Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Squad vs SL?



Mohammad Hafeez
Taufiq Umar
Azhar Ali (VC)
Younis Khan
Misbah-ul-Haq (C)
Asad Shafiq
Adnan Akmal (WK)
Abdur Rehman
Wahab Riaz
Saeed Ajmal
Aizaz Cheema
Back Ups: Tanvir Ahmed, Umar Gul, Manzoor, Umar Akmal


Mohammad Hafeez (VC)
Asad Shafiq
Younis Khan
Misbah-ul-Haq (C)
Umar Akmal
Hammad Azam
Adnan Akmal (WK)
Wahab Riaz
Umar Gul
Saeed Ajmal
Aizaz Cheema
Back Ups: Sohail Khan, Junaid Khan, Raza Hasan/Yasir Shah, Azhar Ali, an attacking stroke maker


Mohammad Hafeez (VC)
Asad Shafiq
Sharjeel Khan/Imran Nazir/Ahmed Shehzad/Nasir Jamshed (aggressor who ever impresses the most in national Twenty20 championship)
Umar Akmal (WK)
Misbah-ul Haq(C)
Abdul Razzaq
Hammad Azam
Sohail Tanvir or Junaid or Sohail Khan or Rana Naved or 2nd specialist spinner (Raza, Yasir, Mansoor, Rehman)
Wahab Riaz
Umar Gul
Saeed Ajmal
Back Up: Reserve pacer (one of them at #8), 2nd spinner from #8, and reserve aggressor from #3, specialist keeper in case.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Best Is Yet To Come From Captain Misbah's Team Pakistan....

Pakistan will be taking on Sri Lanka in a 3 match series starting from the 18th of October in the UAE followed by a 3 match series against the currently number 1 ranked England side also in the UAE which gets under way in January. Pakistan go into this series having been undefeated for the last 4 consecutive test series they have contested which have all come ever since Misbah-ul-Haq took over the role as a result of Salman Butt’s suspension and Afridi deciding he was unable the handle the challenges tests demanded and therefore chickening out in an amateurish manner. Misbah has only lost 1 in 16 matches as Pakistan captain overall across all formats of the game which is the highest win loss ratio ever by an international captain in that regard. 25% of those matches included encounters against India, Australia and South Africa. He has achieved this even with major absences, isolation from being allowed to play on home soil and taking a more inexperienced squad to tour away from home. The results have been clinical, desirable and prolific. Moreover, he has the most wins and least losses by a Pakistan skipper in the 5 day game ever since Bob Woolmer passed away which is a time which has seen the likes of Malik, Younis Khan, Mohammad Yousuf, Shahid Afridi and Salman Butt taken over the reins. Misbah has been the most stable and successful of the lot and the team is undoubtedly moving in the right direction under his leadership and guidance which the results significantly back up with only 1 loss in 7 tests and that too by a narrow margin. He has led Pakistan to back to back comprehensive test wins for the first time since 2005. Under his captaincy Pakistan have won 2 convincing test series wins outside Asian territory this year alone. Previously Pakistan had not won a single between 2004 and 2010. He also led Pakistan to a test series win for the first time in over 50 months in January this year at the Basin Reserve in a match where he was also awarded MOM for his spirited resilience as the Kiwis struggled to dislodge him. He survived for over 200 balls on a day 5 wicket and remained not out at the end of it for an unbeaten half century as as well as notching up a crucial 99 during the 1st innings when the pressure was on him. As we all know test cricket is the pinnacle of the game. It is a true examination technically, mentally and physically. It separates the men from the boys. Misbah has an excellent track record in this format and has demonstrated his class as a complete and serious contender. Unfortunately he never got a consistent run in the side until late on in his career and got limited opportunities as he was born in an era of world class Pakistan batsmen. Nonetheless, this has not discouraged him.

The captain and senior player has been in sensational form with 8 half centuries and a century in 13 innings since taking over including standing unbeaten on 5 occasions. He averages 88 as captain after 7 tests. He has the highest % of 50+ scores by a test captain ever with a minimum qualification of 10 innings, even higher than Don Bradman. His phenomenal run of form earned him a much deserving nominee for ICC player of the year, the only Pakistan player who got one. Unfortunately he was not short listed against many people’s surprise. He was also on the brink of challenging the record for the most consecutive 50s in test history and just fell one short of achieving that during this year. Moreover, he is the 7th leading run scorer in tests this year where all of the players that are in the top 5 have played 3 more tests than him. Overall across all formats he is positioned at number 8. He leads from the front. He relishes the responsibilities. The burden of captaincy doesn’t affect his performance. He thrives with the added responsibility. His leadership qualities, presence and record breaking performances have regained the stability, respect, fortunes, direction and credibility of the team in challenging circumstances with all the off field distractions and torture the players and fans had to go through as well as the poor run of results which had hurt the team in 2010 (a period where he had been excluded for most parts and was contemplating retirement). His self belief, determination and mental toughness to come back hard, perform as he has done and keep the camp trouble free and well unified is worthy of unstoppable praise. As the most qualified member of the team he is renowned to have a calming influence for a team which is continuously involved in shenanigans and instability and therefore is exactly the type of player they need and can benefit from having around in the camp with his respectable and dependable stature. He has unarguably been a saviour and unsung hero in our time of need.

Under his captaincy the following have happened:

-Our highest ever 4th innings total

-Our highest 1st wicket stand in ODIs.

-Denying the opponent a victory on a day 5 pitch on 3 occasions when we were on the back foot.

-Bowled out New Zealand in a single session on a good batting track in all seriousness. Winning by 10 wickets inside 3 days.

-Won 9 matches in a row as full time captain across all formats.

-Posted 340+ 6 times in our last 11 test innings (previously it was a major struggle to even get in the 300s)

-Managed to take 20 wickets on some of the flattest motorways you could ever wish to see such as Bulawayo and St Kitts.

He has injected a sense of solid consistency, greater professionalism, application, discipline, mental toughness, stability and pride in this unit. This brand of play may not be the most appealing but give me this any day over unpredictable aggression, flair BUT continuous dramas to haunt the camp time and time again. Ultimately the effectiveness is what get’s you far.

He is a solid batsman, street smart operator, consistent performer, thorough professional and a true gentlemen figure of the game. An ideal ambassador for game and country. He has been the backbone and workhorse of the batting line up which Pakistan have regularly been counting on with him going from strength to strength. Also, very switched on in the field, naturally very athletic even at his age, regularly taking catches with his bucket hands he is as safe as houses. He knows full well how to set the example. He has a “commanding structure” about him as batsmen. He displays a big price on his wicket, can occupy the crease for extended periods of time, he is purposeful and planned in his approach for reaching a particular outcome, he summarises situations efficiently, reads or reacts to game scenarios responsibly as we often hear commentators associating phrases like calmness, coolness, composure about him, a steadily controlled sound technique, plenty of awareness on how to combat or outsmart the bowlers, be patient and be prepared to sit in and overcome passages of play with utter concentration and application, set the platform, engage in frustrating mind games with the opposition in the sense he is showing a flawless approach and battling/digging in really hard to do the hardyards like a gritty workhorse. It places him in a strong position & frame of mind. He goes about his business in a systematic, organised, controlled, methodical and structured manner. He has a healthy tendency of being there at there at the end, knocking off the winning runs and guiding the team over line with his systematically organised method. He is a genuine good old test class batter who knows how to frustrate, tire, work over and get into the skins off the opponent with his discipline, mindset and sheer mental strength. He is a tough nut to crack with a tight defence, concentration, stamina, patience, application, game sense combined with guts and grittiness. However, he is not one dimensional. He can change gears and be intimidating to bowl to in passages when he has his eye in and is seeing the ball clearly (one of the reasons he is effective in the shorter formats as well). Therefore, if you don’t get him early you have your work cut out.

