Tag Archives: ICC Cricket World Cup

IS WHITEWASH A WAKE UP CALL?

Two elements in the universe will remain melodramatic and unrepaired, soap operas and Pakistan cricket. The supporters of the team Green deserves a lifetime achievement award for their tolerance and patience for the team. We are aware of the fact that the national team has more weakness in conceding the match than capabilities to win but it is our love for Pakistani cricket that keeps us hoping that the glory days may return soon.

The domestic infrastructure will take time to improve under the fresh hands of the governance of Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB). International Cricket Council (ICC) is finally admitting of security improvement in the country to stage more cricket matches than in the past. The level of comfort and perception to play in Pakistan has gradually changed.

So there are signs in the coming times that maybe international cricket return to a normal schedule from next year. Prime Minister Imran Khan‘s announcement of staging the entire Pakistan Super League (PSL) in the country next year is delightful and diverting.

But what is the national team’s own justification for the claim on the mega event happening in a couple of months?

Pakistan’s ODI performance since 2017 Champions Trophy

Pakistan stood a ‘TOP’ ODI team for a long period a couple of decades ago but the stance has dropped with quite a huge margin and in the recent years, Pakistan has built no good memories in the format since winning the ICC Champions Trophy (CT). They were invincible against the mediocre teams of Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe beating them 5-0 each but exposed fragilities while losing against the top ODI sides of New Zealand (5-0), South Africa (3-2) and Australia (5-0), the last team arriving in UAE with many key absentees. During this process, they also couldn’t even qualify for the Asia Cup final last year. With such a monumental discrepancy, the certainty of winning the biggest trophy or even doing wonders look highly unlikely.

What went wrong?

The answer to this question deserves its own library bigger than the Library of Congress. But I will highlight a few because I have other things to do in my life.

This question needs a periodic timeline from where I should begin highlighting the issues and even that will take more than a blog, a volume perhaps. So I will set a scale from winning the CT and try to be quick in my argument.

Winning the CT was one of the golden chapters in Pakistan’s cricket history because our accomplishments in this sport are quite limited. The last major trophy Pakistan ever won before this in the format was Asia Cup 2012, thanks to Bangladesh who couldn’t score 9 runs the final over with 3 wickets in hand.

(Pakistan in ODIs has won one World Cup (WC), two Asia Cups, one CT in their history but their major dominance for any trophy in the format was limited to Sharjah Cup which they won 15 times, a record. One major reason how Pakistan has a better head-to-head record against India.)

No World Cup Planning

After winning the CT in 2017, the cricket board should have focused on the WC preparations. They had a two-year time to shape a plan and devise a strategy under which the national team would have analyzed their strength and weakness through a detailed report which would aid them to build a potential team to form a winning combination and maintain it like the top sides.

PCB has a history of lacking long-term plans and that is a major reason why the performance never improves. Their main focus was in organizing PSL every year and making efforts to bring the international cricket back to the country. That even didn’t help the national team. Pakistan couldn’t find a single batting talent through PSLs in four years. Only the foreigners and the already-established batsmen representing the country before PSL’s existence have been performing.

Pakistan holds the reputation of being the factory where the fast bowlers of the supreme quality are manufactured since Fazal Mahmood in the 50s. If the assumption is applied that more newcomers are making their place in the national team since the introduction of PSL then the question is that why PSL has been made a standard or benchmark to launch their careers? What is the use of the domestic one-day and T20 tournaments then?

 

Britain Cricket – Pakistan v India – 2017 ICC Champions Trophy Final – The Oval – June 18, 2017 Pakistan’s Mohammad Amir celebrates taking the wicket of India’s Virat Kohli Action Images via Reuters / Andrew Boyers Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY.

Lacking cricket at home and unfavorable UAE games

Another major issue is lacking international cricket at home which has disturbed and disrupted the natural self-confidence of playing in front of the home crowd. The borrowed HOME country has been of no use for Pakistan in the ODIs.

A decade has crossed playing ODIs on the pitches of UAE but our performances have only declined. Neither has Pakistan adopted the modern cricket system through the UAE games nor have given many of expected positive results.

On the record, Pakistan has never won a single ODI bilateral series against a ‘TOP’ ODI side (Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, England) in the UAE in the past 10 years!

2009 – New Zealand won 2-1

2010 – South Africa won 3-2

2012 – England won 4-0

2012 – Australia won 2-1

2013 – South Africa won 4-1

2014 – Australia won 3-0

2014 – New Zealand won 3-2

2015 – England won 3-1

2019 – Australia won 5-0

India didn’t play any bilateral series in this period against Pakistan in the UAE. Pakistan has only taken the pride of defeating West Indies and Sri Lanka in the bilateral series again and again.

