Sri Lanka v Pakistan, 1st ODI, Asia Cup, Dambulla June 15, 2010

Shoaib Akhtar makes a respectable return

The biggest point of conversation going into the match was which Shoaib Akhtar would turn up; as it transpired, he settled for the middle ground between the extremes only he is capable of
  shares 64

The biggest point of conversation going into the match was which Shoaib Akhtar would turn up after more than a year away from the international spotlight - the pacy and lethal Rawalpindi Express of his heyday or the erratic train-wreck of more recent vintage. Shoaib settled for the middle ground between the two extremes, finishing with respectable figures of 3 for 41.

He was the quickest bowler of the match, peaking at 148kph, and looked a few kilograms lighter, but his fitness levels were clearly short of the standards required for international cricket. His bowling was disciplined and he hurried the batsmen, but he was ponderous in the field and sought refuge in the dressing-room after two of his spells.

Handed the new ball by Shahid Afridi, Shoaib was at his best in the opening burst before starting to show signs of fatigue. Upul Tharanga was rarely at ease against his accurate, back-of-length bowling, and was generally content to tuck the ball for singles. Tillakaratne Dilshan was more adventurous, looking to cut and pull Shoaib, only to beaten by the pace or edge the ball, once just short of slips and nearly back onto the stumps off the very next delivery.

Towards the end of that four-over spell, Shoaib made the breakthrough - getting Tharanga to top-edge to first slip. The goodly crowd that had come in for the tournament opener wasn't treated to the famous 'airplane' celebration - zipping around in glee with his arms outstretched. Instead it was a far more subdued Shoaib on display; he just stood still after completing his follow-through, arms spread out and waiting for his team-mates to encircle him.

If expectations were raised by the new-ball spell, they were tempered by what followed. The Shoaib run-up remains as splendidly long as it was in his pomp but he rarely steamed in, usually just jogging up to the stumps. The walk back to the mark was painfully slow, a mournful trudge. As early as his second spell of two overs, he was hobbling on the field, grimacing and with hands on hips.

By the third spell, he was reduced to halving his run-up, something which he adamantly refused to do even after being asked to do so by former coach Bob Woolmer and captain Inzamam-ul-Haq ("Can a plane take off without a run-up?", he had asked then).

It looked bleak for Shoaib, but as usual there is no simple script when he is involved. Even with the curtailed approach he struck. Chamara Kapugedera carved to Umar Akmal at point, and two overs later Farveez Maharoof fiddled outside off to give Shoaib his third wicket.

Pakistan coach Waqar Younis said that Shoaib wasn't near top-gear yet but felt he would get better with more matches under his belt. "I think he's still got a long way to go," Waqar said after the match. "He's picked up three wickets which is good for us, still he's not there where we really want to see. He's still not the Shoaib Akhtar we want him to be. He probably needs a couple of more games."

That Shoaib is still on the international scene itself is something of a miracle. After innumerable bust-ups with all-comers - fans, team-mates, the PCB, you name it - and prolonged battles with injuries, he has been written off plenty of times. But in the world of U-turns that is Pakistan cricket, another cycle of upheavals combined with a decent run in the domestic one-day Pentagular has brought him right back.

If Shoaib can retain some of the old magic, in the company of Mohammad Aamer, Mohammad Asif and Umar Gul, Pakistan will have a fast-bowling battery that rivals the best in the world. Also, at a time when teams are packed with line-and-length merchants, cricket can ill-afford to lose a bowler of genuine pace.

Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY shazi67 on | June 18, 2010, 19:32 GMT

    Pleeeeasee get ride of Shoiab Malik .He has not performed and have an attitude problem.Give a chance to young talent like fawad. We should think to rebuilt the pakistani team with new talents.Afridi is NOT a good captain but we (pakistan) have no choice that this time.

  • POSTED BY on | June 17, 2010, 14:56 GMT

    Rawalpindi Xpress is back.........

  • POSTED BY Da-Silva1996 on | June 17, 2010, 8:55 GMT

    Great show by Pakistan and Sri lanka.Still cannot understand why Sri Lankan selectors persisting with tried and tested failures like Maharoof and Kapugedera.Mathews is becoming more mature each match and his consistency is excellent despite his lack of experience compared to kapu and Maharoof who are just wasting opportunities all the time.Time for Sri Lanka to throw in Chandimal and Jeevan Mendis into the team to have a solid team to lift the World Cup.No doubts that Chandimal and Jeevan have more to offer than Kapu and maharoof.The side has already got rid of Jaya because of his dismal performances so they must go one step furter by removing these two culprits to have a super team.Yesterday showed that by having someone like Chandimal/Jeevan Sri Lanka could have made much more runs and won more convincingly.Come on Aravinda, do Sri Lanka's world cup campaign justice and drop the underperformers!