He works the ball productively off his legs through mid wicket and mid on with anything slanting towards him or when he shuffles across confidently looking to find the vacant gaps. He cuts and pulls decently getting on top of the bounce. He drives pretty well through the off side. He executes the reverse sweep expertly, the slog sweep and straight hit with a full flow of the blade which is some sight for the signature shot. Ultimately it’s his solid blocking and defending with a bright head on his shoulders which is the bread and butter to his game plan to demonstrate his firmness at the wicket. He earns his runs the hard way and is willing to do so. He is measured, watchful and calculated rather than instinctive. A sound temperament is a leading strength of his. The nerves of steel or ability to operate with a clear mind is such an underrated attribute.

The MBA graduate can be outrageously aggressive with his stroke play or scoring options. The ability to play attackingly is there, however he does this with an element of shock and surprise which increases its effectiveness of coming off when he decides to step the pedal on the accelerator. He first made a name for himself during the inaugural World T20 in South Africa 2007 he was the 3rd leading run scorer in the tournament and took the world by storm including smashing an unbeaten 60 odd in 42 balls to give Pakistan a victory in their very first T20 match against Australia. He also, performed on the big stage in the final where he nearly took his side to victory from the jaws of defeat batting with the tail when they looked completely down and out. Hence, there is a sense of adaptability about him across different formats, but what stands out is that he has made the biggest impact in the longer version of the game not only since he has been appointed captain, but back in 2007 he averaged over 100 against India in the 3 match away series including 2 centuries. He was a standout performer who earned the respect of the arch rivals. This was his first full series as successor to Inzamam and he did not fail to live up to expectations. He had a bit of a lean patch in 2009-2010 season with only 1 half century in 8 innings, but I think we can also put this down to no cricket in the whites during 2008 as a result of the political tensions in the country. Hence, it would naturally have taken some time to get back in the fold of things.

As a captain Geoff Lawson quoted him as having the best cricketing brain in the team, someone who handles adversity analytically and not emotionally, someone with a statesmen like demeanour, someone who was a very suitable candidate. He is eloquent and intellectual when interacting with the press. On the field he has an advanced mind for decision making credentials through thorough assessment and matured application of all his knowledge and experience in the field. He places a great deal of emphasis on discipline, responsibility and mindset which have been missing ingredients in the past. He fathers a healthy team environment which has been a rarity. I have already covered his own performance which is a no brainer but exceptional. What more could you ask for? Age is no barrier if you have the form, fitness and hunger.

He has vast understanding on the various technical aspects and regularly provides his guidance and input. He is tactically intelligent. He has an “eye for talent” and knows what is required at the highest level and how to extract the best from his team. He sets high standards and strives for excellence. Tends to make some bold and outside of the box moves. He doesn’t necessarily ploy the obvious or expected move, but takes things his own way with valid justifications behind it. This is an area where he stands out. We can say he is considerate, perspective minded and implies clarity of thoughtfulness when weighing up the pros and cons. His cricketing braininess is undisputable. Not to say that everything he does will be right, but he has strong case credibility in his approach.

He has strategist capabilities and is known as the genius masterful brain of the game within the team. I’ll give you some examples here. For example he was the man who was behind convincing Afridi to allow Wahab to go for the unplayable reverse swinging Yorker on the 30th of March when there was some deliberation as to whether he should go for the standard delivery first up or outclass him with the variation. His persuasion and game sense of Yuvraj’s high bat lift resulted in a magical moment for all to enjoy with the exception of the batsmen of course. The man managerial powers are evident. This enables people to feel confident, settled and professionally guided and assisted regardless of whether they are bowlers, batters, fielders. He has all bases covered technically and epitomises that it is a game in the mind as much as it is to do with the skill. The ability to convert the skill and talent into a well executed plan is where he specialises and places a great deal of importance. He also recommended Saeed Ajmal for national selection during the 2008 Asia Cup when he was vice captain. The team were lacking a front line specialist in the spin department. He forwarded a recommendation of a quality product who now is considered one of the most feared opponents in the modern game. His match anticipation and eye for talent is a rare attribute. There has never been a negative word spoken against him on this matter and all who have worked with him have been praiseworthy and expressed great gratitude for raising their game through professional advice along with portraying the characteristics of a complete or ideal package captain. It’s not often you get the chance to say this, especially for a Pakistan captain. He is a rare species who are found far and few between in the mysterious world that is Pakistan Cricket.

People can keep referring to his semi final knock as if they are so emotionally down that nothing else has any relevance; however such ignorance shall never end up on the winning side. He is the only one who did not throw their wicket away, fought right to the end, came to terms with the pitch and conditions, attempted to reconstruct the innings and top scored not only in this match, but throughout the tournament he had the best record by the batters in what had been a memorable campaign. Moreover, he was not really batting in the top 4 so his role was undefined and others around him choked considerably more. To summarise a player’s career on the basis of one innings is beyond logic. It’s as simple as that. Unfortunately he gets a lot of exaggerated and unnecessary stick from various quarters of his own fan base for his less entertaining style, his age, his unglamorous personality, the myth that he cost Pakistan WCs and even the myth that he removed the charismatic Shahid Afridi from captaincy when really the board made the decision after Afridi had violated the players code of conduct after repeated warnings. These are just some of the reasons which prompted me to write this article. He is an understated character whose achievements are overlooked. He deserves significantly better. For some he can do no right.

The aim of the winter has to be not to lose a test series against Sri Lanka and England and carry his successful record and reputation further as well as his own personal form. A draw would also be a positive achievement considering the contrast on the rankings prior to the series. We could sneak in a 1-0 win against Sri Lanka more so than England. However, regardless of what happens what he has done in the previous 12 months speaks volumes and deserves our admiration. Nonetheless, we are on track and prepared to do well under him against 2 stronger opponents and we shouldn’t be surprised to see him and them do well in these forthcoming assignments. I believe the best is yet to come and backing some successful results to come through. I would like to see him lead the team until the next 2012 T20 World championship which will be held in Sri Lanka next year. If his form allows maybe even he can go beyond that and who could consider complaining after all what he has achieved and done? The groups for that incidentally have been announced. The greens have been paired up with the Kiwis and Bangladesh during the preliminary round in Palakelle with fixtures on the 23rd and 25th of September. If things go according to pre tournament seeding India will lock horns with the greens exactly 18 months after Mohali in Colombo for a super 8 head to head, regardless of whether they finish 1st or 2nd in their initial preliminary pool.

He has a 100% clean record in 6 one day internationals and 3 Twenty20 matches as well. Although, 7 of them have come against minnows they have been all away from home in a tight schedule which adds weight to the argument. Overall, in 8 series as captain he has won 6 with 2 draws. The highlight would be New Zealand 2011 as well as successfully drawing a test series against the number 2 ranked South African side with a new looked reforming test side in only his first series in charge as full time captain. Previously he was not even in the team, but he had captaincy experience and performed well domestically captaining his domestic side to both the one day and 4 day title. The board which had been somewhat of a laughing stock at the time made an outside of the box appointment and the results have been in front of one and all. You could clearly see the thought process and logic behind the appointment. Furthermore, since he has been reintroduced into the ODI team they have won 77% of the matches he has played in, won 4 consecutive ODI series, appeared in the semi finals of the world cup for the first time in the 21st century, averaged in the 60s with 8 half centuries in 19 innings including 2 MOMs in chases as well as 7 not outs. He has been Pakistan’s 2nd leading ODI run scorer after Mohammad Hafeez this year in a year where Pakistan have won 17 one day internationals out of 23 appearances in contrast to the 5 out of 18 they had won in the much forgettable 2010. The aim ahead shall be to be competitive in one and at least win one ODI series and T20 leg against one of Sri Lanka or England as well as building up some preparation for a good showing in the 2012 Asia Cup in Bangladesh should the bilateral series between Pakistan and India not go ahead.

