Tag Archives: Shahid Afridi

Why White Elephant Farts?

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

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

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

WHAT WENT WRONG?

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

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

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

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

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

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

WAS THE DECISION OF BOWLING FIRST CORRECT?

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

FAILING THE DEPARTMENTS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ANYTHING TO EXPECT IN CT JOURNEY?

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

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

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

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Stamp the Strategy…

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Respected Captain, Coach and entire PCB Management,

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

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

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

1. Mental Weakness over Toss

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

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2. Avoid Experiments/Know your Combination

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

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

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

3. Daydreaming ’92 Glory

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

Pakistan v West Indies - 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup

WHAT SHOULD BE THE STRATEGY NOW!!!!!

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

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

 

(((Batting Strategy)))

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

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

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

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

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

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

(((Bowling Strategy)))

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

#2. PP3 – Irfan/Yasir/Lala

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

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

(((Fielding Strategy)))

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

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

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

#4. Very important, avoid dropping catches.

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

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

If you win, then just thank me.

Wish Pakistan best of luck.

Regards,
DayDreamer

Follow me on TWITTER @saminaik_asn

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The Green Pickety-Booo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Canada v Pakistan: Group A - 2011 ICC World Cup

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

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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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Crafting from Caribbean Glory

And green supporters were enraged of their disgusting performance in recently concluded ICC Champions Trophy. It was so horrible for the whole squad that when they were departing from their hotel in London, their supporters chanted on them sisterfuckers. Pakistan was without any doubt the worst team of the tournament with biggest fan following in the games.

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Way back to Pakistan, newly elected PCB ‘temporary’ chairman become Najam Sethi, a famous political journalist who has no specialty in sports. Things were expected to be in a profounding dilemma. Chief selector Iqbal Qasim, who was the most hated rubefacient on all the supporters, selected the ODI and T20 squads one last time for their next tour to Caribbean Islands and left his post for good.

So on pub-lick demand, their out-of-form supernatural hero Shahid Afridi made his 2nd comeback in a year along with his favorite on-screen companion Ahmad Shahzad. Dropped were the obvious 3 senior basket-tears Shoaib Malik, Imran Farhat and Kamran Akmal. Young bloods like all-rounder Hammad Azam, middle-order batsman Haris Sohail and fast bowler Asad Ali were included.

Before the start of series, we had a proud achievement of not losing to West Indies in ODI series at their home since 1991. Pakistan suffered 0-5 back in 1987. This series went exciting and led Pakistan to a much needed series-victory by 3-1. Captain Misbah-ul-Haq’s equanimity led Pakistan batting stance in stronghold.

The green army won 3 matches in series, and all 3 matches witnessed 3 different comeback forms of 3 different players. In first game at Guyana, Shahid Afridi made the comeback with the best all-round figures in ODI history by making 76 runs and grabbing 7 wickets. In 4th game at Gros Islet, out of form Mohammad Hafeez made a demanding 50 and led Pakistan to a very important victory and the series deciding final game at very same ground saw Ahmad Shahzad scoring an important 50 after non-impressive batting in the whole series.

Pakistan’s fielding department was far impressive than the past assignments. One thing which Pakistan succeeded in doing fairly well was Target-Chasing. They smartly chased the targets in last 2 very important games. Batting has always been Pakistan’s biggest issue and it was again. Slow starts, hiccups in partnership building, bizarre misunderstanding in running between wickets, wicked game-plan, funny collapses was exposed all again.

A smart move what Misbah did was introducing new names like testing Asad Ali and Haris Sohail. It is the need of time to prepare a team for the next World Cup and you have to remove the faces with no performances on their back. Asad Shafiq was tested again and failed again. Umar Akmal was tested as keeper-batsman and succeeded the keeping tradition of Akmals with the impression of his aggressive batting which is a major plus point.

Misbah is now the leading runs-scorer in ODIs this calendar year and his amazing consistency has eased the pressure as a vigilant batsman to stay on wicket and build a partnership. All what Pakistan need are decent totals on card to put pressure on opponents and test their batsmen’s skills.

After T20 series, Pakistan face South Africa in U.A.E. in Oct-Nov. Later on they will tour Zimbabwe. Now what plans Pakistan need to frame for cricketing betterment:

A. PCB Elections shall be done precisely with the elected person holding experience in administration.

B. Ensure security to restore International cricket in Pakistan as soon as possible.

C. How to bring International cricket back in Pakistan? Who will accept our invitation? The best answer is Afghanistan. The  team who recently signed 2-year deal with PCB for their cricket development will surely not reject the invitation. The guests can even play at Karachi and Peshawar.

D. WHAT TEAM SHOULD BE CHOSEN IN FUTURE:

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Coach and Captain should remain Whatmore and Misbah till 2015 World Cup. Umar Akmal as keeper/batsman is a good move but temporary situation until they get a genuine wicket-keeping all-rounder. In batting, Nasir Jamshed-Mohammad Hafeez is a better pair with Ahmad Shahzad as third opener in squad. With Misbah and Umar Akmal in the middle, Pakistan must concentrate on both lefty boys Umar Amin and Haris Sohail. Lefty batsman in middle order is like blessing to teams like Yuvraj/Raina in India, Shakibul Hasan in Bangladesh, Eoin Morgan in England, and Sangakkara/Thirmanne in Sri Lanka.

With all-rounders, having comeback king like Shahid Afridi, u need a medium all-rounder and time to concentrate on Hammad Azam who can very easily replace disastrous Wahab Riaz. With Saeed Ajmal, now you do need to motivate Raza Hasan from now, so he can adjust in the format until Ajmal retires after World Cup and confidently takes his place.

With Umar Gul gashing serious knee injury, time to settle Ehsan Adil or Anwar Ali now. Asad Ali didn’t impress due to lack of pace and peculiar length but Asad and Anwar both are quick and wicket-taking bowlers enough to assist Junaid and lanky Irfan. If things go this particular way, then in every sense there is chance to compete with best teams in the world and look forward for world title in a country where we achieved that glory.