Friday, March 30, 2012

Random Thoughts

Misbah may not have a perfect technique or be the most talented of players you will find, but temperamentally in the mind, in between the ears, in the thought processes he is one of the toughest, cleverest & strongest Pakistan Cricket has seen to date. The list of clich├ęs, phrases & terminology that commentators have used to praise his temperament is a list to no ends. Always unflustered, unfazed & unflappable within his own bubble irrespective of the situation in front of him. A collective demeanour, nerves of steel in pressurised circumstances & the mental toughness to relentlessly back his credentials in demanding situations. As our very own Rambo recently said: “You can bet your bottom dollar on Misbah in tough situations.”

Sunday, March 25, 2012

2 Decades Today

Miandad’s reverse sweep

Aamir Sohail giving Botham a send off

Imran’s mighty 6 clubbed over long on

Miandad & Imran anchoring the innings with determined half centuries

Inzamam & Wasim with quick fire cameos at the death to swift the momentum

Wasim Akram castling Allan Lamb from around the wicket

Wasim Akram cleaning up Chris Lewis first ball with a big in ducker

Mushy trapping Hick in front with the perfectly pitched googly

Rameez taking the winning catch from the last delivery Imran sent down at top level cricket

MCG turned into a sea of green

Friday, March 23, 2012

Asia Cup Champions

Predicted Pakistan's Triumph Under Captain Misbah For Asia Cup 2012


The Greens bagged their 2nd Asia Cup title in 28 years ever since the inaugural edition which Sunil Gavaskar’s India won in the United Arab Emirates back in 1984. They got there by sealing a 2 run win in a nail biting thrilling climax at Mirpur on the eve of their national resolution day 2012. The triumph came at a perfect time not only for this reason, but because this was also the week which marked the 20th anniversary since the Greens were crowned World Cup champions. Another major ODI trophy in the cabinet after a considerable time gap was the ideal way to celebrate it. After 12 years the Greens have regained the Asia Cup crown under Misbah ul Haq this time. It is the first major multinational one day tournament the Greens have won in 12 years since they last won the Asia Cup when it was last held in Bangladesh. After the World Cup & Champions Trophy this is the next major piece of ODI silverware the Greens can win as far as ODIs are concerned so the moment is one to cherish for fans, countrymen, players, management, and backroom staff. The lifting of the trophy was the close to perfect way to start Dav Whatmore’s tenure as head coach as the Sri Lankan born former Australian tasted glory in his very first assignment having taken over from interim coach Mohsin Hassan Khan earlier this month.

Best Individual Performances

Cheema’s 3 wickets and vital 10* in the grand final
Shahid Afridi’s all round record breaking MOM award in the final
Cheema’s 4 wicket haul in the league encounter against Sri Lanka
Hafeez’s all rounder MOM performance in the tournament opener
Jamshed’s maiden international century
Misbah ul Haq’s unbeaten 72 in the league encounter against Sri Lanka
Safraz Ahmed’s unbeaten 46 at the death in the grand final
Umar Gul’s game changing 3 wickets & 39 from 25 deliveries in the tournament opener
Hafeez’s 4th ODI century & economical spell of bowling against the arch rivals
Younis Khan’s 3 catches in the grand final
Saeed Ajmal’s spell in the final
Umar Akmal’s half century in the encounter against Sri Lanka


SRTs 100th international century
Virat Kohli’s 183
Nasir Hossain in the do or die encounter against Sri Lanka
Shakib ul Hasan’s all round contributions against Pakistan
Gautham’s match winning century against Sri Lanka
Irfan Pathan best bowling figures of the competition against Sri Lanka
SRTs half century against Pakistan
Virat Kohli’s century against Sri Lanka
Nazmul Hossain’s 3 wicket haul against Sri Lanka
Rohit Sharma’s half century against Pakistan
Mushfiqar Rahim’s unbeaten 40 odd against India
Tamim Iqbal against Sri Lanka in the do or die situation

