Tag Archives: Australia

Why White Elephant Farts?

Lackluster performance! Submerging what the servants of the sports are capable of. Demotivated and discouraged by the viewers judging them at every delivery. Mauled by the arch-rivals to whom you were superior in performances against once upon a time. The unpredictables have become highly predictable. Their game is old school but watching them play has become ragefully tormenting with shameful and embarrassing results.

“India v Pakistan”, the title used to define as the Clan of the Titans! The mother of all battles! But in few years with the rise of the cricketing standards in team India and repeated failures in implementing the modern attacking cricket in team Pakistan has bored the tagged anticipation of the rivalry as Wildcat v Pussycat. In the last few years or a few contests, we have observed that India is not only beating Pakistan in results but destroying in all three departments; batting, bowling, and fielding. This has subjected the fans of the latter to expect low in the rivalry games which used to be those special occasions when the employee had to forward his request of a sick leave to his boss. In the countries where multinational people live and work together, the employee (if he is Pakistani) has to face his (Indian) colleagues in the office the next day with embarrassment.

As Imran Khan tweeted a couple of days ago “As a sportsman, I know winning & losing are part of the game but it’s painful to watch Pak being thrashed by India without putting up a fight”. There is no shame in losing but is shameful if you lost without attempting to fight. And the time passes on and we wait for the next Ind-Pak clash in the future ICC events, do we?

WHAT WENT WRONG?

Why did Pakistan lose so badly? What was missing? Was Pakistan really not able to defeat them? The simple answer is NO. We were able to defeat them ONLY if the team had believed in themselves and were self-confident that they can defeat any team on any given day on any given field. On the cricket field, if you want to defend yourself in the game, you have to attack. You have to roar, not meow.

There is no motivator who can make them believe and bring the will power to achieve something in their times. Not even the captain can inspire his own team who stated last week, “We are ranked eight, we have nothing to lose”. Wow! How touched I am reading the words of our captain. The word of the captain matters and no one set examples of what Imran influenced the generations when he wore a white t-shirt with a picture of a tiger before the 1992 World Cup quarterfinal match against the Aussies at their yard. Then there are further cases in our history when the tempo of the team is hurt by the behavior of the captains like Younis refusing to lead in 2006 Champions Trophy without consulting the PCB, Shahid Afridi retiring in tests after a 4-year comeback in the format during the 2010 English tour or his passing the statement that the team got more love in India than his country while stepping in India for his last international assignment, WT20.

Khan sahab is repeatedly repeating the repetitive statement repeated in past 30 years to maintain and strengthen the domestic infrastructure which is weak enough to introduce mentally weak players to the international cricket who would face difficulties in adjusting themselves to the challenges they face in proper standards. No one will disagree with him as all his fears and predictions have gone right. And to our misery, we do are suffering. PSL is not important as building a strong domestic infrastructure is. If other cricketing nations organize T20 franchise leagues than the reason is that they already have developed theirs. Despite the fact the infrastructure is weak, we still have been gifted with many champions and achievers like Wasim, Waqar, Saqlain, Inzamam, Saeed, Shoaib, Razzaq, and many more.

The other factor involved in the miserable defeat was the team selection which is fetched from a squad selection, and the squad selection (good or bad) is subjected from the selection committee whose selection always raise a question mark. And that is a very critical issue. Let me focus on the XI before the blog becomes a book. There has been a severe agonized outcry that the team is so far from time traveling to the existence that they have no hard-hitting batsmen to ease and accelerate the run rate and help push the score towards 300, 350 and even touch 400 which is yet to be done in the ODIs. Now then you have two such players in Fakhar Zaman and Faheem Ashraf, and the latter doing the unthinkable in the practice match against Bangladesh. The captain and the coach still didn’t prefer to pick any of the two in such an important clash! Was it really hard to think of replacing Ahmed Shahzad, Azhar Ali, Mohammad Hafeez with them?

Oh, wait! then there is Junaid Khan, the only potential and capable wicket-taking pace bowler who can make a promising opening partner to Mohammad Amir and make the viewers hopeful of watching their team take all 10 wickets in an inning. Junaid was expensive in the practice game conceding 73 runs, 5 more runs than Wahab Riaz in 9 overs. But the difference was that Junaid grabbed 4 wickets as compared to being wicketless in the latter’s case. To everyone’s surprise, Wahab was preferred over Junaid! And that is easily one of the key reasons for the defeat. Wahab getting smacked and destroyed was always on the card and we don’t have any luxury to witness any economical bowling of him in a lengthy period. I don’t remember if he ever grabbed 5 wickets after the WC semifinal game against India.