16/09/11: The day he topped that chart

The run machine marches on........

Records Of Pakistan Captains In Modern Era Across All Forms Of The Game:

Shahid Afridi, 54 Matches: 26 Wins, 27 Lost, 1 NR
Shoaib Malik, 56 Matches: 36 wins, 19 Lost, 1 Draw
Misbah, 16 Matches: 12 Wins, 1 Lost, 3 Draws
Younis Khan, 38 Matches: 14 Wins, 19 Lost, 5 Draws
Mohammad Yousuf, 17 Matches: 4 Wins, 12 Lost, 1 Draw

Monday, September 19, 2011

Yasir Shah First Impressions: He was exceptional as a fielder. He held on to some stunners covering a great deal of ground. He was confident and reliable. As a bowler he was largely ineffective. The newcomer went at approximately 10 RPO during his first Twenty20 series. Even though he claimed a couple of top order scalps in his maiden appearance both of them were caught in the deep and were mainly due to poor execution or brilliant fielding as opposed to brilliance from him. I watched him closely and did not see a single ball beat the bat. He didn’t seem to have much control and variation from the 14 overs we got to see overall which is key to successful leggies in the modern era. He scored 11* from 7 in his first knock and comes across as a handy lower order batsman which his domestic record ably backs up. It should be interesting to see if he is still part of the plans for the forthcoming Sri Lankan series.

The stand out performers on this tour was Younis Khan, Aizaz Cheema (17 scalps in his first 5 appearances for his country after a long wait on the side lines), but above all Mohammad Hafeez who continued his brilliant year as a considerably improved operator. The skipper also did well averaging 83 in the ODI series at a healthy strike rate and was regularly involved in the field with several catches and run outs including some sheer stunners. He shows no sign of age and looked as fit as a 21 year old youngster. Adnan Akmal batted well with 3 solid knocks including 2 unbeaten stays and the other time was run out. Shoaib Malik was an epic disappointment. Shafiq was steady and classy in the opportunities he got.

Waqar’s Tenure (May 2010- September 2011)

1)4 consecutive ODI series wins against New Zealand, West Indies, Ireland and Zimbabwe.

2)4 consecutive ODI series played out by the score line of 3-2 against England, South Africa, New Zealand and West Indies.

3)Only 1 loss in 6 test series which came during the controversial tour of England in August 2010 where as many as 3 players were banned for 5 years minimum after being found guilty to a spot fixing sting by the NOTW.

4)2 Twenty20 series whitewashes against Australia on 5th and 6th July at Edgbaston 2010 and against Zimbabwe on 16th and 18th of September in Harare 2011 .

5) Reaching the semi finals of the 2010 ICC World T20 and 2011 50 over World Cup.

6) 2 huge test series wins outside sub continental territory in 2011 during brief series.

7) Drawing a 2 match test series against South Africa and West Indies.

8) During his tenure he had 3 captains: Shahid Afridi (who walked out of test cricket admitting he was not good enough to handle the challenges the format presented and had a major selection dispute with Waqar during the 4th and 5th one day international against the West Indies in May over which youngsters should be picked. Shahid walked out of meetings.), Salman Butt who after captaining in 5 tests with 2 historical victories was suspended by the international cricket council and Misbah who has been the most stable and successful of the lot.

9) There was a time when Pakistan had lost 6 consecutive Twenty20s in between 5th September 2010 and 28th December 2010 against England, South Africa and New Zealand combined.

10) The team ended in 3rd out of 4 positions in the 10th Asia Cup following defeats against Sri Lanka and India in June 2010 which was his first ODI assignment as full time coach. The tournament also saw the return of Shoaib Akhtar for the final segment of his career.

11) Overall: 18 series, 8 wins, drawn 3, lost 7.

12) Captain records under his tenure.

Afridi: 49 matches, 22 wins, 26 losses, 1 rained off

Butt: 5 matches, 2 wins, 3 losses

Misbah: 14 matches, 10 wins, 3 draws, 1 loss

Bring On The Lankans!

Exactly one month to go till the first test against Sri Lanka from Abu Dhabi! A lot of people say this will be Misbah's biggest challenge as captain up to now, but I would disagree. I believe his toughest challenge up to now would have been South Africa which he successfully overcame. They were a higher ranked side and had a world class pace bowling unit. They were expected favourites, but yet Pakistan denied them a victory with a new looked reforming test side. However, Sri Lanka will be the first time Misbah is captaining against an Asian test side and it will be the first time he will be captaining in a 3 match test series. Bring on the Lankans!

Hafeez's 8th MOM Of The Year in 23 Dished Out To Pakistan Players!

Century in test match. Century in ODI match. Combined figures of 7/21 in T20s while hitting back to back 50s. 4 times he was Man of Match on this tour in the total of 6 matches. He is turning out to be one of the world's premier all rounder in the shorter versions of the game. Has made a sensational comeback after being a tried and tested failure for most parts of his career. Really beginning to show case the hidden talent he always had, especially in the batting. He always was a nagging bowler, but this didn't get noticed enough. Now it does.

Zimbabwe Whitewashed In T20s As Well

Pakistan have won their first Twenty20 series in 5 attempts. Waqar ends his tenure with 9 back to back wins & exactly a 50% win record. Misbah has a 100% WIN record in LOIs after 9 matches with the captains arm band and at the moment has won 9 in a row across all formats including 2 convincing back to back tests. Pakistan need 1 more win for 30 T20 wins which no team has done up till now. The next T20 match involving Pakistan will take place on the 25th of November from Abu Dhabi. They will be taking on Sri Lanka who has 5 consecutive T20 wins under their belt going into that game (3 coming against Australia). Sri Lanka have a higher winning % in T20s than Pakistan overall. However, when the two have played Pakistan have had the better of them with 4 wins in 6 including the memorable 21st June 2009 at Lords. Shoaib Malik also needs a single in his next T20 match to get the record for the most innings in T20s without registering a duck.

Poor Malik

Shaoib Malik faced 38 balls in 4 LO matches on this tour and was dismissed 4 times for just 34 runs together. He dropped catches in the field during the one day series which you'd expect him to take. He went at 7 an over with the ball when he did bowl. This too on flat pitches against a minnow side. Should he be selected for the Sri Lanka series? It's about as a horrible come back as it gets. There is competition from the likes of Hammad Azam for that no 5 or 6 spot. He has been hard done by after scoring 36 on debut and bowling a tidy spell against Ireland. Personally, I don't rate Malik too highly. He is a mediocre cricketer at best, but a brilliant outfielder.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Waqar's Record As Coach

Gul’s Heroics and Ijaz Butt’s Foul Mouth One Year On

Remember this weekend last year fondly. On the Friday game at the Oval under lights Gul got a 6 for. Bowled with skill and character. Got the ball to reverse. He ran through England in no time. He had been thrashed around the park in the first 2 games but responded in spectacular fashion. The delivery he bowled to Brenan & Broad was a beauty. Wahab held on to a crucial catch in the deep to dismiss Morgan. Akhtar castled Trott earlier in the day. Doctrove was having a stinker of a day as umpire. Pakistan won when Razzaq knocked over Jimmy Anderson and the team were ecstatic. They kept the series alive and won their first game since the spot fixing saga broke out. The very next day Ijaz Butt made allegations against the England team for deliberately throwing the match. He referred to strange scoring patters. Embarrassed the team and the fans. Saying he received info from the bookies. The 4th one day international went ahead at the 11th hour when the two teams decided to go ahead with it. England were distracted and disturbed by what was being levelled at them. The series went down to a decider at Southampton and unfortunately Pakistan choked and England completed the summer with an 8/3 record against Pakistan.

