World Cup 2007 December 6, 2006

World Cup 2007: The campaign begins

Darrel Hair: resolved
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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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Zo Khan on December 10, 2006, 16:39 GMT

    some how 11th player didnt show up in my previous post but 11th player could be eith Kaneria or rehman.

  • Zo Khan on December 10, 2006, 16:25 GMT

    I think pakistan has got what it takes to win the world cup, this is one team in the world no one can underestimate. yeah yeah champian trophy was a disaster and england tour didnt turn out as expected, but during the champians trophy Asif and Shoaib ban really affected the team and during england tour the whole Hair contorversy. We need to keep the spirit and moral of the players high and dont let contorversies and useless criticism bother the team. Bob Woolmer is the best thing that happened to pakistani team since Imran Khan. He can use his expertise to keep the playes concentration intact. As far as the team goes its obvious that front line bowlers should be Asif, Shoaib and Gul and Naved and Shahid as a backup (rule out sami and anjum well simply because they suck). As far spinners Rehman and Kaneria both have performed well but Rehman needs more testing.

    All rounder Afridi , Razzaq and shoaib Malik are a must in the team with Hafeez showing good temperament.

    Anyways selectors have never siezed to amaze us so lets see what surprise they have in store for us. We need a good coach and we have him , we need consistency in the team and no controversies which really hinder our team's performance. No more testing new players and talents etc, PCB has been testing since the last world cup so lets have the same squad in every tournament till the world cup. Inshallah we will celeberate like our elders did in 92.

  • Mustafa Moiz on December 10, 2006, 16:10 GMT

    I think that the selectors should be focussing on bowlers for the World Cup this series against West Indies and among them should be Mohammad Sami and possibly Rao Iftikhar. Shahid Afridi should be back against South Africa. The selectors have to pick Salman Butt, Yasir Hameed and Imran Nazir to open as you are right about Imran Farhat. In South Africa, where the bowlers get help, the batsmen should be picked, Inzamam and Yousuf are a shoo-in. Pakistan should not pick a squad for the entire Cup. The squad has to include Sami, Yasir Hameed, Butt and Nazir and maybe Rao. Shahid Nazir is the worst bowler to pick. Pakistan have to win this World Cup. Inzamam has better options than Imran Khan did in 1992 and Wasim Akram did in 1999 and they played excellently.

  • khurram on December 10, 2006, 5:19 GMT

    i have a few questions. 1) Who will be the three frontline bowlers for pakistan in ODI's ? ... Shoaib, Asif & Umer gul ? or they will continue to keep rana naveed, Rao iftikhar & Sami????

    2) Who will be the specialist spinner on the SA tour & World cup. Danesh Kaneria, Shahid Afridi or Abdul Rehman (Bari has hinted that only one of the above 3 will make it with team)

    3) What about kamran akmal. Is there any plan at all to try another keeper just for home series if not away. he definately needs to be hinted for his casual attitude through out 2006.

    4) Twenty Twenty cup starts from 20th dec. should it be taken into consideration for people like Shahid yousaf, shahid afridi, Shahid nazir?

    5) What happens to shahid nazir? Please somebody tell me some good comparison with Rao iftikhar. in my view nazir is much better than rao and still rao gets preference by selectors.

  • nabeel adeel on December 10, 2006, 0:56 GMT

    Hi kamran i agree to u wen u mentioned that Pakistan were regarded as a perfect combination after the third Odi in England and suddenly it went downhill.But with Shoaib and Asif back pakistan might still play that final world cup game.It will take a well devised plan to beat Australia and especially when 20 overs have to be bowled by a combination of Razzaq,hafeez and Malik all of whom can easily be taken to cleaners by decent batsmen let alone very good ones.It will be the last bow for the Multan legend(pakistan's best match winning batsman).I hope he can make it a memorable one. thanks nabeel

  • Rizwan on December 9, 2006, 22:19 GMT

    Can we dwell on the real thing ie Test cricket because one day cricket is a lottery . The Pakistani selectors should pick 3 ( or even 4 ) opening batsmen when they play on fast and seaming pitches such as South Africa , Australia , England and New Zealand. In these countries one should have specialists and all rounders such as Abdul Razzak, Afridi, Kamran Akmal and Shoaib Malik would find batting extremely tough. Sure Shoaib gave a bravura performance against Murali in Colombo and Razzak and Afridi ( what a fantastic hitter ) clobbered the Indians mercilessly and reduced Harbajan to tears and almost gave me a heart attack but none of the afore mentioned batters can tackle searing pace and one reason the 2-0 ( yes it was 2-0 not 3-0 ! ) loss in England was the failure at the top of the innings .Also Inzi and Mo Yousuf would be able to drive home the advantage if they come in to bat when the ball is softer say in the 30 th rather than in the 10 th over . Its been proved , time and time again the Pakistani middle order cannot handle pace and I believe it was Imran Khan who castigated most of his batters including the great Javed( before he redeemed himself with a century in the west Indies ) as Flat Track Bullies . In the recent series with India, Pathan dismissed Salamn Butt, Younis Khan and Mo Yosuf in claiming a hat trick in seaming conditions in Pakistan. I shudder to think what would happen in colder climes. The present allrounders in the team are not as talented or gutsy as past allrounders Asif Iqbal or the late Wasim Raja. With the return of the spearheads (not one but two) Akhtar and Asif and the equally talented Gul and possible inclusion of the ultra tall Shabbir Ahmed the bowling department is an embarrassment of riches. However, all that comes to naught with the poor batting and to succeed against Australia the batters should have a sound technique like Dravid or Kallis. Therefore if Pakistan wants to avoid being cannon fodder, the batting should be sound. A good indicator of Asian teams struggling on bouncy tracks was evidenced with Pakistan’s loss in England, Sri Lanka’s first loss in three days to New Zealand and India’s 4-0 loss in the one day competition to South Africa. Also, Razzak, Afridi and Shoaib do not get wickets on the pacier tracks. Its far better to play genuine fast bowlers / seamers who can’t bat but at least would get wickets. I also do not understand why the leftie Samiullah Niazi is not given any opportunities; he seems a wicke taker with an impressive strike rate albeit in domestic cricket. Could Samiullah be the next Wasim Akarm or more to the point why cannot Pakistan unearth a left arm speedster even half as good as Akram ( the best damn bowler who ever played one day cricket )

    In summary, the way forward should be specialists and could you pl. suggest to Bob Woolmer to include such specialist batters and bowlers in test matches because that is the only way Pakistan can challenge Australia for supremacy.

