Tag Archives: Pakistan Cricket Team

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.

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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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Chasing the Turmoil

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Galiyon kay awara bekaar batsmen
Kay patkha gaya jin pe pakram pakrai
Gawanay ki phitkar sarmaya unka
Na jeet kay haqdaar aur na ghar kay jamai

Na bowling hay shab ko, na batting saweray
Najasat mein runs, century se nigoray
Galiyon kay awara bekaar batsmen

Jo target milay, bojh-e-sansaar uthalo
Zara inko review ka matlab batado
Galiyon kay awara bekaar batsmen

Ye har ek player kay career bananay walay
Ye fielding se ukta kay marjanay walay
Galiyon kay awara bekaar batsmen

Sorry late Faiz uncle! I was just coming back from my work when Tabish Javed’s song ‘Kuttay’ played and reminded me all kuttays in Pakistan cricket’s nowadays innocent but brainless batting line up.

Useless, characterless, meaningless, worthless and chaseless. It has been more than two years since Pakistan cricket team ever chased a target in One Day Internationals (ODI) upto 250. Our batting standards are improving from worse to worst and nationwide hate towards Pakistan’s impotent batting line-up is increasing like the asking run-rate.

No matter how unpredictable this Green Army is, but the most predictable aspect of this team is they unarguably are the weakest target-chasers. History is prove and witness itself. In 1985 Sharjah contest, a batting line-up composed of Mudassar, Mohsin, Rameez, Miandad, Imran, Salim Malik; Miandad-army suicided at mere 87 runs while chasing India’s total of 125 runs. I repeat 125 runs!!!! Imran bowled his best bowling figures 6-14 that day.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/current/match/65732.html

Pakistan’s ill-fate in World Cup has also majorly been their failure in target chasing. Not surprisingly besides 1999 World Cup, Pakistan’s failure in title race all ended in unsuccessful target-chasing (excluding group stage exit in 1975, 2003 and 2007). Pakistan has suffered in innumerable ODI series deciders (3rd and 5th game) while batting unfortunately second and losing their way.

Uproar is always welcome by the cricket lovers as to when the batsmen will be able to chase the targets with ease? What exactly is their problem in chasing? Why their legs shake even in chasing a target mere 150?

I guess batting second is cricket-culturally Pakistan’s non-cure psychological disorder. This is their cricketing heritage as timeline proves they have always suffered and will. One could have sensed if Pakistan bat with B-team in failures, but we have watched Pakistan bizarrely collapsing even with A-class batsmen of their times like one game I mentioned above.

The current scenario of Pakistan’s batting is manuscript itself. The way they bat whether they bat first or second, their body language translates the fate of the game. When Pakistan was murdered 0-9 in their last tour to Australia few years ago, the-then coach Intikhab Alam called the team ” Mentally Retarded”.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/pakistan/content/story/458926.html

In 21st century T20 branded cricket, ODI teams are nowadays going crazy in smashing runs and accelerating their run-rates. 300 runs are common now. Infact, since ODI’s greatest match ever played at Johannesburg, there are 10 instances of 400+ totals in ODIs. (India 4, Pakistan 0)

When it comes to target chasings in ODIs, 44 targets of 300+ has been chased so far. Out of these, only 5 such chasings were done in the 90’s, while the rest since 2000. The superior 300+ chasers are India who chased 15 times as compared to Pakistan who chased only 4 times (dramatically all against India).

Keeping all these stats aside, the batting line-up of Pakistan nowadays looks scared of their ill-fate before facing the first delivery. The openers come to the crease to settle the opening stand but instead of hatching golden eggs, they become confused civil engineer with A3 paper in hand without a pencil. Instead of attacking the bowlers and increasing the run-rate, they keep analyzing the bowler’s length and counting spectators in VIP lounge. They bother to take risk.