Friday, September 16, 2011

10 reasons why Misbah IS a good enough T20 player

As follows:

1) He is captain and deservedly so with his performance, stabilising presence and leadership qualities as well as captaincy material stuff - (something Afridi fanatics cannot stand)

2) He is Pakistan's 3rd leading 20/20 run scorer of all time with an excellent average & healthy SR.

3) He holds the record for the highest individual score by Pakistan batsmen in 20/20 cricket.

4) In the 2007 T20 WC he was the 3rd leading run scorer in the whole tournament.

5) He was a member of the 2009 T20 WC winning team as even vice captain.

6) He has hits more 6s per match in T20s than even Afridi.

7) His 20/20 heroics were good enough to earn him a place as an overseas professional in the Indian Premier League with the Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2008. In one of the matches he dispatched a bowler for 26 from a single over.

8) He has a wide range of shots. He can play the big shots when required & even deliver some monstrous blows.

9) He can be inventive, innovative and creative with his shots & stroke play. Have modern innovations in his game such as the reverse sweep, slog sweep, big calculated blow towards cow corner, scoop, shuffling across his stumps & targeting the mid wicket area & he is not afraid to expose him stumps & slam the ball inside out through the off side. Can execute these shots with good percentages as well as an element of shock & surprise. Not an easy batter to set a field too.

10) He has the ability to take initiative, seize the opportunity, accelerate and change gears quickly.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Misbah: The Perfect Role Model For Youngsters

Calling all young and aspiring batsmen: He is a top notch blocker and defender. He has a tight, neat and steady defensive technique. He presents the full face of the blade, gets behind the line, watchfully traps the movement and length and virtually kills it completely. It’s deadly hard to get one past him. This is the bread and butter of his game plan and an aspect where he is very firm, focussed, controlled & demonstrates his discipline, temperament, commanding structure and determination. This is helpful because it enables him to assess the pitch, conditions and bowlers, gather his thoughts, get his eye in, put a price on his wicket, occupy the crease, be patient and be prepared to sit in and overcome passages of play with utter concentration and application, set the platform, engage in frustrating mind games with the opposition in the sense he is showing a flawless approach and battling/digging in really hard to do the hardyards like a gritty workhorse. It places him in a strong position & frame of mind. He goes about his business in a systematic, organised, controlled, methodical and structured manner. He reads situations responsibly. He handles proceedings with perspective, nerves of steel combined with depth tactical awareness. He summarises situations efficiently. He has an advanced mindset for decision making credentials such as operating with a level of clarity, thoughtfulness and considering the wider picture as opposed to emotionally getting stuck and carried away in the moment. He is adventurous and doesn’t necessarily ploy the obvious or basic elements, but knows his plan and purpose for reaching the desired final outcome with thorough assessment, game awareness, and perspective along with consideration of the implications. His cricketing braininess is undisputable and he is the best when it comes to this. His composure and ability to react and respond when the going gets tough is so underrated. Unfortunately these elements of his game tend to go under appreciated and unnoticed with his unglamorous personality with all due respect to his highly credible stature both on and away from the playing fields. However, forget sponsorships and shampoo commercials. Performance is what makes you a complete and serious contender. He epitomises how with a strong sharp mind, study of opponents and pride for a sophisticated mindset can make your talent count with greater regularity. It’s a game in the MIND as much as it is to do with the SKILL.

Is Malik And A New T20 Captain The Answer To Pak Getting Back On Track In This Format?

Pak have won 27/46 20/20s. The leading run getter in the current squad in this format is Misbah whereas the leading wicket taker is Saeed Ajmal who is also 3rd in the world. Pakistan have won only 1 in their last 8 20/20s, however with a new captain in this format and replacing a person who had an 8/19 record brings new hope & a possible change of spark in fortunes. Misbah has 20/20 captaincy experience for both Pakistan and Faisalabad before which will come in handy. As far as I’m concerned having 1 stable deserving leader across all 3 formats is best with reference to India’s MSD. Noticeably, Pak have lost 4 consecutive 20/20 series and in all of those 4 series did not feature Malik. When he was last in the 20/20 squad the team whitewashed Australia 2-0 at Edgbaston and in his last 3 appearances in this format he has had 3 wins under his belt (1 coming as captain against England in the UAE when Razzaq made an unbeaten 46 with 5 maximums from just 18 deliveries to break a 10 match losing streak), so his return in this format is surely bound to bring Pak back to winning ways. He is a top class player in this format with his athletic fielding and ability to score at a nice pace throughout without being overly aggressive or taking on unnecessary risks. Moreover, he is used to winning and being around winning teams. He knows how to win and win well. He may only be a mediocre cricketer overall, but the nature of 20/20 is such that even a mediocre cricketer can become a superstar. Yesterday Pak completed their 40th victory against Zimbabwe in 44 ODIs. In 20/20s Zimbabwe have played just the 1 against Pak during a quadrangular series in Canada 2008 with Pak winning comfortably. First of two IT20s tomorrow. Go well Greens.

3rd ODI Reaction. Zimbabwe Whitewashed!

We did not bowl out Zimbabwe in any of the 3 matches unfortunately. 22 out of a possible 30 wickets were taken. 8 of them belonging to Cheema.

However, in none of the 3 matches did Zimbabwe get 250. We contained and restricted them well.

Aizaz Cheema was outstanding. He would have been my vote for MOTS. Excellent find for Pakistan in the pace department. He is having a dream debut tour in the African continent. I am impressed by his short ball where he has got many of his wickets and his bravery to execute the slower delivery very deceptively. He gets the short ball UP and surprises the batsmen. He has a fair amount of wheels on his deliveries. He comes across as an attacking and genuine wicket taking option.

Waqar Younis’s tenure in one day internationals has ended with Pakistan winning 22/37 one day internationals in the time he was in charge. He will be missed.

Looking forward to the T20s. Another clean sweep will be marvellous.

We have been clinical on this tour with the exception of the 1st one day international which was a narrow win. Credit to Misbah and Waqar throughout.

The highlight of the ODI series for me would be the record breaking opening stand between Hafeez and Farhat. In all fairness Farhat has bounced back well after his 2nd ball duck in Bulawayo.

Shoaib Malik’s comeback series to resurrect his international career has been one to forget. Averaging 8 in the series and going at 7 an over with his pie chucking off breaks. 864 deliveries in the field. 19 with the bat including being dismissed twice. Only 36 deliveries with the ball. What a complete waste of space. Mediocre performance and that too against Zimbabwe. Incidentally Malik played the 3 first and last 3 one day internationals of Waqar’s tenure and in between missed 31 encounters.

Overall 5 half centuries and a ton were scored by the Pakistan batsmen in the 3 matches. Asad Shafiq reminded everyone of his class in his first appearance of the tour replacing Umar Akmal.

Sohail Khan seems like a decent option in ODIs. He is quick through the air, fairly accurate, varies his pace intelligently & has a smooth run up and action. Yasir Shah had an impressive outing on debut with 2 top order wickets including breaking the 100+ opening stand when Zimbabwe would have been hopeful of pulling this one off.

YK has 3 consecutive ODI half centuries now. After his horrors in the WC SF he has responded well and is having a brilliant tour. Scored well every time right from the word go and is yet to fail reaching 50 when being dismissed.

