Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Pakistan Players MOM Record This Year

Pakistan has had a 64% winning record this year across all forms of the game. In 26 matches 17 of the times a player has been given a MOM from Pakistan’s side. Here are the players with the most man of the match awards tallies this year in ascending order.

1)Mohammad Hafeez=4 (having 3 in the space of 5 ODIs against the WI including WC QF)
2)Misbah ul Haq=3 (one in test against New Zealand, one in ODI against NZ, one in ODI against WI)
3)Shahid Afridi=2 (back to back against Sri Lanka and Canada in WC)
4)Umar Akmal=2 (both in WC against Kenya and Australia)
5)Ahmed Shehzad=2 (one in ODI against New Zealand and one in ODI against WI)
6) Abdur Rehman=1 (test in Hamilton earlier in the year)
7) Taufiq Umar=1 (latest test in St Kitts where Pakistan won by 196 runs. He made 135 in 2nd innings and was involved in 25% of the wickets through his catching)
8)Asad Shafiq=1 (World Cup debut against Zimbabwe)
9)Junaid Khan=1 (in match against Ireland on 28/05/11)

MOTS awards.
WI ODI series: Mohammad Hafeez
WI Test series: Saeed Ajmal (batsmen let him down in Guyana test otherwise no doubt he would have been MOM there)
NZ don't do MOTS for some odd reason or the other.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hafeez Opening The Bowling Against England In Test Cricket Due To Their Left Handers?

Hafeez has opened the bowling for Pakistan in Twenty20s, ODIs and test matches with success and that element of surprise. It’s “outside of the box thinking” which has been enforced by either Afridi or Misbah over the time Hafeez has been in the side. He is an underrated bowler. He is so damn nagging accurate with his line, length, control & varied trajectories. He bowls according to his field placements and sets high standards of himself and his fielders. Containment is his strength. He bowls economically. He is a reliable operator. Against left handers specifically Hafeez is a demon. He drifts the ball, inserts a fair deal of revs in the air, and gets the odd one to go straight on with the arm which creates enough doubt and uncertainty in the mind of the striker, but also can get the ball to turn and bounce from a length and bring the slipper into play. He has a simple action with that “kink” allowing him to second guess the batter and adjust his delivery accordingly. He is a thinking bowler. He is a cunning bowler.

WI left handed opener Devon Smith has been a bunny of his who has been dismissed 6 times consecutively when the two have encountered (5 of them being LBW). The professor has had him in a complete tangle. However, he has had weaknesses against off spinners throughout his career.

Just wondering here whether Misbah opens with the Professor against England in the UAE with Cook and Strauss opening up for them. Gul and Riaz opening together is probably not best because both are the same type and neither is an out and out bowler with the new red cherry. Hafeez can provide that “surprise package” and trouble these two prolific run getters. When he has got wickets and breakthroughs in test cricket it has been as a result of his own guile as opposed to batsmen mistakes and errors. He has provided breakthroughs at crucial times. I think Hafeez can pose some serious questions against these lefty’s early doors. Hopefully this is considered. I think this will be more effective than seeing Umar Gul running in and Strauss happily letting 3 or 4 an over go through to the keeper, Wahab Riaz sending down legside half volleys or bowling short and wide for Strauss to square cut him to the fence or even Tanvir Ahmed ambling in with his military medium only to be spanked through the covers. This is worth a try. Even if Hafeez doesn’t get a breakthrough he is unlikely to go for many. Strauss is not keen to come forward whereas Cook pushes hard at the ball. Hafeez could work these over.

10 Things You Are Hoping To Witness in Zimbabwe

1) Misbah Ul Haq scoring a ton in one of the games and showing everyone why exactly he was a nomination for ICC cricketer of the year. Captain leading from the front and continue relishing the responsibilities which he has been doing ever since his appointment. Adding more to his highly impressive run tally for 2011.

2) A debutant getting a MOM.

3) Azhar Ali or Asad Shafiq or even both for that matter reaching their maiden international century.

4) Adnan Akmal scoring his first international half century for Pakistan.

5) Winning all 3 formats (however I feel there might be an upset on the cards considering our inexperienced bowling attack & Zimbabwe’s recent performances against Bangladesh where they won both series.) Team must avoid complacency and ensure they get the results clinically. Will be a fitting end to Waqar’s tenure if this happens. I am sure he’ll do his level best to keep the boys focussed.

6) Yasir Shah bowls impressively on his debut.

7) Sohail Tanvir revives his career and confidence on the international stage.

8) Not allowing Zimbabwe to cross 500 overall in the test match from both 1st and 2nd innings. You might argue I am pushing this inexperienced pace attack but we have Ajmal and have faith in our untried rookies.

9) Not allowing Zimbabwe to post scores of above 250 in ODIs and 160 in T20s.

10) Winning the test by at least 5 wickets or 200 runs. Preferably finishing the job off inside 10.5 sessions or less. Margin of victory should be a comprehensive and convincing one.