  • POSTED BY SLfan on | June 17, 2010, 6:45 GMT

    What is the thing that some of you talking about by saying that Sanga did not allow a runner to Afridi ?? I don't think that he did such a thing....I guess Afridi wanted the full credit of his performance.That's why he did not ask for a runner.Is n't it ?....Actually, I heard that commentators said, "Sanga told to the 2 umpires that it is completely their(umpires) decision, to allow or not ". We, as spectators, only follow what the commentators say. So, we don't know the things beyond that...I want to hear from those who're complaining about Sanga's "sportsmanship", that what are the evidents for your complain ? Really, I would like to clarify this. That's why I'm asking...

  • POSTED BY SIREN6800 on | June 16, 2010, 22:21 GMT

    Disappointment ..... nothing but diappointing and poor performance by openers and top order batsmen. Slow score in the oppenning spell had set the mark for defeat. Shoaib Malik is still not over with his politics, and grief and seems determine to hurt the team by staying in ...... hope he realizes it, otherwise he is not going to last long in team and going to have plenty of time for his newly mamasita. Umar Akmal played a short but impressive knock. Shoaib Akhtar is back after shredding some pounds but still need more physical fitness.Razzaq though played his role very well but his last run is questionable , as instead taking run he was supposed to play one more ball of Malinga. Amer was not used appropriately by the Captain. Afridi did play well,however never notice that his fitnees is in question, perhaps he never played this long innings before and was surprised that he never attempted to ask for a runner, consequently, at least ten runs were lost due to his limmping.

  • POSTED BY on | June 16, 2010, 20:44 GMT

    good to See a captain performing so well. shoaib akthar comeback was very good. afridi has played as captain under pressure playing so well and fast. afridi played like a champion yesterday. shoaib akthar has bother very team he plays against. i think it's time for shoaib akthar to take 5 wickets haul against India. i think imran farhat should come in the second game.

  • POSTED BY on | June 16, 2010, 17:54 GMT

    shahid afridi innings was atreat to watch,i doubt his captaincy,batting order was messy,2 debutants sent in a crisis situation,Abdul Razzaq is highly talented player but always spoiled by captains.

  • POSTED BY on | June 16, 2010, 17:11 GMT

    SHOAIB THE GR8 N BEST OF LUCK PAKISTAN TEAM 4 NEXT MATCH VS INDIA

  • POSTED BY asadkum on | June 16, 2010, 15:10 GMT

    Mohammad Asad from USA............

    What a Captain's Knock---under pressure !!! Well done Afridi.....Really enjoyed your batting...... Good to see S. Akhtar !! Last spell...technically not 100% fit !!! Hoping to last till WC.......... Shahzaib should play his natural game... S. Malik is a recognised culprit ---his face & body language was not good..... I doubt what happened to Razzak !!! I have felt in him a shadow of culprit Malik...

    SL has played a professional game...specially Malinga was really good !!! Sangakara should show 'sports man spirit' by allowing runner ........

  • POSTED BY SLCric-DHFan on | June 16, 2010, 13:40 GMT

    I would like to see Shoaib playing in the 2011 World Cup Finale against Sri Lanka... ( It's not a realistic Expectation Bro... you would say..... :D) But, I like to see him there... With his wild celebrations.. ( There's no vassy to perform 'airplane' man... )

  • POSTED BY shazi67 on | June 18, 2010, 19:32 GMT

    Pleeeeasee get ride of Shoiab Malik .He has not performed and have an attitude problem.Give a chance to young talent like fawad. We should think to rebuilt the pakistani team with new talents.Afridi is NOT a good captain but we (pakistan) have no choice that this time.

  • POSTED BY on | June 17, 2010, 14:56 GMT

    Rawalpindi Xpress is back.........

  • POSTED BY Da-Silva1996 on | June 17, 2010, 8:55 GMT

    Great show by Pakistan and Sri lanka.Still cannot understand why Sri Lankan selectors persisting with tried and tested failures like Maharoof and Kapugedera.Mathews is becoming more mature each match and his consistency is excellent despite his lack of experience compared to kapu and Maharoof who are just wasting opportunities all the time.Time for Sri Lanka to throw in Chandimal and Jeevan Mendis into the team to have a solid team to lift the World Cup.No doubts that Chandimal and Jeevan have more to offer than Kapu and maharoof.The side has already got rid of Jaya because of his dismal performances so they must go one step furter by removing these two culprits to have a super team.Yesterday showed that by having someone like Chandimal/Jeevan Sri Lanka could have made much more runs and won more convincingly.Come on Aravinda, do Sri Lanka's world cup campaign justice and drop the underperformers!

  • POSTED BY SLfan on | June 17, 2010, 6:45 GMT

    What is the thing that some of you talking about by saying that Sanga did not allow a runner to Afridi ?? I don't think that he did such a thing....I guess Afridi wanted the full credit of his performance.That's why he did not ask for a runner.Is n't it ?....Actually, I heard that commentators said, "Sanga told to the 2 umpires that it is completely their(umpires) decision, to allow or not ". We, as spectators, only follow what the commentators say. So, we don't know the things beyond that...I want to hear from those who're complaining about Sanga's "sportsmanship", that what are the evidents for your complain ? Really, I would like to clarify this. That's why I'm asking...