Team For 1st T20

Mohammad Hafeez
Imran Farhat/Asad Shafiq
Umar Akmal
Misbah- ul-Haq
Shoaib Malik/Asad Shafiq
Rameez Raja
Adnan Akmal
Sohail Tanvir
Sohail Khan
Saeed Ajmal
Aizaz Cheema

Highest win/loss ratio in cricket history with a qualification of 10 matches

This includes matches against India, Australia and South Africa..cant argue with the records...

Lower ranked sides BUT Shoaib Malik led Pak to the 3rd highest consecutive ODI win tally of 12 in 07/08 and got plenty of credit. He was up against the likes of Bangladesh and Zimbabwe for 5 each in that and that too on home soil, but here we had a far more inexperienced side bowling wise and were playing all games on neutral or away territory which adds weight to the argument. Many records come against minnows, such is nature. How clinical we are against them is what matters. This record is about as good as it gets. We’d have been expected to lose at least 3 or 4 more games than just the 1.

‎4 against Zimbabwe AWAY
2 against Ireland AWAY
2 against West Indies
2 against New Zealand
2 against South Africa
1 against Australia (before he was full time captain)
1 against India (before he was full time captain)
Fewer losses, stability in the camp, more consistency

When I got Yuvraj Singh out in the semi final for a first ball duck it was a joyous moment. I was arguing with Shahid Afridi the ball before he came in about what ball to bowl. Shahid bhai wanted me to bowl a lengthy delivery and aim for the edge, but my heart was saying to bowl a Yorker. MISBAH was standing next to me and urged Shahid to let me go for the Yorker because of Yuvraj’s high bat lift. I knocked over Yuvraj with exactly that first up!” – Wahab Riaz
Fewer losses, stability in the camp, more consistency
Superb record and start to his captaincy
Tougher challenges lie ahead but for now let’s take a moment to give him the credit he deserves
He has a higher win/loss ratio than SKW who Imran Khan considered as one of the best tacticians in the game
He always was an ideal captain or born leader...always possessed captaincy material characteristics in the domestic circuit...always went about his business in an organised and systematic manner...Handled adversity analytically not emotionally...Had a statesmen like demeanour..ability to assess situations and make advanced considerate decisions of how to approach the game and consider the wider picture as opposed to simply employing the basic or obvious elements..was strategically strong & had depth understanding on the various technical aspects as well as the ability to guide fellow teammates and pass on suggestions..thrived with added responsibility…Unfortunately this is not always picked up by the fan base due to his understated and calm flowing personality..he’s not an in your face character who gets the limelight and attention..but he has a heck of a cricketing brain..not something u always tend to associate with Pakistan players..he is a rare breed…
This record is about as good as it gets
Couldn’t ask for much better or more……
Give me solid consistency, greater professionalism and a  trouble free environment over unpredictable aggressiveness combined with flair & excitement but continuous dramas to haunt and disturb the camp time and time again…..

Sunday, September 11, 2011

2nd ODI Reaction

A clinical and very comfortable 10 wicket win. Hafeez’s career best ODI score gives Pakistan their 4th consecutive ODI series win of the year to go along with their WC semi final appearance for the first time in 12 years. Hafeez has scored 4 international centuries this year and gained 6 MOM awards! 16/23 wins for Pakistan in ODIs this year. Tomorrow, Wahab Riaz favourite to be named emerging player of the year!

Misbah wins his 5th series as captain to go along with 2 drawn series. 2 test series wins against Zimbabwe and New Zealand away. Two ODI series wins against Ireland and Zimbabwe away and a T20 series win against Australia in 2009. He has an undefeated series record as captain after 7 series across all formats.

Today: 9th highest 1st wicket partnership in ODIs and it involves Imran Farhat!

What A Year This Has Been For Pakistan In ODIs: 2011

Pakistan has won 16 ODIs this year in 23 outings with 1 rained off game this year. (well they will get the 16th only chasing 226 today at 4.52 RPO)

What is the most number of ODI wins in a calendar year?

It has been a highly successful year for PCT in ODIs.

You might argue they have been playing against lower ranked sides.

However, all of their 4 series have been away from home which adds weight to the argument.

Furthermore, in comparison to last year this is vast improvement where they only won 5 in 18 matches. They were woeful last year including early elimination in the Asia Cup to go along with a 5-0 whitewash down under as well as losing both series deciders against England and South Africa after squaring the series in the 4th game.

Also, this includes the monumental victories in the World Cup against Sri Lanka and Australia on Saturday 26th February and Saturday 19th March respectively which should definitely not be forgotten.

They have won 4 consecutive ODI series this year.

They have had 10/13 successful run chases.

They also reached the milestone of 400 ODI wins this year becoming only the 2nd team after Australia.

Their ODI calendar year finishes off with a 5 match ODI series against Sri Lanka in the UAE between 11th and 23rd November.

First of all, opportunity for squad rotation and experimentation in the dead rubber on Wednesday. Will Yasir Shah and Ramiz Raja debut?

Hong Kong Sixes 2011

The 2011 Hong Kong Sixes tournament will be held from the 28th to 30th October weekend. Australia are current champions. Pakistan were runners up in 2010. Shoaib Malik led the team. Imran Nazir bowled an atrocious last over to deny Pakistan the title from a comfortable winning position. Pakistan have appeared in 7 HK finals with 4 victories, but never won the competition since 2002. Squad to be named yet. England is the most successful team with 5 titles. It will be the 17th time the event is being held. Last year the legendary Indian spinner Anil Kumble featured. Pakistan beat India batting first last year when the two teams clashed on a rainy Saturday. Pakistan’s group consists of India, South Africa and hosts Hong Kong. 12 countries will be participating in the event.

Head To Head For England Test Series vs Pakistan UAE 2012

How do these two sides shape up?

Overall Record: Played 71, Pak won 13, lost 22, drawn 36

Last time England played Pakistan AWAY= 2005 Pakistan won 2-0 with victories in Multan and Lahore with a draw in Faisalabad.

Last time they played: 3-1 in 2010. Pakistan winning by 4 wickets at the Oval to keep the series alive. Losing convincingly in the other 3 games.

Cook vs Taufiq = Cook

Strauss vs Hafeez= Strauss

Trott vs Azhar= Trott


Morgan vs Misbah=Misbah

Bell vs Shafiq=Bell on experience

Prior vs Adnan=Prior

Bresnan/2nd spinner vs Rehman=Rehman on utility

Broad vs Wahab= Wahab

Swann vs Ajmal=Ajmal

Anderson vs Cheema=Anderson on experience

Overall, narrowly 6/5 to England. Not bad ! Really looking forward to this series. Two tests will be held in Abu Dhabi with the one in between being held in Dubai. Gets under way on the 17th of January. England arrives in the UAE on the 3rd and have two 3 day warm up games beforehand. England goes into this series having won 6 consecutive test series. Pakistan on the other hand have not lost a single test series since they last played in the ‘spot fixing’ affected series in 2010. In that time they have played 4 (3 away from home and one neutrally). However, first they take on Sri Lanka who are currently trailing to Australia 1-0 and on the backfoot in the 2nd test in Pallekele. The 3 match series gets under way on the 18th from Abu Dhabi as well. Earlier in the year Sri Lanka managed a respectable 1-0 loss against England in chilly early summer conditions. Had it not been for the Cardiff batting collapse nightmare they would have gone away with a 0-0 score line. Dilshan has found the job tough going by the looks of things. England’s next opponents in the 5 day game will be Pakistan. They only have a 5 match away ODI series in India before that which starts in October.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Shoaib Malik – The Fielder

He is a very ordinary cricketer.

So limited with the bat. Vulnerable to sharp pace and movement.

Reluctant to bat up the order.

An absolute pie chucker with the ball. Help yourself time.

Was good in the Inzi/Woolmer days but never progressed and materialised.

Never been the same bowler since his suspect bowling action was reported & he wasn’t allowed to bowl the doosra.

