South Africa January 8, 2007

Will new heroes crown Woolmer's progress?

Pakistan's embarrassment of riches has quickly turned into a poverty of resources
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Pakistan's embarrassment of riches has quickly turned into a poverty of resources. Mohammad Yousuf and Umar Gul were the best batsman and best bowler of 2006, and losing them is a major blow to Pakistan's hopes of winning their first ever series in South Africa. After India almost pulled off a memorable surprise, Pakistan must have been brimming with confidence. Yousuf's loss will be the greater since his phenomenal run of last year earned him the status of Pakistan's most dependable batsman.

Pakistani batsmen have historically struggled in South Africa and this series promises to be a fascinating test of their consistency. Memories of outings at Old Trafford and Mohali will fill Pakistan fans with dread. The pressure will now be on Inzamam to carry the batting and prove his stature with a first successful series in South Africa. A career devoid of achievement in Australia or South Africa will be a career that will not be properly celebrated.

Yousuf's absence--and that of Shoaib Malik--will, however, be an unexpected opportunity for Pakistan's next generation of batsmen, Faisal Iqbal and Yasir Hameed--it is hard to see Asim Kamal nudging his way in front of them. Pakistan's top six suddenly looks light on experience but this is exactly the kind of step that players need to take on the path to a bigger career. As much as anything, it will be a test of character for the younger batsmen, particularly the two openers.

The bowling cover is less bothersome. Gul will be missed but an attack of Mohammad Asif, Rana Naved-ul Hasan, and Shahid Nazir looks the most likely combination, with a toss up between Danish Kaneria and Mohammad Sami for the final spot depending on the pitch. Despite Shoaib's summons, following his destruction of mighty Abbotabad, I'd be surprised if he were risked in the first Test, possibly at all.

Pakistan might have begun the series as favourites but the loss of key players means that South Africa now have the upper hand. This series, perhaps more than the World Cup, will be a measure of Bob Woolmer's progress with Team Pakistan.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ahsan Malik on January 16, 2007, 13:53 GMT

    I have a question for Bob Woolmer; what will it take to drop Faisal Iqbal from Pakistan Team? How many more tests are we to loose before that happens? It may be that he is the nephew of Javed and a 'brother' but please and fro God's sake get rid of him if we are to go anywhere in world cricket!

  • JAVED A. KHAN, MONTREAL, CANADA on January 12, 2007, 22:18 GMT

    LOL @ "you only want your people to participate in the team" ....

    Mr. Waleed, who are my people? For me, ALL the Pakistani people are my people, my countrymen (including yourself) :-) And, I am sorry if I have hurt your feelings by saying something against your "Uncle Woolmer". But, isn't it very strange that he "choosed" Faisal Iqbal over Shahid Afridi? I think this Javed Miandad guy must be giving him threats to include Faisal Iqbal in the team! Oh please Mr. Waleed, the brighter side is not the white board on the wall, the fact remains that, Pakistan won the 1992 World Cup without a foreign coach. I am not sure who was Sri Lanka's coach in 1996 when they won the world cup, but definitely India's coach was not a 'gora saab' when they won the World Cup in England. It is the players, P-L-A-Y-E-R-S yes players who win matches, and its the captain on the field who leads, motivates and instill energy in the team that makes a winning team. The coach's role is limited to the dressing room or before that i.e., during the training sessions. I wonder if he ever makes an effort to express his views in "plain and simple" English without using his cockney accent and he makes sure they have understood what he wants, I doubt it. And whatever he is doing, i.e., sitting behind his laptop, is really pathetic I don't think we need to discuss him anymore in this thread ...........Oooops.......sorry again!

  • Rahman on January 12, 2007, 21:25 GMT

    Mr. Waleed , MR Bob since his joining to pakistan team never give a single member to pakistan team which has bright future if u talking about Yasir hameed, Salman BUtt, Imran Nazir,Asim Kamal, Umer Gul, Muhammad Asif, Rana Naveed , Muhammad Hafeez , Kamran Akmal and others apart from shoib Malik ( which i never think a player who plays for the team got injured whenever pakistan tour outside) , all these player came to team when pakistan coach was javed miandad and Selector was Amir sohail. And much more to add Shahid Afridi Batting more decent when Javed Miandad was coach of Pakistan team , and if u want to go on Statistics Javed Miandad has far more better percentage of winining than Bob Woolmer. And even he has far more winning percentage than all captain pakistan had. Javed Miandad 34 matches 14 wins 6 loss Imran Khan 48 matches 14 wins 8 loss. I am not saying that foreign coach not good but i still believe that local coach is far better than foreign coach.

  • Dawar on January 12, 2007, 17:20 GMT

    Some one above trying to put down grate Javed Miadad by saying he was not a match winner player. I respect his love for Inzi Bahi but its not mean to put down others in the wrong manner.

    By statistics Pakistan won only five one days in the 92 world cup . In all those five one days Miadad scored fifties.

    Miadad scored many runs against the best teams in his time (include centuries & double centruies). Against west Indies, India, Ausrlia & srilanks.

    Inzi scored only one century against Austrlia. Still I have a big respect for Inzi. he still is a very good player specially in Pakistan soil and in the slow wickets.

  • WALEED on January 12, 2007, 14:44 GMT

    MR javed a khan ........narrow minded people like u have been a trouble for pakistan .....u only want ur people to paticipate in the team n nothin else.......u guys never look on the brightest side that since woolmer has arrived pakistan has been a much better team than it was in the past......bcos of javid miandad faisal iqbal is always choosed n today i heard the commentator say that its better if he plays dodgeball........what an insult to the paki side ......i agree that miandad was an excellent batsman but also agree that every person is not perfect in every thing(COACHING)......hope i answered ur question!

  • Zwelakhe on January 12, 2007, 11:49 GMT

    I can understand the reason why the masses think Pakistan will win the series. South African top order batsmen are off form. It is also important to note that South Africa managed to score a series victory against India despite them winning the 1st test. SA managed the series victory because they have depth in their squad that Pakistan does not have. It is also important to mention that all the Pakistani batsmen do not perform against RSA at home and away. Even Mohammad Yousuf that everyone is making noise about, has a very abysmal avarage against RSA. Frankly even if he was playing, I do not see how he would have coped because the South African seamers are on the top of their game, ask Tendulkar, Dravid, Sehwag. South Africa's pace attack is amongst the best, but the Pakistani batting line up is not. As one guy said, what is the user of bowling RSA out for 220 and get bowled out for 110? Pakistan does not have what it takes to win a series against RSA, they lack expirience and ability in their batting line up, coupled with their avarage bowling line up.

  • Farrukh Touheed on January 12, 2007, 5:48 GMT

    This is a forum for discussion on cricket not on religion so please be calm. We are here to represent a country or a team not religion so please cool down.

  • Rashid on January 12, 2007, 5:16 GMT

    I wish they included Salman Butt , since his record is good against Australia where most of our batsman floundered.Why not give him more opportunity when in World Cup if we loose we most likely will loose to Australia.S Africa have kind of similar bowling attack like Australia

  • JAVED A. KHAN, MONTREAL, CANADA on January 12, 2007, 3:43 GMT

    Whether Pakistan wins the series in SA or the World Cup, the credit must NOT go to Woolmer. He cannot take away the credit from the players. By sitting behind a laptop doesn't mean he is providing any modern coaching techniques. He is a cricket mercenary and have no loyalty for any team. At a time when he was supposed to be with the team, he spent two weeks in South Africa.

    During the Inzamam / Hair incident, Woolmer wanted to resign! Why and what kinda coach he is? Some Pakistanis have this habit of praising anything and everything that is foreign and dumping and insulting their own. Look at Miandad, Zaheer Abbass and now Waqar Younis, they all have been dumped, insulted and blamed. We never respect our heroes, not a single ex-test player gets any respect. From the days of Kardar till date, every single player has been criticized and insulted in one way or the other. Whereas, Woolmer is being worshiped, may I ask why? Waleed and his likes please get over with this inferiority complex. If you think a foreign coach is so important in achieving success for Pakistan's cricket team, how about hiring ALL FOREIGN PLAYERS from Australia and South Africa to play for Pakistan?

    This is the same kinda mentality that I have come across when dealing with some overbearingly frustrated nitwits who say; "there is so much dirty politics in India and Pakistan, the conditions were much better, peaceful and pleasant during the British Raj and this whole business of creation of Pakistan and division of India is a big mistake". So, I ask, should we invite the British to come and rule again?

    Gimme a break, get over with this slave mentality and stop using crutches and stilts, be on your own foot, be a MAN and learn to respect your HEROES.

  • WALEED on January 11, 2007, 20:52 GMT

    pak have a great team to win the world cup with especially bob woolmer who has given loads of trainin to the paki side.....javed miandad was a pathetic coach .....woolmer on the other hand is a coach with talent n is providin the modern coachin to our team ......n javed miandad is all ways insulting him for no reason.....hope woolmer shows him in the WC.....WAY TO GO WOOLMER

  • Ahsan Malik on January 16, 2007, 13:53 GMT

    I have a question for Bob Woolmer; what will it take to drop Faisal Iqbal from Pakistan Team? How many more tests are we to loose before that happens? It may be that he is the nephew of Javed and a 'brother' but please and fro God's sake get rid of him if we are to go anywhere in world cricket!

  • JAVED A. KHAN, MONTREAL, CANADA on January 12, 2007, 22:18 GMT

    LOL @ "you only want your people to participate in the team" ....

    Mr. Waleed, who are my people? For me, ALL the Pakistani people are my people, my countrymen (including yourself) :-) And, I am sorry if I have hurt your feelings by saying something against your "Uncle Woolmer". But, isn't it very strange that he "choosed" Faisal Iqbal over Shahid Afridi? I think this Javed Miandad guy must be giving him threats to include Faisal Iqbal in the team! Oh please Mr. Waleed, the brighter side is not the white board on the wall, the fact remains that, Pakistan won the 1992 World Cup without a foreign coach. I am not sure who was Sri Lanka's coach in 1996 when they won the world cup, but definitely India's coach was not a 'gora saab' when they won the World Cup in England. It is the players, P-L-A-Y-E-R-S yes players who win matches, and its the captain on the field who leads, motivates and instill energy in the team that makes a winning team. The coach's role is limited to the dressing room or before that i.e., during the training sessions. I wonder if he ever makes an effort to express his views in "plain and simple" English without using his cockney accent and he makes sure they have understood what he wants, I doubt it. And whatever he is doing, i.e., sitting behind his laptop, is really pathetic I don't think we need to discuss him anymore in this thread ...........Oooops.......sorry again!

  • Rahman on January 12, 2007, 21:25 GMT

    Mr. Waleed , MR Bob since his joining to pakistan team never give a single member to pakistan team which has bright future if u talking about Yasir hameed, Salman BUtt, Imran Nazir,Asim Kamal, Umer Gul, Muhammad Asif, Rana Naveed , Muhammad Hafeez , Kamran Akmal and others apart from shoib Malik ( which i never think a player who plays for the team got injured whenever pakistan tour outside) , all these player came to team when pakistan coach was javed miandad and Selector was Amir sohail. And much more to add Shahid Afridi Batting more decent when Javed Miandad was coach of Pakistan team , and if u want to go on Statistics Javed Miandad has far more better percentage of winining than Bob Woolmer. And even he has far more winning percentage than all captain pakistan had. Javed Miandad 34 matches 14 wins 6 loss Imran Khan 48 matches 14 wins 8 loss. I am not saying that foreign coach not good but i still believe that local coach is far better than foreign coach.

  • Dawar on January 12, 2007, 17:20 GMT

    Some one above trying to put down grate Javed Miadad by saying he was not a match winner player. I respect his love for Inzi Bahi but its not mean to put down others in the wrong manner.

    By statistics Pakistan won only five one days in the 92 world cup . In all those five one days Miadad scored fifties.

    Miadad scored many runs against the best teams in his time (include centuries & double centruies). Against west Indies, India, Ausrlia & srilanks.

    Inzi scored only one century against Austrlia. Still I have a big respect for Inzi. he still is a very good player specially in Pakistan soil and in the slow wickets.

  • WALEED on January 12, 2007, 14:44 GMT

    MR javed a khan ........narrow minded people like u have been a trouble for pakistan .....u only want ur people to paticipate in the team n nothin else.......u guys never look on the brightest side that since woolmer has arrived pakistan has been a much better team than it was in the past......bcos of javid miandad faisal iqbal is always choosed n today i heard the commentator say that its better if he plays dodgeball........what an insult to the paki side ......i agree that miandad was an excellent batsman but also agree that every person is not perfect in every thing(COACHING)......hope i answered ur question!