  • POSTED BY SIREN6800 on | June 16, 2010, 22:21 GMT

    Disappointment ..... nothing but diappointing and poor performance by openers and top order batsmen. Slow score in the oppenning spell had set the mark for defeat. Shoaib Malik is still not over with his politics, and grief and seems determine to hurt the team by staying in ...... hope he realizes it, otherwise he is not going to last long in team and going to have plenty of time for his newly mamasita. Umar Akmal played a short but impressive knock. Shoaib Akhtar is back after shredding some pounds but still need more physical fitness.Razzaq though played his role very well but his last run is questionable , as instead taking run he was supposed to play one more ball of Malinga. Amer was not used appropriately by the Captain. Afridi did play well,however never notice that his fitnees is in question, perhaps he never played this long innings before and was surprised that he never attempted to ask for a runner, consequently, at least ten runs were lost due to his limmping.

  • POSTED BY on | June 16, 2010, 20:44 GMT

    good to See a captain performing so well. shoaib akthar comeback was very good. afridi has played as captain under pressure playing so well and fast. afridi played like a champion yesterday. shoaib akthar has bother very team he plays against. i think it's time for shoaib akthar to take 5 wickets haul against India. i think imran farhat should come in the second game.

  • POSTED BY on | June 16, 2010, 17:54 GMT

    shahid afridi innings was atreat to watch,i doubt his captaincy,batting order was messy,2 debutants sent in a crisis situation,Abdul Razzaq is highly talented player but always spoiled by captains.

  • POSTED BY on | June 16, 2010, 17:11 GMT

    SHOAIB THE GR8 N BEST OF LUCK PAKISTAN TEAM 4 NEXT MATCH VS INDIA

  • POSTED BY asadkum on | June 16, 2010, 15:10 GMT

    Mohammad Asad from USA............

    What a Captain's Knock---under pressure !!! Well done Afridi.....Really enjoyed your batting...... Good to see S. Akhtar !! Last spell...technically not 100% fit !!! Hoping to last till WC.......... Shahzaib should play his natural game... S. Malik is a recognised culprit ---his face & body language was not good..... I doubt what happened to Razzak !!! I have felt in him a shadow of culprit Malik...

    SL has played a professional game...specially Malinga was really good !!! Sangakara should show 'sports man spirit' by allowing runner ........

  • POSTED BY SLCric-DHFan on | June 16, 2010, 13:40 GMT

    I would like to see Shoaib playing in the 2011 World Cup Finale against Sri Lanka... ( It's not a realistic Expectation Bro... you would say..... :D) But, I like to see him there... With his wild celebrations.. ( There's no vassy to perform 'airplane' man... )

  • POSTED BY LALITHKURUWITA on | June 16, 2010, 11:47 GMT

    PAK played very well than what they were expected to. But it is only 2 players Shoib & Shahid. All others were just ordinary. But all SL players contributed very well and it is a team work. I think to win against good teams all players need to contribute. SL fielding is an example for all other countries. IND need to follow SL fielding to as they are the worst.

    This is a good example that just 2 players big performanances is not enough to win matches. It is batting, bowling, wicket keeping, fielding, & running bet wickets. Well done SL.

  • POSTED BY on | June 16, 2010, 10:19 GMT

    All the very best Shoaib.....things will be fine soon...just keep working hard on ur fitness

  • POSTED BY Mantan on | June 16, 2010, 9:55 GMT

    Apart from Afridi and Shoaib no one performed well. Some of the players seemed to be under performing wilfully as they did against Younis. Well it may not be the case but since they have admitted themself in the leaked vedeos so every time they dont perform questions will be raised. Run outs of Akmal brothers, missed chances by Kamran akmal in keeping, Razzaq unusual batting attitude all can be cosidered doubtful. Dont want to talk about Shoiab Malik since there is no doubt in his case. He is a confirmed culprit.

  • POSTED BY Nrao786 on | June 16, 2010, 9:24 GMT

    A good team performance by Pak, inspite of losing 4 wkts for 32....good spirit displayed to only lose by 12 runs. Malinga bowled very well and credit to him, having said that there is an advantage in bowling second due to the lights and swing.

    For the Asia Cup its important for Pak to display better discipline and professionalism, victories will eventually come if they perform as they did. Malik's shot was terrible, he should have read the situation a lot better.....also what was Butt doing fielding in the deep.....he's an awful catcher, despite it being a sitter. Asif for me is too slow in ODIs/2020 and i would have preferred Ajmal or Rehman to play.

    Afridi did really well but its only 1 performance and he shouldn't be too hard on the team, motivate them to do better and avoid being over critical...Shoaib A did really well in hot/humid conditions with a lack of match practice. I think he can prove useful in the limited over games.....no one expects him to turn back the clock!

