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December 11, 2006

Middle order

Pakistan's virgin middle-order

Kamran Abbasi
Yasir Hameed drives during his 41, West Indies v Pakistan, 3rd ODI, St Lucia
 © AFP
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It might have seemed unthinkable that Pakistan would be without any of their holy middle-order but it will happen in Multan. Injury, illness, and bereavement have conspired to rob Pakistan of Inzamam-ul Haq, Mohammad Yousuf, and Younis Khan. While those three should rest assured about their World Cup chances, the situation has started to hot up for anybody below them in the pecking order--and that means everybody.

The fourth one-dayer will be an expedition into virgin territory for Pakistan, which explains why Shoaib Akhtar is nowehere to be seen. Shorn of their Titans, Pakistan will showcase a new middle-order and a new captain.

On the captaincy front, Abdul Razzaq appears to be the next in line by dint of hierarchy and his momentary elevation to the vice-captaincy prior to the Champions Trophy. Some observers question Razzaq's place in the team but there should be no doubt about Razzaq's value as a giant-hitting middle-order batsman and a safe but unspectacular bowler in one-day cricket; it's in Test cricket that Razzaq's place is in serious danger. Yet there has been scant evidence of Razzaq's ability as a captain. The other obvious contender would be Shoaib Malik, and there was once talk of Afridi as a future captain.

The performance of Pakistan's middle-order will be the most fascinating aspect of the fourth one-dayer. Yasir Hameed deserves an opportunity and might make an ideal number three. The logic of Faisal Iqbal's selection is that he would play too. And I would slot in Afridi in place of Rao Iftikhar.

With their players on form Pakistan have mind-boggling options but when those same players misfire it can all look a desperate shambles. Any match without Inzamam, Yousuf, and Younis will be a real test for Pakistan's young team. Who will seize the opportunity to show some leadership?

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

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Posted by Khan Khalil on (December 15, 2006, 19:23 GMT)

I think we should now days talk only about formation of team in world cup. If we will start from openers, they are always problem for pakistan and its never strenght of pakistan so i think now days opening with hafeez and Imran is fine. Then we have very strong middle orders with younus, yousuf and inzi. Our bowling attack is also very good and further strengtned with return of Asif, Athtar and Shabbir Ahmad. And also Rana, Umar gul and shahid nazir they are good bowler. So bowling is no worry. The only worry is our lower order which is lacking form and consistancy. Our teams real strenght from years is lower order. Razzaq, Shoaib Malik, Afridi, Akmal these allrounders must pick their self up in both departments and improve thier batting and bowling. they all are full of abilities and they must show thier form in world cup. If they will use thier brain and pick thier abilities up, then our team can be a real chellange in this coming world cup.

Posted by Ans Mahmood on (December 15, 2006, 7:19 GMT)

I believe Afridi should not be sent up the order. He has been around for almost 10 years now. But for the last 2 years, his presence in the team makes more sense to me. Primarily as a bowler but also as a number six or seven batsman who can hit a few boundaries in the last five or six overs. One more thing, selectors have not done justice with Yasir. His batting averages both in Test and ODI speak volume about his batting capabilites.

Posted by Avais Khalid on (December 15, 2006, 0:42 GMT)

This was always going to be an interesting game from Pakistan’s point of view. It was a good test for this young side. As with every scenario there are some positives and some negatives. This game has clearly shown how lack of effective leadership can cause disarray in the ranks. The loss of the match doesn’t matter as long as we learn our lessons from this game and start by eliminating the players who have consistently been inconsistent such as Sami & Iqbal and Afridi who didn’t seem much bothered about the proceedings as has been the case in the recent past. It is by this process of elimination that we’ll be able to pick the best of the best. I believe all these players are very talented but in the end what counts is delivering in each and every way possible, fielding or batting or learning the art (or should I say the science) of leadership.

Posted by Dawar on (December 15, 2006, 0:39 GMT)

Imran & Hafeez are much better than Salman Butt.

Posted by Ajmak on (December 14, 2006, 19:32 GMT)

every one dishin afrid needs a slap, we need afridi, of course sometimes you fell like strangling him, but he is the most talented player in the pakistan team and last year he showed that, with the odi century against india and the test century against westindies. hes legbreaks are very valuable to the side seeing that kaneria wont be used. and instead of razzaq being captain it should be Malik or afridi

Posted by Maliks & baby Tayyab on (December 14, 2006, 16:56 GMT)

They say even a fool is wise after the event.

However,we all know that Afridi's consistant good performances have come from late middle order. So why on earth did he open. Farhat & Hafeez have opened all series and given reasonable starts, why experiment.

It will be a huge shame if afridi is now dropped after one opportunity since his come back

Posted by Mythsmoke on (December 14, 2006, 16:12 GMT)

My only problem is that some of the current young batting 'stars' of this team have made their mark in a two year period playing on flat pitches post the Australian tour. Guys like Shoaib Malik, Imran Farhat (notable failure in Australia, Mohammad Hafeez (dumped from the team the last time south africa toured pakistan and pollock had him as a bunny for the incoming delivery, and even Razzaq (who can forget that 74 ball 8 or 9 that he made in Aus), Faisal Iqbal (notable failure in SA last time)..these guys will struggle in SA. Frankly, I think even Inzamam will struggle, he's old, shufles around and fast bowlers these days prefer to bounce him...maybe yousuf (another notable failure in SA last time) will come through..except, I dont think SA will drop too many chances.

Posted by Natasha on (December 14, 2006, 12:46 GMT)

we just need pakistan team to put their heads toghther and win the match.. like they say a 'closed hand is better as a fist than an open hand...'

Posted by Ghalib Taimur on (December 14, 2006, 8:23 GMT)

I would say get back Aamir Sohail as selector as he could atleast take some bold decisions.

Sometimes i wonder also that Pakistan have got so many players who are one time wonders.How about giving those guys another shot.They might have gained some experience playing for a longer perod domestically.Some names are Misbah-Ul-Haq,Naved Latif,Imran Nazir,Qaiser Abbas...The bowlers list is even longer but we don't at this point have a problem in that department.

Posted by Talha on (December 14, 2006, 7:18 GMT)

In this team Yasir And Asim Kamal Should deserves their places instead of farhat and Afridi

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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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