One of the tweets yesterday confirmed how worst has Wahab become, what burden of a liability he is on the team since Jan. 2016. In 12 ODIs, he has picked only 9 wickets at an average of 74 with the economy rate of 6.50. His bowling average was 104 vs Aus, 186 vs Eng, and 118 vs NZL. I think the readers are wise enough to understand why would a bowler with such horrible performances still end up in the squad and playing XI but not Junaid Khan.

WAS THE DECISION OF BOWLING FIRST CORRECT?

In most cases, the ideology is that winning the toss is the blessing but I believe either you win the toss or lose, you still have 450 overs in tests, 50 in ODIs and 20 in T20s to win the match. In my opinion, Sarfaraz’s decision of bowling first was correct because of the two factors. One, we know the chasing reputation of India which was avoided. Second, our bowling strength has declined a lot and we are not capable of grabbing all 10 wickets in most of the occasions. Yes, we are bad chasers who collapses even when we have to chase 150 or less but there is still a small percentage of a chance after failing in bowling in the first inning.

FAILING THE DEPARTMENTS

Even if you lose the toss and select a wrong XI, there is still a chance of winning if you perform well in all the three departments; batting, bowling, and *hehe* fielding. A cricket statistician should do some favor to our team and add a new category of catch drops to add some interest in digging that how many catches did the team drop from their soft buttered palms. At least I am interested to know by average that how many are they dropping the catches each game. I happen to watch one of the youtube videos to understand how this team practice before the game and ended up with this video leading me to nowhere.

Then they have a history of losing the most crucial games by the catch drops. More bizarre of the fact is that Pakistan’s journey to the last two world cups ended by dropping the most important catches, 4 against Tendulkar and one against Watson. The military training that was scheduled before the English tour last year is not possible to be scheduled for them on regular basis nor is this a solution. Not all the teams are physically trained by their country’s military.

Sarfaraz’s plan to open the bowling with Imad in the second over was a bad idea. He is a kind of bowler who comes to bowl in the middle of the inning when he has to stop the batsmen accelerating the score in which he is pretty good at. Change in plans and Imad turned IMad with no idea what to bowl in the opening and death overs. Result? The whole focus and blame go on his silly haircut but this was the worst he has ever performed. He has been one of our best performers in ODIs and T20Is in past 10 months. If spin was obligatory from the start, Hafeez was the best option to go with as he has always stood a threat against the left-handers but hang on! the captain gave him not a single over! Indian openers lose their hands for shots when Wahab’s first intolerable spell began. Pakistan could still have marked a decent comeback but they missed easy chances on the field, the bowling was not on the line. When the fielders dropped catches of Kohli and Yuvraj, you actually gave them the license to kill you.

Their other weakness which adds misery to their woes is that if the batsmen go on aggressive mode, their bowling and fielding goes defensive and last of all, they give up. They choose wrong bowlers for the death overs or if they choose the correct one, then they bowl flat. This shows that the captain and coach had no plans, and if they had then these were not implemented. Had Junaid played this match, he could have calmed the pressure and assisted Amir. There could definitely have been a wicket in the start as Rohit was controlling his hands not to make any mistake but their openers succeeded because Imad was introduced at the wrong time and then Wahab did what he is good at. Amir’s temporary injury also helped India smashing more runs in the end as expected. India was so confident that they send Hardik Pandya instead of their death over assassin, MS Dhoni, and Pandya didn’t disappoint the captain.

In 2017, where openers are the destroyers, regular strike rotators, partnership builders, large-inning constructors; there is our baffling batting order who play with the same flow while batting first and second, press the panic button and lose their mind. Collapse all of a sudden like a plucked leaf dropped from the hand or an old individual from the wheelchair. They think twice when they have to take a quick single and commit suicide on the pitch. Their almost every batting scorecard has an honorable mention of a RUNOUT by someone. In an era when the teams are chasing 300 more often, this team reaching 300 is still a rare event. In an era when the batsman is focusing on breaking records and building huge innings on the flat pitches, scoring a century by our batsman is sapphire-rare. And that is why there are only 3 entries of our batsmen reaching 150 in ODI history. Strauss alone has 3.

When you are chasing a target at the required run rate more than 6, you have to take the risk and play shots, and try to accelerate the score. But once Ahmad Shahzad departed, the humans on the batting crease became zombies. Till the 17th over, the stats showed on the screen that Pakistani batsmen had dotted 60 balls which are precisely 10 overs. Even the commentators complained live that the batsmen were taking the pressure and dotting too many balls which helped the asking run rate climb swiftly and they gave up. This is not how you bat in modern cricket. 