  • Imran on December 9, 2006, 19:01 GMT

    Sami i agree with murtz for the simple reason being that pakistan specialist openers are not good enough, hameed always get out the same way as well by going for the wide deliveries. whereas salman butt needs to improve his defence.

    shabir is a good bowler and i'm sure pakistan will pick him after 20/20 competition in pakistan to give him match practice.

    3 part time spinners will be of no use in the pitches in carribean as they will be favouring pace department! therefore they should play abdur razzaq instead of hafeez and open with akmal.

  • ali on December 9, 2006, 13:14 GMT

    its a good team with alot of talent, but it lacks hunger to win matches, once cornered they do not come all guns blazing like the aussies, too have any chance of winning the world cup they have to show ability to fight from any situation.

    having said that our team is one of the most talented teams in the world, they need to put that talent to use.

    the inclusion of afridi, shaoib and asif is all we need. we are a force to be reckoned with.. MR EUCEPH AHMED

    you chat utter rubbish i do not think you have any cricketing knowledge. i have read most of your comments on pak spin.

    MR JAVED A KHAN keep up the good work. i have to say i read alot of your comments, you have very similar views to mine.

    well lets see if we get hammered by the south africans just like our arch nemesis our neighbours..Thats going to be the real test before the world cup....

    Peace out people

  • saha on December 9, 2006, 7:30 GMT

    Hey guys what happened to Imran Nazir..if not Afridi he'd be a good hitting answer to the likes of Sehwag(not in form, any doubts that he will be back), Gilchrist, Gayle, Jayasuriya. Do you know what Imran's domestic form is like..anyone?

  • JAVED A. KHAN. MONTREAL, CANADA on December 9, 2006, 5:23 GMT

    Chacha Koora Kircut;

    You may use as many metaphors as you like by calling them bunch of glorified club cricketers or sloggers and give ALL the credit for winning the 1992 world cup to only ONE man. You think none of the players played any part in that win? That was the first world cup that I have watched all the live matches that were televised. In the round matches we lost against India, we lost against SA and we drew against England in a rain curtailed match. Our luck changed from New Zealand, who won all the round matches they played at home and lost the last match to Pakistan. Still we were not through and had to wait for a result from the Australia - West Indies match. Had Australia not defeated in that match we would have not reached the semis. In the semi-final, it was Inzamam, Miandad and in the end Moin Khan played the crucial role in winning the match.

    In the final, yes Imran took a bold step and came early, then Miandad and Imran took time to restore the damage and build a respectable total to defend. Again it was Inzamam and Wasim Akram who did the fireworks in the last few overs. And Wasim's 2 inswingers that got Allan Lamb and Chris Lewis were the best he ever bowled in his entire life. That changed the game and Pak won the world cup. Not Imran alone has won the world cup and his speech as a leader was pathetic. Yet he is remembered and will be remembered as a hero. I also consider him as my hero in cricket, but I believe in team efforts and team's unity and team performance and I would like to give every member of the team the respect and credit they deserve. Therefore, please don't call them bunch of whatever, whatever! :-)

  • SAMI SYED from Toronto on December 8, 2006, 22:10 GMT

    Hello and Salam Alikum Once again,

    Murtz, I don't think you watch a lot of cricket. You are talking about Shabbir a guy gone for a year to come back into the side. Given Gul's performance he is a shoe in as the 3rd seamer.

    I believe that the two best reservice batsman we currently have are Hameed and for middle order Faisal Iqbal. Both have done good. Can't find a reason why Hameed is not persisted with. He is a brilliant fielder as well.

    World cup hopes are live and alive. Pakistan comes through when you least expect them to. And if I have read the blogs right then most of you want them to be successful but don't realisticly think so. Which is fine by me because that's when they seem to perform the best. After all the commentators keep saying Pakistan is "unpredicatable" and "they don't know which pakistani team will show up, the one that fights or the one thats lazy and out of sync"

    In any case, I have to say that on current form and if it stays the same through to SA then Younis needs to be dropped. Reason being that he can't even bat lower down the order cause his strike rate is krap for a lower order batsman.

    Afridi, hands down, has to be included. I said it before and I'll say it again that Afridi is going to be the hero for the world cup especially in West Indies.

    As far as I am concerned for those ppl advocating Salman Butt and Taufeeq Umar just don't. Butt always gets out the same way in the slips. Taufeeq Umar LBW because he has too much of a shuffle and that being said he is no Lara who has immaculate timing even with his shuffle.

    The most technically sound player is Hameed. However, Hafeez although not stylish has built his case enough to be persisted with, I can't say the same about Farhat however, cause I don't what he is thinking when he plays the odd rash shot.

    My World Cup Team would have one of Afridi and Razzaq in every game just because they can take any attack down on their day.

    MY team for the World Cup would be Hafeez, Hameed(if tested otherwise Farhat), Younis, Yousuf, Inzamam, Malik, Afridi, Akmal, Akhtar, Asif, Gul.

    Now that being said, I'd love to put Malik in the # 3 position and bring in Faisal Iqbal and drop Younis cause he is just too slow for ODIS.

    Thanks for the continuing BLOGS, I love 'em, keeps me busy at work.

    SAMI

  • Kashif Malik on December 8, 2006, 21:01 GMT

    The SA tour will separate the cats from the tigers. Following their recent performances at Old Trafford & Mohali I strongly suspect Farhat & Razzak will struggle. Its no point these players and others being selected on their performances on flat tracks whilst they continue to fail overseas.

    Salman Butt and to an extent Yasir Hameed & Faisal Iqbal are players who have played really well on alien soil and should be under consideration for the SA tour.

    Finally, I believe Afridi will return sooner rather than later and I am fearful that both Asif & Akthtar will be prohibited by ICC &/or WADA to partcipate in the tournamnents in the foreseeble future.