MOTS predictions:
Test: Younis Khan/Azhar Ali/Hafeez
ODIs: Misbah ul Haq
T20: Saeed Ajmal

Spot Fixing Scandal - A Year On

It’s been exactly a year since the NOTW publications regarding the spot fixing scandal were revealed. It was this weekend last year. A gloomy day at Lords in more ways than one as Michael Atherton mentioned on commentary on the final day of the test series when the players made their way out to the middle on the back of high suspiciousness.

Pakistan didn’t even bother going out to train that morning, the situation got so bad. An unforgettable history which damaged the game and country’s integrity. An all time low for the cricket mad nation.

Since that date the former captain has been providing punditry on television which undoubtedly was shameful and sickening enough considering here was a guy who sold out his country’s name and is able to attract attention and air his views publicly, despite the hot water he was standing in and the damage he has done.

Since then Mohammad Amir has appeared for Addington CC in the Surrey league and faced the chance of having his suspension extended as this was against the boundaries of his ban, however recently he has escaped further punishment, despite the breach. Nonetheless he has been warned severely.

Since that date the trio obviously have never appeared for their country again, received minimum 5 year bans all around which was the outcome of the hearing in Doha in February, been banned from playing domestic and club cricket associated with respective country boards and face an ongoing criminal trial in court which they have been busy preparing for. Could Pakistan cricket get any lower?

However, in perspective there is of course the argument that this was a minor victory for the game in the sense that awareness was raised, realisation began to kick in & serious measures could be adopted to prevent these things from occurring in the future. It was a wakeup call for governing bodies, fellow players, fans in denial and authorities. Hopefully things can only get better from here on in and the the lowest times have past for this beloved game we all so passionately follow.

Super Over Exhibitions on Finals Day Decides the Course of the Day at Edgbaston 2011

The amount of major 20/20 games which are going down to the wire i.e. super over nowadays is getting unbelievably crazy. I can name at least 4 domestic SFs or finals this year which have been determined by a 1 over slog fest just at the top of my head. Personally, I prefer to see a super over ahead of a bowl out and feel the idea works well to settle a tie, but as we saw yesterday in rain affected shortened duck worth Lewis games sides are usually neck or neck right to the end and therefore a tie is always a chance. Should duckworth lewis be applied in such a short version of the game? Remember the England/WI pool game incident during the 2010 WT20 where WI won chasing not much inside a 6 over slot having been outplayed for the first half and even the opposition captain acknowledged England were hard done by. Perhaps duck worth lewis is too much of unfair interference in 20/20, especially in pressure games when so much hard work and dedication goes into reaching the latter stages of the tournament. You’d expect something fairer and squarer surely? I don’t buy into the fact that there is no better alternative, the game requires flexibility.

Nevertheless, congratulations to Leicestershire.

2011= Leicestershire

Abdul Razzaq = Best T20 Player in the World

1) T20 WC win with Pakistan 2009

2) ICL win with underdogs Hyderabad Heroes 2008

3) Domestic T20 with Sialkot Stallions 2010

4) Domestic T20 with Lahore Lions 2010 (straight after he transferred)

5) T20 win Hampshire 2010

6) T20 win Leicestershire 2011 (straight after he transferred)

What a player!

Friday, August 26, 2011

2011 ICC Test Team Of The Year & ICC Awards Nominations

Short-lists of nominees (in alphabetical order)
Individual Awards
Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy for ICC Cricketer of the Year

Hashim Amla (SA)
Alastair Cook (Eng)
Sachin Tendulkar (Ind)
Jonathan Trott (Eng)
ICC Test Player of the Year

James Anderson (Eng)
Alastair Cook (Eng)
Jacques Kallis (SA)
Jonathan Trott (Eng)
ICC ODI Player of the Year

Hashim Amla (SA)
Gautam Gambhir (Ind)
Kumar Sangakkara (SL)
Shane Watson (Aus)
ICC Emerging Player of the Year

Azhar Ali (Pak)
Devendra Bishoo (WI)
Darren Bravo (WI)
Wahab Riaz (Pak)
ICC Associate and Affiliate Player of the Year

Ryan ten Doeschate (Ned)
Hamid Hassan (Afg)
Kevin O’Brien (Ire)
Paul Stirling (Ire)
ICC Twenty20 International Performance of the Year

Tim Bresnan (Eng) – 3-10-3-4 v Pakistan, Cardiff, 7 September 2010

JP Duminy (SA) – 96 not out (54b, 10x4, 4x6) v Zimbabwe, Kimberley, 10 October 2010

Tim Southee (NZ) – 4-1-18-5 v Pakistan, Auckland, 26 December 2010

Shane Watson (Aus) – 59 (31b, 6x4, 3x6) v England, Adelaide, 12 January 2011
ICC Women’s Cricketer of the Year

Charlotte Edwards (Eng)
Lydia Greenway (Eng)
Shelley Nitschke (Aus)
Stafanie Taylor (WI)
David Shepherd Trophy for ICC Umpire of the Year

Aleem Dar
Steve Davis
Ian Gould
Simon Taufel
ICC Spirit of Cricket

MS Dhoni (Ind) – for his recall of Ian Bell during the second Test match between England and India at Trent Bridge, July/August 2011