Many openers and opening pairs have been tested to cement their place after their most profilic and successful Saeed Anwar. In past 10 years, many arrived and departed. Notable names were Imran Nazir, Imran Farhat, Taufeeq Umar, Yasir Hameed, Salman Butt and Nasir Jamshed. All of them impressed in the beginning but failed in later stages. I think the management didn’t groom the openers or didn’t utilized them properly. Specially Yasir Hameed was the one who grew faster as run-machine and was/is 3rd fastest batsman to cross 1000 ODI career runs. But once he failed, he got no support and fell miserably.

Salman Butt, ere infamous controversy, was one genuine left-hand opening batsman with 8 hundreds in only 78 ODIs (5 against India). Nasir Jamshed came to scene at 18 and played many exciting knocks. After his comeback in Asia Cup 2012, the lefty became prominent asset for the team, once averaging 50+ in ODIs and hitting 3 consecutive hundreds against India. Till the ODI series against India in 2012-13, Nasir had incidentally played all his ODI games in Asia. But once he stepped outside Asia, his performance dipped badly. With no motivation and lack of confidence, he reached 50 only twice in next 19 games.

No.3 is the position which Pakistan enjoyed for almost couple of decades with services of Ijaz Ahmad and Younis Khan for a long period. Since Younis Khan’s miserable ODI form in recent years and axing from the squad, the vacancy is still empty as youngsters like Asad Shafiq, Umar Amin and ‘professor’ Hafeez have been tested but to no success.

Down comes the middle order with the captain who don’t need any introduction. Misbah has been the mystery unsolved. Nation cries for his defensive approach ‘tuk tuk’ but nation also applaudes for his regular contribution of runs. The criticism against Misbah infuriates that he is the main culprit of weak batting line-up due to his entire slow approach of generating runs throughout the inning which costs him to score his maiden hundred in ODI format. Whereas critics favor Misbah in a manner that his runs (no matter how many balls he faced) in any situation (mostly complicated) adds value in Pakistan’s inning score which at dead end makes them reach towards 200 runs in all labored way. The word ‘mystery’ is unfolded due to the confounding fact that a batsman with defensive approach towards generating runs suddenly goes for a whack and hits a six which is not expected from a batsman of such orthodox style.

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Misbah’s captaincy has also been hither and thither. Taking leadership at the time when Pakistan cricket hit their worst controversy in 2010 and actually making comeback in international cricket + the team already lacking international cricket at home, was abnormal and too hard for a challenge. A shattered time unite under him and decorate PCB’s cabinet with few trophies. His captaincy nowadays is questionable due to many aspects of recently finished Pak-SA series where Pakistan lost the series miserably due to humongous batting collapses. Obviously he is not at all ultimate leader with the best decision-making quality. Every captain make mistakes so as Misbah. But I don’t agree that every bit of dust has to be spread on Misbah’s face.

Yes, I am disappointed with Misbah’s extreme selection of misfitting Sohail Tanvir in all 5 ODIs against SA who was absolute failure. Asad Shafiq and Umar Amin failed again to satisfy. Inclusion of Wahab in squad was another laughing stock. Hafeez and Nasir’s disastrous form continues. Genuine wkt-keeper Sarfaraz Ahmad wasn’t given a single chance to play and the funny part is that he can keep wickets but not capable of batting the way Umar Akmal bats with still a recognition what he stands for. Ajmal’s spin partner Abdur Rehman hugely ignored once again when he could easily have been picked in Sohail/Wahab’s place considering the turning pitch.

Now for the players I mentioned above, the blaming is hugely set against Misbah which I partially agree/disagree. We cannot fully blame Misbah and criticize his final XI selection at all. The more responsibility of team failure bends to chief selector Moin Khan who picked an absolute bizarre and unfit squad to face one of strongest sides in the world. Repeated ODI failures like Wahab, Sohail, Asad and Sarfaraz were included for nothing. Senior players like Shahid Afridi and Mohammad Hafeez were selected on a strong CV which has nothing to do with their current form (Afridi did showed some form in bowling). Umar Amin who was termed for future vice-captaincy in the backstage showed no impression. Ahmad Shahzad was trusted due to good showing in recent past and proved his worth in both batting and fielding. Junaid-Ifran-Ajmal are the most trusted trio of the year to be automatically your first priority in XI but Misbah’s tactics went strange of not utilizing Junaid properly in the series which deducts the marks from skipper. Sohaib Maqsood was the only newcomer in the squad who was the most successful showman in whole batting line-up with 2 back to back 50’s in as many matches.

