Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Pak - Wash Is Not Finished Yet......

The 3-0 mission accomplished in the most significant format was monumentally, pleasantly surprising jubilance which no one could have seriously thought about in terms of a series score-line along those lines, but the job is not completed yet by any stretch of the imagination and there is more dominance to follow and many more victories although they won’t quite be as resounding as the test ones, but ODI cricket is Pakistan’s forte which they take equally as seriously. Generally the ODI format in this part of the world has higher viewership, crowd attendances and genuine excitement. Going by how pessimistic some of the England supporters are about their team’s chances in the one day internationals which start next week over winning even a single one day international let alone draw or win the 4 match series, there is almost every chance for Captain Misbah’s Team Pakistan to whitewash the visitors in ALL formats and end up with a 10-0 score line once the whole tour concludes on Monday 27th February in Abu Dhabi.

England have been woeful in sub continental conditions and lost 5-0 in India last year whereas in the World Cup only managed 3 victories in 7 encounters. They are below the men in green on the ICC ODI rankings by some way. Last two ODI series they have played against the men in green away from home have ended in defeats for them. Cook and Broad are inexperienced captains and England is vulnerable to spin on the slow and low wickets.

For the hosts majority of the overs will be bowled by the slower men who control the flow of runs, take wickets and are consistently reliable performers. It’s a squeezing process to overcome for the batsmen and each of the trio of spinners is different which never allows you to settle as a batter. With anything even over 200 on the board batting first and Pakistan will fancy their chances by turning to their spinners under lights, who get through their overs quickly not allowing batsmen to think on their feet, build pressure with dot deliveries, can come on early with the new ball to surprise the top order and with varieties in repertoire can break partnerships and cause panic in the dressing room at any moment. Lastly, they also have the skill, experience and confidence of bowling in the batting power play and can be extremely difficult to get hold of and subsequently trigger collapses courtesy of Saeed Ajmal’s mesmerising mysteries.

The off spinners Saeed Ajmal and Mohammad Hafeez are ranked at 1 and 2 on the ICC ODI bowling rankings which just shows how impressively they have delivery in ODI colours over the last year whereas the multi talented leg spinner Shahid Afridi was the 2nd leading ODI wicket taker last year with 45 scalps in 27 outings including 4 5 wicket hauls with his canny flattish sharp drifting leg spinners, sliders and top spinners. The talismanic leg spinning all rounder has kept him busy by playing for the Melbourne Renegades down under while the national test team were up against Bangladesh and England and had a decent time of it over there from a personal point of view. How well England can negotiate and tackle these gifted, accurate and unorthodox spinners will be the deciding factor in the brief ODI series. The Men in Green are firm favourites, looking forward to the contests and the tourists will be up against it. We shouldn’t be surprised to see Pakistan win this series 4-0. It will be a challenging ride for Cook’s side and even harder than what they were up against during the test series which they’ll want to put behind them as quick as possible after suffering the humiliation of a clean sweep.

The visitors will be taking on their Lions squad for a warm up fixture on Friday who have just beaten the Sri Lankan A team 3-2 in a 5 match unofficial ODI series whereas Misbah and company they will be heading to Sharjah for a one day international against Afghanistan on the same day where they will be looking to dominate and perhaps experiment.

Only 2 of 8 KP writers had The Asian Side definitely claiming the series in the preview which was published on the 3rd of January titled: “England will be put through a tough Pakistan test”and that too by only a 1 match margin with a 1-0 scoreline. 1 of our writers hesitatingly sat on the fence at 1-0 either way, 2 said 1-1 including myself, 2 said 0-0 whereas one thought England would bag the series 1-0. Few of us expected Pakistan to win the series, compete and draw respectably perhaps yes, but winning it was not what we expected in all honesty. None of us said we would win the series by a 2 match margin, but it turned out to be by a 3 match margin. In the preview I also mentioned that 2 results was pushing it and 3 results was close to impossible, but as it stands the Greens have won all 3 tests with all 3 tests having results. We expected docile tracks, high scoring draws and uneventful action, but it was nothing but fast paced test cricket with wickets falling in clusters and tests continuously progressing forward towards an outcome with every session and none of the 3 tests went into day 5 believe it or not. 110 wickets fell in 11 days with over 3 wickets falling per session.

There were several reasons for this –

a) High quality bowling, both teams bowled exceptionally and it was refreshing to see some top class spin bowling in particular from both of the sides because as Nasser mentioned we had seen some ordinary, average, mediocre spinners for some time in world cricket, but here we had talented finger spinners from both sides and a mystery bowler from Pakistan in the form of Ajmal who injected fear in batsmen and posed some serious questions
b) DRS and batsmen being paranoid as a result of getting struck on the pad with a record number of LBWs falling for a 3 match series in this tour
c) Out of form batsmen who were short of runs and confidence
d) England’s batsmen struggling to adapt to the slow paced nature of scoring rates in this part of the world and lacking patience and application to play long old fashioned dogged test match innings
e) Ajmal’s pre series talk really playing in the minds of England’s batters
f) England’s preparation not being up to scratch while Pakistan were playing the Sri Lankans and Bangladeshis as I incidentally said in my preview for why they had a slight advantage over England coming into this series
g) England Not being able to lift themselves after losing 5 wickets in the opening session of the series of their top 5 batsmen without 60 on the board at the lunch interval with Ajmal bagging 3 wickets in his first 10 deliveries he sent down. Starting a series well is so often so important for what goes to happen at the end of it all
h) Underestimating the Pakistan team after the spot fixing scandal and how far they had come under Misbah ul Haq and talking of underestimating they also did so for the Pakistani bowler Rehman and Gul whereas they were taken a bit by suprirse by Hafeez who got 5 left handers dismissed at just 16 as all the talk was surrounding Saeed Ajmal

Combined Series 11

1) Mohammad Hafeez
2) Alastair Cook
3) Azhar Ali
4) Younis Khan
5) Misbah ul Haq (C)
6) Asad Shafiq
7) Matt Prior (WK)
8) Stuart Broad
9) Abdur Rehman
10) Saeed Ajmal
11) James Anderson

Pakistan’s ODI Squad


Misbah ul Haq (C)
Younis Khan
Azhar Ali
Asad Shafiq
Imran Farhat
Shoaib Malik (added on the request of Misbah ul Haq)

Wicket Keepers

Umar Akmal
Adnan Akmal

All Rounders

Mohammad Hafeez
Shahid Afridi
Hammad Azam

Fast Bowlers

Umar Gul
Wahab Riaz
Aizaz Cheema
Junaid Khan

Specialist Spinners

Saeed Ajmal
Abdur Rehman

Sessions WON

Pak 21
Eng 12

1st test: 6-3 Pak
2nd test: 6-6
3rd test: 9-3 Pak

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