captain (Member)
- Vice Captain (Member)

PCB Media Department

Quote Of The Day

"It doesn't make a difference whether Misbah leads the side or I lead the side because we both are playing for our country" - Shahid Afridi reiterates the unity in the Pakistani ranks. {Cricinfo}

Pakistan's World Cup Song By Ali Zafar

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Shehzad’s maiden ton takes Pakistan to series win

It came after almost 2 years (17 years in New Zealand) but it came amidst the usual Pakistani rallying chant of “Pakistan Zindabad, Pakistan Zindabad, Pakistan Zindabad”. Led by the impressive and confident young opener Ahmed Shehzad, Pakistan beat New Zealand in the 5th ODI here at Hamilton to claim the series 3-1 with one to play.
What did come time and time again in the series was a consistent performance from at least one of the Pakistani opener and this time it was the 19 year old Shehzad, who went on to score his maiden ODI century and laid a solid platform for the Pakistani big-hitting lower order. That they were unable to properly take advantage of it is another story.
After winning the toss, Ross Taylor who was captaining the side decided to bowl first to take advantage of the overcast conditions and during the first 4 overs it looked like a good decision when some tidy bowling kept Pakistani openers at bay. Mohammad Hafeez who has finally started to fulfill his potential broke free with a couple of boundaries but soon found his way back to the pavilion after he played an uppish shot to mid-off where he was caught.
Hafeez’s dismissal emboldened the young gun from Lahore and he counterattacked in brilliant fashion while wickets kept tumbling at the other end. Yet another streaky innings by Kamran Akmal came to an end soon when he only had himself to blame for his run out. Younis Khan the elder statesmen flattered to deceive but fell to a top-edge while playing a sweep shot.
Uber-confident Shehzad smacks one

Nothing bothered Shehzad though and he continued his merry ways by easily picking singles and putting away bad deliveries and raced to the nervous 90’s. The 19 year old played some wonderful cut shots of the Kiwi medium pacers and anything short was dispatched to the midwicket boundary. Instead of faltering under pressure he launched Bennet to a 6 over cow corner and reached his maiden ton with swagger.
After he fell the Pakistani lower order struggled to put bat on ball and where once 300 looked like a possibility Pakistan only managed to make 268 in their allotted 50 overs with captain Afridi, Umer Akmal & Misbah pitching in with cameos.
New Zealand got off to the most horrendous of starts when Ryder was run-out without facing a delivery on the first ball of the innings. Martin Guptill along with Jamie How fought back for a while but when Wahab Riaz removed How for 12 after a painful innings, NZ hopes were delivered a big blow.
Stand in Captain Ross Taylor and Guptill managed to keep the scoreboard ticking and seemed to have built a good partnership but when Guptill fell to a short delivery from Akhtar against the run of play, New Zealand were 112-3.
Taylor was the only stiff resistance Pakistan faced and when Afridi removed him New Zealand had resigned to their fate and folded quickly afterwards leaving Pakistan ecstatic at an ODI series win after 2 years.
The series win comes at a crucial time when the world cup is only two weeks away. Things are finally looking rosy for Pakistan as the whole unit is pitching in with consistent performances day in day out. Everyone has stood up and made themselves count over the course of the series win and that is something we don’t usually associate with Pakistan. The biggest positive has been the good fielding and catching with the young blood inspiring the old legs to be more alert in the field.
The biggest positive in my opinion however is the passion the team is displaying. It is genuinely looking like the team is enjoying out there in the field and the team culture which has often been Pakistan’s undoing on many previous occasions is looking solid.
One can easily figure it out the way our boys celebrated the win out there in the middle, with their faces brimming with confidence and contentment. The only thing left now is the captaincy announcement, and there should be no doubt on who should get the honor of leading Team Green in the upcoming mega event.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Pakistan on The Brink of an ODI Series Win....!

Another visit to Hamilton for Pakistan. Their 3rd of the tour.