Best Individual Performers

Nasir Jamshed
Mohammad Hafeez
Umar Gul
Saeed Ajmal
Aizaz Cheema

Virat Kohli
Suresh Raina

Tamim Iqbal
Nasir Hossain
Shakib ul Hasan
Nazmul Hossain
M Riaz

The Rise of BD

Bangladesh deservedly stole the headlines in this 11th Asia Cup by surprising everyone by not only winning 1 match against one of the big 3 but two, as well as competing in the ones they lost against their Western neighbours with just narrow losses. There were many times during those two defeats where Bangladesh looked like causing yet another upset. From a sporting perspective it would have been the perfect script to see them lift the title considering the performances, enthusiasm & competitiveness they had shown in each and every match to reach their first final during a major multinational one day tournament. They competed in all encounters, showed plenty of spirit & their gun players consistently made an impact in all of the 4 matches to keep them interested & entertain a passionate crowd. They chased in all of the 4 matches & got home in the 2 more difficult chases were they were chasing the best part of 6 per over in one and only had 40 overs to reach the target under the Duckworth Lewis method in the other. The Tigers had only won 2 in 29 Asia Cup internationals coming into this tournament against UAE & Hong Kong to put things into perspective. They spoiled the party in SRTs elusive 100th international century & gave Sri Lanka their 4th straight loss in one day internationals & as well as giving their former coach a scare or too while chasing against Pakistan when Shakib was fluently ticking over the scoreboard in the middle passages against arguably the best attack in one day games currently. The Bangladeshis rose well above their weight in their most successful tournament campaign up to now. Stuart Law has played his part with his coaching. BPL was an effective initiative both from a commercial gain to increase popularity & improve their on field performances by spending quality time sharing dressing rooms with experienced seasoned campaigners & many gifted talents all over the globe. They made full use of the welcome home support they received to deliver on the playing field. Dhaka Stadium was electric as the mind blowing performances of the national team ignited the country. So near, yet so far.

Where this ranks?

The 10 best Individual Series/Tours/Tournament Achievements of Misbah ul Haq as Pakistan Captain:-

1) Whitewashed the World Number 1 Ranked Opposition in a bilateral test series under heavily pressurised circumstances with the troublesome history of previous Pakistan V England contests

2) Led Pakistan to their first test series win against a higher ranked opposition in 5.5 years (2 WCs had passed since that last happened) by securing a test series win against Sri Lanka

3) Led Pakistan to their first test series win outside Asia in 7 years, against New Zealand

4) Led Pakistan to a highly respectable drawn series against the number 2 ranked South African side after the biggest hit sporting controversy Pakistan has seen to date

5) Led Pakistan to their 2nd Asia Cup title in 28 years

6) Led Pakistan to their first ODI series win by a 3 match margin against a top 8 team since 2003 & that in a year where the opposition were finalists of the Cricket World Cup

7) Won a test match in the West Indies to square the series comprehensively with an inexperienced squad with problems happening behind the scenes with the Waqar – Afridi dispute

8) Won 6-0 during tour of Zimbabwe in all formats combined

9) Won 6-0 during tour of Bangladesh in all formats combined

10) Won 2-0 against Ireland with 2 comfortable wins with an inexperienced squad, alien conditions & during a tight uneasy schedule

How to improve the Tournament?

1) Extend the number of teams
2) Don’t cram it into a tight schedule which disadvantages certain teams
3) Final not on a working day

Best Combined XI

Your Combined XI in Asia Cup 2012 League Stage?
I’ll start:-
1) Hafeez
2) Tamim
3) Nasir Jamshed
4) Kohli
5) Shakib ul Hasan
6) Nasir Hossain
7) MS Dhoni (WK) ©
8) Irfan Pathan
9) Umar Gul
10) Saeed Ajmal
11) Nazmul Hossain
12th man – SRT

3 seamers
3 spinners
4 Pakistanis
4 Bengalis
3 Indians

What next?

They have whitewashed the world number 1 ranked opposition to win a series against England after 16 years away from home. It is their first whitewash against a top class opposition. It was their first whitewash outside Pakistan. It was their first as whitewashers since 2003 in tests when Bangladesh lost 3 straight tests in their tour of Pakistan that year. It was described by many as the country’s finest hour in test cricket. They have now won the Asia Cup for just the 2nd time in their history & gained a significant piece of silverware in one day cricket as well. Asking them to become the 1st team to win the ICC World T20 twice in the same year as well may be asking too much as not everything can go your way. Same applies for the youth world cup which commences on the 11th of August in Australia. We can expect the Greens to compete well, have their moments &come out with commendable campaigns in those tournaments, but asking them to win it is not beyond them, but asking for too much one feels. But if it happens 2012 will be even bigger than the record breaking resurgence of 2011 Pakistan had where they won 34 internationals (the most by an international side), 4 test series, 6 ODI series successively, and 3 T20 series & won everything barring a 20/20 international at St Lucia & the World Cup even though they were the stand out performers in the qualifying stages. In closing, the team continues to progress, pick up trophies small ones or bigger matters & healthily make the headlines for the right reasons under the unstoppable stopper that is Misbah.