  • vaseemkhan on December 8, 2006, 19:22 GMT

    I firmly believe that without two SA means Shahid afridi and Shoaib akhter pakistan can not win the series so world cup is more far let's take the example of champions trophy what happened , Yes afridi is not in form but his class is most important then form he should be given the chance to open the inning every time no matter hi get out in early, he would definetely win 3 out of 10 single handedly, and 3 shouuld be win by rest 10,so the percentage would become 6 out of 10, being a indian i see the comment of indian mass and expert if afridi and akhter would be in india they would make a lot of world record because they would not be ommited from the team never, indian know the things well, gilchrist, jayasurya,shehwag all open the inning and get fail many time but no body alter the position, but for afridi a lot of confusion is made in his mind by captain, coah, and management even pakistani media is gone mad, only imran comment is noted there but he is fully wrong in judging the afridi, afridi and akhtere are gem of world cricket they were never be born again,i m sure pakistan will not win the world cup, you can hope hope and hope until afridi and akhter open in therei respective field.

    thanking you all

  • anwar,los angeles on December 8, 2006, 18:25 GMT

    dear kamran bhai,enough has been said about our star bowlers shoaib and asif..i been reading some brainless comments from our own countrymen..sure it was a right decision by the panel to drop off the charges...and it wasn't the first time that some rules and regulations had been twisted in favour of the players...and dear kamran bhai can you please inject some genius and me common sense in to our selection boards members heads...what in the name of GOD are they doing ,by not selecting the best player "afridi".what afridi needs is chance...give him a chance ...wake up (looser) wasim bari.

    please bring back afridi..i think his 20 or 25 runs in one or two overs are better then someone have 16 runs in 96 balls....he can destroy any bowler on his day...trust me...ask ashish nehra and balaji.....we want afridi pleaseeeeeeeeee...........ALLAH HAFIZ.

  • Saad Nizami on December 8, 2006, 17:51 GMT

    "Second, Mohammad Hafeez looks increasingly to have solved one half of Pakistan's opening problem (Imran Farhat continues to fill me with dread though)."

    ...quite the other way around really!

  • Imran Zia on December 8, 2006, 15:39 GMT

    By the time rhe South African Tour is finished we might be in a better position to judge the prospects of the Pakistan Team in the World Cup. The chances are that the Pakistanis would be bruised and battered and low on confidence. The conditions may not be the same as they would be in the West Indies but if the series is lost the axe will fall on one or two scape goats. Judging by his shot selection on flat decks it is highly unlikely that Imran Farhat would go the distance of the whole tour. Shahid Afridi the bowler has deal with competion with Abdul Rehman and Shahid Afridi the batsman will have to pull out a miracle to perform in South Africa.Abdul Razzak's footwork needs much to be desired and his bowling has disappeared. Shoaib Malik is also suspect in the middle order and Inzimam's record does not say much about his chances too. So once again Pakistan would have to rely on makeshifts like Yasir Hameed and the two Y'S. So it seems to be too soon to think about the world cup. This matter would be automatically decided after the SA tour depending on fitness and form.

  • Murtz on December 8, 2006, 13:22 GMT

    people are talking about fielding in that case why isnt imran nazir in the squad cos he is the best fielder in pakistan!

    imran farhat is the best left hand opener, it is SALMAN BUTT (not a good fielder, i knw) who they should be getting, i think they should open with BUTT and AKMAL with shoaib malik coming in at number 3.

    YOUNIS needs to come in at 6 just incase things dont go rite at the top he can steady the ship followed by AFRIDI.

    RAZZAQ i am not too sure about but with the pitches in the carribean suiting seamers i will include him and give him benifit of doubt.

    Then the 3 main bowlers will have to be SHOAIB, ASIF and SHABIR!

    GUL can be used to rotate and give one of them a rest. whereas AFRIDI and AKMAL position can be swapped at anytime to give shock to opposition. AFRIDI needs to be in squad as he can change the way of a game very easily and him and malik should be the spinning options as afridi is good at breakin partnerships.

  • Jawad Jamil on December 8, 2006, 12:50 GMT

    Based on current form i dont think Sami or Rana or Rao Iftikhar deserve to be there. We havent tried Yasir Hameed or Salman Butt for sometime now, so i dont think if bringing them in now would be a good idea. With Faisal Iqbal, i couldnt recall of a better middle order batsman other than him, and he has risen to a couple of occasions when given chance.

    Hafeez seems so be in good form, and will hopefully Insha ALlah get better with current and SA series. Shoaib Malik is being brought too down the order thus wasted. He has opened and performed domestically, therefore i guess he'll work on that second opener slot. Younis, Yousuf and Inzi are team's cornerstone, but i do feel Yousuf should be vice cap. Younis hasnt proved his skills when mattered in absence of Inzi. Afridi should be there, and on a fix batting position... i do feel Insha Allah he'll highlight the world cup with some big hitting. Plus we do need a reply for Gilchrist, Dhoni & Co. with some big hitter, though i do accept he is not that effective all the time.Stll worth a risk. Kamran will get better, and basically no one to replace him, moin cant play at this stage. If any movement has to be made in squad of bringing in reserves, i think the player who should be shuffled is Razzak. Not in best of form, but can click any time. Plus handy as extra allrounder. Shoaib, Asif lucky to come out of tht shit. I hope they'll get a chance to focus on cricket now, except for ICC and WADA crap(wada is a useless inconsistent organisation). The three prong attack will work on WI pitches. Currently Aussies are equally followed by WI, SA and PAK at number 2 position. But one shouldnt forget SL and India, and forever dark horses NZ.

    Thanks to Kamran for his good blogs, and Javed Khan for his good contributions, way to go! Euceph, thanks for contributing, but u spill poison all time, like a film critic who would never succeed at making one himself.

  • Qasim on December 8, 2006, 12:30 GMT

    I think 9 of the current players will make it into the world cup squad.

    Hafees and Farhat both don't have what it takes to retain their position in the team, although Hafees may make it due to his fielding.

    I don't know why people are so obsessed with Shahid Afridi being in the team, even though he is strugling for form against week domestic bowlers.

    I agree and recognise what he can do to bowlers when in form... we've seen that he can humiliate legends like McGrath and Warne in their home country but it would be unfair to Afridi himself if PCB has continued to play him against the West Indies because, if they can trouble the likes of Inzi and Khan with their seam bowling, an out of form Afridi would only have lost more confidence.

    And I don't understand why people want want him to go to SA tour.. he won't last long against the form that Pollock and co are in at the moment. The likes of Sachin, Laxman and other Indian batsmen haven't yet found an answer to their bowling.

    Afridi should be in the team but it should only be if he performs at domestic leven and show he deserves to be in the team because of form, runs and not because of his name!!!!!!!

    Besides, if he is to play then Razzak, would need to be out of the team as it would be stupid to replace Malik, out second highest run scorer in ODI for two years!!!

    Try out Taufeeq Umar and Hameed for gudness sakes!!!!!!!!!! They both time the ball well and have good techniques.

    I'll be honest, I agree with most of the analasys Euceph made about out current players......

