Why Shahid Afridi must bat up the order?


Shahid Afridi

(Photo credit: R@VITH)

If one looks back and does even a very high level analysis of Pakistan’s batting performance over the last decade or so, they would know that how miserable it has been all this while and how it has gone from bad to worse.

Another trend that one could easily notice is that the aggression quotient has gone down substantially when it comes to how they have been batting in the recent past. And it is not natural for them we all know. From a side that the world knew as the most unpredictable, it has turned into one which the world knows with a good degree of certainty for their batting would fail.

While the history tells you all that, what it would also tells you, and there is a correlation going one here by the way is, that this change from aggressive mind set to a defensive circumspect one started happening about the same time when Shahid Afridi aka ‘Lala’ started coming down the order for Pakistan. It was considered as a damage control move but the reality is, that it turned out to be of huge damage to their cricket. Oppositions didn’t react of course, but they were quietly celebrating it all this while.

We must believe data and the data is shouting on our faces. On top of it’s voice it says ‘Afridi must bat top of the order’, because that’s where he is at his destructive best. Down the order he is a total waste. He isn’t someone who will revive a crumbling batting line up coming down the order. He is someone who best knows how to launch it at the top. And even if he fails then, their side has nothing to lose because anyhow he is not able to ‘boom boom’ at 7.

With the ICC World Cup in Australia just a few months away, the team management must take that call. Afridi more than anything is a mindset issue, and he should be allowed to set the mental tone upfront. Else ladies and gentlemen, keep watching the not so predictable Pakistan side, no harm, but then it’s no fun too, unfortunately!

Advertisements

10 Years On, Pakistan aim for a series win against the Aussies


English: Saeed Ajmal in the field during a 50-...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It has been 10 years since Pakistan won an ODI series against the Australians. Yes, it was the year 2002 when they last beat the Aussies to win a series. They have a good chance to change these stats when they play at their second home on dry pitches where their spinners can be really dangerous.

Sharjah and Abu Dhabi are scorching hot during this time of the year with temperatures soaring to around 45’C and this can test the fitness of both the sides, especially, Australians’ who aren’t much used to such conditions. More than the heat, its the humidity that really saps a lot out of the players. It is like a sauna in the middle, where the players sweat profusely and with dew cover in the outfield it a two prong battle — outplay the opposition and at the same time fight the dew.

Both sides have won a match each with the decider to be played at Sharjah on Monday-Tuesday night. Australian pacemen ran through the Pakistan batting in the first ODI and after few hiccups in the middle of Aussies innings, the new guns Bailey and Maxwell held their nerve to make sure Australians cross over the line safely. Pakistan’s spinners bowled really well but as the batting again failed to deliver it was little too much of an ask for them.

Pakistan however bounced back in the second ODI, with their spinners, especially the magical off spinner Saeed Ajmal again bowling tremendously well to confine Australians to a modest total of 249. It was followed by a superb almost run-a-ball innings of 97 from Nasir Jamshed who dominated the Aussie attack and Pakistan surpassed the total with more than six overs to spare to set up a comprehensive and convincing victory. For a long time now Pakistan is in search of a genuine opening batsman and it seems with the arrival of Jamshed this wait is over. He just needs to watch out his injuries.

The decider promises to be an exciting contest with both sides looking to end on a high which would give them a psychological advantage ahead of the T20 series. Australia may make a change or two in their line-up by considering playing an additional spinner. For Pakistan, if Afridi recovers from his strain he may come back in place of Rehman whose figures were not too impressive in the last game. Also, with Afridi you have a potential chance of dominating the game if he fires with the bat. Though on that, I rest my case 🙂 !!!WW6PXY4QQTKV

Pakistan needs a genuine all-rounder!!!


Shahid Afridi

(Photo credit: R@VITH)

WW6PXY4QQTKV

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!!!

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)

WW6PXY4QQTKV

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 !!!