  • POSTED BY on | June 16, 2010, 8:44 GMT

    What happened to Imran Nazir? I thought he is one of the best top order right handed batsmen (he should correct his shot selection though) Pakistan has ever produced. But anyways, Mr. Akthar is magnificient to watch. I think he is similar to Shane Bond, but his body language is equally menancing, unlike Bond's. I don think India Vs Pakistan will be such a close contest, unless Pakistan fixes it's top order woes and bring the combination of Butt/Nazir. I think it is a good move to bring Kamran in the lower middle order (irrespective of his lack of foot work, he has a good batting brain, which is what is needed of a lower order batsman). Credit should go to the bowler who did exactly what was asked of him (bowl at the stumps) with express pace from different angles. The ball that got Asif out would have gotten anyone with lights on. Asif was expecting an inswinging yorker, but this delivery really surprised him. He has some lovely deliveries that not many "line and lenght" bowlers have.

  • POSTED BY pointofViv on | June 16, 2010, 8:08 GMT

    I am a Indian supporter but this game was a treat to watch. Fast bowlers like Lathish and Akhtar were real stars. Hats off to Afridi too. The come back of Akhtar was really fascinating, while comeback of Lathish was deadly. But, I afraid Akhtar was struggling at the end. Nevertheless, it is always nice to see the favorite bowler back in action. Hope, he will last this tournament and this world cup too. I will be a happy Indian to see him performing at his best. Go...Mr. Akhtar ...prove me right!

  • POSTED BY Super_KID on | June 16, 2010, 7:38 GMT

    Afridi played intelligent cricket but as he was cramping he should have allowed a runner but sangakara didn't show sports man spirit and refused to allow the runner which is against the spirit of the game. Pakistan's bowling was great but asif has lost it all his pace,cricketing scene and his accuracy the best replacement of muhammad asif is the new borey wala express muhammad irfan.Abdul razzaq is under performing since T20 worldcup he has also lost his pace and in batting department he did nothing at all any player other than Razzaq could have won the match at this stage.

  • POSTED BY on | June 16, 2010, 7:31 GMT

    it was really one of the finest knocks I've ever seen from a captain under pressure which Afridi played. He played like a champion. The other positive of the match was the return of the Rawalpindi Express. Hope he gets better with more matches. Shahzaib should play his natural game, he was over defensive yesterday. Hope he learns from his mistakes and plays his natural game against India. Kudos to AFRIDIIIIIII

  • POSTED BY on | June 16, 2010, 7:25 GMT

    IC_M: Mister, I really don't know if Shoaib is going to last long, but you got to be kidding me if you say Shoaib can't trouble the Indian batsmen. Be patriotic, but be respectable and sensible at the same time. There is no line-up in the world that Shoaib hasn't run through, and Indian line-up is something that waters Shoiab's mouth like no other.

    I love the Indian batting line up, their batsmen are amongst the best in the world today. But Shoaib is shoaib, period.

  • POSTED BY on | June 16, 2010, 6:51 GMT

    I was jst surprised 2 c him bowl on 145m km/ph CONSISTENTLY while all the srilankan bowlers bowled at 120... even Malinga wasnt that fats on the slow pitch.........WONDER WAT AKHTAR WUD DO HAD IT BEEN A PACY PITCH...

  • POSTED BY on | June 16, 2010, 6:48 GMT

    I can't believe you said he lost a few pounds. He looks fatter than he used to be. The footage of him running with the other guys in practice was hilarious, he was running like a penguin way behind his other teammates. That said he did bowl pretty quick, but he wont last the whole series. When i read that he lost a few pounds a few months ago, but he is looking bigger than inzamam ever did.

  • POSTED BY uglyhunK on | June 16, 2010, 6:35 GMT

    @AleemLatif - "Afridi played one of the most matured innings of his career", kidding right. This is the only matured he has ever played in 14 yr career.

  • POSTED BY ravikant.kisana on | June 16, 2010, 6:07 GMT

    @Chrishan: Dont be so hard on us Indians man. Most people deny that the 2007 WC ever happened. Its been erased from our memories. Some people think its an urban legend like the moon landings or Area - 51!

    But jokes aside, the man is back. Love Shoaib. Want to see him sock the ribs of Raina and Rohit! IPL-generation Indians need to be taught some respect!

  • POSTED BY alchemist50 on | June 16, 2010, 6:03 GMT

    Nice to see shoaib back after a long time...But a word here for the pakispin..If sachin would have played the same knock as afrdi and got out so close to victory then all bashers would say he's not a finisher ( even though he opens)..Here afridi couldn't finish up d match but still dey would say afridi is a matchwinner, legend etc...Great innings no doubt but the criteria should be same fr everyone..!!

  • POSTED BY EddyM on | June 16, 2010, 5:54 GMT

    has akhtar mellowed with age or because he has been out of the team for so long?

    he seemed to bowl with more discipline, but got too tired too quickly. can you get by with someone who can only bowl 4-5 over at the top of the innings and then struggles later on? can you rely on him at the death?

    unless he can keep striking at the top of the innings, you will end up carrying him again.

    the coach/selectors need a re-think. salman butt has been pretty useless from day one, yet they persist with him. he had a purple patch in the t20 world cup, but he isn't good enough.

    having two new boys one after the other was a recipe for disaster. weren't the new boys told how to play? you can't score at 1 per over for 5-6 overs and then get out leaving your team in a mess.

    shoaib malik has been less than ordinary for so long that he does not deserve to be in the side.

    it is a shame that yousef and younus are not playing as that is really what the side needs. good, solid, consistent run scorers.

