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.

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