Jacques Kallis (SA) – for twice during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 walking after clarifying with the opposition fielder if they had caught the ball cleanly
LG People’s Choice Award

Hashim Amla (SA)
MS Dhoni (Ind)
Chris Gayle (WI)
Kumar Sangakkara (SL)
Jonathan Trott (Eng)

Pool Of Pace Bowlers Available In Pakistan That I Rate

Pool of pace bowlers


Wahab Riaz
Umar Gul

New Comers

Junaid Khan
Aizaz Cheema
Sohail Khan

Bowling All Rounders with Domestic Experience

Sohail Tanvir
Yasir Arafat
Rana Naved

Domestic Rookies

Anwar Ali
Sadaf Hussain
Mohammad Rameez
Mohammad Talha
Asad Ali

- 4 or 5 of these bowlers should be included in the final 15 or 16 man squad for 2012 T20 WC

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Pakistan Vs Zimbabwe Statistical Track Record

Tests: Played 14: Pakistan won 8, lost 2, drawn 4

ODIs: Played 41, Pakistan won 37, lost 2, other 2

T20: Played one during the Quadrangular series in Canada 2008 where Pakistan won by 7 wickets. Shoaib Khan jnr was MOM. Fawad Alam picked up 3 wickets for 7 runs.

Week to go till the first test from Bulawayo. Pakistan have played here on 3 occasions in the past with 2 wins and a draw. They last played here in 2002. Taufiq Umar and Younis Khan were also in the side back then. Saqlain Mushtaq claimed a 10 wicket match haul in that particular game. It was a comfortable 10 wicket win for the visitors.

News is that Junaid Khan has not been given permission to go to England to play 20/20 finals day

He will be travelling with the squad

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Gul or Riaz?

Similar type of bowlers..Not ideal opening bowlers...hit the deck stuff and specialists at the death

No mugs with the bat in hand either.

Both around the same age.

Key bowlers for Pakistan in current era.

Who is better?

Riaz has an extra yard of pace

He can reverse the ball more prodigiously when he gets it right

Has more variation is his armoury

Performed better on the bigger stage..has nerves of steel

Gul is more consistent with getting the ball in the block hole in the latter stages of the innings

He isn’t anywhere near as wayward in terms of wides and front foot no balls

Riaz seems to have more venom and firepower about him although he can send down stinking erratic filth too frequently

Batting wise Riaz edges it

From what we have seen Riaz seems to be a better option, but it’s still early days in his career. Gul is still a top class fast bowler when on song nonetheless and right up there with the likes of Malinga, Steyn, Zak even. I have higher hopes for Wahab, but he is one of those bowlers whom with you never know whats coming your way.

Hopefully both step up after serving their rest for the Zimbabwe tour

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Misbah vs Hussey ODIs

For those that argue against Misbah as an ODI player here is the ultimate analysis comparison between him and Michael Hussey. In 2nd innings chases Misbah Ul Haq has had 12 "not outs" in 32 innings. All of these "not outs" have been in matches which Pakistan have gone on to win. Michael Hussey on the other hand has 16 "not outs" in 38 innings batting 2nd. Misbah averages 50 batting 2nd whereas Hussey averages 43. Misbah has scored 8 50s batting 2nd whereas Hussey has scored 6 50s batting 2nd. 12 out of Misbah's 16 ODI 50s have been during wins whereas 19 out of 35 of Hussey's 50s have been in wins. In T20 WCs Misbah has played in 2 T20 WC finals whereas Hussey has just played the 1. Misbah has won the T20 WC with his country whereas Hussey has not. Just a reflection that Misbah is a high class professional, dependable batsmen, genuine match winner & finisher for Pakistan that people do not appreciate and tend to forget on the whole as he is an understated figure as he is not really a stylist or central media attraction within his nation. Both him and Hussey are comparable because they both are known as finishers for their respective teams, known for their cricketing intellect/braininess with the manner in which they assess situations & manage proceedings with perspective, clarity, awareness, thoughtfulness, structure, temperament & composure as well having formidable track records across all formats of the game and starting their career late, but achieving plenty in proportion to the time they have played. The Mr Cricket of Pakistan is the one and only 37 year old MBA graduate we have. May he maintain his excellent track record as a player in the 2011/12 international season and beyond.

Misbah has scored 8 half centuries in the 2nd innings. 6 out of those times he has been undefeated with a 50*+ and obviously each time got the team over the line when he has done that. The Mohali semi final and one match against Sri Lanka being the rare occasion where in the 2nd innings he scored a 50 and was unable to take the team over the line. Both times he was out though. Twice this year he has been MOM chasing during difficult circumstances. His 2nd innings record in ODIs is excellent and makes him one of the best chasers in current era. Hussey for sure is the better batsmen, but if there is one Pakistan batsmen who can be compared to the role he plays and statistically be similar in that position it is Misbah. Make no mistake about that. He is a solid batsmen, smart operator, consistent performer and has that sense of “commanding structure” at the wicket where he puts a price on his wicket, stamps his authority & goes about his business in a methodical and sensible manner.