In this series, I profound the mind-frame of team that they hugely and heavily relied on winning the toss, so they can bat first and ignore target-chasing mind game. And that is what exactly happened. SA were so lucky to win the toss 4 out of 5 times, chose to bat first and Pakistan in all 4 attempts failed to chase. Pakistan won the toss on only one occasion, chose to bat and despite scoring only 209 runs, they defended and won. There was no game-plan when it comes to batting. To a bizarre of batting standards, no.3 position was changed THRICE which looked pretty unusual in 5-game series.

Fielding is another department where Pakistan never satisfy the viewers. Many mis-fieldings specially in 4th ODI gift the opponent extra burden of runs on Pakistan as target. Despite the fact that Pakistan bowlers didn’t bowl a single wide or no-ball in inning, they conceded 266 runs. Gifting end overs to Sohail Tanvir was illogical and beyond my understanding which Pakistan paid a huge price specially in last 2 games. General coaching of veteran Dave Whatmore is also lacking some freshness and team is looking absolutely dull and out of shape. It seems like if Whatmore was never with them or the players are not willing to get trained or the other factor most probably be some problems existing between the coach and captain which lead towards uncertainty. In any case, Whatmore impact is no more.

Sooooo, chasing the turmoil is all about agony towards failure. Bowling always was and is their golden key to success but batting is what has made Pakistan in huge crisis. Chasing the turmoil is about existing nightmares ere your dreaming of path towards world title in 2015. Pakistan were crowned world champions in front of world-record cricket attendance of 87,000 ODI spectators at the same venue where world cup will be staged. Is there any ray of hope?

Let me put my points what I believe is best and most suitable measures to adopt as soon as possible. They might look difficult ever to implement but I firmly believe team might stand up to its feet by doing the following:

MAJOR SPONSORS: Admit it, Kool & Kool won’t kool your financial and marketing boom to capture a huge capacity of viewers/spectators. PCB should consider heavy investments and deal with global major sponsors the way BCCI deal. The central and provincial governments should implement huge scheme of investments. Highly recognized banks may aid you in sponsoring major competitions at high level. PCB need experienced sports consultants and strategists to develop lucrative cricket expansion deal.

DOMESTIC INFRASTRUCTURE: Above I mentioned ‘heavy investments’. Like Warren Buffett says, ‘Don’t put all eggs in one basket’. Apply this investing on various grounds and upgrade them. International cricket grounds are limited to very few and mostly in Punjab province. Cricket board has to put their money in grounding, curating and shaping the stadiums with all facilities a spectator should get. Consider shaping grounds of Peshawar, Faisalabad, Quetta, Hyderabad and Sargodha.

TALENT HUNT AND CRICKET CLINICS: Pakistan enjoys amazing talented cricketers introduced at domestic cricket but they are not well nurtured. Talent hunt campaign should be run by PCB appointed committee of former veteran players who hunt the brightest prospects. Listing them in contract promotion bases, PCB should organize Cricket Clinic twice a year and invite cricket’s big names to train, guide and educate them. PCB should heavily focus on A and B teams of Pakistan comprised of these shining players, so that they make cricket tours to England, South Africa and Australia.

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PERFORMANCE-BASED CONTRACTS: ICC recognize Central Contract system which I am yet to understand the logic. For me, the basic negativity lies in promotion/demotion of player (whether he is amateur or experienced) with increment/decrement in salaries into 3 different classes which begin revolts and misunderstandings between the players. Possibility of unjust is high. I believe instead of A,B,C-Z classes of contracts, there should be ‘Performance-Based Contracts’ with laws measured by PCB administrators under supervision of ICC. Under PBC, the board committee should strictly measure and scan every player’s performance series-by-series. A player with disappointing performance in 2 straight series shall be removed and call back until he proves his form in domestic cricket. A shining player from ‘A’ team should replace him with full confidence. In this fashion, Pakistan will, in every case, perform.

