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December 6, 2006

World Cup 2007

World Cup 2007: The campaign begins

Kamran Abbasi
Pakistan pose with the series trophy, Pakistan v West Indies, 3rd Test, 3rd day, December 1, 2006
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Darrel Hair: resolved. New PCB chairman: mixed start but we have hope. Captaincy crisis: Inzamam a clear favourite for the World Cup, just a final confirmation required from the PCB. Drugs scandal: settled for now, though a further twist is possible but improbable. That must mean we might dare to focus on the cricket?

Pakistan begin their 2007 World Cup campaign in earnest tomorrow. This is clearly the squad of players that the Pakistan management will gamble their futures and their burning effigies on. Throw in Shoaib and Asif when match fit, and Shahid Afridi when he is back in the groove (I've said my piece on 'Boom Boom' already) and you have the extent of Pakistan's talents.

This is bad news for anybody expecting a new star to emerge like Inzamam did just before the 1992 World Cup but it is good news for people arguing for a period of stability. And there is much going for that particular argument. Think back to the middle of the one-day series in England. Pakistan were being lauded from hill and dale as the perfect combination to lift the next World Cup. A few minor inconveniences later and Pakistan are still very much the same team. Could they do it after all this? It would make an incredible story.

But Pakistan's one-day form has hit the buffers since that English praise undid the players. There are mitigating circumstances. England in September wasn't the best place to build a batsman's confidence, and more surprisingly neither was India in October. South Africa may be misleading too, hence this series offers the closest approximation to likely conditions in the Caribbean, minus the cool beers and the hot tubs.

This series matters. Several players, bowlers in particular, will be fighting for a World Cup berth.

But despite the one-day failures there are some positives. First, Umar Gul has grown in stature as a front-line bowler over the past few months. He began the England series as one of a handful of hopeful third-seamers (Shoaib and Asif being numbers one and two). He begins this one day series as the clear number three with potential to rise up the pecking order, a fast-medium bowler who can carry an attack. Second, Mohammad Hafeez looks increasingly to have solved one half of Pakistan's opening problem (Imran Farhat continues to fill me with dread though).

These are important additions to the "perfect combination." Despite the hell that Pakistan cricket and its supporters have lived through over the past few months, the next World Cup offers a fabulous opportunity. Inzamam wants to emulate Imran. The campaign begins here, and it needs to begin with the swagger of title contenders.

Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets here

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Posted by Naeem Irshad Cheema on (January 11, 2007, 12:12 GMT)

Salam to all my friends, I want to c shahid afridi in world cup OPEN WITH HAFEEZ AND THEN SHOAIB MALIK,YOUNUS KHAN,MUHAMMAD YOUSUF,INZAMAM-UL-HAQ,ABDUL RAZZAQ,KAMRAN AKMAL,RANA NAVEED,SHOAIB AKHTAR,MUHAMMAD ASIF....THIS IS MY TEAM IN WORLD CUP.

Posted by shaukat on (December 19, 2006, 5:16 GMT)

Team must be have some problems but the pakistan team has many problem see if captain has the responsiblity to chat Every team member to be with the togehter if you Are together Any Team Will Not win With you This Is My Request Pls Forward To All Team Members Shoukth

Posted by Jay on (December 13, 2006, 6:35 GMT)

Well, there is a lot of difference between the Pakistan of today and the Pakistan of the early 90s. Imran, Miandad, Akram and co. could hold thier own against any opposition, on any ground. Of the current lot,not many can do well against Australia and SOuth Africa, in thier grounds. If you think about challenging Australia for the World Cup, then Inzi and Afridi are definitely not the ones to bank on. Afridi is a very, very limited player who can be exposed by any decent non-sub continental attack. He cannot be compared to Gilchrist, Sehwag or even Jayasuriya. Umar Gul has been really impressive and he should take Pakistan forward, at last till the semi-finals. In any case, Australia is going to crush anybody who they will meet in the finals.

Posted by zuhair on (December 13, 2006, 1:46 GMT)

the opening problem will be solved....if salman butt is brought back. he played bad for a series or two and was out of form but everyone has those stints...therefore i think hafeez and butt, left/right combo will do wonders for pakistan opening pair. butt has saeed anwar type potential, while hafeez is a steady player capable of playing shots when required.

Posted by Rehan on (December 12, 2006, 19:44 GMT)

Guys, who cares? Let's be perfectly honest. The World Cup will be won by Australia. The only question is, who will they beat up on in the Final? In order,

South Africa: propensity to underperform in the biggest matches but second favorites. West Indies: impressive Champions Trophy and an opening pair that can solidify any lineup. Semi-finalists for sure.