Predictions For 2011-12 Season

Pakistan vs Zimbabwe

Test: Pakistan wins comprehensively
ODIs: 3-0 Pakistan
T20s: 1-1

Pakistan vs Sri Lanka

Tests: 1-0 Pakistan
ODIs: 3-2 Sri Lanka
T20: Sri Lanka

Pakistan vs England

Tests: 1-1
ODIs: 3-1 Pakistan
T20s: 2-1 Pakistan

Asia Cup 2012: Pakistan winners

T20 WC 2012: Finalists

U19 WC 2012: Semi Finalists

Monday, August 22, 2011

Week Round Up

Waqar Younis hands in his resignation as national team coach citing family commitments and health issues as the reason for the decision. Decision accepted. Zimbabwe tour to be his last in charge.

Shoaib Malik receives the necessary clearance from the PCB integrity committee and therefore can resume his career with Pakistan.

Before we know it Shoaib Malik is back in the team for the LOI leg of the tour in Zimbabwe.

Pakistan will be leaving for Zimbabwe on the 25th.

The FL T20 finals day is this Saturday. Shahid Afridi, Abdul Razzaq and Junaid Khan expected to be in action. Hampshire are defending champions. 9th time this event will be taking place.

NBP win the Cool and Cool Ramadan cricket tournament organised by former Pakistan WK Moin Khan in Karachi. Kamran Akmal is the winning team captain. Kamran also feels a foreign coach is the best step forward for Pakistan cricket team.

Ijaz Ahmed will be batting coach for the Zimbabwe tour. Inti is no longer manager. Aqib Javed is no longer bowling coach or team assistant either.

Younis Khan turns down LOI captaincy after being offered in order to reduce the workload off Misbah Ul Haq. Turns it down so he can concentrate on his batting and stay away from controversies. Misbah is named as Pakistan captain for the next 3 series coming up against Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka and England respectively.

Rumours are that Ijaz Butt will be re-elected in October due to some change in constitution.

Domestic T20 tournament to be held again in September. Venue to be confirmed. Lahore, Pindi and Islamabad are likely possibilities as hosts.

A week is a longggggggg time in Pakistan Cricket World! A lot can happen. A lot can change.

New Coach Required

Waqar hands in his resignation. Zimbabwe tour will be his last. Although Waqar may not have been the greatest tactician in the world, no doubt he gave the team the stability it required in tough times. He did have somewhat of a dispute with Afridi on selection matters which led to his retirement; however in his job description he was a member of the selection panel so therefore cannot really be blamed. Best of luck to Vicky in his future plans.

This year under him Pakistan's record was: Played 25: won 16, lost 8, drawn 1

He took over the position after the winless and disastrous tour of Australia where as many as 4 players received indefinite bans. During his time in charge Pakistan reached the semi finals of the 2010 T20 WC and 2011 50 over WC. 2010 was arguably the worst year which had hit Pakistan Cricket and Waqar overcame the problems such as the spot fixing scandal, Zulqarnanin run away fiasco and incompetent chairmanship.

Waqar has medical and family issues and therefore his decision should be respected and rightly accepted. He currently resides with his kids and family in Sydney.

Waqar was no doubt a champion bowler and great servant for Pakistan Cricket. He claimed as many as 789 international scalps in his illustrious career. His services and hard work always deserves to be remembered and appreciated.

Sources are suggesting Mushtaq Ahmed has expressed an interest in coaching.

For those of you who are unaware, Mushtaq has been part of the England set up and taken the team to new heights where they won the T20 World Championship, only lost 2 out of their last 10 tests against Australia and reached the all important world number 1 spot on the ICC test rankings. He was one of Imran's cornered tigers during the 1992 triumph at the MCG on 25th March 1992. He generally is a character and comedian who tends to get on well with players. Moreover, Pakistan have been relying on spin as a key area of strength in the absence of Amir and Asif which is the area the former Pakistan and Sussex legspinner who was renowned for his vicious spinning googly will specialise in.

Foreign coaches like during the golden Bob Woolmer days or Geoff Lawson for that matter will be an option that could be looked into, however under the current climate that is unrealistic and unlikely.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

England Are World Number 1

Officially now the BEST in the world! In their last 15 tests they have won 10 and lost just 2. Congratulations England. The 4th test will be held at the Oval commencing on the 18th. India will be looking to salvage some pride and regain some lost confidence. England on the other hand has an opportunity to WHITEWASH them into deep humiliation.

Pakistan take on England in January-February in UAE for 3 tests, 4 ODIs and 3 T20s.

Wait is OVER. In a week of disastrous rioting England REACH WORLD NUMBER 1 STATUS. INDIA 3-0 DOWN. Humungous innings defeat for MSD’s India. Bring on UAE January 2012 when Pakistan takes them on!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Random Friday Cricket Facts and Figures

-Umar Akmal has only scored 2 50s in his last 21 test innings.

-Mohammad Hafeez has gone 11 innings without a half century in test cricket.