With that target, Sarfaraz must have decided to open with Ahmad and drop Azhar to 4. But the Plan B was missing, so was Plan A. When two wickets fell, they made further mistakes and sent Hafeez instead of Shoaib. And the rest is boring.

ANYTHING TO EXPECT IN CT JOURNEY?

Given the fact that Wahab is injured and out of Champions Trophy for good, Sarfaraz and the coach Mickey Arthur have to decide what should still be done to expect positive or aggressive cricket. Junaid will likely get the ball in the next game. Either Hafeez or Ahmad can make the room for either Fakhar or Faheem. Or both can be dropped and add Haris Sohail with any of the two Fs. But enough is enough, such performances are a huge insult to the global fans who support their team green. So many people from around the world show up on the ground for the love and support but are deceived and bereaved. 

How long will they play old-school cricket? When will they upgrade their game or install the new software/hardware? For how long will we listen to the excuses in the same funny post-match interviews of our captain. Yes, Pakistan is not playing international cricket at home and didn’t get that much exposure of IPL, the home of flat pitch batting circus, the game changer in the modern cricket which put a permanent full stop in the golden competition of bat and ball as it used to be in the old times. But being very honest, this is all excuse. Despite the above-mentioned factors, Pakistan somehow peaked the ranking in Test cricket last year thanks to our heritage of performing well and being unbeatable side on UAE pitches. We did win Asia Cup, defeated South Africa and India in the ODI series at their yard. We claimed the world title in T20 in 2009 and even reached the semis of 2011 WC. Sorry, but there is no excuse of what the team has become. If the international cricket is not coming to Pakistan, then the head of the PCB should ask ICC the reason? If the international wrestlers can come to Pakistan, if Leisure League featuring world famous football legends Ronaldinho and Roberto Carlos can happen, then why not international cricket? If security was really the issue then the above-mentioned entertainers and sportsmen would not have bothered to come here.

I know they will repeat the mistakes but hoping the best for the team is the only thing I can do while writing this blog because since beginning to love this sport in 1997, I have seen my team in fluctuations and in many good and bad unforgettable moments and memories. Cricket is won only when you promise yourself that you will never let the game down. Cricket is won only when the challenges are tough but the desire of achieving is real. Cricket is won only when your heart tells you to be sincere with the game and conquer the game for the sports, for the nation, for the people who support and love you. May you someday achieve what we still wait for.

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Stamp the Strategy…

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Respected Captain, Coach and entire PCB Management,

I don’t need to introduce myself because your whole team is too busy in taking selfies and escaping/surviving from the Oceanian ghosts traveling with you in your buses, hotel rooms and bouncy pitches. Although your squad is mentally, physically and morally prepared since the day you stepped in the pacific continent to play on green, fast and bouncy pitches after all your preparations on U.A.E’s very sporting tracks; still I believe there is need of consultancy in strategy making after watching your two highly competitive and thrilling games against India and West Indies.

I have found your whole team in bizarre conundrum and dozen of errors in the most simplest common-senses in team selections, fielding and catching, target-chasing, and running between the wickets prove there is an urgent need of medical team full of neurosurgeons and psychiatrists (and they should be more in numbers as compared to your officials).

After painfully reading my first two paragraphs of paranormal compliments and regards, allow me to present you your 3 most basic comedy of errors you are producing in your vulgar cricketing presentation in this CWC:

1. Mental Weakness over Toss

Captain is not fully prepared to understand the condition of target-chasing nemesis. He should carefully read the stats of his team’s past performances on oceanic cricket grounds. He should realize that Pakistan has never chased 280+ target ever neither in New Zealand nor in Australia under any captain in ODI history. If losing the toss is your fate, then accept the counterpart’s decision. If you win the toss, go for batting and boost the morale unless the pitch has too much grass and moisture.

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2. Avoid Experiments/Know your Combination

After strange squad selection and twice dropping the easiest chance of picking your main weapon Saeed Ajmal in place of the injured, you have to squeeze the 11 players from your 15 to create a formation and build a necessary winning combo. Time of experiments is finished just like preparation for exams before handling the question paper to the student.

The captain/coach has to admit on reducing the risk of reliability over two factors:

  • a. Younis Khan‘s bat which is not blazing in ODI for a long long time. He averages only 21 in ODIs in last three years. That is not only enough, the worst of his is absolutely ignored by the selectors. He averages 17 and 16.87 in ODIs in Australia and New Zealand respectively in aggregate of 19 ODIs with one knock of 50, no banging of SIX and overall strike rate of almost 60.
  • b. Haris Sohail’s bowling which is presented in the recent ODIs as fourth or fifth choice bowler. By average, he is bowling 7 overs every ODI which is too much to ask for, for a part-timer who has hardly bowled only 11 overs in his entire first-class career so far.