His off field troubles speak for themselves.

However, he is a tremendous fielder, especially by Pakistani standards. A very cool and confident fielder under pressure. He’s quick across the turf and naturally very athletic. One element which is worth appreciating about him.

Personally I don’t rate him too highly neither am a I fan of him, but he has a buzzing presence as a fielder. Take nothing away on that note.

YK and Misbah Ideally Suited For 3 & 4

I much prefer to see YK and skipper batting at 3 and 4 in ODIs as opposed to #4 and #5.

Gives them greater time to build the innings and greater responsibility which they deserve and are capable of fulfilling consistently.

They are the most “complete” and “accomplished” batsmen in the side. They are the senior figures. They are dependable. They can carry the innings, bat for long periods of time, play a big knock & hold an end up. They are technically and temperamentally solid to cope with higher quality of bowling, deal with better conditions & handle stronger intensity with their well renowned successful reputations in the 5 day game. They are the workhorses and backbone of the team.

As they are both in the ODI set up they should be utilised to their maximum advantage and where they mean business. I am in the view, that they have been under utilised to some extent. YK had an alright World Cup in all fairness. He failed in Mohali and in some preliminary group fixtures against Canada and New Zealand; however he did start the campaign with an 80 odd against England in the warm up fixture follow by back to back 50s against Kenya and Sri Lanka as well as valuable hand in a low scoring win against Australia. Misbah on the other hand had a superb campaign in his first WC scoring 3 50s and a valuable 37 in 6 innings at an average of 50 which helped Pakistan reach the WC semis for the first time in the 21st century with his batting and vice captaincy presence playing a key underappreciated part to the team success. There were a lot of people calling for their departures in a bit of a knee jerk fashion following Mohali, nonetheless I was always in the view that Misbah should carry on until retirement in all formats with his hunger, proven credentials, captaincy, stabilising presence and stupendous run of form whereas I would not mind Younis if he is used properly to carry on, although I feel we could have coped without him. I firmly believe had Misbah been batting in the top 4 in the WC and others batted better around him his innings in Mohali would have been a match winning effort. His role and style is more suited for this role as opposed to having to do a rescue or re-establishing job continuously in the middle order.

If a proper genuine test class winner is brought into the shorter formats and is given a defined role and utilised in a favoured position there is little reason why they should not perform. The principles of cricket remain.

Let these old timers set a platform properly, set up a chase by seeing off the bowlers, coming to terms with the pitch and conditions, preserve wickets the good old Pakistan formula way by being solid, steady & watchful to start with & give themselves a chance to get set and really go hard & give them maximum opportunity to play the anchor sheet.

For example in a chase of 265. If these two get together at 50-2 after 12. They can at least take the game to 38 overs and be 170/2 after 38 and with both of them set and the BPP still available they will be on track rather than having to come to the wicket at 70/3 after 19 overs and get stuck. Your best players in top 4 are key. Alternatively batting first these two can take the innings up to 35 over mark at 160/2 & then challenge 270/280 scenario. Or when chasing under 200/220 they will be able to close the game down in no time by simply staying at the wicket & playing solid sensible cricket. There will inevitably be more gaps in the field due to the oppo being more attacking and therefore they can finish the job off with clinical purpose and efficiency.

Since Misbah has batted at 4 after the WC he had made scores of: 76*, 43*, 62* and 54. He is usually a productive player at the crease when it comes to the batting powerplay as well. A mixture of brutal force and intelligence.

Friday, September 9, 2011

1st ODI Reaction

Phew! Avoided an upset there….Pakistan win their 15th out of 22 ODIs this year… Misbah maintains a 100% LOI clean record after 5 matches..Hopefully will be 9 by the end of the tour..Next match comes on Sunday in Harare...in fact the remaining 4 matches of the tour will be played there… impressive performance from the debutants (Adnan and Aizaz).. Not the comeback which neither Farhat or Malik would have wished for..Back to back 50s for YKs in one day internationals..he was superb today and deservedly MOM.. Ran aggressively between the wickets, rotated the strike, played some delightful controlled cricketing shots…Ideally I would not have him in the ODI set up anymore..BUT if he is batting at number 3 & in general I am not one who would mind his inclusion in this format...he is a class act...Misbah now has 8 50s in 18 ODI innings this year with an average of above 60...Umar was decent at best today, played a useful hand and engaged in an important partnership with the captain after Malik was strangled down the leg side by some brilliance from TT..However failed to accelerate during the latter stages of the innings…fielding on the whole was sloppy today..Ajmal and Junaid were far from their best...Cheema is the leading wicket taker on his ODI debut as well as his test debut..got 3 big wickets of set batsmen at crucial stages in the game with his variations…he has really made a positive impact on this tour in the absence of Gul and Wahab...Razzaq and Afridi were missed in the last 10 overs...Misbah really should have gone on and batted the distance..Nonetheless Adnan played a decent hand in his first ODI cap...didn’t hit many boundaries but rotated the strike pretty well...Sohail Tanvir had a good day out in all departments in his comeback having missed out in the WC and on the WI tour..Credit to Zimbabwe for giving us a good run & tight game... Taylor did a top job and led from the front...Hopefully from a PCT fans perspective it will be the closest they happen to come to us on the whole tour...I’d like to see Yasir Shah get a chance in the next 4 games..Perhaps rest Ajmal when the series is secured..Perhaps Sohail Khan instead of Junaid in the next game..RR will get a go I’m sure in the 20/20s..Would like to see Azhar or Asad instead of Farhat at the top by a mile..

Thursday, September 8, 2011

ODI Series Starts Tomorrow

Preferred Line Up

Mohammad Hafeez
Asad Shafiq/Azhar Ali
Younis Khan (realistically he will play)
Misbah ul Haq
Shoaib Malik
Umar Akmal
Adnan Akmal (WK)
Sohail Tanvir
Sohail Khan (I think he will be better in LOIs)
Saeed Ajmal
Junaid Khan
12th man: Yasir Shah

Pakistan have won 14/20 ODIs this year. Out of the 14 wins 9 have come chasing. Misbah has been a key player in these successful run chases with 3 50s* and a run a ball 43* as well as a 32 and another not out all in the wins batting 2nd. He has got 2 series winning MOMs this year both from chasing in the 2nd innings. Hafeez and Misbah are the two leading run getters for Pakistan in ODIs this year with an average of 37 and 61 respectively. The leading ODI wicket takers for Pakistan this year are Shahid Afridi and Wahab Riaz with 27 wickets in 18 matches and 23 wickets in 12 matches respectively. Both of these bowlers are absent on this tour due to retirement and rest. Nonetheless Saeed Ajmal is here standing at 21 wickets with 10 matches this year. Misbah ul Haq is yet to lose an LOI as captain. Pakistan have won 9/12 batting 2nd whereas 5/8 batting first this year so far…….. 3/0 whitewash on the cards potentially if Pakistan’s overall record against the Zimbabweans is anything to go by? There will be a 2 day break in between each ODI and then 2 T20s with a day gap in between.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Azhar Ali After 13 Tests

Chirpy lad at silly point and short leg. Is a definite vocalist in the field.

Test Match batting average of 38 after 13 tests.

9 50s in 25 innings.

7 50s in his last 13 innings.

5 50s in wins.

4 50s in draws.

The team has NEVER lost when he has made a noteworthy contribution.

Had only 5 losses in 13 tests played (4 of them being played in England 2010)

PCT have only lost 1 out of 6 test series he has played in. Drawn 3. Won 2.

Hope he gets a go in the ODI series which starts on the 8th at Bulawayo.

This time next week could be emerging player of the year!