  • Zwelakhe on January 12, 2007, 11:49 GMT

    I can understand the reason why the masses think Pakistan will win the series. South African top order batsmen are off form. It is also important to note that South Africa managed to score a series victory against India despite them winning the 1st test. SA managed the series victory because they have depth in their squad that Pakistan does not have. It is also important to mention that all the Pakistani batsmen do not perform against RSA at home and away. Even Mohammad Yousuf that everyone is making noise about, has a very abysmal avarage against RSA. Frankly even if he was playing, I do not see how he would have coped because the South African seamers are on the top of their game, ask Tendulkar, Dravid, Sehwag. South Africa's pace attack is amongst the best, but the Pakistani batting line up is not. As one guy said, what is the user of bowling RSA out for 220 and get bowled out for 110? Pakistan does not have what it takes to win a series against RSA, they lack expirience and ability in their batting line up, coupled with their avarage bowling line up.

  • Farrukh Touheed on January 12, 2007, 5:48 GMT

    This is a forum for discussion on cricket not on religion so please be calm. We are here to represent a country or a team not religion so please cool down.

  • Rashid on January 12, 2007, 5:16 GMT

    I wish they included Salman Butt , since his record is good against Australia where most of our batsman floundered.Why not give him more opportunity when in World Cup if we loose we most likely will loose to Australia.S Africa have kind of similar bowling attack like Australia

  • JAVED A. KHAN, MONTREAL, CANADA on January 12, 2007, 3:43 GMT

    Whether Pakistan wins the series in SA or the World Cup, the credit must NOT go to Woolmer. He cannot take away the credit from the players. By sitting behind a laptop doesn't mean he is providing any modern coaching techniques. He is a cricket mercenary and have no loyalty for any team. At a time when he was supposed to be with the team, he spent two weeks in South Africa.

    During the Inzamam / Hair incident, Woolmer wanted to resign! Why and what kinda coach he is? Some Pakistanis have this habit of praising anything and everything that is foreign and dumping and insulting their own. Look at Miandad, Zaheer Abbass and now Waqar Younis, they all have been dumped, insulted and blamed. We never respect our heroes, not a single ex-test player gets any respect. From the days of Kardar till date, every single player has been criticized and insulted in one way or the other. Whereas, Woolmer is being worshiped, may I ask why? Waleed and his likes please get over with this inferiority complex. If you think a foreign coach is so important in achieving success for Pakistan's cricket team, how about hiring ALL FOREIGN PLAYERS from Australia and South Africa to play for Pakistan?

    This is the same kinda mentality that I have come across when dealing with some overbearingly frustrated nitwits who say; "there is so much dirty politics in India and Pakistan, the conditions were much better, peaceful and pleasant during the British Raj and this whole business of creation of Pakistan and division of India is a big mistake". So, I ask, should we invite the British to come and rule again?

    Gimme a break, get over with this slave mentality and stop using crutches and stilts, be on your own foot, be a MAN and learn to respect your HEROES.

  • WALEED on January 11, 2007, 20:52 GMT

    pak have a great team to win the world cup with especially bob woolmer who has given loads of trainin to the paki side.....javed miandad was a pathetic coach .....woolmer on the other hand is a coach with talent n is providin the modern coachin to our team ......n javed miandad is all ways insulting him for no reason.....hope woolmer shows him in the WC.....WAY TO GO WOOLMER

  • Zaheer Gorsi on January 11, 2007, 17:31 GMT

    Calm down Qureshi sahib...it was merely a light hearted comment. At the same time it is not an uninformed bad mouthing either. A sudden increase in number of beards in our national team is no secret information. And we all know people who become tableeghi kind of religious want every one to become like them and if some one resists then he is not considred part of the group.

  • Aftab Qureshi on January 11, 2007, 16:55 GMT

    Commenters like Atif Mirza make me angry when they speculate that "tableegh" and "darhi" paly an important role in selection of teams and coaches. Stop this irresponsible, uninformed badmouthing!

  • chacha Koora Kirkit on January 11, 2007, 16:36 GMT

    LOL@Saad Pirzada. Can you imagine Inzamam vs. Nel.

    Nel. '' Oi Inzy you fat, curry muncher!''

    Inzy. ''Well, Taanks Andre, fancy comin' to the ghasht tonight.''

    We need irritating sh*ts like Miandad, who would annoy the hell out of opposition players.''

    The Aussies have proved how effective sledging can be.

  • Sohail on January 11, 2007, 15:05 GMT

    If we look at the scorecards of the 2003 test series in South Africa, we will see that in general our openers did well. Taufiq Omer especially provided good starts and went on to make some big scores. It was actually the middle order that was guilty of throwing the starts away. Today's scores till now also suggest that SA has prepared less bouncy wickets for Pakistan than were prepared for the Indians, obviously because of the reputation of Pakistan's pace attack. This suggests that it will be up to the more senior batsmen to post big scores. But that's an initial observation. Let's see how the story unfolds.

  • walfi on January 11, 2007, 10:16 GMT

    hello sapinfo, i have seen interviews of bob by Pakistani media. i am pretty sure,he cant speak urdu or hindi. but he might understand it little after coaching of pakistan. but he cant undestand it well even and speaking capabilities, no way.

  • Mohammed Munir - Sharjah, UAE. on January 11, 2007, 9:57 GMT

    Definitely not a good time to visit the lions in their own den, prior to the World Cup.

    Last time we toured SA before the World Cup, it was humiliating, and that defeat hurt our morale so bad that the team could not concentrate on World Cup. Again the same mistake is repeated, we Pakistanis don’t learn our lessons well, do we?

    I guess it would have been better to go and thrash Bangladesh or Zimbabwe before the World Cup, like India is planning to do with home series against West Indies and Sri Lanka, and go to Wolrd Cup with boosted spirits.

    I may sound cynical, but actually speaking there is no probability of winning for us in SA, so I hope and pray that we have some face-saving games.

  • usman on January 11, 2007, 8:59 GMT

    if our openers do well we will do well. if we can get to a good start every innnings then i doubt pakistan will be mentally down enough to not be a force. our bowlers are good, if not the best, better than india atleast. so with our opening batsmen our hope should lie so that we can post good totals for our bowlers to defend. south africa is not the best test side but they have wickets to favour them.

  • Risalat on January 11, 2007, 8:39 GMT

    Pakistan should give Asim Kamal a chance to open the batting alongside Farhat.Hafeez is going to be a joke in that position,im seeing a lot of people want to see Imran Nazir again,are you kidding?Same reason Hafeez shouldnt be playing test matches-his footwork,at least Nazir used to move his left foot(!).

    Also people are still confusing kamal with akmal!!Come on guys its been a while now.Any way asim kamal is probably one of the few technically accurate batsmen pakistan have ever produced and they dropped him just because of one disappointing series which i didnt think was fair enough,if that was the case why Michael Clarke still in the Aussie team-they gave him enough chances that hes now an established batsman in the side.

    As inconsistent a team Pakistan are dont know how the board could afford not playing him this long.

    Like i said hundred times before Pakistan shouldve kept Malik as an opener-well hes injured now so that problem is solved.The team is missing genuine allrounders like him and Razzak so Afridi was much needed either to add in some quick runs or some fast-spin.Kamran Akmal's performance will be under scrutiny throughout the series for sure.Now that yousuf is possibly missing the series its all upto younis and inzi-im sure younis wont be bothered much about the bounce and what not,the guy is a real fighter since the likes of imran khan,miandad,wasim and waqar.My concern is about Inzi though-all he needs to do is to be consistent-its about time!!But i do hope yousuf comes back for the remaining test series.

    Not much to say about the bowling-they aren't going to let the team down.I still wonder what could have happened if wasim akram had played in the last test series in SA.He was superb in the ODI series and even batted well-it was the rest of the batting that made a mockery of cricket.Not to mention it was Waqar all alone in the test series to take the contstant plunging.

    In the end i want umpires to be on their toes-poor kaneria was hugely unlucky in the series in England.Any way fingers crossed for what could be a mouth watering prospect only if Pakistani batsmen try to show some resilience this time.

  • sameen on January 11, 2007, 8:37 GMT

    Unable to understand why the selector droped shoaib on fitness grounds?and selected Umar and Malik ..Both got injured even before playing any match .. (Umar bowled atleast two overs ..) that shows they were injred at the time of selection.. My question is "who is responcible for selecting the injured player ? or they got injured during the flight ? some one need to answer this .. On the other hand Chairman of PCB went to see shoaib in domestic match and declared him fit .. Is he a cricket team Doctor?. It seems that decisions in pakistan cricket are made by one person If he think that a person is fit , then the person get chance if he think oterwise , tough luck .. What about the whole medical staff for which PCB is paying huge amount of money.. If the fitness need to be decided by PCB chairman then we do not need all these medical staff .. (Any way they are selecting the injured players).. Another thing which put pakistan cricket in headlines was Waqar's Resignation ...We simply can not give respact to our heros .. Even if they have differences they should have sorted this out internally rather that making it a bog thing in Media ....

  • Khalid Arif Siddiqui on January 11, 2007, 8:32 GMT

    Pakistan batting has some problems in opening slot and the number 6 position. Although the middle order is strong, but we need to think positively and sellect the right guy for the number 6 spot and i personally feel that Asif Kamal fits in as a perfect choice for he has the ability to bat really well with the tail enders, ironically though he is always out of favours despite the fact that he has always performed exceptionally well. As far as opening slot is concerned I think both Hafeez and Farhat will have a tough time and it will be test of their character and paitence when they face Pollock and Ntini. Farhat will be best advise to bat with a ice bag inside his helmet, while Hafeez is cool but lacks the quality of a perfect opener on wickets having pace and bounce. Spin is another department where we have some problems for i personally feel that Kaneria still has to prove as a match winner even though he is over praised. It will be a good series and pakistan may spring a few surprises and it may only happen if our quickie perform well.

  • daud on January 11, 2007, 8:26 GMT

    Yes, the onus rests on Inzi and Younis to play to the best of their abilities, and hope of some help from the younger lot. But again odds are heavily stacked against Pakistan. South Africans are in much better practice and spirit. Pakistan is hit by injuries, absence of Yousaf, and of course Shoiab Akhter. The faulty fast bowler in his recent interviews has made clear that he wants to captain Pakistan and for sure he would make every effort to see Inzi failing and Pakistan losing badly. Remmeber Pakistan won a trest match under Amir Sohail in South Africa, and then Wasim Akram was rushed to bring back discontent and divide into team!!! He did that quite appreciably and Pakistan lost!

  • Muhammad Suleman Sheikh on January 11, 2007, 8:20 GMT

    Dear Kamran, I do agree that Pakistan's record against SA in South Africa is not good. And recent blows regarding the absence of Yousaf / Umar Gul / Shoaib Malik / Abdul Razzaq and also later arrival of Shoaib Akhtar will make a task difficult for Inzi. But even than with youth and experience of multiple crickters in Pakistan eleven, Pakistan Team will have an edge after the inclusion of Asif and I think that there is no match of Asif with anyone in the coming days to come, especially in Test Cricket. I can assure that Pakistan team will have great success in this season. Yes if they don't indulge themselves in politics.

  • Hamdoon on January 11, 2007, 8:19 GMT

    Afridi should be chosen for the one day squad.

  • Zohaib on January 11, 2007, 8:11 GMT

    The record of Pakistani Giants against South Africa is one of embarrassment. I believe these teams at least on paper are equally matched. However, when they clash it often results in a defeat to the Pakistani team. One big edge, which South Africa had over the years, is their sprit rather than their capabilities. Pakistan team is doing well as of late and working as one unit. I think this series will decide the faith of Pakistan in the world cup.

    About the absences of the likes of Yousaf and Gul, I think it is high time others perform. This will be crucial for our world cup preps. The team should know that important players are targeted by the opposition, such times mark for a performance by a youngster or other less experienced. It is an important learning to perform and show what you got when the odds are against you.

  • amir on January 11, 2007, 7:57 GMT

    I think series win in south africa is a daunting task pakistan can but as usual some injuries among them and south african play with india so they had upper hand I think pak win very good but if he drew the series its also good so save to loss a series

  • Omer Admani on January 11, 2007, 7:54 GMT

    Nadeem Sharif, I disagree. Pajkistan has to play to win, anything less would be worse would turn into disgrace. I don't think India played positively. In the third match, Tendulkar came in, got defensive, and lost the series. I think it would be the worst tactics and mind-set to play for a draw. We might as well lose trying to win.

  • Farrukh Touheed on January 11, 2007, 7:46 GMT

    This is first time i have ever seen that now Pakistani bowling is not dependent on one or two bowlers. We have a list of 7-8 good bowlers and in case of injurry of any purticular bowler do not effect the pace attack of PAkistan. However lets see how inzi team play with the bat against best bowling attack. Hope for the best for the paki

  • Suhaib Jalis Ahmed on January 11, 2007, 7:41 GMT

    I agree that Pakistan has huge injury problems. However the criticsm that some people level on the team is unjust. The guys who say that there is "Tableeghi" culture in the team should know that still most of the team is not bearded. None your pace battery is bearded.