3. Daydreaming ’92 Glory

This has become the most embarrassing situation when the team indirectly is daydreaming more than being self-confident of rewriting the history in world cup record books. Comparing Pakistan’s initial troubles with the ’92 one is not playing a stress-relief game but inviting ghosts for a combat. You have to take the inspiration from ’92 glory and plan harder to avoid further hiccups.

Pakistan v West Indies - 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup

WHAT SHOULD BE THE STRATEGY NOW!!!!!

Either bat first or second, no matter which team you play against, Pakistan’s XI for the remaining matches should be like this:

01.Ahmad Shahzad
02.Sarfraz Ahmad
03.Umar Akmal
04.Misbah ul Haq
05.Haris Sohail (part-timer)
06.Sohaib Maqsood (part-timer)
07.Shahid Afridi (3rd change)
08.Wahab Riaz (1st change)
09.Yasir Shah (2nd change)
10.Sohail Khan (open)
11.Mohammad Irfan (open)

 

(((Batting Strategy)))

#1. Bat first? Top 4 should should should bat at min 4.50 till 30th

#2. No matter you bat first or second, if you have plenty of wickets in hand only in death overs, promote only Shahid Afridi.

#3. Chasing target max 250? Apply #1 at min 4.00

#4. Chasing target 250-300? Apply #1 at min 5.00

#5. PP3 – min 30/0 (don’t lose more than a wicket)

#6. Reduce number of dots and regularly rotate the strike

(((Bowling Strategy)))

#1. Opening spell – Irfan/Sohail 5 overs each

#2. PP3 – Irfan/Yasir/Lala

#3. Death Overs – Irfan/Wahab 3 overs each (45-50)

#4. Part-timers are partnership breakers, avoid using them when new batsman come to the crease.

(((Fielding Strategy)))

#1. Bring at least 1 slip compulsory for Fast bowler in any phase of inning (remember, the batsman will edge anytime).

#2. Bring at least short-leg for Spin bowler (some turns or rising deliveries are short-leg cookies).

#3. Every fielder should field at specific field position where his feet suits e.g. don’t send your finest slip fielder Younis Khan to the boundary rope.

#4. Very important, avoid dropping catches.

After sugar-free tutorial, I recommend to take a deep study of what I wrote above.

If you still fail then join ISIS, Gulabi Gang, FEMEN or Suicide Squad.

If you win, then just thank me.

Wish Pakistan best of luck.

Regards,
DayDreamer

Follow me on TWITTER @saminaik_asn

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The Green Pickety-Booo

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30 days left in the beginning of cricket’s biggest fever and Pakistan’s 15-man squad is finally out. As usual Pakistan Selection Committee (PSC) is at its best in surprising cricket fans with strange announcement of squads. Major surprise is fast bowler Sohail Khan’s inclusion and Fawad Alam’s exclusion.

Ok I don’t get it!!!! Although Sohail Khan is a good selection to be honest because he is leading wicket taker in local cricket league with 64 wickets at 22 this season but but but, why his inclusion is surprising is due to the fact that he was not in 30-man preliminary squad!!!!! :S 

Please correct me if I am wrong, I might be getting hyper but Sohail wasn’t picked in 30-man probables. Was he picked in Saeed Ajmal‘s place because he withdrew himself from the CWC15? Might be possible if I didn’t hear such news. If not then why is Sohail Khan even picked? If performances in recent domestic games were considered to finalize 15-man squad then on what basis had the selectors selected 30 players?? :S Sorry to say but Pakistan Selection Committee has trolled the readers and cricket fans yet again and I am not surprised. PSC has a proud history of trolling and they always come up with strange announcements. Do anyone at this moment remember, Javed Miandad wasn’t picked in 1992 World Cup??? He joined the team later after convincing the-then PSC and Javed’s response is history.

Anyhow I am very pleased to see our kukri-man Sohail Tanvir and struggling limited-overs batsman Asad Shafiq are out of final 15. Calling Sohail Tanvir an all-rounder is the same deception what Indian cricket fans had about Ajit Agarkar. Very expensive bowling and limited resources of dead-end batting. PSC has sacrificed many promising all-round talents for his sake. In Asad’s case, he is more of a First-class cricket player than a limited-overs batsman. He was given enough chances to come up with at least one big hit but failed. So it is a good relief. Asad should concentrate on test career as that format is promising for him.

Another sigh of relief is omission of 18-months wrong comeback fatty Nasir Jamshed. Legend says captain-coach had requested the PSC to pick Nasir as their 3rd opener!!!! Would you believe this?? Having Ahmad Shahzad and Mohammad Hafeez, you have another option in attacking-minded Sarfraz Ahmad. Isn’t it strange that PSC select or ignore individual’s performance on one-series instead of considering a very very consistent player.