  • POSTED BY kaiser1 on | June 16, 2010, 5:53 GMT

    What i witnessed yesterday was a real heartbreak & let down of immense proportions by some of the crap players who only want to become captain themselves. It was an easy run chase if Afridi can bat like that on the same very pitch then what about others. Salman butt shameless person got zero & came to receive the trophy on behalf of Afridi being V>C. He is a real ass-hole. Who wanted captaincy being mediocre like that how come he desire to be tha captain. It all started in Srilanka b4 when Younis Khan was captain by this very person when he dropped catches & gave away his wicket in the deep by sweeping across the line & lost the test match & now he did it again to fulfil his own desire. He played well in T20 to become captain but not to be. and yet again he is on his treacherous path. Shame on him. If One Butt is not enough as the PCB head then we have to Head BUTTS in Salman and Ejaz. If he really wants another Butt to be captain then why destroy matches & cricket itself for Pakistan.

  • POSTED BY Aspraso on | June 16, 2010, 5:01 GMT

    First, please wait and see if he lasts 3 or probably 4 matches.

  • POSTED BY on | June 16, 2010, 4:55 GMT

    i love u man (shoaib) ,,, best of luck ,, and show everybody that u can do it...

  • POSTED BY Chrishan on | June 16, 2010, 4:08 GMT

    I think this was a great comeback by Shoaib. Yes, his fitness levels weren't up to standard but nevertheless he was bowling with fire. I am Sri Lankan but I also support Pakistan for their ability to produce great fast bowlers. It was a superb match, a nail-biter. I just have some points to verify with IC_M. You mentioned a drubbing he got in the "last" WC 4 years ago. Erm, if I remember right India were knocked out by Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in the group stages. Were you in a coma for 4 years, because this happened 8 years ago. Besides, you're talking about one match where Sachin got stuck into Shoaib. Shoaib has a great record against India averaging 25 with 41 wickets.

  • POSTED BY AleemLatif on | June 16, 2010, 4:01 GMT

    Afridi played one of the most matured innings of his career. Great batting and use of mind for scoring 1s and 2s along with hitting according to the situation. Umar Akmal again the best companion with Afridi in the batting - both play brave/planned cricket when together. Good performances from Abdul Razzaq (bowling and batting) and Shoab Akhtar(bowling only). Asif - should be replaced with Mohammad Irfan. Asif is good for nothing - gives away lots of runs and his batting is a total nightmare every time. Amir/Shoab should improve their batting too - they should have shown at least the potential that they can bat - dot balls, without throwing away wickets like 5-6 years old kids. These bowlers play cricket, right from their childhood and still don't know how to bloody block the balls - really pathetic from Asif/Shoab/Amir. Salman Butt - has holes in his hands. Shoab Malik - useless politician in the team as ever. Umar Amin and Shahzaib Hassan - no courage shown but deserve more chances.

  • POSTED BY Shafi79 on | June 16, 2010, 3:26 GMT

    I thought Shaoaib was really good today, honestly did not expct him to do well, Waqar probably knew better, thankfully for Sri Lanka Malinga was better ;)

  • POSTED BY Umair_umair on | June 16, 2010, 3:22 GMT

    If Shoaib keeps it this way (shorter RunUp, Less Adventure), he may go on for a year. However, in my opinion Abul Razzaq was the actual culprit at the end. See, 38 Runs Required, Afridi gets out, three wickets left , Razzaq is there at the crease for some time. Malinga Comes in to bowl, Power Play Taken and ? and? Razzaq is getting away from Strike Letting Amir and Shoaib to face Malinga and others? He realized this when Asif Arrived, but, it was too late then.

    Just go back to match stats and see, how many balls Razzaq faced after Afridi left. As far I know, Basic Cricket; Save the tailender from the strike and face most of the balls and try to get closer to that target (especially when we have enough balls left). I just couldn't believe what Razzaq was doing there? IF he would have got out it, it would have been normal ; but he was standing NOT OUT.

    He should be dropped for a match because of this careless and criminal display of lack of common crickteting sense.

  • POSTED BY on | June 16, 2010, 3:07 GMT

    Rawalpindi Express FTW! I was worried about him the entire match w his grimacing and all but he hung in there and showed us that he will not go down so easily. Welcome back, Akhtar!

  • POSTED BY ThiefInDaNite on | June 16, 2010, 2:26 GMT

    Must admit that was some good bowling.Great come back mate. all the best.

  • POSTED BY IC_M on | June 16, 2010, 1:40 GMT

    Hmmmm huffing and puffing in the very first match, twice gone back to dressing room during his spell, i wonder if he last another match or two. he is good for 20/20, with 1 over spells :) most over rated player. remember the drubbing he got from sachin & co in the last world cup, and that too about 4 years ago, you can only dream about him troubling India. can't believe waqar still think he gets better after few match, r u kidding mr waqar, it's the other way around, he will be on the plane back to pak for treatment, this is not new.... hehe

  • POSTED BY on | June 16, 2010, 1:05 GMT

    A great bowler like him deserve a champion's farewell. I hope he leans up and gets 100% fit for the world cup cuz tha's where this legend will finally be put to rest and it'll only be fitting to see him leave with a big bang.! Rawalpindi Express FTW!