    It is a bitter truth but eversince 2001 , when the ICC Test Rankings started, upto the retirement of Wasim, Saeed, Waqar etc, Pakistan was never better than 7th on the ranking. Yup, in the presence of the legends, Pakistan was 7th at best. However, we should give some credit to Inzi that this team is now 3rd in the world.

    Inzi is no Imran , but he has managed to stir this team to success in the trickiest phase of Pakistan cricket history.

    We lost 5 or 6 great players in 2003, compared to just 4 or 5 of Australia in 2006. Isnt it great that we improved ourselves to 3rd best ?

    Guys, we need to learn at the bright side for a change.

  • Mozzam on January 11, 2007, 7:24 GMT

    I would say better don't talk words. Let the players perform on the field and may the best side win. I just pray to god that Pakistan play competitive cricket to say the least to provide the spectators some good entertainment. Expecting Pak to win the series is asking for too much. Let's hope atleast they go down fighting and stretch SA to defeat them. May God Bless Inzibhai and his his bunch of hopeless hopefuls(except Asif and Shoiab, if he plays). I bet on Shoiab and Asif to do some miracles if Pak has to have any chance of giving SA a run for their money.

  • Zaheer Gorsi on January 11, 2007, 7:04 GMT

    I think Waqar went to the extent of joining the Tableeghies as he was reported to be on Hajj Saeed while Inzimam orchestrated his ouster back in Lahore. May be he was not ready to grow a beared yet.

  • Mohsin Malik - San Francisco Bay Area on January 11, 2007, 6:58 GMT

    Good luck for the Series Opener

    Team Lesson #1 – Avoid “Conflict of Interest”:

    There are lessons to be learnt from the just concluded test series in South Africa. Inevitably, parallels are drawn between test teams from the sub-continent, more so when they tour another country in succession.

    The best advice for the Pakistan team would be to play as a unit and ride the tide together as there would be no smooth sailing. That's for sure. A joint team effort holds the key here. Comparisons always serve a good purpose. Come what may, the players need to give their best - both in terms of effort and attitude, on and off the field. Also, it is important to avoid the blame game during the course of the series and after its conclusion.

    For this rare phenomenon to happen and make a beginning amongst the ranks of the Pakistan Cricket as well, the team management including the captain needs to avoid the "Conflict of Interest" posture in their handling of affairs so as to lend credibility and fairness to the whole process of team selection and other related matters. This ugly affliction has ruined many a tours and series in the past. In this regard, lesser the said, the better it is.

    This managerial attribute of how to avoid “Conflict of Interest” is a whole new concept as it applies to leadership cadres and is lacked badly in our part of the world while it is an accepted norm these days, albeit – elsewhere with due training imparted to help implement the same.

    To strike a different note, team's preparations for this tour have taken a surprise turn with events unfolding so quickly. This includes Shoaib's late recall and ill timed inclusion after some unexpected twists and turns Under the given circumstances, it is imperative that the team blends and quickly mould into a fighting unit with all players given their due respect and importance. As far as the fans are concerned, no one is bigger than the game. Performance should be the sole criteria. This is the major factor that contributes significantly and leads to success in a serene manner with no hiccups. All other parleys and behind the scene developments make little or no contributions for team success. The supporters sincerely, hope and trust that the management including the team captain from hereon, would abide by the teachings of this principle and even avoid giving semblance of any “Conflict of Interest”. Did we not pass on the key and road map to success!

    Go, give it a try and may the desired results greet the Pakistan team, subsequently. That would make the fans happy, too. But remember, there is no substitute for hard work. So, keep it up right there, quickies. As for the batsmen, they have to figure this of their own and right in the middle.

    Good luck!

    Mohsin Malik San Francisco Bay Area

  • Raza-e-Mustafa, Gujranwala, Pakistan on January 11, 2007, 6:01 GMT

    Pakistanis are historically notorious for giving mediocre cricketers an innings of their lifetime which turns around their careers, especially in ODI's. Giving Sachin Tendulkar a dream debut in Gujranwala who as a 16 years old hit Qadir for three consecutive sixes in his debut match; Brian Lara hitting 150 odd runs in 1993 in what was called Basit Ali's match; Mathew Hayden hitting 140 runs in his first full series as an ODI batsman; Andrew Symonds blasting Pakistan all over and reviving his career in the process and the latest in the list is Dhoni's epic of 180 odd runs.

    The next man in line for a Pakistani blessing, to me, seems to be AB DeVilliers who is an extremely talented, but mostly wayward player. I wouldnt be surprised if someone gives him this simple advice of concentration and application and he turns around a corner in his career. Pakistan are up against an extremely formidable batting line-up consisting of the likes of Jacques Kallis, Gream Smith, and Herschelle Gibbs. Now I predict DeVilliers to join the company. South African pace battery is always formidable with Ntini and Pollock firing all guns and Nel and Steyn maintaining consistent pressure. I pity the hapless Pakistanis who will get no space to breathe. After a long time Pakistan will taste what real quality test cricket is. I am sorry for being pessimistic, but one has to be realistic because hollow jingoism can be at best harmful.

  • Mohammad Manzoor on January 11, 2007, 5:41 GMT

    They are calling for rain on sunday , which would be the 4th day of the first day. The question is can pakistan survive first 3 days of the test?If they somehow manage to draw the first test then they have a 50-50 chance to win the next two test given M.yousaf and Shoaib Akhter are in the side. If not,then i have to check next two test's Forecast..;)

  • imran on January 11, 2007, 4:47 GMT

    You guys are kidding me....as they say, you guys really have no faith in the Paki team...I think SA is highly over rated...just like Pak used to make dusty crapy wickets in Hyderabad and the like in the '80's SA makes bouncy wickets which their batsmen are used to. If SA were that good they wouldnt have been bundled out for 84 against India.

    I say this would be a great opportunity for Danish Kaneria to pull a Sreesanth and hit Nel for a six and then dance with his bat waving around, unfortunately, knowing his control of his reflexes though he is more likely to hit himself if he tries to do that ;-)

  • M K on January 11, 2007, 3:28 GMT

    A few comments 1) Asim Kamal is the best lower order (5 or 6) batsman in the Pakistan team and should be given the opportunity. Not unlike the last series where he was wasted at No.3 2) Danish Kaneria is all words and statments and ZIP performance. Should be dropped. Rehamn should take his place. 3) Mohd Wasim should be given another chance. Remember the Carlton n United series Pakistan won DownUnder. Who was the best batsman?

  • JAVED A. KHAN, MONTREAL, CANADA on January 11, 2007, 3:01 GMT

    MORE ON WOOLMER. Lets not pull wool over our eyes, there is a very strong rumour that, 'Woolmer is being touted to replace Duncan Fletcher and take over the job as England's coach' as soon as his contract with Pakistan is over after the World Cup. A few years ago he was SA coach and today he is Pakistan's and tomorrow he will be England's coach. The point to be noted here is, Pakistan can produce excellent bowlers, batsmen, allrounders and yet they cannot produce a good coach for our youngsters? What was wrong with Javed Miandad? Its a shame that we are still living with this slave mentality that a foreign coach is better than a local coach! We pay them a huge salary with perks and not only that, we go out of the way to respect them and give them all sorts of allowances and believe that they cannot make mistakes. We also tend to forget that they play a very sinister role in dividing the team and keeping their position strong. Example: Woolmer with Inzamam against Shoaib Akhtar, Greg Chappel and Ganguly saga! The strict rules imposed by ICC and the cricketing boards that players are not allowed to talk against the Boards or their officials in public is giving them more powers and monopoly.

    These foreign coaches like Bob Woolmer, Greg Chappel, John Wright, Tom Moody etc., are cricket mercenaries and they have no long term loyalties. They are here today, gone tomorrow. Then, they shall also be writing books with insider information. I hope the PCB, BCCI and all others have made a contractual agreement with them that they shall not be revealing or disclosing inside information to other sources or by writing books for their own benefits.

    Once again I reiterate that the FCC (Foreign Coach Cult) business must come to an end with the World Cup. Pakistan needs to seriously consider this issue and choose a right coach from within the country. I suggest Kamran Abbassi to create a new thread on this subject and get readers views.

    PS. An honest question, since I am not aware of it ........ Has Australia ever employed a foreign coach for their cricket team?

  • Amyn Habib on January 11, 2007, 1:33 GMT

    The crown could turn into a noose of thorns...

  • Atif Mirza on January 10, 2007, 23:48 GMT

    another problem with Pak cricket team is this growing TABLEEGHI PARTY, if you dont want to join them you would be out of equation sooner or later.

    this is becoming pathetic with team selection. and i think it is one of major cause of Mushtaq IN and Waqar OUT.

    may be in next tour, one test match would be held at RAIWINDD, lol.

  • Atif Mirza on January 10, 2007, 23:42 GMT

    i cannot Pakistan winning any single match in this series. most experience batsman is Inzi, who is not reliable at all. with his kind of experience look at ricky ponting. i think after all these years of experience still Inzi is useless.

    All our youngsters will try to smash, and will loose their wickets of fast and bouncy pitches in South Africa.

    I have seen Pakistani batsmen in Australia, and will say they can only play on dead an pathetic pitches made in sub-continent.

    extremely disappointed with Waqar's resignation as bowling coach. he is a true legend, and we lost him too. now he will join NSW team in Australia to teach them.

    PCB's officals always travle in first class to waste all funds, but when it comes to spend money to team training they find all kind of excuses to save that money.

    if you are Pakistani and dont want high blood pressure in next few months, better stay away from cricket :)

  • Saulat on January 10, 2007, 23:02 GMT

    Only have two comments: 1. Why is Asim Kamal not being given an opportunity? He is a genuine batsman with arguably the best technique (yes, better than the two Ys). He could be asked to open even to try to solve the problem. Ppl say he is too slow but how many times has he been asked to slog and has not performed? He has always had to come in and play a steady innings and he is delivered most consistently...its truly a shame...

    2) Lets bring back Azhar Mahmood (okay, just kidding) but he does have a great batting record against SA

  • Mawali on January 10, 2007, 22:15 GMT

    Kamran sahib, nice to see you on shall we say friendlier territory? I have to say though some of the posts on that other blog ranged from hilarious to absurd. My favorite amongst all was one were the poster wrote something to the effect” I can quote many examples, I rest my case”. I guess critical thinking is alive and well. Speaking of alive and well, I am wondering (since we seem to be going though a period of time where player integrity is coming into serious question) if our fearless leader Inzi Bhai Multanee is really sick or was it one of the Inziesqe decision not to bother taking the field for not so worthy a cause. Because Javed Khan appropriately points out that a chest infection is nothing to sneeze at, and would require a good bit of recuperation time let alone the crabby feeling left by the Antibiotics.

    Without indulging into name dropping and revealing my coveted probable 11. Suffice it to say that M. Yousef will be sorely missed for being the only batsman on this tour for the best technique not to mention form. I am not at all disappointed to see Shoaib malik not play and save us the blushes of watching a gully danda player on a cricket pitch. This indeed is the time for the next crop of players to take center stage and ask to be counted and counted upon. I would however, like to see M. Hafeez open with Y. Hameed rather than the acrobatics of Imran Farhat. My biggest apprehension lies with the performance and safety of Inzi Bhai Multanee. At 37 it is not easy to maneuver away from a bouncy ball coming in at 85+ MPH. At that point even you reflexes take the putlee gully and leave you wondering what day of the week it is. Having said that and for all the fun I poke at Inzi Bhai, (we jest cause we care) I wish for him to really excel on this tour and take on the world cup as the last hurrah and call it a career, before he starts to pencil in bingo nights with sabzi pullao (mutton just doesn’t go too well with dentures).

    Great to see Shoaib Akhtar being returned to his rightful place in the team. PCB does indeed work in mysterious ways. Of course my simple mind will never be able to figure that out. This series will provide a barometer for Woolmer as a coach. I am one of those who would question his contributions to the team. I assume he has brought a certain amount of intangibles to the team but I wonder if they would help our batsmen negotiate full length bouncer from Ntini, or effectively handle Nel’s trash talk. AMF

  • Waqqas on January 10, 2007, 21:20 GMT

    Shoaib akhtar must play. a combination from asif, rana, gul, nazir, sami make a good bowling attack but a proven spearhead is required to provide the cutting edge needed for crucial breakthroughs when the batting is easy. Also the pace attck seems to be one-paced without akhtar.

  • Ali K. on January 10, 2007, 20:54 GMT

    Regarding some of the comments (Saad Prizada) about SAF being the worst sledgers, I don't think that should be of much worry to us. After all we'll have some advantage of having so many matric-failed players.

    They won't understand most of it and so should be fine.

  • popatlal on January 10, 2007, 20:54 GMT

    Typical of the hyperbole that absorbs journalists of the sub-continent;would it not be sensible to wait until the series is over before making such gratitous comments on the two teams?