Pakistan undefeated for 4 consecutive test series

Drastic progress and stability especially in the batting department and captaincy

In the last 11 test innings we have posted scores in excess of 340 on 6 occasions

We have a solid, dependable, settled, gritty, in form and determined batting line up. Really looks like a “proper” test line up who can spend extended periods of time at the wicket, make the bowlers toil and take the innings to at least 125 overs+. There is discipline and responsibility

Have vast depth in the batting: Rehman, Tanvir Ahmed, Wahab Riaz

Got a good slip cordon with YK, Misbah and Taufiq. How they were missed in England 2010.

Have not been bowled out looking to save a match on a day 5 pitch on 3 occasions

Have had victory margins of 180+ runs or at least 5 wickets on 3 occasions

Have had some quality spin bowling performances from the likes of Ajmal, Rehman, Hafeez

Posted Pakistan’s highest ever 4th innings total against South Africa

Pakistan’s test side are looking significantly stronger in comparison to a year or so ago

If we don’t lose against Sri Lanka and England that will be superb.

I am confident we won’t.

Continuity with openers. 7 tests without changing the opening combination. 4 series that is. Taufiq+Hafeez way to go.

I don’t look too much into the defeat in Guyana because no Pakistan player had played on Caribbean shores before in that test. YK was absent. The wicket was extremely challenging & we were always on the back foot having to chase in the 4th innings. During many junctions of the game we dominated. Had them 9 down for approximately 200 on day 1 and went into day 4 requiring 139 with 7 wickets in hand. The margin of defeat was narrow and we bounced back convincingly to square the series and thrash them in St Kits during some difficult batting conditions on the opening day and still claimed 20 wickets on historically one of the flattest wickets around.

Hopefully I would like to see Shafiq played ahead of Umar Akmal in the UAE.

Line Up Should Be:

1) Hafeez
2) Taufiq
3) Azhar
4) Younis
5) Misbah ©
6) Asad
7) Adnan (WK)
8) Rehman
9) Wahab
10) Ajmal
11) Cheema

Back Up: Umar Akmal, Tanvir Ahmed, Junaid Khan, Manzoor

Reply via PP: as mentioned previously, our batting strategy needs a serious overhaul and I am glad Waqar will no longer be around as the coach so hopefully we'll see more purposeful & fluent batting performances in test cricket rather than slow, lethargic ones...and I am referring to innings building ability of our line up...

our top 3 need to improve against spinners as our next 3 series will feature quite a few of them...

Me: I am not worried about the pace we score. 360 all out in 134 overs vs 224 all out in 63.4 as we have usually seen Pakistan over the years with all these flashy or attractive one day stroke makers in the line up who did not know how to put a price on their wicket and were involved in embarrassing dismissals without spending much time at the wicket. I know which one I’d prefer. Additionally, there will be many draws this winter so needles to get too far ahead. There will be scenarios in where only 3 or 4 wickets will fall in a day’s play so emphasis will be on defending and surviving. We might only get 1 result in a series of 3. That’s how Nasser sees it. At times you can’t afford to go too hard on a flat deck and lose your wickets. It opens up more time for the opposition to enforce a result. Seeing out play & taking up time is the way they will go and should go barring Hafeez who will play his shots regardless.

Team Misbah 1st Innings Record

248 95 overs

434 144 overs

367 121 overs

376 133 overs

160 65 overs

272 110 overs

466 156 overs

Average Score: 332

Average Innings Duration: 118 overs

RR: 2.8

Pre Misbah

258 (99 overs)

333 (97 overs)

301 (106 overs)

148 (41 overs)

258 (65 overs)

182 (54 overs)

72 (40 overs)

308 (100 overs)

74 (33 overs)

Average Score: 214

Average Innings Duration: 71 overs

RR: 3

Monday, September 5, 2011

Cheema's Dream Debut

Aizaz Cheema's bowling in match (8 wickets for 103 runs) are second best figures by a Pakistan bowler on his Test debut. Cheema replaced Mohammad Sami, who took 8 wickets for 106 runs against New Zealand in 2001, at number two.

Best figures by a Pakistan bowler are 11 wickets for 130 runs by Mohammad Zahid against New Zealand at Rawalpindi in 1996. And last Pakistan bowler to take 8 wickets on his Test debut was Abdur Rehman against South Africa in 2007.

Most Successful Test Year Since 2006

Pakistan has won their 3rd test this year by a comprehensive margin. The last time they won 3 tests in a year was in 2006. Seems ages back. Turning out to be a good year for Pakistan test side. May they keep it up against Sri Lanka next month. They have only lost 1 out of their last 6 test series & won 2 test series this year outside Asia. Things are shaping up nicely for Misbah Ul Haq who remains with an undefeated test series record as leader after 4 series captaining the nation in the whites. He has won 2 test series and drawn 2. Only lost 1 in 7 tests as captain and that too by a narrow margin.

He took over captaincy when Pakistan’s test status was being questioned after the spot fixing scandal and they were downplayed as a test side with all the poor results. He has got the results, made record breaking performances with the bat & kept the camp well focussed and trouble free. Imran Khan also rates and backs him as one of the best players and presences in the team after the 2007 WC debacle.

First time since 2005 that Pakistan have won back to back tests.

After 7 tests as captain Misbah averages 88.

Big season ahead in the UAE to follow.

Pakistan have won 3/5 tests this year with victory margins as large as 10 wickets, 196 runs and now by 7 wickets today even after conceding 412 and inserting the home side into bat on a flat bed.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Day 3 Review Update At Stumps

Good solid day in all seriousness. I said if we could be 400/4 at the end of the day that would be nice. Only lost 4 wickets in the day & yet we say it’s "pathetic?" The progress may have been slow but 357/5 is not bad at all. The pitch became slower and lower which has been acknowledged by the Pakistan batsmen themselves so it’s not been easy out there to score.

YK, an inexperienced keeper and the long tail to follow. All depends on YK & how he handles this responsibility. Hope he makes a century and carries the bat through. The bowlers will be better 2nd time around. More in it for Ajmal and Cheema will inevitably have his tail up following 4 late wickets in quick succession during the 1st innings.

Results Verdict on stumps at day 3?

Pakistan wins: 60%
Zimbabwe wins: 10%
Draw: 30%

Should target 500.

Ray Price reckons we will have a result here either way.

Big day for YK.

Ajmal said he has been working on his batting.

He could come useful today.

Posted at lunch on day 4

Adnan Akmal - The Batsmen

Played some attractive shots. Looked busy and compact. Terrible way to be dismissed. He is an underrated batsman. He has glimpses of class. He has a tight defence. His FC batting stats are a misleading reflection of his capabilities. Made 36 in no time. Pakistan have caught up with the Zimbabwe lead this morning. Ray Price has dismissed YK for 88. Much deserved wicket for the toiling honest working left arm spinner. A definite workhorse. Previously Adnan has made an important 44 in New Zealand at Hamilton.

Misbah vs Bradman!

Pakistan Captain Misbah ul Haq has the highest % of 50+ scores by a captain who has had at least 10 innings. Misbah has scored 50s or more in 75% of his test innings since taking over the reins. That’s 8 half centuries and a century in 12 innings. Cannot argue with the stats. This is phenomenal. Don Bradman is next in line with a 55% 50+ record as captain.

Reply on fb: but he still is not a match winner in shorter versions of the game.....Inzi could accelerate at will and as required.....but he is far too cautious than he should be.....he has either a full block mode, or absolute slog mode.....he needs to pick up the balance between the two...for a smooth flowing innings..!