Can someone please explain to me why there is even any talk of a captain being replaced who has won 32 matches as Pakistan Captain, lost 9 matches & drawn 5 matches? To put it into context Misbah has only lost 2 in 18 series as Pakistan captain across all formats of the game. Misbah has won his only tournament as Pakistan captain as well. Yet we are unsatisfied with him? We as a nation should appreciate his success, get behind him & stop calling for his head knee jerk style if there is 1 defeat here and there.

In all my time of following Pakistan Cricket I have not seen a captain who is more disrespected by his own fan base than Misbah. Maybe this is due to the power on the internet and social media, but in any case the irony is as far as professionalism, work ethic, diplomatic speaking abilities, off field accomplishments, humbleness and dignity is concerned Misbah is the most respected player in the Pakistan team by some way making him an ideal ambassador for both game and country, role model for younger generations and a person who plays the game in a gentlemanly spirit whilst still playing hard fought serious cricket on the pitch. Experts such as Geoff Lawson, Scyld Berry & Jonathan Agnew have praised and labelled Misbah as one of the more respectable players the Pakistan team has ever seen. Yet the Pakistani fans see him in a different light, but not surprising considering glamour, flair, excitement is valued most in this part of the world where people mentioned in the Qayyum Report for throwing the name of their country for an ulterior motive are even are looked upon in a more positive sense.

When you have a captain who has captained successfully for a decade in domestic cricket which several trophies, is the most educated & qualified player in the team & is quoted by former Pakistan coach & Australian fast bowler, Geoff Lawson as the best tactical mind in the team fromhis assessment when he was coach you know you surely can’t go wrong. He is someone who can be relied on. Success is bound to happen which has been shown. Youcan trust that under him Pakistan Cricket will not be in the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Misbah Against India

To the typical Pakistan fan:-
MUH is useless against India. Only scored 2 marathon test centuries against them, an unbeaten 70 as stand-in-captain in 2008, quick fire innings at the death in the Kitply tri series final 2008, half century in the first Pakistan-India T20 2007, a List “A” century against India in 50/50 cricket in 2004, 2 50s in tri series finals with Pakistan "A" against India “A”, quick fire innings towards the end at the
Pakistan-India sell out match at the Oval 09, stunning catch of the year at point to dismiss GG in 08, vital 49 in a successful 300+ chase during a one day international in Mohali 2007, but all of this does not matter because we did not win in Mohali and Johannesburg and all the blame goes to Misbah for those 2 matches because he top scored in the pressure matches which is not good enough. We do not appreciate that he fought to the end to keep them in the contest when they could have self destructed, closed an end down while wickets were falling around him, batted with the tail as the last man standing like an alone warrior, put a price on his wicket when others were guilty of being reckless, took the game deep where it seemed as if they would have had a higher chance of pulling it off, made the most noteworthy score on the match summary, reconstructed the chase from an improbable situation & reduced the margin of defeat significantly. We don’t want to blame the top order who played some irresponsible strokes, but want to blame Misbah because through his spirited approach he kept our hopes up to win.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Pakistan Under 19 Averages in South Africa Tour 2012


Mohammad Nawaz = 2
Sami Aslam = 1
Babar Azam = 1
Umar Waheed = 2
Faraz Ali = 1

Matches Won

vs South Africa = 4/7
vs Zimbabwe = 3/3
vs Other = 0/1


Tri Series Runners Up
Series vs South Africa Winners

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The End Of The Road For The Great Wall Of World Cricket

Dravid is standing down today, my favourite all time batsmen at international level
The 36 greatest qualities of Dravid’s batting, words which you can associate with the great which I always keep in my head:

Mental Toughness
Unflappable temperament
Spirited Resilience
Unfazed character
Strong defensive technique
Sharp judgement
Self Trust
Stodgy accumulation

The best Dravid knock in my opinion was back in 2004 at Pindi against Pakistan with the series poised at 1-1. It was a package of some great controlled shots right out of the textbook. This was his career best too.

Dravid was cricket’s greatest ambassador, a man who epitomised the value of determination, competitiveness & unflappability in temperament.

The greatest quality of his batting was his RELENTLESSNESS. The ability to trust himself, back himself, being strict with himself, absorbing the pressure & sticking by his limits in tough situations.