To my surprise, PCB never questioned about considering the UAE their home. With dismal performances and ridiculous predictability in failing to perform and conceding the series, fans in the UAE dropped their interest showing up to the stadiums to watch their team doing no favor and therefore the attendance of spectators has dropped more and more.

The recent Pakistan-Australia encounter was played in almost-empty stadiums which is a disgrace. Much of this year’s PSL was organized there before this series and remained cold as dead. The only time the stadium in the PSL went full throughout PSL was the opening day obviously because of the fondness to watch the opening ceremony and the live performances.

Selection Dilemma

To some extent, there were some good decisions helping the team realize their strength. The opening combination of Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq gave Pakistan many decent starts and during the process generated enough runs to become one of the quickest to 1000 ODI runs. Babar Azam maintained his superb form and his remarkable scoring consistency, something which most of the Pakistani batsmen traditionally lack. Shaheen Afridi and Usman Shinwari were trusted and did some justice.

But during all this, selectors also made grave mistakes like ignoring Junaid Khan several times disturbing his form due to irregularity, giving too many opportunities to underachiever Faheem Ashraf, emphasizing on ever-failing Mohammad Amir who since his CT final heroics has taken only 5 wickets in 14 ODIs, and depending on the failing veterans, Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik who have scored only 426 runs (16 inns) and 716 runs (25 inns) since the CT glory.

The worst was the ego-bound priority of keeping Wahab Riaz regular in the XI for more than two years for his undoubtedly magnificent spell against Shane Watson in the 2015 World Cup quarterfinal. Since then, he went on to play 25 ODIs taking 25 wickets at a very expensive average of 47.08 and conceding 5.82 runs per over. Out of those 25 games, he conceded 50 runs on 10 occasions. One of those 10 occasions was his unforgettable 0/110 recording the second worst bowling performance in a 10-over quota. He was finally dropped after one bad game against India in 2017 CT and never considered to include in the ODIs.

Testing bench strength 3 months before the World Cup?

Let’s speak about the recent crisis which is not helping me understand the situation. During the South Africa-Pakistan ODI series, captain Sarfraz Ahmed admitted passing racist remark to Andile Phehlukwayo for which he was banned for four games which included the starting games against Australia in the recently concluded series. But PCB decided to completely drop him from the Australia series and give him rest. All the players who played in the South Africa series played PSL but then a few key players like Hasan Ali, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Afridi, and Babar Azam were dropped to play against Australia despite performing well in PSL. Reason? To give them rest after the busy cricketing schedule for the past few months and also judging their bench strength.

Ok first thing, Pakistan hasn’t played enough cricket that their key players are exhausted. Even if I assume that Pakistan played pretty much cricket then why was playing PSL that compulsory? Was playing PSL more important than the Australia series? You could have rested your key players after the South Africa series and played directly in the next. And another point, if they are taking rest, how come Hasan Ali and Babar Azam are playing some Gujranwala Premier League? When the squad to face Australia was announced, the reason for resting key players was to give them rest. Then why were they playing this league? What kind of rest is this? 

The second thing is judging your bench strength a couple of months before the mega event is sheer stupidity. If the board was really considering to judge their bench strength, why didn’t the board plan long before this time? How can you judge your bench strength from one series? The pitches of UAE and the WC host England are extremely different.

Then the squad was the question mark. Test fast bowler Mohammad Abbas was selected about whom was rumored to be tried for the WC. There was confusion over him if he should be tried in the ODIs or not. But the problem is timing. Abbas is playing test cricket for the past two years. Why didn’t the board or the selectors make their mind to introduce him in ODIs sooner than pretty later? The result was disastrous with Abbas ending the series with a forgettable performance.

Another inclusion was of another test player Yasir Shah. If Shadab was to be rested then why did Yasir take his place? PSL wonder boy Umer Khan could have been tried. Why is Amir repeatedly picked after failing again and again? He has been in miserable form and is eating other’s chances. And giving chance to Umar Akmal for the umpteenth time proved that his situation will never change. Umar will do wonders in domestic cricket but will repeat the same mistakes when he will play in international cricket. Picking him was actually the selectors thinking backward.

All these points prove that the PCB didn’t plan anything for the WC. Judging your bench strength is sending your B-team to tour Zimbabwe like Indian cricket board did back in 2016.