  • Ali K. on January 10, 2007, 20:50 GMT

    I can see the enthusiasm in many posts but really, I don't see how we can give ourselves a good chance to win this series? Our Batting is NOT going to perform, period! Following every home series, we seem to forget that our batsmen have never done well on seaming and bouncy tracks. We'll be harping on that following the first defeat in SAF. Mentally, our team is not that strong and confident. So, batting off course will be the biggest concern.
    Bowling is also not dependable and some others have commented. Gone are the days when we could expect a bowler to run through a line up on his own. Our bowlers are improving and do a decent job but I don't see how they can perform so well, that the faults of our batsmen could be overtaken? Wasim & Waqar's performances could erase the deficit of bad batting. Current bowlers haven't shown that ability. All right M. Asif has but in a very limited time, so I keep my hopes alive about him but with his little experience and exposure, we can't call him dependable by any means.
    Danish off course is quite useless. Not consistent at all and only take 5 wickets when the opposition has already scored more than 500 runs. Only on last days with opposition's back with the wall, can he deliver a good spell. Thats not enough. And lastly, FIELDING. Don't forget that we'll spill chances while SAF will make chances. Its like SAF has 15 batsmen and we have 10. Big disadvantage there. I just hope that at least the gloves of Kamran will not do what they did in England :( In the end, being a Paki, I hope we'll pull this one off but it sure looks HARD.

  • Aftab Qureshi on January 10, 2007, 20:10 GMT

    Let's be objective and realistic. In my view, Pakistan never started as favorites for this South Africa tour. But nor did they start off as underdogs. So, it is fair to say that Pakistan could be viewed as having an even chance until we were counting Mohammad Yousaf and Umar Gul in. Barring the first test, in which Shoaib Akhtar's participation would be highly inadvisable (due to jetlag, lack of acclamitization, etc.), I think Umar's non-availability could perhaps be compensated by Shoaib Akhtar's presence. But the absence of Yousaf is a major setback. Without him in the side, I would have to be optimistic to give Pakistan even an even chance. But my best wishes and prayers would no doubt be with Pakistan. Who knows when and whose wish may be granted? After all, cricket is a game of glorious uncertainties!

  • Ghalib Taimur on January 10, 2007, 20:09 GMT

    I think that losing Shoaib Malik for this match could be a blessing in disguise for Pakistan.He is definitely going to struggle in South African conditions and i would rather take Faisal Iqbal who has a very good technique.Regarding Yousuf he will be sorely missed as he is Pakistans best batsman.

    Pakistan should win this series if they bat sensibly.The batsmen have given a positive start with centuries from Farhat and Hafeez in the warm-up(India lost the warm-up game).Then Pakistan has a better bowling attack than South Africa and alot more diversity.The question is does Pakistan have the stomach for a series on bouncy tracks and will they be able to adjust with that?

  • Saad Pirzada on January 10, 2007, 19:45 GMT

    Our biggest problem is that our current crop of players are all a bunch of sissys. When the South Africans talk trash, as they most certainly do since they have already over-taken Australia as the worlds worst sledgers, our boys will bow their heads and go running to the umpires instead of giving it back. That might me the key, intimidation. We need to give it back as much as we get it, because trust me the South Africans never stop talking. Gone are the days when we had the likes of Aamir Sohail, Saeed Anwar, Azhar Mahmood, Shahid Afridi etc - who gave as much lip to the opposition as they received. The current crop, all unfortunately Inzamam influenced, are a bunch of sissys who will no doubt let the South Africans say whatever they want and be intimidated by them, without giving any of it back. What Pakistan really needs is to get rid of these maulvis from our team, give the captaincy to some young aggressive player who has good english - like Salman Butt - and encourage the team to go out on the field with pride and with intensity, and keep their religion to the confines of the dressing room. The cricket field is a place for hard and intense competition now Inzys brand of sissy boys.

  • JAVED A. KHAN, MONTREAL, CANADA on January 10, 2007, 19:34 GMT

    Ms. Kiran Bokhari.....I never said, Bob Woolmer's leave was unauthorized, Au Contraire that is my question that how come they authorize him to go on vacation? I know he has got a house in SA, so what? For the fat salary that he gets along with so many perks, he should have waited for a couple of weeks more and then accompanied the team to SA. It is an absurd notion to say that Waqar is a contracted official and required permission, even Bob Woolmer is on a contract with PCB. It goes to prove my point that PCB still acts on ad hoc basis without any rules, regulations, constitution or by-laws, whatever they have is nothing more than dictatorial powers. And on that basis they allowed Woolmer to go on paid leave (which he takes at least 4 times a year) and blame Waqar for 'being absent for 12 days without authorization.'

    After coming back from Hajj, when Waqar asked Nasim Ashraf why he was not consulted (upon his removal as a bowling coach for ODI) ? The reply was, it was not his decision but 'team management' decision and Waqar pointed out to the 'joka' that he (Waqar) is also a member of the team management, to which he was dumbfounded. The funny thing is the other team management members were, Bob Woolmer who was away in SA, Wasim Bari and Saleem Altaf were away on Hajj, Iqbal Qasim was hospitalized due to cardiac problems. So, who was left in the team management? There wasn't any quorum to hold a meeting and decide, except for "His Doctored-ness" Nasim Ashraf and Pir Zamam ul Haq.

    I have no hope of Pakistan winning the first test, but I am very keen and excited to see how it goes tonight and I will be watching the match live with my fingers crossed.

    A word on the weather over here, thanks to global warming we are enjoying a spring time like weather, with plus, plus temperatures and there is NO SNOW. Usually at this time of the year its -30C and with wind chill its even up to -45C (if you ever have experienced what it is like) and always a few feet of snow heaps. Sad thats it not snowing, but, when it snows we go out and ski or go tobogganing. If you stay out doors you stay fresh and alive, and if you stay indoors and hibernate, then you are dull, depressed and almost half dead.

  • imran mc sood(from StMaarten West Indies on January 10, 2007, 19:15 GMT

    Lets be realistic and not emotional.The reality is that Pakistan will have a tough time making runs in RSA.The reality is that Pakistan can spring a surprise purely with its potent pace bowling attack especially if they bowl first like they did when Lara decided to bat in the first test(although Inzi seems to always bat first perhaps due to his subcontinental mindset).The reality is that SA traditionally suffer against spin since they don't have good quality to practice on in the first place and therefore Kaneira must play even on a "green top"(would'nt Australia and Sri lanka play Warne and Murali even on a pace friendly pitch?And don't you think India could have won that series if Harbadjan played all the matches-what good was the third seamer in the 3 tests to them.)So reality is that Kaneria must play as he can certainly get SA's difficult tail out.Reality is that Rana and Sami has not delivered the goods in tests but despite his failings Sami should play as he is the more genuine quick bowler and should'nt you play your quickest on quick wickets?If I were the coach and or captain I would drop them both and give one of the young seamers a chance until Shoib is available and then go full blast.Another reality--do not write off Pakistan since Bob Woolmer is the coach as he knows the SA players and conditions and seem to get on well with Inzi whose greatest and underestimated quality is patience the hallmark of test cricket.And finally lets face the reality that Ntini SA's best bowler is at his most devastating best against lefthanders with pace,bounce,angles and tireless questions outside the lefthanders off stump so play all the decent or good righthanders you can find.The reality is that Ntini is the main man and with Steyn out at least until Shoib arrives or Gul fit(maybe)SA is not as big a threat as evryone seem to think.Pollock is a good accurate and searching but he is now no more than slow medium and Nel shows more hostility with his mouth and antics than off the pitch. As a West Indian I always like West Indies follwed by Pakistan and India.Pakistan has the talent to beat anyone (except Australia in Australia)but their stategy and off field politics have been their main downfall)I wish the team and all Pakistan fans well.

  • chacha Koora Kirkut on January 10, 2007, 19:01 GMT

    I must say I am utterly diasspointed with all of you pessimists. Come on give Team Pakistan a break!

    Be hopeful! we may be able to salvage a draw in one of the tests provided it rains on days 3, 4 and 5!

    Numpties like Faisal Iqbal, Farhat, Sami and that flat track bully Younis should be given the boot.

  • Faisal Cheema on January 10, 2007, 18:58 GMT

    Even with out the 3 leading players i still feel that PAK have enough resources to top SA. My prediction is 1-1

  • Hassan Shad on January 10, 2007, 18:47 GMT

    So here is my prediction: Pakistanis are again all hyped up and do not realize the symmetric nature of this series. Consider that both Pakistan and SA do not even qualify as equals in terms of the quality of the two teams. While SA boasts a penetrative bowling and steadfast batting line up, Pakistan lacks any consistency whatsoever. The fact that Shoaib might not play is half the trouble (or half the blessing). The bigger problem is that we as a team do not know how to put together the pieces in our puzzle. We do not have a set of reliable openers; the bowling is in tatters (The two W's, are a distant memory); the fielding is more like watching a person trying to catch a mouse on a frictioneless surface; and now, we have the absense of Yusuf Youhana (the only dependable batsman whose record speaks of its own). Before I forget, Inzamam, is the best of the worst that we could manage as a captain and will likely be as indifferent in SA as a deer in front of headlights. Why does our cricket, with every passing day, resemble the state of affairs of our country: chaos. My prediction is this (and you might want to put your money on it too in case you are interested in betting like some Pakistan players were in the past): we will reach the 300s only once; around 4 scores will be in 200s or late 100s. The rest is as much as a mystery as the performance of the Pakistan Cricket Team. The result will also most probably be a 2-0 clean sweep or worse.

  • zeeshan tirmizi on January 10, 2007, 18:32 GMT

    so its starting tomorrow. A real test of Pakistan team in all departments. I think the first test is very important because it would set the tone for the rest of series.India did well in the first test and they provided a good competition to the SA.Pakistan will be without Yousuf and Shoaib in the first test and this is a crucial blow. we can do without Shoaib Malik and Umar Gul though.Asif is surely the main hope in this test and will be supplemented with Nazir.It remains to be seen how Rana performs as he has a not so impressive record on bouncy and seaming pitches.Sami could be included to add some pace in the first test and that might be helpful in deciding his role. I think Yaser should play at no 3 and Younis at No4.Inzi No5 and Asim Kamal No 6. No 6 and No 7 are going to be very vital positions as shown by the recent test series against India and we are definitely going to miss Abdur Razzaq as Rana,s batting prowess doesnt match that of Razzaq. I doubt that Farhat is going to have a lot of impact on this tour but Hafeez,Kamal and yaser have got to raise their game and share some of the load from Inzy.

    Politics and Cricket have become synonymous in Pak. I am really disappointed with Inzy. The role he has played in the exclusion of Waqar and inclusion of Mushy is far from being exemplary. Waqar's work on the bowlers was paying price. Mushy should rather be included in the team as a bowler as i believe he is a far better bowler than Kaneria.But its really tragic. Waqar was one of the greatest bowling talents this world has seen.I rate hime a better bowler than even Wasim.He suffered first at the hands of canny Wasim and now at the hands of Inzy. I am afraid we are going to pay dearly for these ugly affairs.

    The team will only have a chance to win if they play as a unit and with performances from atleast 2-3 batsmen not to mention the bowling.

    Good luck Guyz.

  • Syed Zaki on January 10, 2007, 17:48 GMT

    I agree with Mohammad Khan's observation. Pakistan needs to develop a killer instinct if they are to beat South Africa, England or Australia. When Nel talks shit to players, the Pakistani players should answer back likwise. The Pakistani players need to develop their demeanours like Javed Miandad, remember he didn't take shit from nobody (remember the Miandad-Lillee incident in Perth, that should be the attitude of all the Pakistani players). This ain't no gentleman's game any more.

  • Gugu on January 10, 2007, 17:38 GMT

    Forgot to ask, why is Abdul Rehman not in the squad (if I am not mis-informed). After the WI series, he was the found of the series according to Inzi and Woolmer, so where is he?

  • Gugu on January 10, 2007, 17:35 GMT

    It's a relief after your rather hilarious piece on dis-ackwnoledging Shane Warne. This is a good realist article. However, I would say, Asim Kamal should be given chance a head of Faisal Iqbal. No doubt, Faisal is young and a future prospect, but specially in absence of M Yousuf, Asim has the ability to provide stability and stay at wicket for long time with hours of concentration. That's a must kind of batsmen in playing tests (Chanderpaul, Dravid, Kallis, they all do it match after match). I wish Yasir Hameed all the best, don't know why was he ever dropped. Yes, friends have rightly hit, hugely it will depend on openers. I also don't understand, Yasir started playing as opener and did ok, why has he suddenly become one-down? If Pak definitely wants to play Faisal, then they can open with Yasir and still have middle order of their preference (with Asim Kamal taking no 3). About Waqar, I feel he's historically been treated like this, dropped because of politics when he could have had many more wickets and won test matches than he finished with; he always gave his full on the ground but somehow that's how he has always been treated. I am big fan of his but I too initially wondered what was he doing as bowling coach as I did not see any improvement in bowlers. But just when some results of his efforts are coming up nicely and after a long time, good bunch is available (Rana back in form, Gul leading with wickets, Shahid steady), the board has messed-up (I think it's establishment and in reaction Waqar's anger). In an article on cricinfo, Sreesanth commented how tips from Waqar (on New Year last year) and Wasim (on New Year this year) have helped him; while the bowlers around the world make every effort in learning from two Ws, our board is busy insulting them.