The WALL calls it a day - the greatest ambassador cricket has ever seen - the man who has taken more catches than any test cricketer - the man who has faced more deliveries than anyone else in test cricket - the 2nd leading test run scorer of all time - ICC cricketer of the year 2004 - 1999 WC leading run scorer - India's wicket keeper as they were finalists in the 2003 WC - the man who captained India to a historic test series win in England 2007 - the man who was MOTS even when his side were whitewashed in 2011 against a formidable England bowling line up in testing conditions at 38 - Salute Dravid cricket will miss him

Forget the numbers, here is a career defining quote if there ever was one: - " Dravid believed that the best sportsmen were incomplete if they did not conduct their lives with dignity, integrity, courage and modesty, all of which were compatible with pride, ambition, determination and competitiveness. He was the embodiment of his ideals, and that, over an international career of 16 years is as significant as the runs he made or the catches he took." - By Suresh Menon Sports Writer

Friday, March 2, 2012

England In UAE 2012 Tour Stats

Most Runs = Azhar Ali
Highest Batting Average = Azhar Ali
Most Time At Crease In Balls = Azhar Ali
Most 50s or more = Azhar Ali & Misbah ul Haq
Most Catches = Asad Shafiq
Most Dismissals = Adnan Akmal with 5 more than Prior
Most Wickets = Saeed Ajmal
Best bowling average = Saeed Ajmal
Most Economical bowler on show = Mohammad Hafeez going at under 2
Most Runs In An Innings = Azhar Ali (157)
Most Runs In A Match = Mohammad Hafeez (103 for 1 wicket)
Most Wickets In An Innings = Saeed Ajmal (7 wickets)
Most Wickets In A Match = Saeed Ajmal (10 wickets in the 1st test)
Most 5 Wicket Hauls = Abdur Rehman and Monty with 2 each
Most Maidens Bowled = Monty with 44 in 2 tests
KP, Bell and Morgan all averaged below 14
Most 4s = Hafeez
Most 6s = Misbah ul Haq
Most runs = KP
Highest average = KP
Most 50+ = Cook
Most wickets = Finn
Most dismissals = Kieswetter
Highest Individual Score = Cook
Most 4s = Cook
Most 6s = KP
Most catches by non keeper = Trott
Most runs by a Pakistan batsmen = Misbah ul Haq
Highest average by a Pakistan batsmen = Azhar Ali
Most wickets by a Pakistan bowler = Saeed Ajmal
Best economy by a Pakistan bowler = Abdur Rehman
Best bowling figures = Saeed Ajmal
Most runs = KP
Highest batting average = Bairstow
Most wickets = Swann
Best economy = Swann
Best bowling average = Swann
Most catches = Bairstow & Dernbach
Highest individual score = KP
Best bowling figures = Swann & Gul
Most runs from Pakistan's side = Misbah ul Haq (SR in the low 80s though)
Highest batting average from Pakistan’s side = Misbah ul Haq
Most wickets from Pakistan’s side = Ajmal & Gul
Best bowling economy from Pakistan’s side = Mohammad Hafeez
Best bowling average from Pakistan’s side = Saeed Ajmal
Most catches from Pakistan’s side = Umar Gul
Most 4s = KP
Most 6s = Awais Zia

England In UAE T20 Series Stats

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Asia Cup 2012

The Asia Cup has been held 10 times since 1984 which was the very first edition & that was held in the UAE. India were the champions of the inaugural edition.

India have won it 5 times (they are also defending champions)
Sri Lanka have won it 4 times
Pakistan have won it just the once in 2000

However, the last time it was held in Bangladesh the Green Shirts won it in 2000

There has never been a Pakistan-India final in the 10 Asia Cups that have been held
Sri Lanka have featured in all of the 10 finals there have been

There has been a Sri Lanka – India final on 8 occasions
There has been a Sri Lanka – Pakistan final on 2 occasions

Just like 2010 only the 4 main Asian Countries will be participating with no UAE or Hong Kong participating like we have seen in the previous editions of 2004 and 2006 when it was extended to 6 teams

This is the 3rd Asia Cup that is being held in Bangladesh after 12 consecutive years. The previous editions were held in 1988 and 2000. Sri Lanka won the one in 1988 here.

India and Pakistan have only held the Asia Cup once before in 1990-91 and 2008
It’s been held in the UAE twice
It’s been held in Sri Lanka 4 times
It’s been held in Bangladesh twice

Player of the Tournament in Asia Cups Previously
2010=Shahid Afridi – India won it
2008= Ajantha Mendis – Sri Lanka won it
2004= Sanath Jayasuria – Sri Lanka won it
2000= Mohammad Yousuf – Pakistan won it

Team Records in Asia Cups
Sri Lanka: Played 40|Won 29|Lost 11
India: Played 36|Won 22|Lost 13|NR 1
Pakistan: Played 31|Won 18|Lost 12 |NR 1
Bangladesh: Played 29|Won 2|Lost 27