Take a look, Nasir Jamshed brutally failed almost the whole of 2013-14 season but one series for Pakistan A against U.A.E. with one big knock of 134 put the PSC into consideration of his possible international comeback!! Same goes with 2 solid left-hand middle order batsmen in Fawad Alam and Haris Sohail. After almost 4 years of international comeback, Fawad proved his worth in Asia Cup 2014 and justified his performances in crisis against Sri Lanka in ODI series but one bad series against Australia all of a sudden put a question mark on his performance and his possible selection for CWC15. On the other hand, Haris Sohail got one extremely good series against the Kiwis in recently concluded ODI series enough to legitimize his selection in final 15.

After dropping Fawad after one bad Australian ODI series, he kept performing on domestic circuit in almost every game and was still not considered!! Fawad is the man of crisis situation where he is an extreme situation-batsman like Abdul Razzaq was in the past. He proved that point against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in Asia Cup. With 300+ ODI run in 2014, Fawad had 5th highest overall average of 69 and highest among Pakistani batsmen. From any case, Fawad’s exclusion from final 15 is one of the most shocking announcements.

Canada v Pakistan: Group A - 2011 ICC World Cup

Middle-order was always going to be a problem for selectors with capable names in Fawad Alam, Sohaib Maqsood, Umar Akmal, Haris Sohail and late entry of ODI-veteran Younis Khan. With Misbah-ul-Haq an automatic choice for captain, Younis Khan’s comeback hundred against Kiwis played a wild card to plot him no.3 in final 15. Umar Akmal’s healthy ODI average and strike rate always compel the selectors to keep him in the team as he benefits you as 2nd choice wicket-keeper. It has been 6 international cricket years but still he may carry the tag of being immature batsman who gets dismissed by playing silly sluggish shots. Somehow captain and coach are also to blame as his batting order has changed many time which unease him to settle down. Sohaib Maqsood gives you important stands and play situation-cricket but he is poor in running between the wickets, but no doubt a very talented batsman.

All-rounders!!!! Although I don’t want but as the situation demands, Shoaib Malik should have been picked in Mohammad Hafeez’s place. Hafeez’s bowling is suspended by ICC, so his batting service is a liability on fast bouncy pitches. Hafeez already has been exposed by Dale Steyn in the past. Ok why Shoaib Malik? Because he is also an all-rounder, more experienced than Hafeez, who even has experience of Australian pitches due to his participation in Big Bash. When it comes to running between the wickets and specially rotating the strike, Hafeez is nowhere in front of Shoaib.

Anwar Ali is not selected and is a good decision. He has lost his charm in bowling what he had when we watched him in U-19 World Cup Final against India in 2006. Due to that particular match, viewers kept expecting from him but his response has been sluggish. Shahid Afridi remains the other oh wait a minute the only all-rounder in the squad!!! :S This shows PCB had no planning for the CWC15. They should have began preparing the team at least a year ago to fetch some good young talents and play them some games with freedom like others do. Hammad Azam could have easily hit the list of probables and could have been automatic choice in final 15. Besides Lala, they ignored every all-rounder from the probables. Amazing!!

Glad to see Kamran Akmal didn’t show up in final 15. He did not even deserve to be in the probables. Mohammad Rizwan should have been considered. Sarfaraz Ahmad is unanimous choice as he is one of the most improved wicket-keeper batsman. He can be promoted as opener as he is an attacking mind batsman who will utilize 1st powerplay better than Hafeez. 

Bowling department has some soul but a very very inexperienced side. Sohail Khan was discussed in the beginning. Other name is Ehsan Adil of which I am not that sure but yes his first-class record is extraordinary. Yasir Shah is the lone recognized spinner chosen over Zulfiqar Babar and Raza Hasan. It is a good selection because Australian pitches are favorable for leg-spinners more than off-spinners.

Major plus is return of Junaid Khan. His opening partnership with lanky Mohammad Irfan will be a threat for the batsmen. Both paces more than 140 kph easily. And on Australian fast and bouncy pitches, Junaid’s swing and Ifran’s extra bounce will play a vital role. 3rd fast bowler Wahab Riaz lacks line and length and also do not collect enough wickets to justify his selection. He his picked only for his pace which is very ideal on those pitches. All three are incidentally left-hand bowlers.

Besides Afridi and three lefty fast bowlers, the whole department of bowlers have played only 8 ODIs in aggregate. Ehsan played his last ODI back in 2013 but Sohail and Yasir played in national side 4 years ago. So these 3 bowlers with a lot of talent but no experience in international circuit have to perform in huge pressure. Hope they do justice. 