  • POSTED BY on | June 16, 2010, 1:05 GMT

    Great to see Akhtar back today. I was worried about him the entire match w his grimacing and all but he hung in there and showed us that he will not go down so easily. Welcome back, Akhtar! I was rooting for you and I know you can succeed in this comeback.

  • POSTED BY on | June 16, 2010, 0:30 GMT

    Tendulkar averages 9 as captain, pakspin? Check the stats next time.

    73 matches, 70 innings, 5 not outs, 2454 runs with a highest score of 186* AT AN AVERAGE OF 37.75, with 6 hundreds and 12 fifties.

    Let's see Afridi break a SINGLE one of those records, then we can have a discussion.

  • POSTED BY SLfan on | June 15, 2010, 23:58 GMT

    Really nice to see a different Shoaib, who is only concentrating on his bowling, nothing else. He used his head very well & able to provide exactly what his captain was expecting from him. If he continues to maintain this kind of coolness while being competitive as well, then definitely he will achieve lots of things for his country as well as for him self.Good Luck.....I was very disappointing to see Kapugedera failing again. He is extremely talented, but having some serious problems with his attitude & mental fitness.He has lot to learn from Mathews, who is always up to the task & never let down the spectators. Thissara is a far better player than Maharoof, who can provide the fire power at the end of the inning & also a descent bowler. It seems that Maharoof can neither bat nor bowl. If Maharoof continues to play, he will be the targeting bowler for opponents...Like to see Pakistanis playing in this manner, with lots of heart & being very competitive.

  • POSTED BY qalandar4 on | June 15, 2010, 23:56 GMT

    Pakspin: Tendulkar averages over 51 in test matches as captain. Even in ODIs, his average as captain is 38. I am not sure where you got "9" from.

  • POSTED BY AndyZaltzmannsHair on | June 15, 2010, 23:36 GMT

    Quality ODI match. Watching Pakistan is like watching a great tragedy being played out before your eyes. The heroes, the villains, the back-biters, the rumours and the majesty and travesty of the performance. Up and down all the way with a script which tells you that it must all end in tears, but before the ending there must be a show. And the drama continues; has Afridi showed he is capable of playing a Test innings? Has Akhtar showed that he is as potent as ever? Will Shoaib Malik continue batting like a donkey? Will Salman Butt ever take a catch in the deep? Who knows, but I suspect it will all end in tragedy only for the play to begin anew, and isn't that why we watch cricket, entertainment.

  • POSTED BY on | June 15, 2010, 23:21 GMT

    He may play another 3-4 matches before he gets injured or behave improperly he is a once in a blue moon show..............................................

  • POSTED BY longhit60 on | June 15, 2010, 22:10 GMT

    i said pakistan not good play because pak team full politics salman butt t20 play well.because he think pcb make him captain.in aus in 5 odi he 3 time out on 0000000 and today he also drop a easy catch and no run.pak former player when imran khan captian they r anti imran khan and now they r anti afridi.they dont want afridi become pak captian.like zaheer abbas ramiz raja aamir wasim and other old player and also GEO TV also anti afridi.today geo tv newscaster said pak not win with afridi 100 not criticise any other player.they play bad.today afridi perfumes 110 percent.salman butt -100 shoaib malik -50 kamran akmal -100 mohammad asif replace with mohammad irfan he have no pace.razzak also same not good batting.ramiz raja commentry not for pak .i think he commentry anti afridi.

  • POSTED BY needgreenpitches4bowlingallrounders on | June 15, 2010, 22:10 GMT

    @pakspin we indians don't expect any cross border accolades but there is a limit to all ill compared things.. retirement of indian batsmen for akhtar lol there is a limit for day dreaming akhtar wakes up once in an year.Greats and dead Pitch kings lol if u want to compare captains alone out of india and pak or all other countries Pak will always come Last sachin captained for only few years Look at Dhoni/Ganguly/Azar. Do u remember Ganguly being man of matches and series in toronto against ur Pak if yes then why don't u rate Ganguly better then Imran/haq/miandad/younis/afridi so called captains who did not emulate such a feat!!!!!! Long live indian batsmen and there records

  • POSTED BY DIL_PAKISTAN on | June 15, 2010, 21:54 GMT

    The probale form of pakistan: Salman Butt, Kamran Akmal+, Younis Khan, Umar Akmal, Shoaib Malik, Shahid Afridi*, Abdul Razzaq, Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammed Aamer, Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal. This is how the Pakistan team should be, if anyone has any concerns or if anyone should or should not p;ay then please leave comments, I would also like to know how the team can improve. DIL PAKISTAN!