  • Faisal Riaz on December 8, 2006, 9:13 GMT

    the world cup is about 3/4 months away why does every1 always start talking about the world so long b4 it evens starts the we're going in pakistan cricket you dont kno whats gona happen tomorrow, so i would really be looking that far forwardwe should first complete the series against west indies and then south africa and once we have completes those then we should look forward to the world and if nothing else happens (inshallah it wont) i think we have a string enough batting line up with inzi yousaf and younis to face any bowling attack on the day, and hopefully asif and shoib will also be back and playing i dont see any reason why we cant beat any1 in the world, but first of all i think we should concentrate on our near future too many times we have done this looking too far ahead, e.g the home series against india 3 years which we lost we had some very experiances players avaialable but we neva selected and made an excuse we're building the team for the future what else could have been more important then that series come on ppl lets think about now first

  • JAVED A. KHAN, MONTREAL, CANADA on December 8, 2006, 3:10 GMT

    SARMAD.... I agree with your views to a certain extent that, yes Afridi should have applied brakes to slog every ball he faced and he needs to grow up or get matured in cricketing terms. But, to drop him at this critical juncture is like ruining the career of one of the most talented cricketer Pakistan has ever produced.

    In any case I do not agree to Farhat's inclusion in the playing 11 especially for the world cup. You cannot justify that Farhat would be more useful than Afridi. No way, also you cannot compare Farhat, Taufeeq Umar, Salman Butt, Yasir Hameed or even Imran Nazeer with Afridi !

    If you say Afridi has never learnt from his past mistakes, Farhat too has never learnt from his past mistakes, he keeps slashing and cutting at every second ball he faces and getting out in the same fashion. Just a couple of recent 70's in the test match doesn't justify his place.

    If you talk about form, Akmal's form as a batsman and as a wicket keeper is pathetic for the last one year. He is playing because we have no other tested wicket keeper. I hope he gets back into his stride and start scoring big. Apart from Mohammad Yousuf, no one in the team is in form. Just talk about class. Even Tendulkar is not in form, Sehwag's form in test, ODI's and even in first class matches is pathetic.So lets not talk about form. Usually good players play a big innings when it matters and in the Caribbean Afridi has got a good track record.

    If you look at Afridi's 4800 odd runs in ODI's and 193 wickets, is no small achievement and you agree he is above average fielder, any time better than Farhat who always drops a crucial catch in every game. Afridi definitely deserves a place over Farhat.

  • Taimur Huk on December 8, 2006, 2:58 GMT

    shahid afridi being dropped from the squad should serve as a good lesson for afridi himself. he needs to realize that he cant just the ball aggressively on every ball. he is no longer a new player; he is a senior player now and needs to play more responsibly. he needs to learn how to play on different kinds of pithces and how to play different kinds of balls. i hope his exclusion from the squad should teach him a lesson and the next time around, he will play more sensibly and deliver consistently good performances.

  • Euceph Ahmed on December 8, 2006, 2:17 GMT

    Someone here truly believes that this bunch of small change players can win us the world cup!!! Let's analyze a bit:

    1- Farhat: Inherent technical flaws. Confused between Saeed Anwar and Guns 'N Roses.

    2- Hafeez: A player with no personality and a nothing body language. Bad one-day batting temperament. Does not have the ability to quickly read the situation and adjust accordingly

    3- Younus: letting his ego get the better of him. Questionable committment.

    4- Yousuf: will win a couple of matches but doesn't have what it takes to win the tournament

    5- Inzamam: Apart from using religion to lead, does not have the ability to invigorate and motivate the players. Lacks vision and personality which is required of a true leader.

    Malik: The shadow of Inzamam, Yousuf, and Younus is too big for this potential future captain to shine in this tournament. Could still turn out to be the Inzamam of 1992.

    Razzaq: truly a used "kaartoos"

    Akmal: Bad wicketkeeper, bad batsman. Doesn't have 25% of Moin Khan.

    Akhtar: This rotten apple has the potential to screw up whatever chances Pakistan might have on the field and off the field.

    Gul: Great bowler but cannot do it single-handedly.

    Asif: Remains to be seen how he performs with a tainted reputation so early on in his career. I have been watching his action closely too, and I must confess I have my doubts about some of his deliveries.

    Afridi: I honestly do not think that he can overcome his mental flaws. He should file for early retirement and showboat his talent for hitting sixes off the bowling of Kamran Abbasi !!!

    So here it is guys. You decide.

  • Sarmad on December 7, 2006, 23:05 GMT

    First a word about Afridi. Its about time we lay him to rest and stop treating him like some innocent victim of an oppressive fascist regime. Afridi has been given more than his share of chances to prove his worth and the only thing he has proved is that he is worthless. Someone here said he has class???!!! Throwing everything at every ball regardless of conditions or situation doesnt constitute class. His bowling is steady at best and his fielding perhaps above average. Yes he is good at shreading mediocre bowlers like some 30 year old kiwi offspinner or some sterile Indian medium pacer but once in 5 or 6 innings. If I was Imran Nazeer or Taufiq Umar or Yasir Hameed, I would have sued PCB by now. Afridi just can't get out of his self-created shell of irresponsibiliy. Guys like Jayasurya also dispatched many a bowler out of the park but soon realized they couldnt do it for ever, so they toned their aggression down, improved their techniques and the results are there for all to see. Afridi however, still thinks he is that 16 year old sent out to slog a few on the savanna. Yes, he was moved around the order and he should be thankful to the coach for that as in any professional team, you get dropped from the team for being so consistently inconsistent rather than getting dropped down the order.

    The apparent return of Asif and Shoaib has certainly improved Pakistan's chances many fold. However the Cup is still a long shot, as you have to beat the aussies and the south africans en route and we will struggle to uproot them even at our unpredictible best. A Semi-Final berth would be a decent performance considering the current amount of talent and experience in the team. My team for the finals: Farhat, Hafeez, Yousaf, Younis, Inzimam, Malik, Razaaq, Akmal, Akhtar, Gul, Asif. Reserves: Rana, Rao, Hameed, Iqbal, Abdul Rehman.