 

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Out of these 15 players, 9 are touring Australia for the first time in any format that includes the whole bowling department besides Lala. 40-year-old captain Misbah will play ODIs in Australia for the first time and wicket-keeper Sarfraz has played only one ODI. Shahid Afridi stands the player with most experience who is consistently touring Australia since 1997-98 World Series. He was even part of ICC World XI which played ODI series in 2005 against Ponting’s mighty Australian side. This will also be Lala’s 5th and last World Cup. With this campaign, he will retire from ODIs.

Pakistan’s last tour to Australia was the-then worst touring record in cricket history when they badly lost by 9-0 (3 tests, 5 ODIs & T20I). Pakistan’s last victorious moment in Australia was back in 2002 when Shoaib Akhtar’s inspirational bowling made Pakistan win 2-1. Their golden moment in Australia stands 1992 World Cup glory.

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) should have implemented plans for World Cup preparations a long time ago. Most of their international games have been played in Gulf region and World Cup pitches are way different than the former. Pakistan team suffer poor ODI record at temporary HOME conditions in U.A.E. with same repeated traditional mistakes like misunderstanding and wrong calls while running between the wickets, mediocre fielding and dropping catches and psychological errors like chasing the targets and increasing inning run-rates etc. 

With such team, I expect Pakistan team reach maximum to Quarterfinals stage. Reaching the semis will be an extraordinary stuff. Reaching the final would be considered an achievement and honor, and winning it would be a MIRACLE!! Should we believe in miracle??? Of course why not?? Cricket’s only thing which is unpredictable is called ‘Pakistan’. Like PSC, this team also has surprised to the viewers and fans with their performances many time. May the unpredictability has its say and may the best and deserving team win…

My Pakistan XI from this squad: 1. Ahmad Shahzad 2. Sarfraz Ahmad 3. Younis Khan 4. Misbah-ul-Haq 5. Sohaib Maqsood or Haris Sohail 6. Umar Akmal 7. Shahid Afridi 8. Sohail Khan 9. Yasir Shah 10. Junaid Khan 11. Mohammad Irfan

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My Greatest Cricket World Cup XI

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10 Cricket World Cups in 15 countries…

19 Cricket Teams from 4 regions…

5 Winners at 7 venues…

The madness of cricket will reach its peak on Valentine’s Day when Sri Lanka will take on hosts New Zealand. The matches will begin at 4 different times which are 22:00, 1:00, 3:30 and 6:30 GMTs. Sadly for we Asians, we have to adjust our waking-sleeping times due to huge difference in timings.

This will be the second time that Cricket World Cup (CWC) will be hosted in the Oceanian region. The last time CWC was played here 22 years ago; color clothing, white cricket balls and black sight-screens were introduced. This was the beginning of modern-day cricket world cups organized on larger scale.

Since, 2857 ODIs have been played and the game of gentlemen has turned into game of entertainment. Once the game was a battle between batsman and bowler, but now the administration and lawmakers of cricket have moved the momentum by ruthlessly limiting restrictions on bowlers and gifting more favors to batsman so that the spectators and viewers can enjoy the runs and most specifically six-hitting festival.

The format of CWC always changes but this time as compared to the last edition, the format is same. Exactly 14 cricket teams will play 49 matches. Yesterday (21.12.14) I noticed on twitter, former Australian great Matthew Hayden picked his 11 greatest cricketers for any World Cup. That encouraged me to pick my XI and submitted on www.icc-cricket.com.

In this cricketing blog, I present you my Greatest CWC XI by batting order. My formation is 2 openers – 4 middies – 1 wicket keeper – 4 bowlers:

01. SANATH JAYASURIYA

Group B, Bangladesh v Sri Lanka - Cricket World Cup 2007

 

If New Zealand’s Mark Greatbatch was surely CWC’s first pinch-hitting opener back in 1992, then Sri Lanka’s Sanath Jayasuriya officially set the trend of big hitting and accelerating run-rate at the beginning of inning in 1996. His partnership in 1996 with another hitter Romesh Kaluwitharana became a stage of depression for all the bowlers as both accelerated the run rates from the start many a time. He was ‘Man of the Tournament’ of this edition.

Jaya is one of few CWC veterans who has played 5 or more editions. He played 38 matches, scored 1165 runs, picked 27 wickets and took 18 catches which easily make him one of CWC’s best all-rounder.