-Pakistan have lost 2 out of their last 8 tests in comparison Australia have lost 6 out of their last 8 tests.

-Australia have lost 7 out of their last 8 T20 internationals. Pakistan has also done the same.

-Pakistan this year has won 70% of their ODI matches and has won tests by victory margins as large as 196 runs and 10 wickets.

-Since Kamran Akmal has been excluded from the Pakistan Cricket Team they have not lost a single test series in 3 attempts (2 being played outside Asia and the one inside Asia was played against a high profile number 2 ranked side) and won 5 out of their last 7 one day internationals (The ones they have lost have been dead rubbers with one of them being determined by Duckworth Lewis). Evidence they are  better off without him. There is direction and progress as well as a unified camp. Also, Imran Farhat has a better batting average than Karman Akmal in both ODIs and tests.

-Sri Lanka has won 5 T20s in a row. They are looking a solid unit as hosts for the 2012 T20 WC and will be right up there as one of the favourites (they are due some triumph like 1996 having been finalists in the last 2 CWCs and during the 2009 T20 WC). England hold the record for the most consecutive T20 wins in a row of 8 which they achieved in Australia early 2011.

-Azhar Ali is the only Pakistan cricketer to have played every single test match since the start of the England tour last summer.

- Sri Lanka’s Sanath has the most number of ducks in ODI cricket history of 30.

-Rahul Dravid has faced the most balls in test cricket history and taken the most catches. He is the oldest test cricketer still playing.

Pakistan Tour Of Zimbabwe 2011

Pakistan squad: Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), Mohammad Hafeez, Taufiq Umar, Imran Farhat, Azhar Ali, Younis Khan, Asad Shafiq, Umar Akmal, Rameez Raja junior, Adnan Akmal (wk), Saeed Ajmal, Yasir Shah, Sohail Tanvir, Sohail Khan, Junaid Khan, Aizaz Cheema.
Standbys: Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), Khurram Manzoor, Sharjeel Khan, Mohammad Talha, Hammad Azam, Shoaib Malik (subject to clearance from PCB integrity committee)

My Team Tests

Mohammad Hafeez/Rameez Raja junior/Umar Akmal/Imran Farhat
Taufiq Umar
Azhar Ali
Younis Khan
Misbah Ul Haq
Asad Shafiq
Adnan Akmal
Sohail Tanvir/Yasir Shah
Sohail Khan/Aizaz Cheema
Saeed Ajmal
Junaid Khan

Sun Aug 28 - Mon Aug 29
08:00 GMT | 10:00 local
09:00 BST
Zimbabwe XI v Pakistanis
Queens Sports Club, Bulawayo

Thu Sep 1 - Mon Sep 5
08:00 GMT | 10:00 local
09:00 BST
Only Test - Zimbabwe v Pakistan
Queens Sports Club, Bulawayo

Thu Sep 8
07:30 GMT | 09:30 local
08:30 BST
1st ODI - Zimbabwe v Pakistan
Queens Sports Club, Bulawayo

Sun Sep 11
07:30 GMT | 09:30 local
08:30 BST
2nd ODI - Zimbabwe v Pakistan
Harare Sports Club

Wed Sep 14
07:30 GMT | 09:30 local
08:30 BST
3rd ODI - Zimbabwe v Pakistan
Harare Sports Club

Fri Sep 16
12:00 GMT | 14:00 local
13:00 BST
1st T20 - Zimbabwe v Pakistan
Harare Sports Club

Sun Sep 18
12:00 GMT | 14:00 local
13:00 BST
2nd T20 - Zimbabwe v Pakistan
Harare Sports Club

Thursday, August 11, 2011

ICC Awards 2011

Misbah Ul Haq is the only Pakistan Cricketer to be a nomination for “ICC cricketer of the year.” Misbah scored 7 half centuries and a century in his 11 test innings as captain and also scored 7 ODI half centuries this year. He was Pakistan’s leading run scorer at the World Cup as well as averaging in the 90s as test skipper and claiming 2 MOM awards in his last 5 Tests.

Wahab Riaz, Adnan Akmal and Azhar Ali have been nominated as emerging player of the year.

Mohammad Hafeez has been nominated as ODI cricketer of the year along with Saeed Ajmal whereas national captain Misbah Ul Haq has been nominated for test cricket as well as the overall cricketer of the year for the Sir Garfields Sobers Trophy.

Proud Pakistani Stat: Mohammad Hafeez is the only player to have 1000+ runs and 20+ wickets between 11 August 2010 and 2 August 2011 - period for ICC's annual awards.

Umpires Asad Rauf and Aleem Dar are in contention for umpire of the year.

I am backing Misbah to be one of the winners of the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy even if he does not end up being the overall winner of the show. He throroughly well deserves some recognition as his comeback has been one of the finest and greatest the game has ever seen.

The awards ceremony will be taking place on the 12th of September in London.

