Friday, May 6, 2011

Emphasis On The Tests

Pakistan have never won a Test Series in the West Indies before during 6 previous visits to the Caribbean shores.

Pakistan and West Indies have played 44 Tests. Pakistan have won 15. West Indies have won 14. 15 have been drawn.

The last time Pakistan visited was in 2005 where the score line was 1-1.

The last time there was a test series between the two teams the score-line was 2-0 in Pakistan's favour during a series in 2006 where Mohammad Yousuf was simply outstanding.

My 4 Key Players from the Pakistan side for the forthcoming test series are as follows:

1) Azhar Ali (backing him to get a 150+ score during the series)
2) Younis Khan
3) Saeed Ajmal
4) Umar Gul

Prediction: 1-0 Pakistan win

Overall, I am unsatisfied and rather unhappy with the results from the LO leg of the tour considering West Indies managed to win 3 out of the 6 LO encounters & this is a second string side too. Pakistan could and should have done better. Nonetheless, let's look ahead & focus on the Test Series with what lies ahead.

Just a few observations worth highlighting. All matches during this series were won by the side batting second. Pakistan have played out a score line of 3-2 either way for the last 4 ODI series they have contested against England, South Africa, New Zealand and now West Indies respectively.

Hafeez is the man

Hafeez looks a really settled player now who is an integral part of the side with his increasingly consistent all round contributions. Many would consider him as the best "all-rounder" and overall cricketer in the current ODI line up nowadays. He deservedly received the MOM for the ODI series. Afridi's discipline, performance & attitude in this whole tour was totally unacceptable. The skipper failed to make any contribution in any department during the series & was totally lacklustre in terms of energy & motivation in the field which is far from what he usually is. His captaincy has been undesirable, his batting has been like a glorified tail ender whereas his bowling has been wicketless for 6 out of the last 7 matches he has played in & returns to a level of mediocrity after a superb World Cup. Hafeez is highly regarded as a possible successor for the captaincy role in the nearby future. He is known for his cricketing knowledge & ability to pass on suggestions which is a more than healthy reference. He has captained successfully domestically so has the necessary skills and exposure. Don't be surprised if you see Hafeez taking up the reigns of ODI captaincy within the next 18 months. For Afridi personally this is a series to forget whereas for Hafeez it is a reflection of how he has grown as a player since his comeback which has been second to none.

Adnan Akmal's exclusion

This was a harsh and totally unfair decision as far as I am concerned. The keeper impressed with his neat & efficient glove work behind the stumps during the 4 Tests he played. He looked extremely tidy. He also made some valuable contributions with the bat. He must be puzzled himself because he did not do much wrong what so ever to be treated and axed in this manner. Whether they are linking his name with the negative image of his brother we shall never know, but as far as cricketing merit goes he can feel hard done by. Nevertheless, let's hope Salman is able to make a positive impression with both gloves & bat as he has now been selected as Pakistan's keeping option in Tests as well. He did well behind the stumps in the ODI series & made a nicely compiled 19* in the 5th ODI on a challenging pitch so there is certainly potential there from the little we have seen of him. He seems very active behind the stumps & reminds many of Pakistan's 1992 WC winning wicket keeper in Moin Khan.

My starting line up would be:

1) Taufiq Umar
2) Mohammad Hafeez
3) Azhar Ali
4) Younis Khan
5) Misbah Ul Haq (C)
6) Asad Shafiq
7) Mohammad Salman
8) Wahab Riaz
9) Umar Gul
10) Junaid Khan over Tanvir Ahmed
11) Saeed Ajmal

Other members of the touring party therefore are: Hammad Azam, Abdur Rehman, Umar Akmal


  1. Losing Pakistan's best & most experienced batsmen in Younis Khan for the Test Series is a huge huge huge blow & a big gap to cover.

    If Umar gets the chance this is a big series for him with his whole future as a potential Test cricketer. They might be tempted to go with Hammad due to his bowling. His bowling relies on accuracy & seam movement. With batsmen not attacking him & the nature of the red cherry which will deviate more he might turn out to be a useful choice. Both are capable to play in the starting line up. I reckon they will go for Umar Akmal.

  2. Hope we bat first & post 400+. Azhar Ali will score a century. Misbah will notch up another half century. Hope we can play out at least 4 sessions with this solid, dependable & settled batting line up & put ourselves in a good position early on. I'm sure the team which wins the toss will bat first. Pakistan have actually bowled first in their last 4 Tests & yet prevented defeat each time, but here the conditions will be totally different & it will be best to make first use of the surface.

  3. Day 1 Analysis

    The Groundsmen at the Providence Stadium Guyana who prepared this track is a legend! Playing to the visitors strengths!

    Ajmal bowled his heart out. 8 wickets falling to spin overall. Quality exhibition.

    Most definitely Pakistan's day in Guyana. Superb final session. Ajmal proved unplayable.

    Looking forward to quickly wrapping up the innings tomorrow & gaining a reasonable first innings lead.

    Will Ajmal get his 5 for? He deserves it with the way he has been bowling. Phenomenal 2nd & 3rd spell.

    West Indies had absolutely no answer how to play him. He had them in complete screws. Bowled excellent lines & created difficult angles for the batsmen to read him. Got the ball to bite & bounce appreciably. The delivery he bowled to SC was a peach & undoubtedly the highlight of the day.

    Day 2 Analysis

    Ajmal is bound to get a 10 wicket match haul on this wicket. Classy operator needs to weave his magic. All hope is not lost in Guyana.

    "Misbah Only Scores Runs on Flat Decks" : Michael Holding

    Well this year there was an ODI between New Zealand & Pakistan on a really challenging green top and Misbah was the only batsmen to make a constructive score & that too being a half century when everyone else failed miserably against the moving ball.

    After the series against South Africa in the UAE where he scored 3 successive half centuries people were saying he will fail in New Zealand where he will be found out, however he piled up 3 half centuries in just 3 innings here to go along with a 126* in the warm up fixture beforehand. He surely proved everyone wrong there who assumed he will falter due to the nature of the conditions.

    In New Zealand there were heavy winds blowing. Seamer friendly conditions generally. Ball was swinging. Southee was looking unplayable in patches.

    Give me Guts and Determination Over Flair:

    This was the exact same Test batting line up we were singing praises for not so long ago.
    Today they got rattled over for 160. Too much overreaction in my opinion. They had a bad day at the office. The pitch was challenging. None of the squad have played in the West Indies before.

    Day 3 Analysis

    It was MuH who got Ajmal into the Pak team when he was VC in 08 by recommending him for national selection & pushing for his inclusion. Now he is thriving under his captaincy in 2011! Effectively he can take credit for this in the long chain of events.......

    Captain batting with authority, thorough professionalism & responsibility as he so often does.

    For those calling him an FTB just look at this innings+3rd ODI vs. WI +1st ODI vs. NZ. He has proved points & come back hard at his doubters/critics when the situation required greater resilience & was significantly more demanding.

    You can always count on Misbah to bat right through to the as he has done several times. Really pleased for Shafiq. He was looking splendid & played some delightful strokes. Made WI pay for the early chance they spilled in the slips.

    #Teammisbah Will remain an undefeated Test Skipper tomorrow & clinch a 1-0 lead in the series with history at stake....

    Tomorrow: A remarkable win in Guyana + Aussies defeated in hockey final! A victorious Sunday for nation #Pakistan? Go Greens Go!

    Ajmal's match figures: 11-111. It's been exactly a year since Mike Hussey did the unthinkable on this very day. The classy operator has overcome the nightmares, produced admirable performance, revived his confidence spectacularly well in the year which has gone by. Congratulations to him on an outstanding bowling effort. Showed his qualities on a pitch where he was in business. He has spun his side to victory potentially?

  4. Day 1 Coverage Further
    Excellent selection to go in with 2 specialist spinners along with Mohammad Hafeez. It worked out well. All bowled exceedingly well.

    Disappointing in the field yesterday. You'd expect him to be taking them but in the context of the match it didn't prove costly.

    I remember Ramiz Raja insisting on commentary in New Zealand he would prefer him fielding at slip as opposed to standing at mid off because it would give him a better view of proceedings when controlling the field setting etc. It's a debatable one considering what happened yesterday.

    Looking ahead: needs a 50 today to equal the record for the most successive half centuries by a batsmen in Test Cricket!

    Day 2 Coverage Further

    Lunch: Ali looking solid & determined as ever. Could this be the day he reaches 3 figures? Looks set for a big one. Impressing the WI commentators. Hopefully he continues to dig in hard after lunch. Looks settled & steady going......

    Stumps: Unfortunately he misjudged one that nipped back sharply. Was looking very good though in comparison to the others on a tough pitch to bat on. 34 it is. Pakistan on the back foot in Guyana.

    - Misbah Did not get the record or equal it for that matter.

  5. Mohammad Hafeez has dismissed Devon Smith 6 times consecutively which includes the 2011 ICC CWC QF in Dhaka where he was trapped LBW in the 6th over of the innings, all 3 ODIs in the Digicel he played in before being dropped for the final 2 dead rubbers which West Indies went on to win & now during both innings of the 1st Test in Guyana. Smith is truly Hafeez's bunny. He must have nightmares about him. 5 of the 6 dismissals have been LBW & the one was bowled with a straighter one. The handy batting all rounder has got him in all kinds of trouble from around the wicket with his indrifters & off breaks. It is rather hilarious & remarkable.

  6. You can count on him to stay there to the end with the responsibility & professionalism he has continuously demonstrated in the recent past. He has become more aware second time around & negotiated with the pitch pretty well. Showed resistance & technique. It will have to take a quality delivery to dislodge him. I won't be surprised one bit if he carries the bat through & remains * at the end of it. Hopefully my PP signature is still applicable by the end of the day. At the end of day 2 it looked like I might have had to get it changed within the next few days. It's been an intriguing Test Match & great come back from Misbah's team.

    I was disappointed with the way he captained yesterday when the final wicket stand was in progression but I doubt this will be costly. I thought he could have been more active & switched on, but equally credit should be given to Bishoo & SC who batted extremely well under the circumstances. I am fully expecting a victory today. I would say at this stage the game is 60/40 in Pakistan's favour. Misbah is indeed the key.