 

02. SACHIN TENDULKAR

India's Tendulkar waves national flag as he is carried by his teammates after they beat Sri Lanka in the ICC Cricket World Cup final match in Mumbai

 

Unarguably the greatest batsman along with Brian Lara the world has ever witnessed in this sport after Don Bradman, Gary Sobers and Viv Richards. His career stats speaks the greatness and service of an individual for the game and his runs make one realize how hungry he was, how sharp the blade of his bat was.

The little master and Javed Miandad are the only cricketers to serve their nation 6 times in CWC. The batting genius has most runs (2278), centuries (6), half-centuries (15) and fours (241) in CWC. Sachin was ‘Man of the Tournament’ for his 673 runs in 2003, which is also the most in any edition. He also is the only batsman who scored 4 consecutive 50s TWICE!! 

Tendulkar

 

03. RICKY PONTING (vice-captain)

Super Eight - Australia v New Zealand - Cricket World Cup 2007

46-matches-old CWC veteran! Punter was one of few who enjoyed 12-year CWC domination. Also he and Glenn McGrath were the only to play in 4 consecutive CWC Finals. He is only the 2nd captain in CWC after Clive Lloyd of West Indies to win 2 back-to-back or most titles. Without any doubt, both the captains led a very dominating cricket team in their times who ruled the world of cricket. He played a superb captain’s knock of 140* vs India in 2003 Final and got ‘Man of the Match’ award.

Ponting is 2nd to Sachin in CWC’S top runs scorer and centuries. He hit most sixes in CWC than any batsman (31). He also enjoys being CWC’s finest captain as per the stats as under his captaincy, Australia’s winning percentage was 92.85%. He led his side in 29 matches and won 26 of them. He lost 2 matches and faced a no-result all in last edition, when Australian domination was ended by new defending champions, India. Australia won every single game in 2003 and 2007 editions under him. As a fielder, he has the most catches (28) by a non wicket-keeper and most in a singe edition (11) i.e., in 2003.

Ponting

 

04. VIV RICHARDS

Viv-Richards

Sachin and Lara surely were the greatest batsmen of their time but will never reach the height where Viv Richards truly was. Richards was one true ambassador of the game in those times when the corporate and big-money pocketers put heavy investment in the game and brought the soul of limited overs cricket. He was a smasher with bat and faced one of most remarkable fast bowlers of his time as compared to Sachin/Lara, that one argument where King of cricket unanimously wins.

Viv was the first batsman to reach 1000 runs in CWC. Among all 13 batsmen of 1000-runs scoring club, he enjoys the best average (63.31). His 138* in Final of 1979 edition will be remembered as one of the greatest WC knocks the batsman has ever played, for which he was also awarded ‘Man of the Match’.

Richards

 

05. BRIAN LARA

brian-lara

Cricket’s most charming strokes-player ever and one of most stylish batsman ever to grace modern-day cricket. One cannot ignore him in any batting list and I will mention his name in my XI.

Lara is veteran of 5 CWCs and third-highest runs scorer in tournament’s history after Tendulkar and Ponting. He scored 2 CWC 100s and both were against South Africa, and both were fabulous knocks. Lara played his last CWC at home in 2007 unfortunately his team wasn’t that strong enough to make a history and retired with 299 ODIs.

Lara

 

06. JAVED MIANDAD

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Calm but lively character, Miandad was the name who stayed more in the contest in most critical situations, who occupied the crease to frustrate any bowling line-up. Miandad was the first to participate in 6 CWCs, the other being Tendulkar as mentioned before. He was 2nd to Viv who reached 1000 CWC runs.

Among all 13 batsmen of 1000-runs scoring club, Miandad had the least no. of boundaries hitting only 72 fours and 3 sixes which shows his untiring efforts and laboring mountain of runs between the wickets. For a huge surprise, Miandad wasn’t selected for Pakistan squad of 1992 edition. But he returned to squad in practice matches and the rest is history.

Miandad

 

07. ADAM GILCHRIST

ICC Cricket World Cup Final - Australia v Sri Lanka

Only a fool will omit his name in this specific XI when it comes in picking a wicket-keeper. Gilly was one of the most destructive batsmen ever played CWC. He played 3 CWCs and won all. His last CWC knock was ‘Man of the Match’ winning monumental 149 in the Final of 2007 edition against Sri Lanka.

As wicket-keeper, he lead the list of most dismissals (52) in CWC which includes 45 catches (also a record) and 7 stumpings. Gilly is the only wicket-keeper/batsman with 1000 CWC runs. Also to his name is most dismissals (21) in single edition and also in one match (6) both achieved in 2003.