Most Runs in Asia Cups: Sanath Jayasuria

Most Wickets in Asia Cups: Murali

All Time Asian XI

Sanath = explosiveness, aggression, fearlessness & valuable 6th bowler with his SLA
SRT = run machine with class, stylishness & elegance at the top to get the 80s-100s

Sangakkara = left handed one down accumulator who will drop anchor with technique

Inzamam = the Sultan of Multan who is exceptional against raw pace, safe hands in the slips

Sourav = left handed bat who can play different situations/positions & handy medium pacers
Imran (C) = genuine all rounder & tactically smart organiser, dictator who can lead men

Dhoni (WK) (VC) = ice cool finisher & reasonably sound behind the stumps

Wasim = prodigious left arm swing, pace & seam & occasional pinch hitter

Vaas = steady line & length with swing in the air & no mug with the willow

Waqar = toe crushing inswing Yorkers at pace with a slinging low round arm action

Murali = off spinning demon, container & wicket taker, unorthodox & mysterious

12th man – Kapil Dev – India’s world cup winning captain in 1983 cannot go unmentioned

Batter of the tour?

For me it’s Azhar Ali

Highest average in the tests

Highest individual score in the tests

Most amount of time at the crease in the tests

Most amount of runs in the tests by a long way

One of 4 players from Pak who made a 50 in the one day series & bear in mind this was effectively his debut one day series

Highest average by Pak batsmen in the one day series with a 58 & 31 in 3 innings, the only Pak batsmen to average in excess of 30

Cook was phenomenal in the ODIs, but was dismissed in single digits 4 times out of 6 during the tests, but didn’t do enough where it mattered in the whites

KP was woeful in the tests, but back to his best in the shorter formats

Misbah was pretty good throughout & regularly amongst the runs in all 3 formats, but Azhar wins this one

The tests carry greater weighting & Azhar was the stand out performer with the bat, but Azhar also did well & produced the goods in the one day format & showed that he can adapt his game to the shorter formats as a technically sound top order batsmen

Why don’t we appreciate the benefits of stability and continuity in leadership?

These two words tend not to be associated with the Greens if history is anything to go by. Recently they have been applied & associated with the Greens more than ever before. We are seeing professionalism, discipline & healthy controversy free environment which are ingredients you need for consistency in performance over a period of time & for the progress to be achieved without problems occurring along the way. Yet virtually everyone is calling for the head of the captain with only 2 series defeats in 18 across all formats of the game in a year where there is an Asia Cup and T20 World championship scheduled. I find this mind boggling to say the least.

Pak need 1 captain across all formats to avoid politics. They have tried many times to have different captains across different formats, but it’s hardly ever worked has it? Remind yourself of the following incidents:-

Younis & Afridi = Younis was captaining in tests & ODIs whereas Afridi was captaining the T20 side in the latter half of 2009. What happened? Younis lost control & support of the players and refused to captain again.

Butt & Afridi = we found out that Butt was deliberately planning to underperform in the one day series in England so that Afridi could be removed. These are clear signs of internal groups developing.

Misbah & Afridi = Misbah was leading exceptionally in tests, there were question marks over Afridi’s performance, conduct & captaincy skills so much to the extent that Ijaz Butt delayed announcing the World Cup captain & decided to name him officially just 2 weeks before the tournament. Surely we don’t want to see the team to be the laughing stock of world cricket again due to indecisiveness & uncertainty over how they are moving forward?

Historically great captains have captained their sides in all forms of the game for a length of time. All teams should aspire to achieve greatness. In order to stand a chance of even achieving greatness different leaders for different formats is not the way forward.

We need to stop thinking emotionally or on individual likes & dislikes, but rather think logically & realistically about the best way forward for the team which comes before anything else. Continuously changing captains on a yearly basis when there are no major problems or mitigating circumstances will serve no purpose. Misbah has been praised highly from all corners and we should get behind him and more importantly his team. Why can’t we accept that we a need a leader like him at the fore? Is it really that difficult? His rein has been a memorable one. Why suddenly panic?

Reply: “But he’s 37”.......

Age is no barrier, age is just a number. He has the form, fitness and hunger. There is stability and continuity, the time is not right time to move a side or stand down. Misbah started his career late at 25 domestically so the body will still be in shape & not as worn as a typical 37 year old who’s been playing at major levels since 18/19. With the exception of this LOI series the results are coming through extremely well. Many players internationally have played late in their careers & served well for their teams. We play in the present, not in the future. Moreover, at least he keeps a genuine age identity rather than a deceptive one so he’s not all that old by Pakistani standards if we view if from this angle.