CAPTAIN AS CHIEF SELECTOR: A very innovative, time saving, misunderstanding reducing idea that I simply believe that the captain should be appointed as chief selector of his squad. I never understand function of selection committee, they simply always always fail to make a proper squad. It is the captain who knows who fits in his squad and to whom he chose to play. Captain should enjoy full authority of selection.

FIXTURES: Pakistan in recent years is playing very less number of tests and huge number of T20s which is also a major reason of lack of stability in batting. The more tests they play, the more consistency and temperament in batting will come. In recent years, Pakistan usually play 2-test series even against major teams. 1992 tour of England after World Cup was the last time Pakistan ever played 5-test series. Since then, they have played 4-test series twice both in England in 2006 and 2010. Pakistan should play at least 12 tests (4 sets of 3-test series), 30 ODIs (6 sets of 5-ODI series) and 10 T20Is.

MISSION-INTERNATIONAL CRICKET AT HOME: Don’t know why PCB is not able to bring international cricket back to home. You don’t need to invite test-playing nations. Why not bother inviting Afghanistan? Afghanistan Cricket Board has already signed a 2-year memorandum of understanding with PCB under which PCB will provide technical and professional support, coaching course, basic umpiring and curator courses.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/afghanistan/content/story/626326.html

So how come Pakistan cannot ask for favor to visit and play a short ODI series?? Pakistan can even invite Ireland or 2 associate teams and organize a tri-series just to make a go. Once such ideas are organized and played with most satisfactory security system, other cricket boards may probably give a green signal to tour Pakistan and things might then proceed successfully.

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MY TEAM SELECTION: If I am asked to make changes with full authority;

1. I will kick current Coach Dave Whatmore out of his contract. Simple it is, your formula and plans didn’t work or the players are not learning/willing to learn. I was always in favor of Whatmore with his amazing past experience with Ranatunga’s Lankan Tigers and Habibul Bashar’s Bangladesh. But unfortunately, things are not working so this is right time to leave. I will appoint a veteran Pakistani cricketer as national coach who can easily understand their problems.

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In fielding case, it is time to put Julien Fountain’s contract to end. I see Pakistan’s fielding becoming more bizarre under him. I have a very interesting idea but first let me know from the readers, do your players seriously look sportsman?? Do they have sporting physique?? HELL NO!! You need a strict trainer who will come up with immense physical training exercise, and who candidate can ever be better then your Army’s sergeant. Imagine impact of army officer’s training on our fielding. Not only basic skills will be polished, but also the players will be agile and keen runner. Not a joke but they will finally be able to attempt to dive.

2. Captaincy is the biggest debate once again. With both theories written above, it is hard to decide whether Misbah should retain his captaincy or not. If he wants to give up his captaincy, than it is fine and his own decision. Other candidates Hafeez and Afridi are not in good all-round form. Younis Khan is a great name for captaincy but his ODI form is disastrous. So I will keep Misbah the skipper till 2015 World Cup. One should not ignore his leadership feats which made Pakistan the most capable team of 2011, defeated the-then World no.1 test team England by 3-0, won Asia Cup 2012 and defeated India in ODI series.

3. From this series, I will bring/remove

Hammad Azam<>Sohail Tanvir,

Sadaf Hussain<>Wahab Riaz,

Adnan Akmal<>Sarfaraz Ahmad,

Babar Azam<>Asad Shafiq,

Haris Sohail<>Umar Amin,  

Raza Hasan<>Abdur Rehman

4. Mohammad Hafeez, Ahmad Shahzad, Umar Akmal, Shahid Afridi, Mohammad Irfan, Junaid Khan, Saeed Ajmal, Sohaib Maqsood and Misbah ul Haq will stay in the team with the inclusion of changes made above.