  • POSTED BY on | June 15, 2010, 21:44 GMT

    Honestly I am so happy for akhtat and afridi but malik doesnt deserve to be in the team, please give the deserving ones i know now malik will do something against bangladesh n again he will stick around. One more thing jayewardane's LBW was wrong malik was lucky to get it unfairly

  • POSTED BY Zahidsaltin on | June 15, 2010, 21:40 GMT

    It was a great sight to see him bowling and he did perform well. At the same time its very obvious that he is long long away from being fit. He needs to cut his run-up and he needs to train very hard to lose more weight and who knows he might be ready for England. Well done boy. The two debutants played like school boys would play marshel. They were no way near being ready for international cricket. A really talent had to perform on wicket like this which wasn't a minefield at all. Razaq should have tried to score fast when 9 were down but he played an unnatural innings by his standards.

  • POSTED BY amir-test-cricket on | June 15, 2010, 21:30 GMT

    FAST bowling is dying .. great to see him on the field again ... keep coming shoaib ... and the way he was striking the ball today afridi looked "inzamam-ul-afridi" :)

  • POSTED BY on | June 15, 2010, 21:27 GMT

    i hpoe shoaib doesn't do like bond and retire at a good age .he still has something to offer to the world and for pakistan cricket and at a time when there is so much medium -pacers cricket cannot a bowler of extreme speed and natural aggression.

  • POSTED BY on | June 15, 2010, 21:23 GMT

    I always believed that a bowler as fast as him should be played whenever he's fit enough! If Tendulkar can opt out for rest, we shouldnt Akhtar be rested when his body needs to recover. Also to set the record right its time to give the due respect to our age-ing Crickiters. We often let them go quoting them as "assets". I still recall Aamir Shoail quoting, "Akram is an asset, Waqar is an asset..." but only to be ignored..

    On the other hand despite Afridi's super knock Pakistan's batting was awful!

    I think taking that power-play was a wrong decision at the end. All Pakistan needed at the end were singles and taking the batting power-play meant no more singles... Sigh. Pakistani team needs to develop belief in finishing the game. Razaq was far from his best, few slogs could have helped.

    Anyway, it was a nice match to watch. I hope our belief in the team would come back and we would be ready to say, "Pakistan will win". For now we are happy with fighting games. Goodluck Afridi and Co.

  • POSTED BY SzlyAr on | June 15, 2010, 20:58 GMT

    Mr. Ravindran, I really liked the last sentence of yours, "Also, at a time when teams are packed with line-and-length merchants, cricket can ill-afford to lose a bowler of genuine pace." The cricket world has definitely missed real sheer fast bowler and would just hope that Akhtar maintains his fitness at least for the sake of crazy cricket fans. :)

  • POSTED BY rocket123 on | June 15, 2010, 20:54 GMT

    It was great to watch the "Rawalpindi Express" in action. I specifically stayed up (USA) to watch him flying past the batsmen. Please spare a moment of respect for the great fast bowler who is far from done in the international arena. PCB has mishandled him and wasted many golden years of his express pace and menace. Shoaib was also not good to manage himself properly after attaining so much fame but he could be forgiven for doing that because it is primarily the duty of PCB to guide, mentor and manage players. Please stop writing him off and stop writing pessimistic pieces about him. He deserves respect and has done a lot for Pakistan cricket. True, he could have done a lot more but still his bowling stats are definitely bear world class standards and he would have his name duly etched in cricket history.

  • POSTED BY on | June 15, 2010, 20:51 GMT

    First of all I want to say well done to Shoaib on good come back, respect him and his bowling PCB... now I want to talk about Pakistan batting, when will they learn not to give away there own wickets, two Pakistani batsmen Umar and Kamran, gave their wicket away from silly run outs... I dont want to say much about those debutants, they were not looking like international players, I play for club, i think i can play better than them... PCB should have given this place to Misbah-ul-haq/ Imran Nazir or Hasan Raza, next match i hope PCB and Afridi dont play them. I really think Pakistan should have won this game...

  • POSTED BY pakspin on | June 15, 2010, 20:42 GMT

    It's a good start for Shoaib on non-fast bowler friendly pitches. He was hitting 90 regularly. He can be an assest on English bouncy tracks come time for the next series. Indian batsman might have to think retirement now if Shoaib Akhtar keeps this up.lol..Shoaib Malik showed once agian that he does not deserve to be in the team. Afridi showed that he is the true pathan and led in the front---reminescent of Imran Khan anyone? For those who doubt his batting, Afridi was the lone soldier who stood when the track became difficult...a century at an insane strike rate while under pressure as 1. being captain 2. wickets falling regulary on the other side..and yet this man produces one of the best knocks in ODI..THis seperates the greats from dead pitch kings..Tendulker averages 9 as Captain due to pressure..what does afridi do? Score a century..see the difference? We lost because of the lack of back bone in the tail end...But Kudos to Afridi the best all-rounder by far in world cricket today

  • POSTED BY pritpalpabla on | June 15, 2010, 20:42 GMT

    Good performance by Shahid & company... but couldn't finish the game... good to see shahid performing in batting department after a while... with this defeat of pakistan, it would be good competition on Saturday with team India....