PK have not won an ODI series in New Zealand since 1994. Perfect opportunity to do so beckons today and on Saturday too at Auckland if things today do not go according to plan at Hamilton for the 5th ODI for whatever reasons. Can we expect New Zealand to successfully bounce back and keep proceedings alive? Can we afford to take the series to an all to play for decider considering our “chokers tag” record in these encounters, especially in the last 6 years or so where we have failed miserably to win them? PK have not won an ODI series since November 2008 where they managed to successfully whitewash the West Indies on home soil in the UAE. It’s about time they do so NOW, will be bitterly disappointing if they are unable to do so. More significantly, the Greens are showing spirit, building momentum, discovering their strengths, executing their plans and showing much needed important signs of form which could and should put them in good stead for the forthcoming World Cup Spectacle which commences on the 19th of February. Fingers crossed things can only run smoothly from here on in and we can consolidate on these back to back wins! Go Greens!

Match Commentary 4th ODI At Hamilton By Shehzeb Imam

Close Pakistan Cricket follower. These were his facebook updates throughout the game. Very insightful stuff with plenty of expression. Provide highlights for anyone who missed!

1)...Poor Bowling from Pakistan after the 35th over has led to NZ making 262/7 in 50 overs after being 79/5! Absolutely unacceptable especially when this keeps on happening everytime we get on top and than gift away the momentum...Tough chase ahead for a traditionally poor Pakistan chasing team!

2)...Younis Khan & Misbah showing great composure on the field under pressure chase...Keep it going Old Timers!

3) ...Excellent Innings under Pressure Misbah...well made 50, now carry on and get us Home!


5)...All on Razzler & Misbah! 45 off 6 overs now! C'mon!!!

6)...Can Misbah finally do it? Can he Finally get the Monkey off his back? 36 from 5 overs!

7)...NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO RAZZLER GONE!!!!!!!! 25 off 19 with Misbah still there! Tension Rising!

8)...24 needed in 3 overs with Misbah & Riaz at the crease, PP is over...

9)...Crap Riaz gone, 13 off 13 needed with Misbah still there but only 2 wickets left!

‎10)13 off 2 overs...C'mon Misbah!

11) ,..Sohail Tanvir You Beauty!!!!!!! 2 4's in a row!!! 3 off 8 needed now!!!


A Proud Misbah Fan! - Maaz

Pakistan's key batsmen they will be banking on in the World Cup! YK and Misbah can form a formidable partnership and set an excellent platform. An area where Pakistan can excel.
Over the past weeks I have been praising, hyping and backing Misbah’s inclusion and usefulness in the ODI team on various platforms. I have been emphasising how good he can be and the key role he can play with mind, presence and bat. During the process I have received endless criticism, intimidation and to some extent a large degree of abusiveness, mostly due to individual favouritism and reading too much into past records pessimistically. However, even then I left the ignorance a side, stood by my views and considered the bigger picture. Today Misbah has successfully silenced all his doubters, critics, haters and jealous Afridi-ites. What an asset he can be. What a player he can be. What a magnificent Michael Bevan like knock we witness from him today. This is the Ul Haq I know. Misbah, take a bow!!! You definitely deserve to be in the ODI team for sure, even more than others and you deserve the captaincy too more than Afridi. I have been saying this repeatedly and will continue to reinforce. The Pakistani supporters fully need to acknowledge, appreciate and back Misbah if they haven’t already due to various reasons, some unreasonable logic mostly, it is rather foolish and unjustifiable if you still hold the same views now! He is a given ASSET and always can be in whatever format he plays in! The way some of his own fans de-grade his capabilities is bitterly disappointing. His stupendous form in his international cricket comeback continues.

I know many people on this page who own Misbah Ul Haq a written apology! He is a top class player, experience presence and cool headed character to have in the dressing room. He can give you consistency, responsibility and stability which he has demonstrated on numerous occasions, especially in the recent times. Ideally I am still very much hopeful he is named as WC captain too. Misbah Ul Haq Niazi...way to go...what a player!

Look guys. The captain will be announced on Friday and then the issue will be resolved. Both are capable leaders and different in their own ways, but Misbah is definitely the better one when it comes to professionalism, tactics, innovations, organisation, composure, calmness, mental toughness etc. Hence, ideally I think we will be able to make significant progress and play more consistently under him. Let's wait for the decision, this is my view and many past legends are also the same in regards to this thinking. Whoever ends up leading we will fully support them, but at the moment there is still uncertainty due to incompetence of Ijaz Butt.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Ties Set To Resume?

Pakistan and India are in talks to play a short series in England this summer. Both teams have the willingness to go ahead with the idea, but the final decision lies in the hands of the government. Hopefully this idea goes ahead for all our cricket lovers. There is no bigger limited overs contest in world cricket than a clash between Pakistan and India.