Pakistan missing Afridi at CT13, already


Shahid Afridi Match WinnerTwo highly unpredictable sides clashed in a low scoring but high intensity Group B thriller last night at Oval, London, the first of their matches in the round-robin league. The West Indies got over the line with two wickets in the bag but not before Pakistan’s pace and spin combination made them experience a good 40 overs of restlessness.

On a wicket that offered some assistance to the quicks early on, Pakistan were sent into bat by the new West Indian ODI captain Dwayne Bravo. On the West Indies playing XI, there was no Darren Sammy and that meant only Gangnam style was on offer and so London was going to miss the baby dance. Pakistan went in with four specialist bowlers and Hafeez the all rounder filled in for the fifth bowler, which meant that the idea was to strengthen their batting with an additional batsmen which they know is probably their weakest link for some years now.

But the extra batsman strategy didn’t work and Pakistan’s batting failed yet again. They couldn’t bat the complete quota of 50 overs and despite Misbah’s fighting 96*, they were bowled out for mere 170 in 48 overs. Kemar Roach ran through the top order and Sunil Naraine did the rest.

Pakistan’s bowlers were superb once again with Mohd. Irfan, Junaid Khan and Wahab Riaz bowling fast and in the right areas, getting a good bounce and carry from the Oval pitch. Saeed Ajmal bowled beautifully as always and West Indians had a hard time reading his doosra. At one stage West Indies were reduced to less than a 100 for the loss of 5 wickets but Pakistan’s attempt of going for the kill wasn’t strong enough and they probably had a weapon less. Somewhere they missed that fifth specialist bowler and one would agree that to an extent Afridi absence was felt.

The Pakistan selectors have missed a trick by not including Shahid Afridi in the squad. And the reason we think that’s the case is because however bad Afridi performs with the bat, he still is a top class leg-spinner and there aren’t many spinners in the world who can match him for his deceptive variations.

Over the last few years or so, Afridi has been more of a bowler who can bat and not really a batting all-rounder and thus the expectations from him should be set per se. The team, the selectors and his fans at large should do a reality check and understand that now he is someone who is more likely to win Pakistan matches with the ball and not with the bat. Yes, on his day, if he comes off with the bat that’s a huge bonus but overall that shouldn’t be the expectation upfront.

Pakistan missed him last night as a bowler and also for the attitude that he brings with him which is very capable of lifting the whole side. And he may be missed all tournament.

Afridi is a match-winner and there isn’t any doubt about that. How Pakistan plans to leverage him in this later part of his career is a question that they need to find an answer for. He still has some cricket left in him, and you never know what he may win Pakistan before he bids adieu!

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

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Champions Trophy 2013 Tickets – Selling like ‘Hot Cakes’


Champions Trophy TicketsIt’s 3 more days to go before the ICC Champions Trophy 2013 commences in England & Wales and the stage looks set just right for a super exciting tournament. The warm-up games plus the ongoing NatWest Series between England and New Zealand are those little teasers that make one sigh and think – ah! what an atmosphere for good three weeks of ODI cricket. It suddenly brings back memories of those nail biting finishes that we all have witnessed sometime, from the greatest matches played on the world stage.

Yes, now we have all these fast paced T20 games, both domestic and international, that bring so much in terms of thrill, but we all know how beautiful is a nicely poised, well fought 50 over game. Such delight!

TV networks are also doing a great job reviving ODI cricket and are pre-selling the tournament splendidly. In case you have seen the new ‘Champions Trophy on HD’ promo on ESPN-Star, you know what I mean. Take a bow creative team for this promo, and particularly for that last shot which shows the cricket ball with dust particles around it…in HD. You guys have taken the visual experience of sports telecast on television to an entirely new level and I must tell you, its just great for the game.

And if this gets you thinking that all the cricket lovers are glued to their television sets and stadiums aren’t attracting as many spectators. Well, think again. Its crazy out there and tickets for ICC Champions Trophy 2013 are selling like hot cakes.

Champions Trophy is being played in England for the second time, and the interest it is drawing is more than ever. The Oval, Edgbaston and The Cardiff Wales Stadium, three venues for this tournament are expecting full-house for most of the matches. For records, as it would happen anywhere in the world, the June 15 India vs. Pakistan encounter at Edgbaston is already ‘SOLD OUT’.

Multiple vendors and various ticketing partners like TicketMaster, LiveNation Entertainment and others are offering tickets both online and over the counter. Ticket prices are ranging from £20 for group games (family stand) to £60 (Gold) for the big final at Edgbaston. Whatever row, whichever stand you get, go grab your tickets and don’t miss out upon a chance to cheer your favorite team right from the buzzing stadium. Some tournaments are special, and being the last Champions trophy edition this one is special for sure.

I have my ticket for the finals. And if you happen to get yours, then see you in Edgbaston. I’ll be there with my face painted in my team’s color, dancing and jumping in hope that some cameraman notices me and I show up on the big screen 🙂 !

Photo Credit: Wikipedia