So that leaves: Pakistan, India, New Zealand, Sri Lanka for the final semi-final spot, for the privilege to lose to Australia. On current form, New Zealand.

We may have our little "mini-final" against India but even that is not what it used to be. But that is as close to the final as we will get in this World Cup. Don't get your hopes too high. The 1992 team, which is the Gold Standard, had wily veterans who had won many a titles. This team has won nothing.

Posted by zulfiqar ali on (December 12, 2006, 8:44 GMT)

it is not at all esay to form an opinion about the winning formula. as the arguments going in faveorof and against the idea of having a team of specialist. it is genrally beleived that bit and pecies players can not do the job on big occasions and in crunch situations,example England team for world cup final against pakistan in 1992.it is true but u can not catigaries razzak, afridi, shoaib malik as bit and pecies player . each one of three is a potential match winner. their track record back this up .so i hope team slection will not be a problem for pakistan.we also have hafeez and akmal who are good in two areas.on a personal note i would like pakistan team to have pair of express pace to open the attack. i mean shoaib and sami. with out real pace it is not easy to put fear in the minds of the opposition.lets hope for a winning combination for the world cup . things would be clear after the s.a tour.

Posted by Syed Naumanuddin Hassan on (December 11, 2006, 11:13 GMT)

The management must select a pool of 15 players before the eleventh hour. Apply a calculated rotation policy so that every one gains confidence and there are no victims of burn outs!

The upcoming South African tour will either break or make Abdul Rahmaan!

Posted by Kaisar Afaque on (December 11, 2006, 6:48 GMT)

Hi, with this present team i think this combinatin could do better in worldcup,with inclusion of shoaib and asif but only thing is shoiab should concentrate a bit on batting to or he have to build confidance for their batting too among the selector and he have to play well, with this this i think pakistan team will get atomic energy in his team.

Posted by Abu Ahmad on (December 11, 2006, 1:42 GMT)

World Cup 2007.Captaincy was the crucial factor in 1992 World Cup victory. Stewardship,unless it is changed,is indesisive and mediocre so the dependence will entirely be on individual performances.Yasir Hameed and Yasir Arafat currently sidelined must figure in consideration.Azhar Mahmood and Imran nazir need to be recalled.Samiullah Niazi and Shahid Yousuf should be blooded on South African tour Tauqir Zia once thought Azhar Mahmod is captaincy material and it is food for thought.Cases of Shahid Afridi and Abdul Razzaq is another dilemma confronting selectors.Let us hope selection is fair.

Posted by Mohsin Khan on (December 10, 2006, 17:58 GMT)

1).I feel for Afridi for his energy and enthusiasm. But i dont think he deserves a place in the playing eleven. Whatever the criteria may be(class,record,form),there are others who outshine him.

2.)I see people criticizing Hafeez. He has some flaws but among the options available for opening slot, he comes second only to Hameed. Rather he has a better rate of scoring than Hameed or any other opener. So until we find a real one, let's be content with him.

3.) There is something missing in our play which is rotation policy in middle order batting. Only one reason can come to mind that the senior players are worried about their position in the team. In case of an injury to a middle order player, either shoaib malik is asked to play a middle order role or tried,tested and failed Faisal Iqbal is given a chance. Talented players like Shahid Yousif and Asim Kamal are just waiting on the fringes. It feels like as if Inzi is already sure of Faisal failing so he goes with him. Either this or Miandad with all his ackwardness,lack of manners,self praise,power hunger and illogics is using his resources for his precious nephew. This all defies reason and logic.

4). Abdur-Razzaq is fast becoming a liability. Talented,young and energetic allrounders like Yasir Arafat are being wasted on the sidelines. If permormance calls for dropping Afridi than there is a stronger case for dropping Abdur Razzaq. Along with performance, his passion and enthusiasm for the game is also missing. It is as if a robot is performing his duties.

5). Power and incentives hungry ex-cricketers are talking non-stop on the satellite channels, very rarely making sense( Apart from Intikhab and Aqib). Whoever, Imran khan supports somehow finds a place in the team defying all the criterias of performance and form.

6).The one thing that keeps me from questioning Younis inclusion in the one-day squad is captaincy-talk. If younis is replaced by someone else as vice-captain in one-day squad, quite a few controversies plus power struggle will come to the fore.

7.) At last, i am not worried about what happens on the field in Pakistan Cricket. But what is problemtic is what happens off the field. Only education can impart the art of compromises. Till then we have to live with all the controversies.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kamran Abbasi
Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He was the first Asian columnist for Wisden Cricket Monthly and wisden.com. Kamran is the editor of the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. @KamranAbbasi

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