  • sabika on December 7, 2006, 22:56 GMT

    who cares australia will win again

  • Ashaq on December 7, 2006, 20:04 GMT

    I think ultimately the Worldcup hinges on the ability off players too work together as unit.Onus too set aside there egos and put the team first.Team spirit is essential .I think Shoaib akhtar is incapable off displaying a professional attitude.I believe his past record shows that he is a leopard who wont change his spots.As for those who say we need people who are entertainers.I think we need 11 players who are committed professionals in the same mold as Muhammad yusuf and Umar guL,if we are too take the mantle from aussies and dominate cricket for years too come.Or we can continue as we have With a side full off playboys,controversy, and inconsistancy,but one who is entartaining.The choice is simple.Do we rather have a side full offf boring personalitys who are capable off domionating world cricket .Or one that is full off coulourful characters such as Afridi and Akhtar I think we the fans want our cake and eat it too.The phrase repeated consistently on this blog in defense of Akhtar ,Afridi and other prima donnas is that we need them because they are entertainers there behaviour and poor form are considered too be irrelevant.The worldcup will ultimately be won by Australia or South Africa because off there professionalism I would for the same reasons have the Kiwis as the dark horses.AS for the pakistan they will come home empty handed,but offcourse that doesnt matter as long as they are entertaining and provide the most controversy.PLEASE!!!!! As for Nasim Ashraf he makes Shariyar Khan look like a saint and bastion off wisdom.

  • Sami S. from Toronto, Canada on December 7, 2006, 19:34 GMT

    Hello and Salam to all Pakistani Cricket lovers!!!

    World Cup Campaign points: 1. There is a squad of 14 players for WC. This squad should be picked now or asap. The squad should learn to play together and form some sort of team spirit. This squad should be full and final so there are no changes (injuries excluded). This will give the squad match practise, strategies will be alligned and uniform throughout the team, build team spirit and chemistry. 2. Younis Khan although not a great ODI player should be included because he has immense talents that he displays at crucial junctures such as WC. He gives experience and motivation to the players and thats all part of building team chemistry and strategy. He will come good for sure cause unlike younger players he'll be able to handle the pressure. 3. Inzamam, Afridi, Mohammad Asif are key players in the WC in my opinion. Inzamam because of what he displayed in the Second ODI, batting throughout even with the tail to win the match. Afridi because he rises to the occasion and is a match winner in big matches. WC is one of those occasions. And for all that disagree, you know that he has single handedly won ODIs for us (100 against India 45 balls) and even in TESTs. Afridi didn't perform only because he constantly gets shifted around like he is Pakistan's last hope to win the match. He is either there to give a jump start or the last stride to win the match. Not 3,4,5 positions. Lastly Asif because he offers control. When he bowls he takes control of the innings. He takes the control away from the opposition. Exceptional bowler. I would have included Shoaib Akhter in this but you know as well as I do, he doesn't perform in big games. He can't take the pressure, instead the pressure takes him over. Although he might prove otherwise because ultimately I'm a big fan of his too and wish him the best. But facts are facts. 4. I believe consistency is key. Players should be given as much time as possible to settle into their roles before the WC, wheather we the fans agree or not. It's like a business, no one can just walk in and know what to do. They'll fail unless they have been trained for the occasion. 6. I do agree that we don't need to many bits and pieces players. Either Afridi should be played or Razzaq, both can't play. The squad can't take both of them because Shoaib Malik is more consistent batsman than both of them and can be depended on. Razzaq should be reserve since we have 3 specialist pacers. Asif, Akhtar and Gul.

    THANK YOU, SAMI

  • JAVED A. KHAN on December 7, 2006, 17:42 GMT

    Mr. Arif Rashid, yes I was referring to your post and thank you for not reading my entire post ;-) You have confirmed something which a friend of mine told me the other day from Toronto. He said, 'oh I saw your post in that cricket blog, but I didn't read it....then he went on, actually I don't read anyone's post, not even Kamran Abbassi's article.... I am interested only in checking if mine is there or not?' I asked him, if you don't read what Kamran Abbassi has written then what do you write? The reply was; when I see the caption, I know what Kamran is writing about so based on that I write my views. ' Very interesting! I guess many people do that, but he was honest in telling me what he does.

    Anyways, I have read your second post too and I want to ask you a question. Are you one of the PCB Selectors? How can you be so sure that Afridi will be in SA for sure? :-)

    The second ODI result confirms the vulnerability of our openers, which resulted in panic, Akmal was promoted to number 3 and he did not survive long enough. In the absense of magical MOYO the way everyone else batted was very pathetic, i.e., including Razzaq with whom some people have high hopes, luckily Inzi survived and we got through.

    Now, there will be more experiments and more failures. Experiments are not done on the basis of one match result. Especially that of the openers. First you select the openers on the basis of their class and not on their form. Then you tell them you would be playing in this position for the next ten matches. Not that you fail in one match as an opener, in the next match you play 7 down and you don't perform well, you are out of the team. You have to develop the confidence in them by giving them the assurance that they will still be playing the entire series, it is the duty of the Coach and the Captain to sit down with that player and talk to him in detail and help him out. A player who is selected for a National Team and who has produced results in the past, cannot be an ordinary player. You have to treat him with respect and honour him for the talents he possess.

    With the return of Asif and Shoaib, Rana Naveed should be retired. Considering his age, he is a late inclusion in the team, one or two good performances against India doesn't make him a class player. Pakistan has lost more matches because of him. He he not a good bowler and he is one of the worst fielders. Give Yasser Afarat the same number of chances and he will perform better, he is young and he is good with the bat and the ball. So, I take your word that Shahid Afridi will definitely be in SA and they will keep him on the side lines? right? :-)

  • 0mar Hussain on December 7, 2006, 16:53 GMT

    I think this team is very talented but why not use the one-dayers against w.indies to blood some new players in place of stalwarts like razaq and malik who are visibly showing signs of being tired.therse is no harm in bringing back yasir hameed,hassan raza or the new one shaid yousuf.also let us see more of that talented yasir arfat.i believe inzamam's sunset is nearing and we should groom someone to fill his place.and let us not forget afridi,surely he should play in the next odi as well as our fast bowlers duo now they are acquitted.

  • Qasim on December 7, 2006, 16:25 GMT

    Hi all,

    I wouldn't get my hopes up about the world cup. Pakistan has too many problems with the players at their display for selection.

    If you reaslistically look at the team, they won't last long in the team. Pakistan needs five specialist batsmen and three specialist bowlers to win the world cup.

    Pakistan only has three specialist batsmen in Inzi, Yousuf and Younis (Younis doesn't even deserve to be in the squad but he's all we've got). I don't think Farhat or even Hafees are decent enough openers for the world cup but Hafees can be selected because of his fielding and bowling. Farhat needs to be droped and a specialist opener like Hameed or Taufeeq Umar needs to be tried.

    Openers being Hameed and Hafees, would be a good combination because they are both very good fierlders aswell. Farhat drops too many cathces and in an ODI, that can be the difference between winning and loosing.

    I think Malik needs to be utalised at number three where he plays best because Younis khan has showen a pathetic display of batting and shot selection at three.