  • Nightwatchman on January 10, 2007, 17:28 GMT

    Pakistan starting as favourites? Come on Kamran. I am sure Pak supporters, hopefully optimistic they may be, (they have every right) will not share this view with you. Our batting on bouncy wickets has ALWAYS failed. We have been consistently inconsistent. Having said that, history can be created and lets hope one of the NEW batsmen will spring a surprise. NEW???? Faisal, Yasir and Akmal have all been around for years now (Faisal went to England in 2001). Compare these 3 to SL's Tharanga. Now he is a newcomer who established himself firmly in the side within months of coming in. None of our 3 have done that in year. And you can add Farhat, Butt, Taufeeq and Hafeez to these names. It is sad that we have not added a world class batsman to our line up since Younis. And even he struggled for years.

  • bobby on January 10, 2007, 16:39 GMT

    Raza-e-Mustafa,i could'nt have said it any better myself!

  • Asif Ali on January 10, 2007, 16:00 GMT

    with the Absence of Myuhammad Yousaf and Shoaib Malik i think its hard for Bob Woolmer to make Pakistan a Victorious! the most important thing i gonna saying that Woolmer needs to concentrate on Pakistan team not in the Cricinfo site for his feature or Essay!yeah i know when ever when he writes for Cricinfo Pakistan has to face a horrible defeat, dont share your feelings in this site you are a Coach so do your Job only! please convey him that message, i request you Cricinfo and Kamran Abbasi

  • Sami Syed from Toronto on January 10, 2007, 15:58 GMT

    PREDICTIONS TIME: (Here are my LUDICROUS predictions)

    1. Yasir Hameed must play, in the absense of MOYO and S. Malik I think he is the best. Actually I think he should open rather than Farhat anytime of the day. In any case, he will come in at #3 most likely. HE WILL BE KEY! I think he will be the main stay and the stabilizer of the innings. I predict this series will be HUGE for HAMEED.

    2. Mohammad Asif will be the best bowler of the series. Economy is up in the air between Asif and Nazir.

    3. Inzamam I believe won't be the best or the worst, just PAR. He will do okay, average.

    4. Two players can possibly play a match saving innings towards the end of the wire. AKMAL and Asim Kamal should he get a chance to play.

    5. Keneria won't do any good in any test matches save one. In Cape Town he might, just might be a threat.

    6. The way both teams play, we can expect to have a result in all 3 tests. I think it will be a tie 2-1 for Pakistan becuase of SA fatigue factor.

    7. If I had to pick match winners in cronological order for the upcoming Test series as LUDICROUS as it may sound. It would be 1. Hameed 2. Asif 3. Inzamam

    8. WILD CARD OF THE SERIES: None other than the infamous SHOAIB AKHTER. He can make or break himself and the series.

    Finally, SA is a tired team and we should be able to beat them. It will be a true test of what Pakistan is really worth.

    For me, right now they are as unpredicatable as possible. They lose against a mediocre England side which was sad sight to see. (Especially when you see the same side get white washed by Australia). Then you go on to beat West Indies a better ODI team which came in with a lot of confidence after triangular series with Aus and India and the Champions Trophy finalists. So Pakistan lose and win against the two teams respectively. The only thing England and West Indies had in common was that they were both weaker side than Pakistan. INCONSISTENCY, the old plague of Pakistan rises its head once again.

    Predictably so, PAKISTAN is unpredicatable as ever when they lose to a mediocre England side and then Win against West Indies which was full of confidence at the time of arrival.

    Well, call it what you want "ironic", "paradox" or just simply "Pakistan".

    Sami

  • Nadeem Sharifuddin on January 10, 2007, 15:39 GMT

    I dont like herosim , there will be no hero to win a series single handedly.

    If i was the coach of pakistan team, i shell go for 0-0 series draw and try to bat and bat for long time in South Africa.

    If we can draw the series , it will be great enough.

    India made big mistake after winning first test in SA but they went for all win in next two matches.

    I think, we shell have a mind set that we need minimum draw result.

    It will be all in vain, that we go in SA and try to win series, we will lose but if we try our best and we can draw it.

    Nadeem.

  • Ali on January 10, 2007, 15:36 GMT

    nobody is talking about Shabbir Ahmad? He has an extremely impressive test record (miles better than Smai or Rana). Now that the ban is lifted and he can play again why isn't he considered even in the 17? I think he certainly deserve a better treatment.

  • Mohsin on January 10, 2007, 15:32 GMT

    i think pakistan can win this one. Don't forget pakistan play best when they are the underdog. It is pointless predicting what a pakistan side is going to come up with on any day. We should win the test series, if not draw it. The one day series i feel will be dominated by pakistan. Inshallah pakistan will show some tremendous spirit and courage that they had on the india tour in 2005. Hopefully showing some of that on this tour.

  • Cricket Khan on January 10, 2007, 12:57 GMT

    What the Indian series showed that decent bowling can make the strong looking South African batting line up crumble and with that in mind the best bowling attack to go for should be Asif, Rana, Sami and Shoaib - that combination on its own plays a lot on batsmen's minds - the feeling of never beig able to get away is quite uncomforting - this would also allow shoaib to operate in shorter effective spells - with Kamran Akmal able to bat Pakistan can then have Hafeez, Farhat, Younis, Inzi and Asim Kamal with the option between Faisal Iqbal or Danish Kaneria. With the above attack Kanareia may not be required but remember Pakistani batsmen are bound ot fail against the South African bowlers so you might as well have the attack to try and bowl them out for even a smaller total than ours.

  • Arslan Shaukat on January 10, 2007, 12:36 GMT

    I believe that instead of Inzi or the pace bowling attack, it would be Younis Khan's performance at number 3 which would decide Pakistan's fate in this upcoming test series. Going with the presumption that the openers will once again fail on these bouncy, fast and seaming tracks, Younis Khan will have to protect a brittle middle order from getting exposed to S.African bowlers while the ball is still new. In order for a batsman to succeed on these fast and bouncy tracks, mental traits such as bravery and courage are crucial. Unfortunately, I only see these traits in Younis Khan and Asim Kamal.

  • autozinsight.com on January 10, 2007, 12:32 GMT

    well i would say one thing that with the absence of yousuf and an injured gul, the chances of pakistan pulling out a win seem grim. BUT one thing that i can say for sure is that pakistan is the most unpredictable team in the world and one can expect anything at anytime from them. they can even clinch a series victory when least expected of them. so DONT RULE PAKISTAN OUT YET. because they are still one of the top three test sides in the world in test and in onedays.

  • Shehzad Ghani on January 10, 2007, 12:17 GMT

    Yes, what is this business of Waqar not being an effective ODI coach. In tests, he is fine, but not ODIs. Ahem...didn't Pakistani bowlers in general bowl beautifully against WI at home? Can someone explain it to me, maybe I am missing a point?

  • Shehzad Ghani on January 10, 2007, 12:02 GMT

    I first thought Woolmer was a good pick for Pakitan's future. Now this is what we see: some good results against the teams which were relatively weak, specially at home venues; some good moments; poor results against strong teams; a loss to England in England after a long time; no real new talent to boast of (except Asif, everyone else was inducted in Miandad's helm at the position).

    Another worry: A. Razaq always gets injured when the time comes for some tough opposition (specially away tours) and on regular basis, Pakistani's (including) usually break down with injury or drop out for reasons against tougher teams, and on away tours. What is up with that? Disturbing, isn't it?

  • Syed Tariq Imtiaz on January 10, 2007, 11:13 GMT

    I have been watching cricket for more than two decades now and the thing that i learned so far is that in a test match the three possible results depends on the following combinations: 1) Good batting performance with bad bowling performance results in a drawn test match 2) Good bowling performance and bad batting performance results in a match decision (win or loss) 3) good batting performance and good bowling performance, a definate win. 4) bad batting performance and bad batting performance equal a loss of match.

    Now there is only one team that full fill condition number 3 and that is undoubtedly Australia. The question is where Pakistani team stands in SA?? Apart from Muhammad Asif we dont have a real strike bowler so the chance of winning even a single match is very thin (only if south africa performs really bad with too many mistakes which they wont specially after series against India. Our batting! well well Inzi is deteriorating and i dont think he has the stamina left to stand on the crease for a 100 runs. Younis khan we all know how casual he is sometimes over-casual (as was apparent in champions trophy). If he has learned some seriousness towards his job than we can expect him to be valuable card. Somewhere, some one from the junior camp has to show his talent through out the series to make a fight against well warmed up SouthAfrica. So finally, as ever, we being Pakistani fans have to depend more on our twelth man to perform well and this twelfth man is no other than the luck factors. Leaving Shoaib Akhtar under these circumstances ( a real match winner, I agree with Imran) is a decision that needs a lot of clarifications! Lets hope there is some hidden talent that we have in the youngster that we have not seen so far will come for rescue. I can see the result written on the wall. The world cup to follow but who cares!

  • usman afridi on January 10, 2007, 10:56 GMT

    i think if all us pakistani fans are being honest, then pakistan will be very very lucky to win even one test. when it comes to SA inzi is a big time flop & so is yousuf wheather in form or not & the same can be said about all the batsmen! in all the three test matches pakistan should be really happy if we have one centurion! there is only one man who separates the two sides & that is....SHOAIB AKHTAR! if this guy firez he will win us a test but not sure of a series....i say this with great belief because all of SA batsmen fear AKHTAR....just take a look at the PAK - SA series in 2003!

    GO SHOIAB ALL THE WAY I KNW UR THE BEST BUT THE WHOLE WORLD IS AGAINST YOU....INCLUDING INZI, PCB & WADA! GUD LUCK.

  • Raza-e-Mustafa, Gujranwala, Pakistan on January 10, 2007, 10:49 GMT

    The worst selections for this tour are Mohammad Sami and Faisal Iqbal. Sami, with his short run-up, skippy, quick arm action, heavy reliance on pace and short-pitched bowling, and no seam movement or swing is a typical tape-ball bowler and I am sure must be still playing tape-ball cricket during his free time and hence spoiling his serious cricket. Faisal, on the other hand, with his non-athletic physique at such a young age, and a technique inadequate even to bring him runs on flat tracks is nothing more than a liability on the team. His selection simply confounds logic. The only logic for his selection might be his uncle, Javed Miandad's connections. His place must have been better given to some solid youngster like Fawwad Alam who is in sublime touch at the moment. I'll be mighty disappointed if he is not selected for the one-dayers.

    The only ray of hope for Pakistan is a matter of gloom for South African Cricket- quota-based selection process. Cricket South Africa is supposed to play at least 7 coloured players in the final 15. That means at least 4 colored players in the playing twelve. That means some really good white players are going to miss. The only black players with a guaranteed place in the South African side are Ntini and Prince. That means if Telemachus or Zondeki play, Nel and Dale Steyn will miss out in bowling. In batting South Africa has even less options among colored players. If any one of Golam Bodi, Alviro Peterson or Loots Bosman plays, AB DeVilliers is definitely going to miss. Boeta Dippenaar and Jacques Rudolph are out of team only to accomodate coloured players. This is the only weak point in the South African Team, but that may also take effect from World Cup. Therefore, the only way for Pakistan to avoid a whitewash is that someone plays an innings of his life, otherwise, the odds are heavily stacked against Pakistan.

    I am sure all eyes will be focussed on Shoaib and Asif, but even Shoaib has asked us not to expect any miracle from him. He too is a mortal and fallible like the rest of the team. Waqar's resignation following poor handling from a quack called Nasim Ashraf has deepened the ongoing crisis, but the quack is least worried about the team and cricket, and is only interested in establishing the status quo and would not hear any "non-sense" from a mere bowling coach who has nothing to show but only 789 international wickets and one of the most feared fast bowling partnership with another lesser human being, a no quacker, called Wasim Akram. Let the egos and personal preferences take precedence over cricket. Let's celebrate the Renaissance of Pakistan Cricket under the able guidance of a quack and a sadhu. I believe Pakistan Team does not need any foreign physios when these two gentlemen are around to take care of Pakistan Cricket.

  • Usman Ahmed on January 10, 2007, 10:35 GMT

    I all depends upon the pitches. I think pakistan will loose this series any way. The real question is that how they loose it. If they go down fighting then it wil be okay. If i was SA i would look at the matches of old trafford and mohali and create those type of pitches but this approach may back fire cause of great seaming talents from muhammad asif. i have great trust in him and he will be the best bowler in the test series.