ICC award nominees

Cricketer of the Year (Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy):
Hashim Amla (RSA), James Anderson (ENG), Ian Bell (ENG), Stuart Broad (ENG), Alastair Cook (ENG), Rahul Dravid (IND), Jacques Kallis (RSA), Zaheer Khan (IND), Misbah-ul-Haq (PAK), Kumar Sangakkara (SRI), Andrew Strauss (ENG), Graeme Swann (ENG), Sachin Tendulkar (IND), Chris Tremlett (ENG), Jonathan Trott (ENG), AB de Villiers (RSA), Shane Watson (AUS)

Test Player of the Year:
Hashim Amla (RSA), James Anderson (ENG), Ian Bell (ENG), Stuart Broad (ENG), Alastair Cook (ENG), Rahul Dravid (IND), Jacques Kallis (RSA), Zaheer Khan (IND), Misbah-ul-Haq (PAK), Kevin Pietersen (ENG), Ishant Sharma (IND), Harbhajan Singh (IND), Dale Steyn (RSA), Graeme Swann (ENG), Sachin Tendulkar (IND), Chris Tremlett (ENG), Jonathan Trott (ENG), AB de Villiers (RSA), Shane Watson (AUS)

ODI Player of the Year:
Hashim Amla (RSA), Michael Clarke (AUS), MS Dhoni (IND), Gautam Gambhir (IND), Mohammed Hafeez (PAK), Mahela Jayawardene (SRI), Zaheer Khan (IND), Virat Kohli (IND), Lasith Malinga (SRI), Munaf Patel (IND), Saeed Ajmal (PAK), Shakib Al Hasan (BAN), Kumar Sangakkara (SRI), Virender Sehwag (IND), Yuvraj Singh (IND), Tim Southee (NZL), Dale Steyn (RSA), Graeme Swann (ENG), Jonathan Trott (ENG), AB de Villiers (RSA), Shane Watson (AUS).

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Future of Pakistan’s Batting

In order of rating:
1)      Azhar Ali: He has only really played 1 format, but test cricket has priority and Azhar has been most effective & successful there out of the under 30 batsmen in the last 10 months or so so he clearly tops the list for me. He has been a true revelation, excellent find and a general breath of fresh air because Pakistan have finally found a genuine test class batsmen who has the capabilities to dig in hard, grind it out, occupy the crease for lengthy amounts of time & close one end up in an age where there have been way too many inconsistent flashy stroke makers flourishing through the ranks from Pakistan. His application, patience, temperament, mental toughness & solid and sound defence is immense. He knows his game plan well & operates within his limits which will inevitably maximise his effectiveness. He has found success from a classical and slightly traditional style of batting. He comes across as a mature, responsible & focussed youngster. He is not fussed about taking his time & getting bogged down and therefore is confidently able to put a price on his wicket & see out patches of play. He is totally at the ease at the crease and unfazed by what is going on around him so rarely gets distracted. He has played 12 consecutive tests without being injured or dropped which is rare by Pakistani tendencies that are known for their inconsistent selection policy. This is a reflection of how well he has performed, impressed and settled.

Technically he looks to get behind the line and cover the movement of the ball, play the ball late, defends comfortably from the back foot against the slower bowlers and typically like many sub continental batsmen uses his wrists to good effect when looking to find the gaps, but ultimately it’s his concentration and sheer determination which gets him through and can frustrate fielders and bowlers to high degrees. He strives/fights hard and works out of his skin. Once he’s in he’s a tough cookie to dislodge and it usually takes a quality delivery to dismiss him. He can hold the innings together and give himself a firm platform to capitalise from. He is controlled, methodical & with an abundance of steadiness. He has been tipped to be groomed as Pakistan’s vice captain as he has cemented his place at the all important number 3 position, but also done it in an admirable fashion. He has captaincy experience from league cricket in Scotland where he has been representing Huntly CC as the overseas professional. He is a good fielder with sharp reflexes which adds to the overall package he brings in the team. He is a bowler turned batsmen as he used to be a front line leg spinner in his younger days and for the record has 2 List A 5fors next to his name. This is a reflection of a quick learner on top of everything else. His style may not be the most appealing or attractive, but nonetheless proper test cricket appreciators cannot speak highly enough of the man who has scored 8 half centuries in his first 23 test innings (all which have contributed to a positive team result). He has been an integral member of Misbah’s test team which has reformed & rejuvenated the respect & fortunes of Pakistan’s test outfit in challenging circumstances and seems to be learning well under his leadership & guidance. However, he is vulnerable against outswingers in the corridor of uncertainty which is an area he can brush up on and improve his judgement. He doesn’t mind doing the hard yards by standing at short leg and getting stuck under people’s noses and taking a few blows for the team which speaks volumes about his attitude, willingness and bravery.
2)     Asad Shafiq: 4 consecutive boundaries against Tim Bresnan when he was coming into bat at a difficult time and stage in his 2nd ODI, half century in his 3rd ODI, half century on test debut against a top class attack, half century in his 2nd test innings in alien conditions, half century on WC debut, a crucial 46 in a high pressure game against Australia in a low scoring winning cause- we have seen enough of this guy to know he can play and has a bright future ahead! Mohammad Yousuf himself has praised him as one of the finest technically correct young batsmen he has seen in a long time. A very elegant and classy young chap. One that is bound to go far. Nevertheless he has a weakness of playing down the wrong line outside his off stump where he been dismissed a few times too many. Plays the ball late, times the ball sweetly, strong of his legs & superb in the field.

3)      Umar Akmal: What immediately comes to mind is amazing hand eye coordination, top notch foot work, quick bat speed, fantastic athleticism, brain farts, ill discipline and temperamental deficiencies, but he is an exceptionally gifted talent and when you say this for Umar Akmal you really mean it with both heart and mind. He is one of a rare kind. He is a dominating cricketer who operates with a fearless and aggressive mindset. He is an extremely efficient and cool headed ground fielder and catcher. He started his international career sensationally well with a century on test debut & one within his first few ODIs against Sri Lanka. He shone in the 2010 ICC T20 WC scoring 50s against South Africa & Australia. He followed it up by a spectacular 31 ball 64 in Edgbaston against Australia in the MCC Spirit of cricket series. He had a quite 2010/11 winter which found himself lose his test spot to Asad Shafiq before regaining his popularity and confidence with 2 MOM awards during the qualifying stages of the 2011 CWC in Sri Lanka. With his elder brother away from the international scene it should be interesting to see how Umar responds and acts in the future. He had a decent tour of the West Indies recently when newcomer Salman was behind the stumps. Maybe county cricket experience will come in handy for him. Bottom line, an adorable talent and one that you try to back to accomplish his potential.

4)      Zain Abbas: Uncapped player. In his teens.  Multan based lad. Left handed opening batsmen and therefore unsurprisingly with the role model of Saeed Anwar. Has had an outstanding start to his domestic career where he completely caught the eye and took everyone by storm with his consistent performances in both the longer and shorter versions of the game.

5)      Babar Azam: Uncapped player. In his teens. Cousin of the Akmals. Inspired by AB from South Africa. Represented Pakistan at the U19 WC in New Zealand at the age of just 15 where they reached the final. He scored a century in Pakisan’s opening match of the tournament against the West Indies. Has a good cover drive. He is serious and passionate about his cricket. Occasional off break bowler to go along with a safe pair of hands in the field. Definitely one for the future.

6)      Ahmed Shehzad: 2 centuries at the age of 19 and a T20 international half century against New Zealand which came in Pakistan’s highest ever run margin victory last December. Has brilliant hand eye coordination, reasonably good foot work & makes full use of a strong bottom hand to generate power in his strokes. He is stylish & naturally aggressive. An excellent outfielder too. A confident and slightly cocky character. There is no shortage of ability for sure. He has recently been dropped from the tour of Zimbabwe on disciplinary grounds.

7)      Azeem Ghumman: Skipper of the 2010 U19 WC team. A cricketer from the Hyderabad region with the role model of the legendary Sachin Tendulkar. Has captained Hyderabad in domestic competitions. A batsmen who is bound to play for Pakistan at some stage. He possesses a healthy FC average. He is a strong cutter and puller & extremely ambitious which always helps the cause. Technically and temperamentally pretty sound. Relies on timing and placement. Short chap in stature. Communicates well in English.

Monday, August 8, 2011

New Central Contracts Released

Category A
Younis Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq, Umar Gul, Mohammad Hafeez, Saeed Ajmal, Abdur Rehman

Category B
Abdul Razzaq, Imran Farhat, Sohail Tanvir, Umar Akmal, Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq, Wahab Riaz, Taufeeq Umar

Category C
Junaid Khan, Tanvir Ahmed, Hammad Azam, Sarfraz Ahmed, Sohail Khan, Adnan Akmal, Yasir Shah, Rameez Raja, Sharjeel Khan

Stipend Category
Mohammad Talha, Aizaz Cheema, Zulfiqar Babar, Raza Hassan, Mohammad Ayub Dogar

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Pakistan Captains Records In T20 Cricket

Will Yasir Shah Finish Off Afridi’s International Career Completely?

One of the new faces on Pakistan’s tour of Zimbabwe this September will be that of Yasir Shah. He is a conventional legspinner primarily with the ability to turn the ball both ways, but also a handy lower order batsman. He has a lovely Qadir like imitated bowling action. Generally known to be an attacking and exciting type of bowler.

 Abdul Qadir himself rates and backs his abilities highly. He has been doing well with Pakistan “A” for some time. He was a member of the 30 man preliminary squad for the 2011 World Cup along with spinners like Saeed Ajmal, Abdur Rehman and Zulfiqar Babar. Also, he captained a domestic team during a 20/20 tournament last year.

He is only in his 20s, but fairly experienced domestically. I think if he performs well & is given a reasonable number of chances he can fit it at the number 8 spot for some time to come in ODIs at least. Best wishes to him.