What Pakistan must do?

After the disastrous conclusion of being whitewashed against a resurging Australia and failed tests in the laboratory, PCB must finalize the WC squad now and send them to play 5 ODIs against England at their home where the WC will be staged a couple of weeks after the conclusion of this series.

Pakistan is the luckiest of all the WC participants to arrive in the country first and fully take advantage of growing their game on these pitches. Pakistan is even playing three limited over games against county clubs and two warm-up practice matches after the series and before the big event which means 10 games of quality practice before the mega event begins. This is more than enough preps any WC participant can ask for.

If Pakistan finalizes the WC squad after the England series then that will be the dumbest of all the decisions PCB has ever made. Because it makes no sense to make changes in the squad after the final preps. Play your 15 men in 10 of those English games to be more prepared than the others.

My 15-Man World Cup Squad

I am mentally prepared to see PCB make a mockery of the selection as they have historically attempted before. That is why under the heading, I am listing the 15 names of what I believe should enter the mega event, not PCB.

Captain and wicketkeeper: Sarfraz Ahmed

Openers: Imam-ul-Haq, Fakhar Zaman, Abid Ali

Middle Orders: Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Rizwan, Shoaib Malik

All-Rounders: Shadab Khan, Imad Wasim

Bowlers: Hasan Ali, Shaheen Afridi, Junaid Khan, Usman Shinwari, Mohammad Hasnain

Squad Explanation

Yes, no more Mohammad Amir. We should come out of this delusion that he will do wonders like 2010 English tour or 2017 CT Final. As stated before, this bowler has picked only 5 wickets in 14 ODIs since that Final. We should admit that he doesn’t justify his place.

What makes me pick Hasnain over him is the fact that this teenager is the fastest of all the picked bowlers and his understanding the pitch makes me think that Sarfraz can make better use of him on the English pitches. Sarfraz already has been his captain in PSL. Give him those 10 games, use him properly and he is a threat.

A lot of talk on Shinwari if he is that good to be considered. Yes, he is very expensive in the T20s but when I see 28 wickets in only 15 ODIs which includes 4/35 vs South Africa and 4/49 vs Australia, that speaks a lot. I will count wickets rather than think about being his expensive.

Indeed, we don’t have power hitters, something which almost every top team has the luxury to cash on. It is highly unfortunate that Pakistan couldn’t produce a single power hitter in all these years. That is why I am bound to pick out of form but heavily experienced Shoaib Malik over him who should come at no.6 and try to accelerate the run rate.

Shadab Khan is must in every single game, he is a genuine spinner with the heavy assistance on batting when in crisis. Haris and Rizwan with two centuries in the latest series cannot be imagined to be ignored for the WC. Babar needs to drop some weight of middle-order responsibility with their support.

Abid Ali is definitely the third opener of my squad who justified his selection by recently scoring a wonderful hundred on his debut. Imam-Fakhar is the permanent pair and this should not change for a long time, even after the World Cup. These openers are the quickest to 1000 ODI runs, something which never happened in ODI history before. Imam has proven against the South Africa series that he can score against the biggies and should not be dropped from any game. We fans should stop voicing against this kind of nepotism because at least this lad is performing.

What my picked batsmen have to do while constructing the inning is to accelerate the run rate, score more boundaries, reduce the percentage of dot deliveries and try to convert their twenty-five into the fifties and fifties into hundreds. There is not a single instance of a middle-order century for Pakistan in the World Cups since 1987. All the hundreds since 1992 have been scored by the openers. So this curse should end and I have high hopes that at least Babar can do it.

WC glory chances? Extremely low. And just like the previous edition, consideration of their reaching the semis will be a miracle. But this is exactly how Pakistan won all the three major trophies. They were not expected to do anything special in 1992, 2009 and 2017 but shocked the global cricket community. So whatever and whenever the squad is finalized, let us hope Pakistan does their best and not let us down. Hoping is living.

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…

Follow me on twitter @saminaik_asn

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

 

When Batting Woes… When Batting Foes….

4th of June, 2013 | cricinfo.com 

William Shakespeare’s “Comedy of Errors” 

By: Iain O’ Brien, Sharda Ugra, Jarrod Kimber and Jonathan Harris-Bass

Why: They said PAKISTAN ARE FAVORITES for ‘ICC last CHAMPIONS TROPHY’

Wait, let me wipe my glass or rub my both eye-balls…. oh that heading says PAKISTAN ARE FAVORITES (NOTTTTTTTT)

 

Within 165 hours……………….