  • Omer Admani on January 10, 2007, 10:14 GMT

    Waqar's resignation is a huge loss as those yorkers were visible when Gul was bowling against the West Indies. Also, Rana's improvement was noteworthy. All in all Pakistan has a good chance I believe if the team is mentally positive. To be honest, this is one of the weakest South African sides that Pakistan would play against, so this is certainly Pakistan's best chance. They should play Asim Kamal, Faisal Iqbal has failed too much. I can't imagine Farhat bieng successful against the consistent South African bowlinfg, so someone's suggestion of a third opener holds merit. All in all I'd say 60-40 in South Africa's favor, though if Pakistan play positively initially they can send a strong message to the South African team, which, with Smith under pressure, could then fold.

    Note: I agree with the original post that a full-strength Pakistan team is stronger than a full-strength South African team, but I also feel we are usually found mentally lacking against "gora" cricketers.

  • Johnny B on January 10, 2007, 10:08 GMT

    Simply saying that 'our batsmen will have to perform' will not make it so. Pakistan's batting line up depends on 3 very good (if not great) batsmen and 4 or 5 sloggers, who will not be able to cope on South African piches. Since Yousef is out and Inzy isn't so great on really quick pitches, a more realistic prediction is that Pakistan are going to get blown away. Your bowling attack might save you from a humiliation, but I wouldn't get your hopes up.

  • Ehtasham Usmani on January 10, 2007, 10:05 GMT

    I think yousuf & gul are a big loss to the team, in case of malik i think its a blessing in disguise... In order to win in SA, the team composition is v imp. Hammed to replace yousuf and kamal to play for malik will be ok. If opening batsmen & new ball bowlers do the job & rest can make good decent contribution, Pak can still upset SA. Once again! team composition is vital, to maintain a wining team will not work, team should be selected by considering the each individual's role as discussed in game plan & also considering the pitch.

  • subash on January 10, 2007, 10:00 GMT

    Honestly I believe that Pakistan is going to lose this series. The Author's comments as if Pakistan starts as favourites is a cooked up one. If one observes sincerely he can see that no subcontinent team has ever played good test cricket on bouncy and pacy wicket like what we see in Australia and South Africa. You might be able to point out some odd performence but consistant batting is yet to be seen. Do not forget that Pakistan lost 0-3 in their last visit to Australia. It is not just courage or valour or even talent for the batsmen on the wicket, but thoroughness in handling bouncy , pacy tracks. It is difficult to expect this know-how from sub-continent batsmen.

  • Mustafa Moiz on January 10, 2007, 9:51 GMT

    Shoaib Malik's absence will be felt most because, along with bowling, he can also bat, while Yousuf and Gul do only one of those things. And now Sami might finally get a chance to bowl on a decent bowling track: He always bowls on the best batting pitches, and everyone else gets grassy pitches. And maybe Inzamam will use his brains for once. It will be most interesting to see his captaincy.

  • Rahman on January 10, 2007, 9:23 GMT

    hi , I dont ever understand why shoib malik always get unfit on the foreign tours specially where the pitches not favoring him( like in england came back home after landed there and now in south africa). I never ever take him as test player and not even think he can be a good captain for pakistan in future.

  • A.R.Zaidi on January 10, 2007, 9:03 GMT

    Kamran , i m not a pessimist and since i have been to all South African vanues, i m sure in my heart that Pakstan can turn the tables on Springboks. Pakistani batsmen just need to apply and bowlers need to maintain good line and length. Wickets at Centurion, St. George's Park PE and Newlands r good for batting too but provide opportunities to bowlers as well. Nodoubt it will be hard for our batsmen to acclemitise in a week but i still feel Pakistan has tremendous talent. Team MUST not drop catches which u know is its biggest weak point. Had i been captain, i would include Shoeb in the First Test side without caring for jet lag or long distance covered. International players have got great ability to adjust so in my view Inzi should play Shoeb at Centurion on 11th Jan. Well, Yousaf will surely be missed! Woolmer should come forward and tell our batsmen how to play on South African tracks. He is a South African and who knows these wickets better than him. Pakistan must play Danish at PE and CapeTown. Indians commited a mistake of not including Harbajhan there in last test and had to suffer. I want Yasir to play in first test, he is a brillant batsman. Imran and Farhat should give good opening partnership, Younis should score runs in the series and Inzi on his last tour to SA should also give more performances for his country. Luckily there is no match to be played at Kingsmead which is the fastest wicket in SA. Pakistan must ensure that her fast bowlers dont stray , if the do, then we all know Ntini, Pollck, Kallis, Hall, Nell and co will make their life difficult as they r fast and accurate. I hope Inzi will lead from front too and come out of his defensive groove.

  • Identity Concealed on January 10, 2007, 8:59 GMT

    I would consider Mohammad Yousuf as the only blow. Shoaib Malik again survives the test of his abilities like he survived in England. Frankly speaking he doesnt deserve a playing eleven place in countries like south africa and england.So more or less, it is a blessing in disguise. Relying on Hafeez ability and seeing the conditions of pitch, I would go with Sami. and Mohammad Sami should be reminded this might be his very last chance for international cricket. Imran Khan always support him because of his pace. In this match, he can provide variety in pace bowling attack. But if he doesnt perform well, I guess then new comer should be given chance. But let us support him this time and hope he performs. I would wish Asim Kamal is selected in playing X1 for the sake of variety and his track record. But I fear it wont happen :(

    Anyways Good luck to Pakistan team and Sami too !!!

  • Ghalib Imtiyaz Ahmad on January 10, 2007, 8:55 GMT

    In Hafeez we have a very reliable opener but Imran Farhat can trigger a mini collapse as he will most likely throw his wicket away. Bowling is as strong as ever. Umar Gul's absence may give Sami another chance at the highest level to prove his worth in the team. Inzamam has to score a 100 and lead by example. Hafeez and Yasir Hameed are in good touch and Younis Khan will play responsibly enough to avoid a defeat. A victory is highly unlikely unless Asif can perform a miracle. Shoaib's inclusion in the 2nd test will mean that we will definitely win the 2nd test match.

  • Omar on January 10, 2007, 7:55 GMT

    Yes I agree that Pakistan has always struggled against SA; more so in SA, as the wickets there are fast and bouncy. The key to success in this tour would be to adapt quickly to the conditions in SA, both on the field and off it.

    Secondly our batsmen will have to shoulder the responsibility and show some mature attitude towards test cricket (especially the younger batsmen).

    SA will be preparing fast wickets to suit their bowlers, like they did against India. We too have quite a capable pace attack but the key would be to use it intelligently. Kaneria should only be used sparingly (a lesson taken from kumble's performance against SA).

    As far as crowning Woolmer is concerned, I believe it is more a matter of saving his repute than crowning him, for the chances of Pakistan winning are slim.

  • Shuja on January 10, 2007, 7:24 GMT

    I wudnt wanna get into trashing pakistan or south africa for that matter. I wud rather consider facts that makes sense. Pakistan are no doubt a better test side than South Africa But.. yes there's a but...pakistan are not a better test side than SA in south african conditions. Pakistani batsmen have never liked the bounce and seam movement altho they coped with the seam movement quiet well in england (atleast I think so). I strongly believe this will not be a bad tour for the tourists... I think there will be some xceptional contributions by some individuals but what I really hope to see is the whole team's contribution. If they can somehow manage that, first series victory in SA is not far fetched. Inzi has to stand up.. one of the openers has to contribute atleast a 50..Danish has to 4get lara's trashing.. if they can do this then pakistan definitly has good chances.

  • farhan on January 10, 2007, 7:20 GMT

    Hi All, I think Pakistan is better than SA still. Yousuf's unavailability is a greeeeeeeat loss but PAK can still win it.I think Farhat hasn't have the perfect temperment to cope with bouncy SA pitches.Hafeez is OK for the test.Inzi must have to prove himself in SA.Younis, I guess is not in his pick.But the positive sides are that PAK has got a very formidable young batting line up in likes of Akmal,Hameed & co.In bowling I think it can't be any better than a bowling line up of Shoib-Asif-Gul-Naved-Kaneria.Asif is really a magician.Let Proteas feel the song.Shoib has his last chance to show his true passion for the team.

    However lets thumbs up for a real 'manly' contest!!!

  • Farrukh on January 10, 2007, 7:18 GMT

    A changed bowling coach - Waqar out - Shoaib out - Shoaib in - chest infections - ankle injuries................The writing is very much on the wall............get ready for a big drubbing in SA

  • Fahad on January 10, 2007, 7:06 GMT

    I think Pakistan has played very well over the years when they are under estimated. We have a team that has given good results when we have our star players missing, Pakistan have never been dependent on individual talent. I feel Pakistan will do well even with mix of experienced players and young talent, the only worry is the politics going on in the team and events that have taken place in past few months. I think Naseem Ashraf has handled critical situations in a poor way which will effect Pakistan’s performance. It will be a test for Pakistan side which is plagued by controversies. In short we all know that we have enough talent and are very unpredictable, the only big test will be how they deal with Naseem Ashraf’s mess. I hope they put every thing behind them, jell together and play as winners because that’s what matters. They have to step on the field as a team. "There's no 'I' in team but there's an 'I' in winners."

  • Muhammad Umair on January 10, 2007, 6:59 GMT

    If we see the record of Pakistan against South Africans, it is too much disappointing. If we see the Pakistan’s record on fast and bouncy pitches, it is also too much disappointing. In the last two years, Pakistan has failed in Perth, Manchester, and Mohali, on the pitches that were bouncy and fast. We lost all those matches by bad batting, but another important point, that in all these three matches, Pakistan had not possessed more than one fast bowler on which a team can rely upon. The reason the other team got big totals on the board were because of that after taking some early break-throughs, there was no other bowler who could keep the momentum going of taking wickets. But, now we have more than one wicket taking bowler. Asif, Gul, Shoaib and Nazir. Now we are short of one bowler, after Gul and Shoaib not available for the first test. But, I plead not to give Sami one more chance, I think Rana Naved-ul-Hassan will be a very good choice.

    Moreover, Mohammad Asif will be the key bowler in the series. His strike rate is just 38, which is probably the best in the current test playing fast and spin bowlers.

    Pakistan will miss their great batsman Mohammad Yousuf, and the entire burden will be on Inzamam-ul-Haq, Younis Khan, openers, and Asim Kamal. If openers get us a good start then will have a good chance of winning the test series.

    Now my following comment is to Posted by: eddy at January 9, 2007 2:21 PM Who said that Pakistan are mad to be playing test match cricket so close to the world cup!!

    I will say to him (IF YOU ARE AN AUSTRALIAN THEN), you should plead to Cricket Australia that World Cup is so close and four matches against each side in the current COMMON WEALTH BANK series are too much for the fast bowlers. Our fast bowlers will be injured, there must be only two matches with the other side, and only one final should be there.

  • Zuhair on January 10, 2007, 6:57 GMT

    Definately, without Yousuf, our batting will struggle. Younis Khan's technique will be exposed on south african ppitches, he'll be an easy candidat to handle by Ntini and co. Therfore, it has 2 b inzi alone to marshall the batting. People should not expect Farhat n Hafeez to score in south africa against thier test team!! the pitch they scored centuries on was a slow batting pitch, whchc was purposefuly prepared!! I doubt that our opening stand would ever xceed 50 runs in the whole series!

    The absence of razzaq adn Malik, will put a LOT of pressure on the lower batting order and the bowling load!! No matter, how poor razaq's performance has beeen in the recent past, he is an invaluable player for the side and his abseence would mean lack of character n strength in the team!!

    I hope Sami doesnt play!! But, Rana in test matches is j just an ordinary bowler as well!! Rao Iftikhar is still a better choice, but he is not been considered even!! Similarly, for test match opening we should have considered Taufeeq Umer, who is much more compact!! Yasir and Asim Kamal both must play in the match, if pakistan has 2 stay a bit long on the batting crease!! But, i am sure our management would again give faisal iqbal yet another chance!! Lets hope, that yousuf arrives in the 2nd match!! he and shoaib can give pakistan THAT winning sense!!! we must fel lucky if we save the first test!!

    Simple tactic for pakistan to win: Score 300 in the 1st innings

  • asdf on January 10, 2007, 6:51 GMT

    firstly, i think someone's being very naughty and is regularly hacking into kamran's computer and making ridiculous claims in his articles. i mean..you wouldnt expect anybody with a little cricket sense in his head to claim pakistanis were favorites to win in south africa do you? maybe in odis but even that is a long shot. can you smell what the hacker is cooking?

  • Mohsin Malik on January 10, 2007, 6:46 GMT

    Dear Mr. Abbasi:

    There are lessons to be learnt from the just concluded test series in South Africa. Inevitably, parallels are drawn between test teams from the sub-continent, more so when they tour another country in succession.

    The best advice for the Pakistan team would be to play as a unit and ride the tide together as there would be no smooth sailing. That's for sure. A joint team effort holds the key here. Comparisons always serve a good purpose. Come what may, the players need to give their best - both in terms of effort and attitude and let the better team carry the day. It is important to avoid blame game during the course of the series and after the series.