  • POSTED BY on | June 15, 2010, 20:30 GMT

    Nice to see you back mate. keep going... cricket needs express bowlers like you to generate enthusiasm in this batsmen dominated era.. best of luck.. go rip that flat track bully Indian line up apart..

  • POSTED BY ElectronSmoke on | June 15, 2010, 20:27 GMT

    Lee is past his sell by date, Bond couldn't cope .. Steyn, Tait, Nannes and Malinga are precious few left with genuine pace to rattle batsmen. Shoaib couln't have come at a better time :)

  • POSTED BY on | June 15, 2010, 20:16 GMT

    i believe this IT for Shoaib Akhtar. What i mean by IT is that he will show the world his best before his innings comes to an end. he bowled well and like waqar said he will get better with each game.

  • POSTED BY on | June 15, 2010, 20:11 GMT

    It was a good display by Pakistan today. First Shoaib Akhtar and the rest bowling well. The fielding was great if not excellent. Only blemish was Salman Butt dropping a sitter. Batting was just ok barring Afridi and the Akmals and plus Razzaq. However, they'll come back strongly in the next game. It was good to see a positive side after so many controversial months.

  • POSTED BY Jhammatian on | June 15, 2010, 19:50 GMT

    A good performance by akhtar ... and also from afridi, Good Luck nxt time.

  • POSTED BY on | June 15, 2010, 19:44 GMT

    Well....well said by Waqar... he is back but still it is just a start of Shoaib,I hope he will get fit soon again

  • POSTED BY MatrixRealoded on | June 15, 2010, 19:05 GMT

    Afridi + Shoaib Rock, poor performance by Shoaib Malik and Salman Butt, Hasan and Amin not be blamed 4 bad performance because every legend once nervous on debut. These 2 are not legends but may be called future. Tailender batsman are so weak. Ijaz Ahmad must coach the tailenders.

  • POSTED BY Stark62 on | June 15, 2010, 18:53 GMT

    Great comeback by Akhtar but the real upside was that Afridi played an innings which he used his head and the most important thing of all still keeping up with the run rate is well and eventually finished with a strike rate of 143.00.

    Simply outstanding!!!!

  • POSTED BY Rakim on | June 15, 2010, 18:42 GMT

    Bad performance by Pakistan top-order spoiled Shoaib's majestic return. Being out, he was still bowling with better pace than so called fast bowlers :D

    Go Shoaib !!! keep it up

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • POSTED BY Rakim on | June 15, 2010, 18:42 GMT

    Bad performance by Pakistan top-order spoiled Shoaib's majestic return. Being out, he was still bowling with better pace than so called fast bowlers :D

    Go Shoaib !!! keep it up

  • POSTED BY Stark62 on | June 15, 2010, 18:53 GMT

    Great comeback by Akhtar but the real upside was that Afridi played an innings which he used his head and the most important thing of all still keeping up with the run rate is well and eventually finished with a strike rate of 143.00.

    Simply outstanding!!!!

  • POSTED BY MatrixRealoded on | June 15, 2010, 19:05 GMT

    Afridi + Shoaib Rock, poor performance by Shoaib Malik and Salman Butt, Hasan and Amin not be blamed 4 bad performance because every legend once nervous on debut. These 2 are not legends but may be called future. Tailender batsman are so weak. Ijaz Ahmad must coach the tailenders.

  • POSTED BY on | June 15, 2010, 19:44 GMT

    Well....well said by Waqar... he is back but still it is just a start of Shoaib,I hope he will get fit soon again

  • POSTED BY Jhammatian on | June 15, 2010, 19:50 GMT

    A good performance by akhtar ... and also from afridi, Good Luck nxt time.

  • POSTED BY on | June 15, 2010, 20:11 GMT

    It was a good display by Pakistan today. First Shoaib Akhtar and the rest bowling well. The fielding was great if not excellent. Only blemish was Salman Butt dropping a sitter. Batting was just ok barring Afridi and the Akmals and plus Razzaq. However, they'll come back strongly in the next game. It was good to see a positive side after so many controversial months.

  • POSTED BY on | June 15, 2010, 20:16 GMT

    i believe this IT for Shoaib Akhtar. What i mean by IT is that he will show the world his best before his innings comes to an end. he bowled well and like waqar said he will get better with each game.

  • POSTED BY ElectronSmoke on | June 15, 2010, 20:27 GMT

    Lee is past his sell by date, Bond couldn't cope .. Steyn, Tait, Nannes and Malinga are precious few left with genuine pace to rattle batsmen. Shoaib couln't have come at a better time :)

  • POSTED BY on | June 15, 2010, 20:30 GMT

    Nice to see you back mate. keep going... cricket needs express bowlers like you to generate enthusiasm in this batsmen dominated era.. best of luck.. go rip that flat track bully Indian line up apart..

  • POSTED BY pritpalpabla on | June 15, 2010, 20:42 GMT

    Good performance by Shahid & company... but couldn't finish the game... good to see shahid performing in batting department after a while... with this defeat of pakistan, it would be good competition on Saturday with team India....