PAKISTAN OUT OF COMPETITION losing both group stage games against Roach Indies and Hashim Africa.

 

11 Days Later…………..

Oh hang on! Pakistan actually lost all 3 games. India defeated them. (tough predictions innit?)

 

HERE THEY COME!!!!

Now players are returning back to where they belong and reminds me the metamorphic incidents, when the same team arrived to the airport from the very same country from also an ICC recognized tournament almost 14 years ago and were received by their supporters so warmly that the players became temporary hostages at their own yard :P 

That time, they reached the Final. This time, hmmmm okay so worst scenarios are about to be trolled as to ‘mother of God’ kinda incidence that both the tournaments I mention were played in Nawaz Sharif’s era :P So the weapons are planned to attack every single player from top to bottom at the airport.

But before you get so senti-mental to be forced to use the weapons, let me clear you that according to Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), the price of tomato has increased by 61% by January against December and if I am not wrong, than the price per kg is sold at Rs.72 till March. Also back in December 2012, according to The Nation, eggs prices reached Rs.130 per dozen, I repeat… Rs.130 per dozen!!! Keeping the prices in mind, how many dozens of eggs and kgs of tomatoes are you going to weaponise on Green Army *cough*.

A country hit by 7.1% inflation by January and recent results of general elections of May, it is better not to consider using weapons of mass frustration on them. Oh by the way! petrol price per liter has been increased by Rs. 2.18 with immediate effect since June 1. Nayyy that is also not a solution.  So just leave it, and take it as a ridiculous heritage of unpredictable cricketing history. 

Either the king delivers his speech or cheetah runs over a deer, don’t :S at me. All I meant to say is either we bat first or try to chase the target, the team will remain in inflation and depression. Inflation??? Yeah the rising of adrenalin, an increase of required run-rate, the breaking of patience… Depression??? Nothing but your F.O.W. (Frustrated of World OR Fall of Wickets). 

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PAKISTAN TOUR TO ENGLAND!!!

It seems that the team has established a tradition of making the England tour unforgettable, memorable and even disposable. 1992 England tour reminds you British press accusing ball tampering over 2-Ws and umpire Palmer throwing sweater on Aqib Javed. 1999 World Cup features unarguably the best squad of Pakistan ever played but horrors of Finals might not escape from memories. 2006 England tour is about Yusuf’s heroics but more in history will memo you Inzi-Hair controversy. 2009 will be Pakistan’s finest moment in England with WorldT20 title but in next 12 months returning England, Pakistan faces their worst nightmare of Spot-Fixing Controversy. And now they are out of group stage….

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PAK-INDIA BATTING ANALYSES!!!

Now, Pakistan has played 791 ODIs in 40 years, winning 423 games with success rate of 55% (still better than India and West Indies). But when it comes to batsman’s conversion of their 50’s into 100’s, they are too lazy, or too aggressive :P In 791 ODI games, Pakistan has so far produced 155 individual hundreds. So Pakistan takes 5 ODI matches to witness an individual batsman scoring a century which is not healthy at all. If you compare their conversion with India’s batting, the difference in stats surprisingly is not that large enough. India has 203 individual hundreds in 820 ODI games, which means that India has to wait 4 ODI matches to see their batsman hitting a hundred. If you apply this in current scenario, you will understand that we obviously witness more Indian hundreds than Pakistani hundreds, and still not a large difference in stats. Since 2009, Pakistan hit only 14 hundreds as compared to India’s 41. So Pakistan was somewhere enriched with huge batting talents somewhere in the middle of  past cricketing era where Pakistan surely scored a lot of hundreds. 

You can make a simple guessing as when Pakistanis ever hit so many hundreds. Top 5 Pakistani centurions have 4 players belonging to almost same badge (Saeed Anwar 20, Ijaz 10, Inzamam 10, Ramiz 9). So this shows a consistency and selection of batting line-up sought to be in 90’s.  This wasn’t seen in 2000’s as the 3 major names in batting line-up we ever knew were Inzi-Yusuf-Younis. Fluctuations in batting order was widely seen, many a time game plan was changed. Saeed Anwar himself had opened with more than dozens of openers. India, never suffered this dilemma as their batting order framework plan was pretty mature. They boosted their master batsman Sachin Tendulkar to bat at no.4 in Test in almost whole of his career and open the innings in ODI with most mature and talented names in Jadeja, than Sidhu, than Saurav dada, later Viru and sparingly Gambhir. Even hundreds in them had no single era, their top 7 centurions all belong to both decades. 