    Three specialist bowlers (Akhtar, Asif and Gul) with the support of Razzak, Hafees and Malik would be a very decent and balanced bowling attack.

    With Hafees, Malik and Hameed, Pakistan would be a very good fielding side aswell. I don't think Afridi deserves to be in the team, he hasn't done anything of late and is in a very poor form even in the domestic cricket.

    For Pakistan to win the world cup or even do well in it, it needs to utalise Hafees, Malik and Razzak with batting, bowling and in Hafees and Malik's case, fielding aswell. The so called bits and pieces are a very important part of Pakistani team.

    I feel for Malik because he is the second highest run scorer after Inzi for almost two years now and he is called bits and pieces. He averages 44 at number three, around 56 at four and 40 at five yet he is batting at 6 where is not doing well just because Imran Khan thinks that the best batsmen of the team should bat higher up at 3. Someone tell him, Younis averages 28 at three and besides, with the likes of Inzi and Yousuf around, Younis doesn't even come anywhere close to being the best.

    I hope Pakistan stop waisting time with Rana, Sami, Farhat (who gets his chance just because he is a left hand opener and nothing like the awesome Saeed Anwar) and Afridi.

    PCB needs to concentrate on 4 core specialist batsmen, three genuin bowlers and three versatile allrounders one keeper and thats the recipe for winning....

    Poeple would argue to have a genuin spinner in the side, like Rehman who has done well in the first ODI or Kaneria. But Hafees is a very good spinner who is not used as much as he should be. Malik is also a very good middle overs spinner who after all replaced the offspinning wizard like Saqlain Mushtaq, obviously not as gifted as Saqlain but none the less very talented and am sure he can get the job done, after all.. he has never let us down before, no matter what PCB has asked him to do. If Hafees and Malik can togather bowl ten overs then they are a far better option then a spiner who can bowl 10 overs and score nothing.

  • anees on December 7, 2006, 16:20 GMT

    Pakistan will never win the world cup if imran farhat is opening, time and time again slash-edge to slips its time to move on, have afridi open because the field is not spread out and he can play his shots, they should stop giving afridi excuses, just give him no.2 spot full stop.

  • ali on December 7, 2006, 16:15 GMT

    if afridi plays and pakistan plays 3 frontline bowlers asif, shoaib, and gul backed up by rana, sami, rao, and rehman. pakistan can only play one official opener. meaning either malik, afridi, or akmal will have to open.

  • Amyn Habib on December 7, 2006, 15:53 GMT

    You need to have some objective criteria for player selection. There are those who claim that past performance (statistics!) are not important. But how then will you select players? Based on your gut feeling? Or by getting blessings from Imran Khan??? The supporters of Afridi think that he is so magical that he cannot be judged by ordinary criteria—like his recent performance. While others (like me) think that Afridi’s exclusion is not surprising. What is surprising is that this perpetual loser is still around, year after year. The exclusion of Shahid Afridi from the team is completely justified based not only on his recent record with many opportunities and repeated failures, but his overall record, which is one of consistent underperformance. I agree with Javed Khan that little will be accomplished by Afridi playing in domestic cricket. He has proven that he cannot learn from his mistakes. But he will be in the World Cup team. As long as there is breath in Wasim Bari’s body, he will find a way to get Afridi back in the team. This team even with Shoaib and Asif is quite weak, especially in batting and needs specialist batsmen. If Afridi’s previous performance in world cups is any indication, Afridi’s inclusion will be Pakistan Cricket’s big loss. And don’t say that because we have other underperforming players, we should keep him too. Get rid of everyone who does not perform!

  • Ghalib Taimur on December 7, 2006, 14:58 GMT

    Congrats on Pakistan winning tense game against West Indies.The doubt of Inzimam being left out of the world cup should be out of peoples minds as he proved how important experience is with his well crafted inning.

    The inclusion of Shoaib and Asif is great for Pakistan.You can say we effectively have one of the best pace attacks in the world.Add to that the likes of Kaneria and AbdulRehman who should be a handful on West Indian pitches.

    On the bits and pices players issue i think the likes of Razzaq,Afridi and Malik would be useful in West Indies as the grounds are small and good for batting and people like Razzaq and Afridi can propel the scoring highly provided the conditions are good for batting.However some of these players will have to be sacrificed for the specialists.

    The only issue now is the opening pair and the fielding if this is sorted Pakistan i would say are top contenders for the cup.Lets also hope Pakistan put up a good performance in South Africa.That will be a test of skill.

  • Arif Rashid on December 7, 2006, 14:41 GMT

    I have not read your entire post JAVED A. KHAN of MONTREAL, CANADA, but I assume you were referring to my post. I think razzaq should have been dropped as well based on form, letting Samiullah Niazi ( i think that's his name) play. However, for Afridi the message must be clear: we won't put up with your half-minded play, which is honestly what he does. If he ever took an over or two to play himself in, he would be much more productive. He and his retiring from test antics are not helpful to Pakistan. I think similar messages were given to Shoaib and he had shown some change (for a good duration atleast). I think this is a drop just to give him a message (he is no even in form anyway). He will be in SA for sure.

  • Chacha Koora Kircut on December 7, 2006, 13:35 GMT

    Do you honestly think that a bunch of glorified club cricketers and sloggers like Farhat, Hafeez and Afridi can win Pakistan the world cup? I cannot see this current crop competing against the likes of battle hardened players like Hussey and Lee.

    Remember the hype before the last world cup. A last hurrah from Akram, Younis & Co. The end result was all too familiar.

    Pakistan's domestic circuit is not cultivating talent properly, why else would we then have jokers in the team like Farhat, Hafeez, Faisal Iqbal, Afridi.

    Pakistan won the 1992 world cup on one man's leadership ability, his unique ability to gel a side together and bring the best in them. With egotistical bid heads like Shoaib in the team one cannot hope for a united cricket team able to challenge the very best in the world.

  • Shahbaz Faheem on December 7, 2006, 7:15 GMT

    Well. I feel there is still a problem with Pakistan team which needs to be addressed: Too many bits & pieces players. Get specialist for the job. and I would say Younis Khan is not a One day player (His statistics says it all) He doesn't fit into one day squad.

  • Nuruddin Lakhani on December 7, 2006, 7:00 GMT

    Although 2006 clearly belonged to Mohammad Yousuf, the efforts of Umar Gul may have been missed by quite a few people. 32 wickets in 7 Test matches in 6 months including 16 in 3 Tests on dead wickets at home is an exceptional display of pace bowling. Gul has elevated himself to an automatic choice into the playing eleven in 2006. The return of Shoaib and Asif brings a new life into the team's preparation for the World Cup but I have doubts about Shoaib's fitness and it would be unlikely that he will be able to play all the games.