Afridi

Pakistan has 15 months to prepare themselves for the destination towards world title. They seriously need to take some measures otherwise it will be too late. Pakistan cricket is capable of fight backs, they do have strong fan following everywhere. All what they need is our green support to muster up their courage. Love and passion for the cricket should not dim their spirit.

Winning and losing is part of a game. I pray and wish all the best to the Team Green and keep Josh-e-Junoon alive. May you succeed and come back to your prime again. Love your cricket… Don’t hit wicket…

Ye mahroom marhoom agar aitamaad jagaye
To haarna hathiyar dalna bhool jayen
Ye chahen to jeet ko yadgaar bana len
Ye kisi bhi team ki pasliyan tak tor dalen
Koi inki ehsas-e-kamtari mitaday
Koi inke khoye hue junoon ko jagaday

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Book Review: The Cricketer, The Celebrity, The Politician (2009)

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Right-Arm… Over The Wicket… Off Cutter… Bowled!!!!!!!!

Batsman was yet to understand when did the ball released from hand and when did it reached the stumps, all he realized was off the gloves, bat pressed in wet armpit and there was the pavilion.

Off you go… Better luck next time… Give my love to your sister…

Shall I say cricket playboy? Shall I say every dream girl’s HBK?

When he was bowling with a breathtaking run-up, he looked like Tony Montana firing ‘Say Hello To My Little Friend’.

Born in Lahore and settled in Mianwali. Blood of a Pathan and rooting from Niazis and Burkis. Descendant of Pir Roshan and ex son-in-law of Goldsmiths. Alumni of Oxford and Chancellor of Bradford. Winner of World Cup and Builder of Hospital. 2 sons from Jemima and 1 daughter from Sita. Imran Khan is the Cricketer, the Celebrity, the Politician and that’s the book I just finished reading.

This book was written and published in 2009 by arguably one of finest biographer Christopher Sandford, who also wrote biographies of many great legends like ‘Primitive Tool’ on Mick Jagger in 1993, ‘Edge of Darkness’ on Eric Clapton in 1994, ‘Kurt Cobain’ in 1995, ‘Loving the Alien’ on David Bowie in 1996, ‘Satisfaction’ on Keith Richards in 2003 and ‘Polanski’ on Roman Polanski in 2007 in past couple of decades.

Published by Harper Collins, comprised of 402 pages and 10 very interesting chapters, Sandford’s pen proved no ink miscarriage or bleaking malfunction as the man in limelight was properly life-summarized. The book is like an exclusive documentary or the making of a legend. While reading the pages, you are sensing some footage playing in your clouds of imagination.

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Sandford put three years of his efforts to shape this book from 2006 to 2008. During these years, he conducted many interviews with many personalities linked/associated to Imran’s life and career like Mike Brearley, Geoff Boycott, Javed Miandad, Parvez Musharraf and Jemima Khan-Goldsmith. He also collected the cricketing sources from different cricket administrations, Cricinfo and county clubs. Many of the incidents and quotations have been picked from various books including Imran’s The Autobiography, All-Round View and Indus Journey, plus various books written on/by Botham, Miandad, Atherton, Sobers and Parvez Musharraf. The author also conducted his 3 most prominent interviews with Imran Khan in 2008.

I had read Javed Miandad’s Cutting Edge where he reflected his cricketing career and dirty games played behind the scenes. So after reading that book, it was easy for me to now understand Immy’s take on all this. The difference was literature; Miandad’s story flows like a river but Imran’s corner details more fish in the river.

Sandford depict his deep research towards Pakistan cricket and the first 2 chapters will give you an idea how good he is in describing the gear-shifting of Pakistan cricket from 50’s to 60’s. In these chapters, enter the central character and his family tree and relatives are penned in detail.