Considering Afridi’s antics, behaviour, discipline, loud mouthed stupidity on national television, dramas, hassle, high level unprofessionalism, controversies, selfishness & internal politics I am hoping Yasir Shah will be able to impress and make a name for himself. However, I have also been following Yasir’s progress as a cricketer for some time and am pleased by the way he has risen through the ranks. He has been waiting patiently & is a deserving performer. Both of these reasons are why I really want Yas to do well. Mohsin Khan has hinted each member of the 16 man squad will get at least 1 outing on the 6 match tour next month.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

County Quarter Finals This Weekend

Joke of a performance from world number 1. They were beaten comprehensively yet again. They are in danger of losing their number 1 ranking very soon. Stuart Broad is on fire and the top of his game with both ball and bat. What a revelation he has been considering he was a doubtful starter at Lords after his unimpressive performances during the first half of the summer where he struggled for form and rhythm. What a spell with the 2nd new ball from Broad to get England back in the game. Top day of test cricket at Trent Bridge. Highly eventful action packed drama. Swann took an absolute battering. The no1 spinner was taken to the cleaners. Dravid was steady and solid as ever to get his 2nd century of the tour. Adjusted well to opening the batting and demonstrated immense concentration & technique. In 37 tests as captain Strauss has had 19 victories and 13 draws. Michael Vaughan is England's most successful test captain with 26 victories in 51 tests. Strauss at the age of 34 is on track to over take him in terms of the most wins registered. His record as captain includes back to back Ashes triumphs in 2009 and 2010-11.There is a bit of a break between now and the 3rd test.
In between this time there will be the County 20/20 quarter finals this weekend. Pakistan Players participating include Shahid Afridi, Abdul Razzaq, Wahab Riaz, Junaid Khan, Rana Naved, Umar Gul, Azhar Mahmood, Imran Tahir, Naved Arif. Personally I reckon Kent will go the distance. They have a well balanced unit. I think there is a very good chance 4 south based teams will make the Edgbaston finals day on the 27th of this month. The standard in this division is of a high quality.

Pakistan bowler’s performances in the County T20 Cup 2011. Group stages finished.

1) Wahab Riaz–19 wickets-average: 19, economy: 8
2) Saeed Ajmal-16 wickets-average: 11, economy: 6
3) Abdul Razzaq-16 wickets-average: 22, economy: 7
4) Rana Naved-15 wickets-average: 14, economy: 7
5) Shahid Afridi-14 wickets-average: 12, economy: 6
6) Azhar Mahmood-13 wickets-average: 28, economy: 7
7) Umar Gul-12 wickets-average: 21, economy: 9
8) Junaid Khan-10 wickets-average: 15, economy: 6

Imran Farhat-Why The Exaggerated Hatred?

I wouldn’t have selected Imran Farhat to wear the green shirt again. I am not one of his fans. Early in his career he showed potential, but he has never kicked on and fulfilled it after repeated opportunities. However, if we look at his recent domestic showings it will hard to argue against his selection for the Zimbabwe tour to start off with. The bat has done the talking. Plus what Pakistan has lacked is a left hander in LOIs and Farhat can also be a useful leg break bowler when required so maybe this came into consideration. It would be sickening to see him playing test cricket again, but in LOIs his record is pretty respectable and if domestic form is the criteria for selection then he fits the deal. It wasn’t too long ago when he was opening with Imran Nazir for Lahore Badshahs in the ICL that people genuinely felt that this should have been Pakistan’s opening combination. We have seen the likes of Mohammad Hafeez who struggled time and time again on the international scene after several comebacks finally become a settled player and avail  his opportunities sensationally well so who knows what might happen ahead. Perhaps Farhat will surprise. Below is his domestic performance in the recent competitions where he was one of the stand out performers. Pretty good isn’t it?

Records /Faysal Bank One Day National Cup Division One, 2010/11 /Most runs

1)      Imran Farhat: 476 runs. 2 100s, 2 50s. 7 innings. Average 79.

Records /Faysal Bank Pentangular Cup, 2010/11 /Most runs

8) Imran Farhat (highest from Punjab side): 292 runs, 1 100, 2 50s, 6 innings, average 49.

What A Year Ajmal Is Having!

Saeed Ajmal has taken the most wickets by a Pakistan bowler in international cricket during the year 2011 so far across all formats of the game with 37 scalps in 10 ODIs, 2 Tests & 1 T20 international. Pakistan has won 8 of those 13 matches he has featured in. What’s extraordinary about this statistic is that this a guy who only played in 38% of Pakistan’s WC matches which Waqar and Afridi can explain and did not even play a single test or ODI in New Zealand earlier in the year partly due his father’s death and partly because he was not selected for the latter.

This is just a reflection of how phenomenally he has bowled and performed when he has got the chances that even after missing half of Pakistan’s fixtures this year he finds himself at the top of the leader board. What a class act. What a character. IDONE the Magician! Remember, he also claimed an 11 wicket match haul in Guyana and achieved the feat on 14th May which was exactly a year since Mike Hussey dispatched him for 18 from the last over of the T20 WC semi final. Class is permanent. Here is a guy who knows how to trouble high class players, respond and bounce back in the most admirable of fashions. On top of all of this he has having a fairly good season with his county side. Let’s hear it for Pakistan’s no1 spinner. May he continue shining and spinning Pakistan to glory.