Gilchrist

 

08. IMRAN KHAN (captain)

World Cup Final Imran Khan

A leader whose leadership inspired his team to attempt a miracle and took the 1992 title in front of 87,000 world record attendance of Melbourne Cricket Ground against tournament favorites England. Imran Khan was known for his leadership skills and famously termed his team ‘Cornered Tigers’ when Pakistan heavily needed a major morale boosting comeback. Imran was veteran of 5 CWCs, who led his team in CWC thrice. Pakistan played 22 matches under him, won 14 of them with win percentage of 63%.

Once, Imran was leading wicket-taker in CWC with 34 wickets out of which half were grabbed in 1987 edition. He averaged 19.86 in bowling, which is 2nd best after Glenn McGrath in CWC. He definitely is my captain for this CWC XI with Punter his deputy.

Imran

 

09. WASIM AKRAM

wasimakram

One of the greatest left-arm bowler cricket has ever produced. Wasim Akram known as ‘Sultan of Swing’ was the first bowler to reach 50 wickets in CWC and is 3rd among leading wicket takers in CWC (55). He played 38 matches, which is the most by any Pakistani, 15 of them he captained the side.

Wasim’s most unforgettable performance to date is his heroic all-round performance in 1992 CWC final. Those two game changing deliveries to Allan Lamb and Chris Lewis in the final will be remembered for long time and was awarded ‘Man of the Match’. He led his side to the final of 1999 where most of his boys in the squad played their first CWC unfortunately losing to Steve Waugh‘s Australia from where their rule on cricket began.

Wasim

 

10. SHANE WARNE

Shane Warne

This might be debatable like a never-ending argument to speak if Warne was better or Murali. Same goes here in CWC. Despite the fact Murali had 68 wickets, I will go with Warne’s 32. He played 2 CWCs and the biggest impact on stage was his back-to-back 4 wicket-hauls in 1999 edition which gifted his side to take the title for the first time in 12 years. Warne was awarded ‘Man of the Match’ in both Semifinal and Final.

Shane along with Geoff Allott became leading wicket taker in any edition with 20 wickets. He has grabbed 4-wicket hauls in CWC four times (along with Murali), which is the most by any.

Warne

 

11. GLENN MCGRATH

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And my last pick is going to be one of the most deadliest line-and-length fast bowler, Glenn McGrath. He is the leading wicket-taker in CWC with 71 wickets. Also tops the list of best bowling figures of 7/15 vs Namibia in 2003. His CWC bowling average of 18.19 is also above all names and in bowling strike rates (27.5), he is just 2nd to Zaheer Khan.

Glenn played 4 CWCs and reached all the Finals. He along with Ponting and Gilchrist are the only cricketers to play 3 successive CWC finals. 2007 was his last and made another record with most wickets by any bowler in single edition with 26. For this extraordinary performance, he was chosen ‘Man of the Tournament’.

McGrath

 

Picking XI for any certain criteria is never easy. Selecting 11 greatest cricketers of CWC history always need a thorough research and achievements by individual. Brian Lara is the only player in my XI who never won the CWC. I believe my biggest omission is Muralitharan who grabbed 68 wickets in 5 CWCs. Sachin, Wasim and Gilly were the most obvious choice. Arrangement of batting order was a problem as Javed usually batted at #4 and Lara played most part of his ODI career at #3 and #4. Gilly who batted most of his career as opener is compromised at keeper’s best slot #7 for the sake of Jayasuriya.

Apply ICC field restrictions new or old, my openers Jaya/Sachin will always be delight to watch together. These two ODI veterans are the only cricketers who have served their teams for more than 20 years this century. Either you bowl first or later, either you have new ball or old, my opening bowlers Wasim-McGrath will be the most ideal and deadly combo on any surface. Captain Imran Khan will be my ideal first change with Warne’s varieties of leg-spinning from the other hand.

With 4 powerful bowlers, I will use Jaya and Richards. Both were slow-arm orthodox but very very handy for their teams. Jaya had 323 ODI wickets and his bowling famously turned the Semifinal match against India in 1996 edition which ended in Sri Lanka’s favor due to crowd’ disturbance. Richards had 118 ODI wickets and his 3/52 in Semifinal match against Pakistan in 1979 assured West Indies path to Final. Still need more hands in bowling, Sachin could bowl many varieties besides fast bowling and had 154 ODI wickets to his name. 

My Greatest CWC XI

I don’t think this team needs a head coach for any CWC, but if asked then I will pick John Buchanan because Bob Woolmer is no more. Hope the readers found the blog and my Greatest CWC XI interesting. You may share your feedback below.

To view my team, click here.

To make your own Greatest CWC XI, click here

May the best and most deserving team takes the glory at MCG…

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CWC15 Final will be played at Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne
CWC15 Final will be played at Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne