Pakistan needs a genuine all-rounder!!!


Shahid Afridi

(Photo credit: R@VITH)

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Against all odds, in the last two ODI’s against the Sri Lankans, Pakistan somehow managed to make their way through winning moments and achieved – Loss. After their success in the Asia Cup, fans expected them to put up a decent show against Sri Lanka given the fact that most top Lankan players have been playing back to back cricket series including a long IPL which saps a lot of energy, as opposed to the Pakistanis who were relatively fresh. However, that was not to be.

Till the last game of the series Pakistan were searching for that ‘Right’ combination, imagine they played three quicks in the last game. Three quicks, really, on a Premadassa pitch, huh, you’re kidding me. But that’s how they operated for last 15 days or so. They looked like winning in patches but never commanded the opposition. Nothing to take away from the Lankans, but, Pakistan played in their own hands.

Biggest of all, they missed a genuine all-rounder. Someone who is more of a batting all-rounder. At times they played an extra bowler, and they felt they are a batsman short. Then they played an extra batsman and their fifth bowler was taken for plenty. They clearly need someone like an Abdur Razzaq to balance it all. Shoaib Malik won’t be a bad choice either; neither would be a Hammad Azam. But for that to happen, the management, coach and captain must understand the value that a genuine all-rounder brings. At this point, not sure they do.

Afridi and Hafeez are the ones in current squad who qualify as all-rounder’s on paper but none of them kept up to the reputation. Hafeez failed with the bat repeatedly and Afridi, well, however big a match-winner he is, his consistency would always remain an area of concern and he has fired rarely of late.

Pakistan also needs to address their batting otherwise. Yonouis Khan as an ODI choice doesn’t seem too good, he has consistently failed to pace his innings. Top-order has no spine and is a very defensive lot. Umar Akmal is unnecessarily aggressive and overall there is no balance. The way to go – bring back Kamran Akmal, he may be an average wicket keeper but a fine batsmen, get Imran Nazir if he gets out fine, but if it’s his day, he wins the match for you, bring Abdur Razzaq, he is a must play man, I cannot fathom the reasons that he isn’t and if possible Hammad Azam too, he requires grooming but this is the phase when that should be done.

They are a bunch of talented cricketers but they need more order and some able guidance.

Dave – Are you listening!!!

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A Sri Lankan white-wash on a day when rain threatened to wash out


English: Mohammad Hafeez bowling during a 50-o...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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In Pallekele, it was overcast since morning and when such is the weather, despite a true batting surface to play on, all cricketing captains around the world are faced with the ‘Toss Dilemma’. And on one of these days, its always good to lose the toss. Misbah-ul-Haq was the lucky one on this occasion as Mahela won the toss and elected to bat first.

There were multiple interruptions due to rain, and on more than one occasion it threatened to wash out the game. But it was not to be, though it did result in a curtailed game; 42
overs each side.

It wasn’t Sri Lanka’s day and they never got going. Most of their batsmen got out attempting shots which were too ambitious given the conditions and class of Pakistan’s bowling. Gul, Tanvir, Sami, all three pacemen bowled fast and in right areas and made life really difficult for the Lankans. They were well supported by the spin trio of Ajmal, Afridi and Hafeez. A steady innings from Thirrimanne and a late cameo from Kulasakera took them past 100 but 135 was never going to be enough in a one day game. Other than the early loss of Azhar Ali there were not many hiccups in the Pakistan’s innings (Misbah’s run out was unnecessary though). It was a chase well executed.

As I mentioned in my last post too, its usually Pakistan’s batting that fails them and if their batsmen can manage even the ‘just about right’ batting performance, they are a very tough side to beat.

For second ODI on Saturday, at the same venue, both teams would want to apply themselves more, (even more in terms of batting) as conditions remain testing. Pakistan has all the momentum at the moment but we very well know how quickly it shifts between these two sides !!!

Pakistan must fix their batting order


INZAMAM UL HAQ

(Photo credit: paddynapper)

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Asia Cup win in Bangladesh was a high for Pakistan cricket in the limited overs’ format and they would have loved to continue from there. But coming from a break of over two months from international cricket they really looked short on match practice. This is also where the impact of non inclusion of their players in IPL can be felt. With players from all other countries, including Sri Lanka, got more than decent exposure to T20 cricket, Pakistan players looked rusty. Despite restricting Sri Lanka for a moderate total, it turned out to be a one sided affair…Pakistan’s batting failed yet again.

We talk, read, hear and discuss this all the time; and it goes on, Pakistan’s batting remains an ideal example of “inconsistency”. Their batting order looks skewed as ever, it’s hard to recall when was the last time, for two consecutive series, they played with the same top four. May be late 90s!!! Anwar, Sohail, Ijaz, Inzamam.

Hafeez’s captaincy should bring positive changes to the side because he has a good cricketing head. They obviously call him ‘Professor’ for some reasons. Whatmore is a proven mentor too and his methods showed effective results during his stint with two of the subcontinents’ sides. But, given their experience and class, the first thing they should look into, which is highly apparent is – batting order. Yes it is right to nurture young talent and they should be given their share of opportunities, however, at cost of team’s performance, it doesn’t seem to be a good idea.

Afridi and Umar Akmal, especially in a T20 game, must bat higher in the order. You have Ahmed Shehzad the ‘dasher’ alright but there is a definite need to add more fire power up there. There is another dasher in their ranks, who has been out of the side for quite a while now – Imran Nazir. One can argue he is too reckless as times but on his day he is a match winner. In T20 games, match winners of his ability must play, even more because, Pakistan batting anyways operates in the repair mode. Their top order invariably fails and lower-middle order comes to their rescue. So even if Nazir fails, their modus operandi remains.

Sunday evening they play their second T20 of the series and they must sort out their batting before going into it. Over the years, Pakistan’s bowlers have taken too much pressure, and kept them in the fray, its time their batsmen arrive.