Even the smallest account/incident means a lot for the readers to know the iconic leader as he once bribed a policeman in his teen-hood and enjoyed ammi’s scolding. While his cricket-level moves with his education from Quaid-e-Azam Trophy to County cricket, political environment in the surrounding proceeds like East Pakistan partition to Bangladesh and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto regime.

Third chapter is his account on his university-level and county cricket, beginning of international cricket career and his life in England. Fourth chapter depicts life in Sussex county, political crisis of late 70’s and further more tours including 1979 World Cup. And the chapters proceed on and on.

The readers will exhume with excitement of enjoying reading his high-profile affairs with many ladies that prominently includes painter Emma Sergeant, fashion guru Susannah Constantine and former German VJ of MTV Europe Kristiane Backer. Controversial case of Imran’s affair with Sita White is sensitively not protracted as I was expecting. But he is never bothered to call her ‘Drama Queen’.

1992 World Cup story is the one which will bring that josh-e-junoon page by page as magnificent comeback is enthralling when you read it match by match. In all cricketing tours Imran participated, with obvious picking, it is the great West Indian team against whom Imran was always concerned.

Imran’s philanthropy in book is adverted towards foundation of integrity and prosperity with the qualities in Imran has been assembled. Building of Pakistan’s first Cancer Hospital is one of achievements by Imran, the inspiration came after the death of his mother, Mrs. Shaukat Khanum, from cancer. For the purpose of laying foundation and shape into functioning, Sandford has penned sporadically Imran’s effort of fundraising from campaigns, shows, parties, exhibition games and earnings from his playing career.

Any reader like me will find a wide range of descriptions of his relationship with Javed Miandad. At many situations, Miandad’s book Cutting Edge has been used as an instance where indirectly the (mis)understanding between the two is reflected and perhaps become debatable. Most alarmingly, when it comes to the most strangest decision of Imran’s captaincy of declaring the inning when Miandad on crease is 20 runs short of triple century. The arguments don’t match and I feel scratching my head after knowing Imran’s reason of declaration.

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How can the biography over Imran’s life be without the biggest happening since his cricketing career. Entry of  Jemima Goldsmith and launching of his political party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (Pakistan Movement for Justice). From here, when more than half of book has been read, the most critical writing pledges. Sandford surpasses the expectation of translating Imran’s most critical and beyond challenging life into mind-frame of footages. Many many aspects are surrendered to throw in Imran’s way like rivalries with politicians Altaf Hussain and Nawaz Sharif, General Musharraf’s imposing of martial law and beginning of his dictatorial regime, a disturbed marriage with Jemima, libel case against Ian Botham and Allan Lamb, and failure in general elections.

Politics has no bound from here, as he majorly targets former President Parvez Musharraf and his government for being US ally, and destroying Pakistan’s welfare for many incidents. Cricket fixtures continue to echo in all this. Sandford do increase the volume of Imran over major incidents occurred in Pakistan cricket like 2003 World Cup, India’s 2004 tour of Pakistan and Hair-Inzamam controversy.

The book from all aspects is a complete Imran Khan book. The first impression of reader surely comes as a sports biography but the title is enough to convince you that this is the ultimate book where Imran plays 3 different roles, not only as a cricketer but also as a celebrity and politician. The book is absolute frank of his good deeds and wrong-doings. This biography is an absolute and worth reading for all Immy-lovers. Reader will be moved while moving towards different phases of his life. Visualize the footage of the great ironic legend while speaking it’s pages. 

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Book Review: Cutting Edge (2003)

Cover-Miandad-autobio

Javed Miandad!!!!! Himself, a franchise, in Pakistan cricket. His batting legacy was like word of mouth and the name was widespread since his dream test debut against New Zealand in 1976. Overall, in his 25-years cricketing career, he played over 800 games, scored over 40,000 runs, crossed 50-mark 333 times, out of which he reached his three-figures mark on 93 occasions and almost 500 catches….