    Although Mohammad Hafeez has proved himself worthy as an opener in the recent home series, the South Africa series might test his strength. If he does well, it will boost his confidence otherwise we will be looking for opening combinations right before the World Cup begins.

  • JAVED A. KHAN, MONTREAL, CANADA on December 7, 2006, 5:30 GMT

    DROP AFRIDI and hope Razzaq to find form? What an analogy. I think leaving Afridi behind for the SA tour would be the biggest mistake Pakistan selectors would make. But, then PCB, is PCB they have done many unexpected things they can do the expected and surprize no one.

    Imran Farhat and Hafeez were OK against the mediocre and inexperienced West Indies fast bowlers. A couple of 50+ opening partnerships does not mean we have solved this opening corundum. However, by saying this I don't mean to undermine their efforts and take the credit away from them, but at the same time in ODI's Afridi would be a better choice than Farhat because he can also bowl and is a better fielder than Farhat who always drop a crucial catch or two (except those 2 on silly mid-on) at close range in the last test match.

    The point is if you drop Afridi for the SA tour then one shouldn't expect him to be in the World Cup too, especially if Pakistn plays exceptionally well in SA and win the series, which is not likely especially since. India has been smashed and mauled by Kallis - Tabarnak et all.

    The only hope in SA would be our bowlers i.e., Shoaib and Asif, but it is to be seen how they would perform after this set back and lack of match practice.Thats only a dim hope to remain optimistic. Like Leo Tolstoy said, '"We are all living in a gutter, but some people are gazing at the stars and that is HOPE."

    We have already seen how lack of match practice can effect the performance of great players like Inzamam's with his recent poor show and Tendulkar's continuous failure after his injury and Laxman's first ball duck in SA. Now, Ganguly's fate is at the brink of his career and if he fails, he is doomed!

    Therefore, the team selection for Pakistan for the SA tour is extremely important as you can take only 14 players in the squad or may be you can have one for the test and one for ODI's. But, I am not sure how many players you are allowed to take with you or to be replaced.

    In any case the same question keeps cropping up. Are they going to include Shahid Afridi in the SA tour? I don't think there are any domestic matches to be played b4 the team leaves for SA, so the suggestion of Afridi proving his worth in domestic tournaments is not valid.

    Shahid Afridi's class is more important than his form. The main reason for his poor performance is due to the sense of insecurity created in his mind by the selectors, captain and coach.

    Younis Khan, by virtue of his designation of V.C. has become an automatic choice in the playing 11 and more because of the traditional backing from God Father Imran Khan. He has this habit of sponsoring and backing someone with authority. One spoiled case is Mohammad Sami and the other is Younis Khan. I must say that Younis is really lucky 'coz after continuous failures when they seriously think of giving him a rest, he comes up with a big hundred or a fifty.

    I think Shahid Afridi must be advised to go and visit Imran Khan only to pay respects to him and get his blessings, so that he can talk about by Imran Khan in his next TV show or may be he will write about Afridi's talents in his column. Knowing Shahid Afridi, he would never do that.

    Anyways, its up to the selectors to decide we can do nothing here except to air our views and vent out our feelings, courtesy Kamran Abbassi :-)

  • §unny on December 7, 2006, 5:28 GMT

    Lrts hope for the best. But for me the big question mark is on inclusion of Shoaib and Asif in WC2007. PCB Chairman has clearly said that the effect of nandroline will last for about 6 months. If in World cup ICC randomly pick these 2 players and then if their tests come +ve, they\'ll be in BIG TROUBLE

  • Suhaib Jalis Ahmed on December 7, 2006, 3:38 GMT

    I think it is great that things have shaped up brilliantly, especially if you consider the crises Pakistan Cricket went through. I still feel that the openeing is a bit dodgy. You cannot call an openeing partnership is solid just becuase one of them hits the odd century. Ifeel that Hafeez and Farhat still have to learn to stay on the pitch together. They will have to learn to give good first-wicket partnerships.

    I would just like to "comment on the comments" that some people gave to your last column. I dont think that the PCB should be given any credit for the decision. They had nothing to do with it (officially). The judgement took into consideration the discrepancies that the PCB had while testing. I feel that a ban of 3 months was in order. The PCB has to pick up its act. Not following regulations while testing is quite a crime.

  • Muhammad Usman Aslam on December 7, 2006, 2:49 GMT

    Wow.. how exciting has this pakistan campaign become after the expected inclusion of Shoaib Akhtar and Muhammad Asif into the squad.

    i just hope that all these players remain fit and eventually afridi and some others come back into some fine form. That shouldnt really be much of a problem as the West indian tracks are suitable for batting and the conditions are pretty much like the south asian dry conditions.

    Lets hope, fingers crossed that something materializes progressively for Pakistan cricket.

    Go the green and white !!

  • Taimur Huk on December 7, 2006, 0:25 GMT

    the 2007 world cup is not far from today so i hope pakistan will be prepared. this one-day series against the west indies will show where pakistan stands as a one-day team. with shoaib akhtar and mohammad asif back, pakistan's bowling attack will be given a huge boost. if pakistan can defeat a team like the west indies, then i like their chances in the world cup.

  • Arif Rashid on December 7, 2006, 0:12 GMT

    I think all is well, even if afridi is dropped right now. All he has to do is find form domestically and space will be made for him. If only Razzaq finds his form, they we would have a really good team.

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  • Arif Rashid on December 7, 2006, 0:12 GMT

    I think all is well, even if afridi is dropped right now. All he has to do is find form domestically and space will be made for him. If only Razzaq finds his form, they we would have a really good team.

  • Taimur Huk on December 7, 2006, 0:25 GMT

    the 2007 world cup is not far from today so i hope pakistan will be prepared. this one-day series against the west indies will show where pakistan stands as a one-day team. with shoaib akhtar and mohammad asif back, pakistan's bowling attack will be given a huge boost. if pakistan can defeat a team like the west indies, then i like their chances in the world cup.

  • Muhammad Usman Aslam on December 7, 2006, 2:49 GMT

    Wow.. how exciting has this pakistan campaign become after the expected inclusion of Shoaib Akhtar and Muhammad Asif into the squad.

    i just hope that all these players remain fit and eventually afridi and some others come back into some fine form. That shouldnt really be much of a problem as the West indian tracks are suitable for batting and the conditions are pretty much like the south asian dry conditions.

    Lets hope, fingers crossed that something materializes progressively for Pakistan cricket.