    The team management which includes Inzamam as a key member should avoid the "Conflict of Interest" in their dealings. This attribute has ruined many a tours and series in the past. In this regard, lesser the said, the better it is. Team's preparation for this tour has suddenly taken a surprise turn with Shoaib's late inclusion after some unexpected twists and turns. It is imperative that the team blends and quickly molds into a fighting unit with all players given their due respect and importance. As far as the fans are concerned, no one is bigger than the game . Performance should be the sole criteria and this is the main key to success. All other parleys and behind the scene developments make little or no contributions for team success.

  • Mohd Saleem on January 10, 2007, 6:26 GMT

    Dear Kamran. To sum-up what's going in PCB and the with team selection. I quote this excerpt from an Indian newspaper: Bari stumped by PCB chairman’s secretariat: While the PCB had announced the decision of sending Akhtar early on Monday evening in Islamabad, chief selector Wasim Bari kept insisting that no final decision had been taken regarding the ‘Rawalpindi Express’ and he was still in negotiations with the team management over the issue of Gul. It appeared as if Dr Nasim Ashraf’s secretariat in Islamabad, in a bid to outsmart Bari, had announced the decision without waiting for final confirmation from the selectors. Bari, however, tried to clarify the position on Shoaib while talking to Dawn on Monday: “Shoaib was dropped from the 17-member squad only because he was not match-fit. But as he has been bowling well in the Quaid-i-Azam Trophy match he is our first choice now,” Bari said.

    Reg. sacking of Waqar Younis and how shabbily PCB treats their legends and how other country players has highest regards for them. I quote here Kapildev's interview to SPORTSTAR:

    Kapil elaborated on the one big reason why Indian cricket is not producing results commensurate with available talent. He calls this X factor CI, short for Cricketing Intelligence. “Too many lack that,” says Kapil sweepingly of the new generation. (This also apply for Pak team)

    “If you ask me whether Sachin is an intelligent cricketer, I may not have a ready answer. But seeing he has not won as many matches for India as his talent should have makes me believe he is not as intelligent as, say, Javed Miandad. He was one smart cricketer who knew how to win cricket matches,” he said.

    On Greg Chappell, the coach? “My opinion is well known. I still ask who is Greg Chappell? I firmly believe an Indian should be in charge, preferably someone with authority like that of Imran Khan. You have to push the Indian cricketer because he is not very high on CI quotient and to do that you need a formidable figure as captain or coach.”

  • Faisal on January 10, 2007, 6:20 GMT

    I disagree that Pak in SA were favourites at any stage. With or without Yusuf, Pakistan have always had a slim chnace of winning the test series.

    It is evident from the Ind-SA series that contributions from openers and Akmal will be extremely vital. Bowlers generally do well in SA, though Kaneria's situation is puzzling, he seems to be short on confidence and probably trying a bit too hard. He needs not bowl six different deliveries in an over, just settle down and bowl consistent line and length. Do it the Warnie way rather than the Mushy way.

  • mansoor on January 10, 2007, 5:30 GMT

    Generally they say that own strength is more important issue than enemy's weakness. not really in case of this series. we can have a very good look at South Africa due to the fact that they just played a whole test series against a team which is similar to us in manny terms. it seems that gibbs, de villiars, hashim amla and kallis are having the worst form of there lives, they were like invisible during the whole series against india. even smith has played one or two face saving innings in the end other wise his own form was dreadfull. On the other hand Ntini is not looking as dangerous as he use to look. apart from one innings in Durben. i think if pakistan is going through motions for winning for the first time in S.A, south aftica is also not in the best of moods here. so it will not be a case of "who play better" but rather a matter of "who play less bad". i think the pace battery of pakistan after shoab s inclusion is easily the best in the world.(warne and mcgrath are retired). so it will be a low scoring, tantlising, freak and not to be remembered type of series. one session you will be feeling like lords and the next session you will be cursing your luck. i think it will have a sarcastic humer into it. so lets see.

  • shakester on January 10, 2007, 5:22 GMT

    Pakistan the favourites before the injuries? Really? I mean, really?? Come on, Mr KA.

  • David Furrows on January 10, 2007, 5:20 GMT

    The team is grossly under-prepared for this tour, and that will cost them dear.

    South Africa has just played 3 home tests on these wickets: Pakistan couldn't be bothered taking the team to South Africa until last week, even though the coach and physio were already there.

    I still believe that they should do what Imran Khan did in the West Indies in 87-88: go in with three openers to make sure that the middle-order (Younis and Inzy) isn't dismissed by the new ball. That means that Yasir Hameed at 3 is the key batsman. Moreover, given that Inzy for the last two years or more has basically been a flat-track bully, it would be desirable to have Asim Kamal bat at 6 rather than the inconsistent Faisal Iqbal.

    Mohammad Asif and Rana Naved both bowled at Kimberley as if they haven't done enough bowling recently (do I hear Harmison at the Gabba?). Shahid Nazir looks likely to be preferred to Sami due to his current form, but that is a major worry. It means that the attack will have two short, stocky right-arm medium pacers (Nazir and Naved) and be very predictable.

    It is simply unbelievable that Shoaib Akhtar has now reportedly missed the two flights which could have got him to South Africa in time for the First Test. Similarly, Umar Gul seems to have done a "Munaf Patel" in hiding the true extent of his injury from the selectors, and that is inexcusable.

    I hope that Bob Woolmer is having more luck with his marble slab to prepare the batsmen than he did at Old Trafford!

    The under-preparation and poor selection is going to be very costly. I half-expect to see Pakistan bowled out for less than 100, or conceding 380-3 on the first day.

    Bob Woolmer has been a terrific coach. But his failure to further develop and nurture Yasir Hameed and Asim Kamal looks likely to be very costly now.

    But why haven't they played two or three 4 day First Class matches to prepare for the conditions? It is shocking negligence, and it will cost pakistan dearly.

  • Kiran Bokhari on January 10, 2007, 5:18 GMT

    "Javed Khan from Montreal" has obviously been out too much in the snow, because his brain appears to be frozen. Bob Woolmer took proper leave from the PCB to celebrate Christmas with his family and meet the team in South Africa, where he has a home. His request was granted. Waqar Younis on the other hand took of for Hajj without asking PCB for permission and he paid the price for it.I dont care if he was going for Hajj or to watch Seasame Street, Younis was a contracted official and therefore was required to get permission from the PCB. He didnt and got what he deserved. Now coming back to the tour of South Africa, its a shame Yousef isent around because playing in South Africa against South Africa is a yardstick for any top quality batter. I think the Pakistani bowling is looking good, although I disagree with Kamran's team selection for the 1st test, I dont see Rana being in the team, his test record is poor, and with the absence of Shoain and Gul, I think Sami is a better option and is more likely to add his pace to the attack with Asif and Nazir with Danish and Hafeez as the spinners. My concern continues to be batting, Farhat will never get goind because his temperament is lacking and he's going to be giving slip practice to the Proteas throughout the series, Younis has a poor technique and has never gotten runs against Australia or South Africa, the best teams, Inzamam hasnt played an innings of note for over a year, and Hafeez, Yasir and Faisal are too inconsistent at the best of times. Therefore, I think the batting is the biggest concern for Pakistan, if we get the runs, we have a chance to be competitive, if we dont, we`re heading for trouble.

  • Raza-e-Mustafa, Gujranwala, Pakistan on January 10, 2007, 4:49 GMT

    Life in the fast lane is not very easy, especially when you are up against one of the best teams in the world in their own back-yard. South Africa are one of the most formidable teams at home and I believe India did well to pull off a win there after all the years of frustration. Pakistan's chances of winning even a single test in South Africa depend squarely on its batsmen, but on seamer friendly pitches, Pakistan's batting at best is brittle. None of Pakistan's three premier batsmen Yousuf, Younis and Inzamam has scored a century agianst South Africa. What can we expect from the lesser mortals when the gods of Pakistan's batting historically struggle against South Africa and even more so in their own country? I would consider Pakistan lucky if they win even one test there.

    Pakistani openers, Farhat and Hafeez did credibly well in the home series against a weak bowling attack of West Indies, but we should expect no miracles from them in South Africa where even the old ball seams, what to say of the new. Even the best of Pakistani batsmen are vulnerable on seaming tracks.

    The yardstck of any team's greatness is their performance aginast the top teams, and unfortunately, Pakistanis are not so successful against Australia and South Africa in recent past. Inzamam has only one century against Australia and that too in Pakistan, but none against South Africa. Yousuf goes one better and has a century aginast Australia in Australia, but Younis has none against any of the two top teams in the world at the moment. Judging from the current form and technique, the only batsman capable of coping with the South African conditions is Yousuf, but he is sadly missing from the team in the first test. That leaves all the responsibility on the shoulders of Inzamam who is in the twilight of his career and is doing more politics thannet practice. Younis is definitely a dead track bully. He can not be expected to perform as his technique is not suitable for playing seam bowling. All we can hope for at the moment is a miracle from someone like Kamran Akmal to win us a test match in South Africa.

  • zulfiqar ali on January 10, 2007, 4:32 GMT

    a foreign trip by pak. cricket team is test of charactor of young players. i think yasir and faisal both are now in a position to prove a point. will they be the backbone of pakistan batting in future or we have to look further dawn for it ? we will get answer to this question after the series. it is also a make or break thing for sami.there are lot of expactation from the team but considering their past record in s.a . winning series is a big ask .

  • Akber Khan - Karachi, PK. on January 10, 2007, 4:16 GMT

    Ummmm, well what I think we should have enough faith in yasir hameed, he certainly has potential to play on bouncy pitches, I have seen him play in aussie conditions and he did well against the world class bowling line up; considering lee, mcgrath and warney. As we know he is a front foot player, he can play cut shot very well, pull shot also, and he is also a back foot player, only thing where he lacks is when bowl pitches way out on off-stump, i think with the passage of time; he also over came that problem of his, and he showed all his capability to us in home series against west-indies. Another thing which is bothering me all time, and I wonder if Asim kamal not picked for 1st Test, because you see SA Bowlers are not good at all for left hand batsmen, they just forget length when left hand batsmen come to crease, you see when ganguly can do well then why not kamal, kamal is inform batsmen, i have seen him play in 20:20 and he did excellent job for his side. And another thing he has his highest score against SA, he will do well if he given chance, I know and I have much faith in him. And at last I would like to see Azhar Mahmood, Mohammad Wasim, Fawad Alam, Salman Butt and Samiullah Niazi back in team for SA.

  • ali on January 10, 2007, 4:06 GMT

    Its so bizzare to read all the absurd reasons that PCB has given to get rid of Waqar. In my opinion they have seriously jeopardized their World cup chances. What puzzling is the manner in which PCB has indicated that he's not needed for the ODIs. It seems like PCB is worried about match fixing, betting contraversies of the old Pakistani team. PCB need to forget that episode and move on. Waqar and/or Wasim are not in any place to influence the outcome of the game. Instead of wasting their talents to other countires, they need to recognize their weaknesses and retain their services. Pakistan lost to an England B team who just got a 5-0 thrashing against Australia. Another aspect that is most puzzling to me is how PCB treats that age of the player. It seems like once a player goes above 30 he's been written off as old and no good. Look at Australia, they have the oldest side and they've been unbeatable. Their recently retired three players had 370 tests of experience among them. While, Mustaq Ahmed who is still active in County Cricket and has taken more than 100 wickets. Instead of having him play with Kaneria they have him as bowling coach. Another aspect of Pakistani batting is the lack of consitency - look at Inzi's performance this year versus last year. It"ll be a miracle if Pakistan can win in SA - look at their bowling in the opening match - Asif, Kaneria's figures, I bet they are already missing Waqar now.

  • JAVED A. KHAN, MONTREAL, CANADA on January 10, 2007, 3:04 GMT

    SAPinfo, Tony Greig once said, who says Javed Miandad doesn't speaks English? He says, "yes", "no" and "curry". I think Woolmer has more words in his bag, he can say in Urdu: "Shoaib", "accha", "nai", "hai."

    To add a point here about winning in SA. South Africans are tired after the Indian tour, if Pakistan can play long innings and not a ODI style test match, they can take advantage of the situation, but this is asking too much from our batsmen especially since Mohammad Yousuf is not there and Pir Sayeen has chest infection. I'll be happy to see them proving me wrong.

  • Ali on January 10, 2007, 3:02 GMT

    If 'catches win matches' is correct then we should get rid of Imran Farhat as strategy no.1. The next thing is to find an opener who is also a brilliant fielder. Another Imran (Nazir) can fill this position. Same goes with players like Faisal Iqbal, although he is not tested properly but we should also consider the likes of Hasan Raza and other youngsters. Bowling department is OK if fielding performs. We should remember the real reason of our failure in England and also world beating records of mediocre players like Bell is nothing but our fielding. I can't emphasize more that 'Catches win Matches'

  • Ammad Siddiqui on January 10, 2007, 2:27 GMT

    I agree that Pakistan do have a slim chance of winning this series and if they do it, Woolmer would have to play a big role.