Till this date (8.8.13), Miandad is 13th in most test runs in career with 8832 runs. Has 6 double-hundreds in tests the most by any Pakistani player and 5th overall. His biggest achievement in his cricketing career is 1992 World Cup. That was the 5th edition of World Cup played in Australia and New Zealand for the first time in colorful kits. This was Miandad’s 5th attempt for the title where he was 2nd top-scorer in the whole tournament few runs behind Martin Crowe of New Zealand. To an utmost bizarre, Miandad was shockingly not selected in the world cup squad due to a minor injury which wasn’t even threatening.  He was finally recalled after huge batting failure in warm-up games and the rest is history.

Miandad was the first player ever to reach 1000-runs mark in World Cup career and play six world cups. His test batting average never came down below 50 since his 1st test inning till the end which is quite a rare and unique test record which most probably no test batsman has ever accomplished in history. Till this date (8.8.13) he is the youngest test player to score a double-century for 35 years as no one has ever reached the mark in his teen-age. For 26 years, he is still holding record of most fifties in ODIs in cosecutive innings (9).

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His autobiography ‘Cutting Edge’ was published in 2003, forwarded by the great Tony Grieg and co-authored by famous columnist of Cricinfo, Saad Shafqat. His memories knew no bound when he begins from the background where he belongs and speaks about his father who was majorly responsible for Karachi cricket by contributing a lot to KCCA (Karachi City Cricket Association). On father’s advice, he plays for Habib Bank and becomes the soul of their batting line. His batting phenomenon is witnessed by one of Pakistan cricket’s finest administrator, Abdul Hafeez Kardar, and predict him “Find of the Decade”.

‘Cutting Edge’ is comprised of 23 chapters but being a reader, I am terribly surprised to notice that only one chapter belongs to his memorable knock in Sharjah, but two chapters are acclimatizing account about his anger towards Imran’s inning declaration at his personal best score of 280 not out. This is Hyderabad test against India where Miandad is avoided to reach triple hundred or further break the-then test cricket record of highest individual score in test inning by Sir Gary Sobers which was 365 not out against Pakistan.

There are 3 different chapters dedicated to England, Australia and West Indies. English one is about his playing experience on English surface and more about his county career in Sussex and Glamorgan. Australia and West Indies one each separately speaks about their counters with Pakistan. Another chapter ‘The Player’s Revolt’ is about the differences Miandad faced with other players when he was captain. Infact at many a place in book, it is shameful for me to read how a cricketer loses his sportsmanship to fall greedy for captaincy and play politics in the dressing room. Miandad actually complains and reveals the backbiting (or you may say back-barking) and disorganized mismanagement under Pakistan Cricket Board. The color of nature and volume of his speaking tone over such matter is exactly how Shoaib Akhtar explained in his “Controversially Yours”.

Javed Miandad (41)

Many cricket fans have been cornered towards the issue that lied between Imran Khan and Javed Miandad, many of them smelled some rift between them. Indeed there were some personal differences, but there is significantly one chapter dedicated to Imran and his leadership which is worth. On numerous places in book, the reading falls quite flat where the details are more of a match review and statistics. One deliberately will begin hunting to read something which is rare and unknown to him ahead of match reviews which do exist on websites and would make it boring.

Few of cricket fans do not know that Miandad had an interesting episode of his love marriage with his wife, Tahira, which after reading, you will find it quite filmy and quite different from the existing traditions of marriage in Pakistan. But this is sadly penned of couple of pages and I strictly believe should have been a whole chapter on it. The reader will surely realize could have been a worth-reading mostly for youngsters, had Miandad dedicated his love for his wife and wrote his marriage in details a separate chapter.

I must also clear a very important reminder as many many readers like me will found a major surprise of not reading a single word about his son’s marriage with daughter of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim. Like I said before, the book was published in 2003 as the marriage happened couple of years later.

As a reader, I don’t found the book as extreme superlative of autobiographic writing. Infact I will rate my previous cricket book reading Shoaib Akhtar’s Controversially Yours far better than this. But after all, a Miandad-story in Pakistan cricket should be of prestige as his book will be worth reading for cricket-crazy generations in any corner of library of your heart. 

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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