Pakistan amazingly has 19 instances of 2 batsmen hitting hundred in same ODI inning (as compared to India’s 23 :S ) So when did Pakistan ever hit 2 hundreds in same inning so often? Because nowadays we don’t watch a lot of Pakistani hundreds. Between the period Dec.1982-April.1994, there were 13 instances in ODI cricket of 2-hundreds an inning, in which 8 belonged to Pakistan and only 1 to India. You may understand, how things changed since Sachin brought up his 1st ODI hundred in 80 ODIs that same year 1994 and he and India never looked back.

With greater strength towards hundreds is required, ducking your inning shows inconsistency in any batting order. India has suffered only 385 duck outs in 820 ODIs, which means Indian batting card has a batsman dismissed on nought after every 2 ODIs. But Pakistan is worthless in scorecard when it comes to ducks. They have 479 ducks in 791 ODIs, so Pakistan is close like 1.65 ODI inning to launch a ducky. Infact Shahid Afridi (29) and Wasim Akram (28) sits at no.2 and no.3 respectively in most ODI ducks in career.

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WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ONNNN??

Too many records and history speaking right!!!! The point to depict the real problem in the team is not only the lacking of batting strength. It requires a lot of grooming and potential which becomes a tradition of producing your finest batsman with the blazing blade in his bat. You don’t fully justify a boy who dreams to play for his team, and after few failures, he is thrown out no matter how much immense quality his batting can gift his team to an extent of winning.

Domestic infrastructure is the need as your home is your backbone. You have to make more stadiums and frame them to international cricketing standards. Alright international cricket is not returning which do hurts but at least you can introduce your brightest prospects to the outside world by selecting them and give them a chance they deserve. In last few years, Pakistan has marketize their batting talents telecasting them on private channels. Now we know our domestic cricket more than before. So we are more capable of arguing the improper system of selection. Pakistan still has 2 years in upcoming World Cup and selection committee still have time to come back to senses.

Things may go wrong if most important steps are not taken right now. After a disastrous Champions Trophy, PCB should either fire the whole selection committee or warn them to make selection of squad on merit. My personal opinion lies entirely different from the basic cricketing systems availing presently. If I was in cricketing board power, I would make the Captain of the team, the Chief Selector. The reason is simple, only the Captain of the ship knows how to handle the pirates. To broad the concept of captaining, ‘leadership’ is what polishes a man from immature to maturity. It is the Captain who should select the squad, because he know his men are what capable of. 

 

WHAT SQUAD SHOULD PAKISTAN SELECT?

The DNA of batting shall be changed ASAP. The hurdles should be erased now. I strongly condemn of keeping players like Iron Fart, Shoaib Mirza, Kam-run Khatmal in the team. They are good for nothing. Out of these 3, put Shoaib’s name only in T20Is. Hafeez-Jamshed pairing is suitable for one-dayers with Ahmed Shahzad as 3rd option on the bench. You have 2 good names for no.3 and they are Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq. Pick any one and reserve the other on the bench. Our RobinHood Panday, the captain should promote himself at no.4 with hugely talented Haris Sohail and all-rounder Hammad Azam to be compulsorily encouraged at no.5 and no.6. Then comes wicket keeper, so Umar Akmal can be utilized. Last 4 positions are all regular bowlers and it’s time to groom left-arm spinner Raza Hasan for near future who will presently assist Saeed Ajmal. The remaining fast bowlers should be Irfan-Junaid.

So the four benches!!! 3rd opener Ahmad Shahzad and no.3 Azhar or Asad should sit. Team should give one more chance to Fawad Alam, who resembles as same profile performer as India’s Ravindu Jadeja. Both were criticized in initial phase of their career but India explore the wonders in Jajeda and framed him in regular line-up with orthodox spinning and brilliant fielding, he is now capable of winning matches. On other hand, Pakistan is yet to treasure his talent. 4th bencher should be a fast bowler, where Pakistan has various options in Ali’s like Asad, Anwar and Rahat or Ehsan Adil. Shahid Afridi and Umar Gul should concentrate in T20Is.

My Squad: Mohammad Hafeez, Nasir Jamshed, Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq, Misbah-ul-Haq (C), Haris Sohail, Hammad Azam, Umar Akmal (WK), Raza Hasan, Saeed Ajmal, Mohammad Irfan, Junaid Khan, Ahmad Shahzad, Fawad Alam and one more fast bowler.

 

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