    Go the green and white !!

  • Suhaib Jalis Ahmed on December 7, 2006, 3:38 GMT

    I think it is great that things have shaped up brilliantly, especially if you consider the crises Pakistan Cricket went through. I still feel that the openeing is a bit dodgy. You cannot call an openeing partnership is solid just becuase one of them hits the odd century. Ifeel that Hafeez and Farhat still have to learn to stay on the pitch together. They will have to learn to give good first-wicket partnerships.

    I would just like to "comment on the comments" that some people gave to your last column. I dont think that the PCB should be given any credit for the decision. They had nothing to do with it (officially). The judgement took into consideration the discrepancies that the PCB had while testing. I feel that a ban of 3 months was in order. The PCB has to pick up its act. Not following regulations while testing is quite a crime.

  • §unny on December 7, 2006, 5:28 GMT

    Lrts hope for the best. But for me the big question mark is on inclusion of Shoaib and Asif in WC2007. PCB Chairman has clearly said that the effect of nandroline will last for about 6 months. If in World cup ICC randomly pick these 2 players and then if their tests come +ve, they\'ll be in BIG TROUBLE

  • JAVED A. KHAN, MONTREAL, CANADA on December 7, 2006, 5:30 GMT

    DROP AFRIDI and hope Razzaq to find form? What an analogy. I think leaving Afridi behind for the SA tour would be the biggest mistake Pakistan selectors would make. But, then PCB, is PCB they have done many unexpected things they can do the expected and surprize no one.

    Imran Farhat and Hafeez were OK against the mediocre and inexperienced West Indies fast bowlers. A couple of 50+ opening partnerships does not mean we have solved this opening corundum. However, by saying this I don't mean to undermine their efforts and take the credit away from them, but at the same time in ODI's Afridi would be a better choice than Farhat because he can also bowl and is a better fielder than Farhat who always drop a crucial catch or two (except those 2 on silly mid-on) at close range in the last test match.

    The point is if you drop Afridi for the SA tour then one shouldn't expect him to be in the World Cup too, especially if Pakistn plays exceptionally well in SA and win the series, which is not likely especially since. India has been smashed and mauled by Kallis - Tabarnak et all.

    The only hope in SA would be our bowlers i.e., Shoaib and Asif, but it is to be seen how they would perform after this set back and lack of match practice.Thats only a dim hope to remain optimistic. Like Leo Tolstoy said, '"We are all living in a gutter, but some people are gazing at the stars and that is HOPE."

    We have already seen how lack of match practice can effect the performance of great players like Inzamam's with his recent poor show and Tendulkar's continuous failure after his injury and Laxman's first ball duck in SA. Now, Ganguly's fate is at the brink of his career and if he fails, he is doomed!

    Therefore, the team selection for Pakistan for the SA tour is extremely important as you can take only 14 players in the squad or may be you can have one for the test and one for ODI's. But, I am not sure how many players you are allowed to take with you or to be replaced.

    In any case the same question keeps cropping up. Are they going to include Shahid Afridi in the SA tour? I don't think there are any domestic matches to be played b4 the team leaves for SA, so the suggestion of Afridi proving his worth in domestic tournaments is not valid.

    Shahid Afridi's class is more important than his form. The main reason for his poor performance is due to the sense of insecurity created in his mind by the selectors, captain and coach.

    Younis Khan, by virtue of his designation of V.C. has become an automatic choice in the playing 11 and more because of the traditional backing from God Father Imran Khan. He has this habit of sponsoring and backing someone with authority. One spoiled case is Mohammad Sami and the other is Younis Khan. I must say that Younis is really lucky 'coz after continuous failures when they seriously think of giving him a rest, he comes up with a big hundred or a fifty.

    I think Shahid Afridi must be advised to go and visit Imran Khan only to pay respects to him and get his blessings, so that he can talk about by Imran Khan in his next TV show or may be he will write about Afridi's talents in his column. Knowing Shahid Afridi, he would never do that.

    Anyways, its up to the selectors to decide we can do nothing here except to air our views and vent out our feelings, courtesy Kamran Abbassi :-)

  • Nuruddin Lakhani on December 7, 2006, 7:00 GMT

    Although 2006 clearly belonged to Mohammad Yousuf, the efforts of Umar Gul may have been missed by quite a few people. 32 wickets in 7 Test matches in 6 months including 16 in 3 Tests on dead wickets at home is an exceptional display of pace bowling. Gul has elevated himself to an automatic choice into the playing eleven in 2006. The return of Shoaib and Asif brings a new life into the team's preparation for the World Cup but I have doubts about Shoaib's fitness and it would be unlikely that he will be able to play all the games.

    Although Mohammad Hafeez has proved himself worthy as an opener in the recent home series, the South Africa series might test his strength. If he does well, it will boost his confidence otherwise we will be looking for opening combinations right before the World Cup begins.

  • Shahbaz Faheem on December 7, 2006, 7:15 GMT

    Well. I feel there is still a problem with Pakistan team which needs to be addressed: Too many bits & pieces players. Get specialist for the job. and I would say Younis Khan is not a One day player (His statistics says it all) He doesn't fit into one day squad.

  • Chacha Koora Kircut on December 7, 2006, 13:35 GMT

    Do you honestly think that a bunch of glorified club cricketers and sloggers like Farhat, Hafeez and Afridi can win Pakistan the world cup? I cannot see this current crop competing against the likes of battle hardened players like Hussey and Lee.

    Remember the hype before the last world cup. A last hurrah from Akram, Younis & Co. The end result was all too familiar.

    Pakistan's domestic circuit is not cultivating talent properly, why else would we then have jokers in the team like Farhat, Hafeez, Faisal Iqbal, Afridi.

    Pakistan won the 1992 world cup on one man's leadership ability, his unique ability to gel a side together and bring the best in them. With egotistical bid heads like Shoaib in the team one cannot hope for a united cricket team able to challenge the very best in the world.

  • Arif Rashid on December 7, 2006, 14:41 GMT

    I have not read your entire post JAVED A. KHAN of MONTREAL, CANADA, but I assume you were referring to my post. I think razzaq should have been dropped as well based on form, letting Samiullah Niazi ( i think that's his name) play. However, for Afridi the message must be clear: we won't put up with your half-minded play, which is honestly what he does. If he ever took an over or two to play himself in, he would be much more productive. He and his retiring from test antics are not helpful to Pakistan. I think similar messages were given to Shoaib and he had shown some change (for a good duration atleast). I think this is a drop just to give him a message (he is no even in form anyway). He will be in SA for sure.