Thursday, November 10, 2011

Player Ratings For Test Series

Taufeeq: 5/10. After scoring a marathon double ton in Abu Dhabi, he failed in his next 5 innings and averaged only 18. Why he was not standing in the slip cordon remains a mystery as he is considered to be a reliable fielder and arguably the best in the team. Taufeeq is now flying back and will need to get himself back in shape for the tests in Bangladesh next month. Taufeeq is placed in the top 8 run getters for tests in 2011 and has a chance to add to this with another Asian rivalry before concluding what has been a hectic year.

Hafeez: 5/10. His catching was abysmal, but the catch in the opening over of the 3rd innings to send Dilshan on his way was a welcome relief. Hafeez claimed 2 scalps with the ball in his hand and unsurprisingly they were left hander’s which he has a prolific record against and tends to be somewhat of a demon against them with well over 3 quarters of his test scalps coming against them. The likes of Cook, Strauss, Morgan, Broad, Tamim Iqbal and other lefties will all need to watch out against this underrated crafty off spinner in the forthcoming test series which proceed. His batting was fluent in the 1st innings of the first two tests of the series where he engaged in a stand of over 50 for the first wicket to follow it up by an unbeaten innings to get the desired result in the 4th innings of the same encounter. Nonetheless, he was dismissed cheaply to some carelessness both times in Sharjah where the batting all rounder had a below par outing.

Azhar Ali: 9/10. 11 50s and 1 century in 31 innings with 4 not outs. Azhar sits comfortably averaging in the 40s after the series and 11th in all time from his country. Just like last year against the South Africans, the solid and dependable top order rock topped or appeared 2nd in the averages for the hosts here in the UAE for his maiden series against a sub continental side. With a noteworthy first innings score at each of the venues the tour was one to fondly remember for this KRL gutsy, determined, resilient and temperamentally amazing youngster who is undeniably a consistent and run hungry performer who also sits in the top 8 scorers at an average of 47 in the 5 day arena for the calendar year with 2 to follow in due course. Surely he will climb up that list further which is extremely encouraging for a batsman only in his 1st FULL year at this level. The impressive one down batter reminds many of Shoaib Mohammad, a young Rahul Dravid and even the ex England captain in Michael Atherton who Shane Warne feels every team should have and can tremendously benefit from having. All these grafters have the capabilities and strengths of crease occupation, churning out the runs, wearing out the attack, earning the bad ball subsequently, closing an end and making every effort possible to remain disciplined and trust their defences to make it excessively difficult for the opposition to dislodge them as well as providing that sense of re-assurance, responsibility and stability with not necessarily the greatest talent in the world for others to feed off, but a clear, controlled and repetitive game plan. Azhar certainly ticks these boxes. UAE is turning out to be somewhat of a fortress for him and one shouldn’t be surprised to see him frustrating the Poms in January with that heavily resistible application.

Younis Khan: 8.5/10. Most catches during the tour as well as a century and half century. After 8 tests since resuming his career after that ill fated England tour where he was side lined for reasons best known to a buffoon, his country have been undefeated.

Misbah-ul-Haq: 7/10. A 3rd test series win as captain in 5 series without a series defeat. Mr Solid was outstanding in Sharjah with his watertight defensive technique to survive for over 340 deliveries in the match to earn a well fought draw and consequently seal the series. He led from the front and played a captain’s knock to deny Sri Lanka the win when a substantial effort was required from the leader of the ship. After 10 tests as skipper the calm man averages a formidable 81. Waqar Younis regarded him as having one of the tightest defences in the world when it comes to dead batting the ball quickly on to the turf with the full straight face of the blade or forward prodding with a keen stride to tackle a length or trap any revs imparted on the ball with sheer watchfulness. Tony Greig, a respected and experienced observed in the commentary box, said he was a simply a gem of a captain. Misbah was also just 1 behind Younis Khan for being the leading catcher during the series. With 10 50s or more in 15 innings as captain (excluding single figure not out scores), Misbah has broken in to the top 5 averages in tests from his country of all time. Will he retire with an average of above 50? It’s certainly a possibility as far as I’m concerned.

Asad Shafiq: 6/10. One half century, one unbeaten 20 odd, one unbeaten 50 ball knock to secure the draw in the fading light and one score in the teens before nicking behind. Shafiq held on to some key catches namely Kumar Sangakkara throughout the tour. Surely he has done enough to be retained at the number 6 position against Bangladesh and presumably England as well.

Adnan Akmal: 7/10. A 40 and a cheap dismissal in the two outings he received. However, sound in the keeping department. He has not been retained for the LOI leg of the tour and will be flying back.

Abdur Rehman: 5/10. Unimpressive with the bat in both tests, but exceedingly economical with the ball including picking up some key wickets. The bowling average was approximately 50, but his presence enabled Ajmal to attack more in the shorter bursts. On the whole it was a passable tour for the left arm spinner which during the process he claimed 400 FC wickets.

Umar Gul: 8/10. 14 in the series in the 20s, but disappointing with the bat. 4 times during the series he struck with the new ball in the opening over. 27 scalps in 6 tests for the spearhead of the pace attack. The delivery he bowled to Parnavitana in the opening over of the Sharjah test was one real Jaffa.

Saeed Ajmal: 8.5/10. 2nd MOTS for the year in tests for the leading wicket taker in tests this year as well as the leading wicket taker in international cricket. The wizardry finger spinner was the leading wicket taker in the series and thankfully it was in a winning cause for one of the quickest spinners in the world who reached 50 test victims. Sri Lanka have some fine pickers of spinners in their team which makes the achievement even more special for a bowler who has thrived under Misbah’s leadership, a captain who pushed for his inclusion in the national team and has captained him in the domestic arena for over a decade.

Junaid Khan: 8/10. 12 in the series in the 20s. Should have had more had it not been for the diabolical fielding display in Abu Dhabi. The left armer bowled energetically from around the wicket throughout the series and troubled the Sri Lankans many times. The 21 year old stepped up and made a name for him on batting friendly surfaces. He was rewarded for his discipline and ability to extract movement against the odds. His praises were sung throughout the course of the test series by fellow players and commentators and deservedly so.

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