My reply: Urwa, interesting thoughts. Misbah has had an unbeaten stay at the crease on 17 occasions in ODIs and the team has won on 16 of those. He has scored 8 50s in the 2nd innings and on 6 attempts carried the bat with a 50+* and got the team over the line. 2 of them have been this year where he has been awarded MOM as well. His ODI SR is very well respectable & his average is exceptional. He averages 50 in the 2nd innings and had 12 unbeaten stays with the team winning each time. 75% of his ODI 50s have appeared during wins. Ultimately you should be judged in test cricket which is pinnacle of the game & many of these attributes also come in handy in ODI cricket as these players are more complete material with an advanced mindset and wider range of attributes. You need stability, a responsible and dependable operator and that extra professional element in ODIs too rather than having hit and miss players from 1 to 11.

Coaching Manual

The perfect textbook forward defence. This is how's it's done. Played solidly and watchfully. Bread and butter of cricket.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Hafeez Shines!

Played some quality strokes today.

Exceptional touch, timing and placement.

He has a brilliant eye and great range of shots.

The talent has always been there.

80% of the boundaries in the final session came from his bat.

Glad to see he came good in the whites.

Credit to the selectors, management and captain for persisting with him even after all the struggles.

Hopefully he continues on his merry ways to a ton and beyond tomorrow.

Well done Professor!

Taufiq Umar - Serious LBW Candidate

I rate him.

He is solid.

He is gritty.

His stats make impressive reading.

He has been one of our better openers over the years especially in the longer version of the game.

He has even been tipped to be Pakistan's next test captain after Misbah.

However, in his last 6 test innings he has been trapped LBW of 4 occasions in similar fashion.

Seems to fall over his front pad and lose his shape/head position.

A technical area of weakness which is being exploited.

He will be disappointed to miss out on a flat track.

On the first ball he faced he got a gift on his legs and clipped it through mid wicket. 4..... all day.

He must have been thinking it was to be his day.

The 2nd over he faced it was a wicket maiden.

Credit to Jarvis. He made the new ball talk and did the trick. He got his man.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Saeed Ajmal Action Modification

Not sure how many of you noticed or picked up on this.

Saeed has been using the windmill action for many of his deliveries.

He has been getting his non bowling hand high in the air and using a high arm base to release his deliveries.

Similar to Mushtaq Ahmed.

Seems like something he has been working on in county cricket.

Aizaz Cheema - First Impressions

Feel for the 31 year old. Was making his debut on a motorway. No assistance in the pitch whatsoever. Flat as a pancake. Nevertheless he bowled fairly tightly. His economy rate was good. Bowled many maidens. Pace is decent. Failed to really threaten or trouble the batsmen. At times he was over predictable and they were comfortably leaving outside the off stump. Could have tried to make them play more frequently without over compensating. Brings the ball back into the right handers primarily and isn’t afraid to experiment with his slower ones. Will be more suited to LOIs in my honest opinion. Steady rather than spectacular. Not the worst debut in the world. Much deserved test cap for the PIA paceman.

Tino Mawoyo

I was very unfamiliar with him. First time I have seen him bat. How impressive is he?

What a splendid effort. Batted out the whole day against a proper test side (they have a respectable ranking), inexperienced in the bowling and on a flat deck, but nonetheless he exceeded all expectations. Brilliant concentration, stamina, temperament & heart. Never easy in the humidity. He wasn’t overhauled by the opposition. Showed plenty of guts, determination, spirit and grit. Exactly what test cricket is about. Frustrating, tiring and getting into the skins and minds of the opposition. He is relatively new at this level, but showed composure and maturity.

Took full advantage of a 2nd opportunity after Sohail Khan spilled a sitter.

Excellent find for Zimbabwe.

Did well not to lose his wicket to Ajmal.

Tough one to dislodge. Made Pakistan work and toil.

Good to see the hosts showing some competitiveness.

Tino showing resistance and stability. Unbeaten over night.

Alan Butcher will be pleased.

273 balls and still going.............

Thursday, September 1, 2011

An Excited PCT Fan

Pakistan’s 2011/12 international season kicks off tomorrow. Junaid Khan expected to debut in the whites. An 18 day tour of Zimbabwe followed up by a 19 match home itinerary across all formats of the game against Sri Lanka and England in the United Arab Emirates and finally the 11th Asia Cup tournament scheduled for March in Bangladesh to round things off.

Pakistan vs Sri Lanka 2011 fixtures released. Cricket returns to Sharjah after several years.


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

Who would you guys play at #6 in the first test? Shafiq or Umar Akmal?

‎1)Mohammad Hafeez (last chance for him in tests)
2)Taufiq Umar
3)Azhar Ali
4)Younis Khan
6)Asad Shafiq
7)Adnan Akmal (WK)
8)Yasir Shah (leg spinner)
9)Sohail Khan
10)Saeed Ajmal
11)Junaid Khan
Bench: Umar Akmal, Imran Farhat, Ramiz Raja, Aizaz Cheema, Sohail Tanvir

I'd have gone with 2 specialist spinners: Yasir Shah & Ajmal. Leg spinners always provide that attacking option. Sohail Tanvir in tests is not a good option IMO, but is a decent player in the shorter formats. Malik won't play at any cost. He shouldn't be playing ahead of jnr or Shafiq in tests.

Hafeez is not a test quality opener. No doubt about it. Serious deficiencies in his technique and temperament. Hits a couple of boundaries and then is on his way back. He’s gone 11 innings without a half century here. He gets away with it in ODIs with his overall utility & the fact he has more freedom to play his shots in the PP overs. Nonetheless he has been bowling well in tests as well, but you really need to have a proper opener there at the top.

I have a feeling he will come good. He must be feeling the heat. His bowling will always be there in whatever format, he just needs runs under his belt. They should experiment with him at #6 when the balls get softer and older. He can play with freedom there. I don't think this will happen, buts its a serious suggestion.

Alot of pressure will be on Ajmal. He is in great form and the most experienced bowler available. Plus these lesser sides are always vulnerable to unorthodox finger spinners. Don't have the exposure or skills to handle them. He is set to get a handful of wickets in this test. Last time Pak played here in 2002 Saqi got a 10 for. Sohail Khan has played a test match before in 08. Tanvir bats as well which will give him an advantage which is what they might be thinking as Adnan is a lesser of a batsmen than he is a keeper so they require some extra depth at number 8.

Anyway regarding the 224 AO in the 2 day warm up the new tour manger has labelled fasting as one of the factors for the below par display as all the players played the game whilst they were fasting.

Last 6 tests








5 scores of above 340+ in last 11 innings.

3 times have not been bowled out looking to save the match.

Only 3 times scores have been less than 300 in last 6 tests.

The signs are good.

I rate this batting line up. They are solid and dependable. Have been one of our better batting line ups in test matches over the years. There is a sense of discipline, application, determination, responsibility, gutsiness and fighting resilience in the batsmen who are willing to spend time at the crease, dig in hard and put a real price on their wicket i.e. Azhar Ali, Taufiq Umar, Younis, Misbah Asad Shafiq. They can now play out lengthy periods of time and sweat hard which has its own charm and significance in setting platforms, giving themselves every chance of making a substantial score and playing out long sessions confidently when the odds are against them. There is resilience and stability to take the innings to over 110+ overs so they can make opponents really work and eventually go on to earn respect by dictating terms. A classical but workable approach has been adopted. Test match batting disciplines have never really been associated with Pakistan batsmen since MoYo and Inzi departed especially. We are seeing some encouraging signs ahead of future series.

I'm hopefully putting this 224 AO as a one off.

Misbah's 36 ball duck in the warm up

7 50s and a ton in last 11 test innings - you can't ask for much more

a century in the warm up game before the WI test series (101*)


a century in the warm up game before the NZ test series (126*)


one rare failure and we are on to his case

double standards being shown

But yeah 36 balls without troubling the scorers isn’t the greatest start to the tour