    I hope and pray that Pakistan do win this series CONVINCINGLY and not the dodgy type. However I hope we have two failures so as to open the eyes of the selectors; Imran Farhat and Muhammad Sami. Without Shoaib Akhtar PCB made yet another idiotic excuse. With him most likely missing out the first test, I want to see Rana Naveed ul Hassan take his place because he has in it to prove himself.

    I was hoping more of the topic to be focused on Waqar Younis's resignation. It again shows what sort of shambles and how pathetic the PCB is. Not honouring legends like Akram, Anwar and Younis, the PCB is disgracing the players and making a joke out of them. I find this abosuletly insane when on the other hand players like Sreesanth and Pathan have seeked advice and Younis going to Australia. It truly is something to be ashamed of for the PCB.

  • Nabeel on January 10, 2007, 2:18 GMT

    A toss up between Danish Kaneria and Mohammad Sami? I don't think so. First of all, Bowling Rule #1 (for test matches): you don't go into a test match without a spinner. And secondly, Kaneria is a far superior and effective bowler right now. Now that Warne has retired, he is one of the best leg spinners around, second maybe only to Stuart MacGill. Everyone knows Sami has potential, but he has failed to deliver time and again.

  • Arsalan Khan on January 10, 2007, 1:58 GMT

    First of all, I think the South Africans are going to prepare rather slow wickets for the Pakistanese since we have such a lethal bowling attack.

    Secondly, If there's someone who can really be an anchor for the rather comparitively weak, and inexperienced Pakistani batting line up, it's un-arguably Inzamam.

    Pakistan's success will single handedly depend on Inzamam's success. Just like India's batting depended on Dravid.

  • shoaib on January 10, 2007, 1:49 GMT

    I don't think Inzamam has to prove anything he is already a legend...and pakistan's best batsman infront of javed Miandad and hanif mohammad bcos Inzy have a unique quality which no one had which is even his "40" is a match winning 40 sometimes,as in faislabad. Miandad was also dependable batsman but Miandad was not that much successful in terms of match winning Innings...and Miandad also departed in 1996 in not so convincing style after his out of form though miandad is also a legend and his great knocks cannot be ignored like Sharjah6 and many many other..both are legends and it is hard to compare both but if someone asks me Inzy is a bit better...

    And were you sleeping Kamran when Inzy played VB series in Australia in 2005?? he almost scored 50 in every match...there in 'Australia' have you forgotten semifinal trumph of 1992 and the final??? you are pening down against the best batsman of pakistan which they have ever produced pakistan team is today what it is bcos of just 'Inzamam' if you just delete Inzamam from the paki team what you will get is a 'dummy' team

  • EAMiran on January 10, 2007, 1:30 GMT

    These are our "glorious riches" that everyone keeps harping about in the bowling department (Shoaib and Asif are not included as they are World Class): Umar Gul - Pakistan's cliched "leading bowler of 2006". Leading, because he was the only seamer who remained fit, and consequently bowled in the most number of test matches. That does not make him a strike bowler as was evidenced in England where his wickets came at a fair cost. He is, at best, a 1st change bowler behind Shoaib and Asif. Nazir - steady; however may not have the pace and menace to threaten the South African test team. Rana - overenthusiastic bumbling swing bowler with a test record that is almost as bad as Sami's. Thinks he is an express bowler but clearly isn't. One good ball deserves a couple of bad ones. Should not be in the team. Sami - Need we say more? Kaneria - Should just shut up and start taking wickets - and cheaply! 5/185 is not Warnesque! A distant third (so far) when compared to Qadir and Mushie.

  • JAVED A. KHAN, MONTREAL, CANADA on January 9, 2007, 22:01 GMT

    CROWNING WOOLMER? I would rather talk about Pakistan winning the series rather than praising Woolmer. He doesn't deserve any praise. I don't believe in this IF's and BUT's theories. Because no one could have predicted what would have happened IF Woolmer was not appointed as the Coach of Pakistan team. The team has not won all those matches in the recent past under Inzamam's captaincy just because of Woolmer. They would have won in any case, be it Woolmer or any local coach. This foreign coach phobia is becoming more like a cult in the sub-continent and it must be dumped and done, after Woolmer's contract is over.

    The PCB needs a complete over-hauling, politicians and bureaucrats must leave for good. The current example of politics is Waqar Younis case. He was humiliated by none other than our own Americanized Desi Babu, Doctor Saheb Nasim Ashraf Joka and Pir Inzamamul Haq's ploy in bringing Mushy in. The decision to appoint Mushy behind Waqar's back while he was away on Hajj was taken by both these people. PCB officials said, one of the reasons is: 'Waqar was absent for 12 days without any authorization'. Isn't it laughable? There was a news that a group of cricketers, Waqar, Yousuf, Saeed Anwar, Afridi and even Saleem Altaf went for Hajj. Now, they say Waqar's absence was unauthorized.

    Bob Woolmer went away on vacation to celebrate Christmas and New Year and he would join the team upon arrival, is it a good thing? Woolmer is the main coach his presence was much more needed at the time when the team was being selected and chosen for the SA tour and also to see that they practice and gel together as a team and stay fit. Why was his leave or should I say "absense" authorized? I would have never allowed the main coach to go on a holiday at a critical juncture like this.

    It seems that the plot was hatched much before and they had worked the plan and decided who is going? The team and the assistant bowling coach were already selected. Inzi's ploy to get in Mushy through the back door with a stupid reason that Waqar is not so good as a coach for the ODI's is another absurd reason, its just like the one that Shoaib is not fully fit. Now he is fit just in a few days time? Thats because, there is a vacuum that has been created due to injuries.

    About Inzamam's chest infection, Woolmer has said 'its minor'. It seems like he playing it down. As far as I know, a throat infection is minor yet it takes one week to recover, but a chest infection needs 10-15 days of antibiotic treatment and then you need time to recover, recuperate and regain match fitness. I doubt if Inzamam would be fully fit. And if he fails, there is no Mohammad Yousuf in the team and no Umar Gul in the team, so its better to take someone else in the team when he is not fully fit. Why is it that the important players are treated differently? A similar example in the following paragraph.

    The latest news about Munaf Patel's integrity being questioned by Niranjan Shah of BCCI that he was not fully fit and did not disclose his fitness himself and all that detail........ fine, but when asked that, 'don't you think the same applies to Tendulkar?' Mr. Shah was completely bowled out on that occasion and then he smiled and said, 'No Tendulkar is a different class of a player, he would never do that'. What a farce? Look at Tendulkar's pathetic performance and see for yourself. Two different. rules and two different yardsticks for two different players? Just because they are famous and enjoying a clout and the status of a Pir and a deity!

  • SAPinfo on January 9, 2007, 21:39 GMT

    Could someone confirm that Mr. Woolmer speaks Hindi/Urdu - He was born in Kanpur, India...

    Thanks

  • Danish Zaidi - Swaziland, Southern Africa on January 9, 2007, 20:46 GMT

    I think in order for Pakistan to win it is vital that Danish Kaneria plays in every test match regardless of the pitch. Traditionally, since South Africa's re addmission to Cricket they have generally struggled with SPIN bowling apart from AB De villiers. Remember how he got Kevin Pietersen (SA Born) in England ( who is ashamed to admit he's south african yet this parents reside in Durban whether its because they dont play spin i dont know but anyway....

    Danish can atleast hold up one end if not attack and I think bounce he extracts and the wrong'un will come in handy. Mushtaq Ahmed who happens to be with the team now would do well to remind the Pakistan team of that famous victory in that Durban Test Match which Mushie single handedly won ( i dont think i have seen a better performance from mushie ever) together with Shoaib (brought back memories of WC92) and the Pakistan think tank could do well to relect on that match.

    I think Pakistan needs to handle their fast bowlers with care which might mean that each bowler sits out in each of the test matches if Kaneria is playing all the tests so when the world cup comes they are still fresh.

    South Africa are likely to rest Ntini for the 1st test then Pollock will sit out the 2nd and Steyn/Nel for the 3rd. I think the Pakistan management need to be very careful in how the work load is shared. Kaneria can bowl long spells and like Kamran said happens to be Pakistan's "safety valve"

    Re: Batting I think Asim Kamal should be given first preference over Faisal Iqbal. Firstly he;s a left hander so that creates an angle for the South African bowlers and they are not very good at bowling to left handers apart from pollock and can play with a lot of patience like Ashwell Prince does for South Africa. Asim Kamal has done it vs SA before and is a fighter.

    Faisal Iqbal on the other hand has been given way too many chances and has been very disappointing. The way he's been exposed in the past with the short ball I dont think he's ready for test cricket. He's always caught fending and Ntini's angle wide of the crease is definitely going to expose him again. I strongly believe that the 6/7 position is going to be vital. Last time Azhar Mehmood filled that position very well which kept Pakistan competing in most of the games.

    I still find it very hard for Pakistan to force a result if Inzi doesnt attack. I think inzi really needs to be very aggressive with his captaincy (agressive field placings) and needs to believe that his team can do the job unlike Rashid Latif/Moin Khan who tended to be v diffensive giving away singles(moin's favourite strategy)

  • Mohammad Khan on January 9, 2007, 20:43 GMT

    Kamran I think as Pakistanis we should raise our level of expectance. I think for a very long time we have been inconsistent. Under Inzi and Woolmer consistency has been key. I think we are the only true country that can challenge Australia. We are the only country that can challenge there batsman. We are the only country in the world who also has depth other than Australia. Guys like Rana, Sami, Nazir, and Rao would be consistent performers on other teams. We can afford to drop a player like Shoaib. We have guys like Yasir Hameed and Faisal Iqbal along with Asim Kamal who are inconsistent but have shown signs of international class. Look at India they have one billion people but who are the next generation of batsman. Losing Yousuf and Umar Gul is a loss but is nothing we can't overcome. Gul's replacement isn't so bad as long he concentrates on the field. YOusuf's is a big loss because Inzi is not the same player. I think this is a defining moment in his career and I think he will perform but he needs help. Its time the openers get hundreds. Forget the 50 run opening partnership they should get big scores or get lost, the same with Yasir Hameed who reminds me of Yousuf Youhana rather than Mohammad Yousuf. I player with a lot of class that loses concentration. I expect Pakistan to win this series but they have to be very strong mentally because that is one place where the SOuth Africans have an edge. For some reason are players get enamoured with the white man. They need to go in this series with the American sports mentality. We are here and we are going to punch you in the mouth lets see your response and for that Shoaib must play. Also Danish can you get some wickets. There is Asif, Shoaib, and Nazir is a poor mans hoggard so no more excuses.

  • Shahriar Hoque on January 9, 2007, 20:24 GMT

    Mr. Kamran, I always enjoy reading your piece and most of the time agree with you. However, I was surprised to read: ""Pakistan might have begun the series as favourites but the loss of key players means that South Africa now have the upper hand. "" Even with a full strength side, I don't think PAK would have been the favourites. PAK's record in SA is not great. PAK's record against bouncy tracks (the ones that they will probably play in SA) is not that great and the last ODI between these two showed PAK's batting weakness against SA pacers. I agree loss of MoYo is so big that it's hard to write. MoYo is in the form of his life and the current best batsman (some might argue raising Ponting's case). We have seen the INDIANS struggling against Saffers so it's not difficult to guesstimate how PAK batters will do. The one and only hope was MoYo and he's now not available. Once again the Sultan of Multan will have to carry the load. Younis Khan and the performance of the two openers are also key in PAK's batting. I predict PAK batsman will have very hard time in SA. Asim Kamal is more calm and better suited than Hameed. PAK needs one or two accumulators in their batting.

    In terms of bowling, when you have a bowler of Shaoib's class available you only have one option and that is to play him. I just can't imagine how PAK can sit a fit Shoaib. If PAK can win then it will depend on the performance of first: Shoaib and then Asif. Kaneria will play a crucial role too. The scene also depends on the track. Last time Smith was complaining to have a ASIAN track in SA. However, he didn't complain when he said that he felt home in the last ICC trophy in IND. Yes, track is a huge, huge factor. Key players for PAK are still the same and it's their play that will decide the fate for PAK: INZI, YOUNIS, SHOAIB, ASIF, KANERIA.

  • Hamza Baig on January 9, 2007, 20:04 GMT

    There are still some new heroes in Pakistani team Mr Imran Khand. Asim Kamal is a fine batsman. I am impressed with Mohammad Hafeez. And then in the bowling Mohammad Asif is a real new hero and rest are also doing great job. I think Pakistan can win the test series. I don't know how can people forget that pakistan have been doing great in the recent past in test matches. If SA have Pollock, Ntini, Steyn and Nel then we do also have Akhtar, Asif, Rana, Nazir and Sami. And don't worry about Paki batting becuz SA batsmen are also out of form so i guess both teams shall equally be categorized.

  • Euceph Ahmed on January 9, 2007, 19:56 GMT

    Hmmmm...... a mundane topic after your bombshell of last week. That was an Afridi-like slog which went out of the stadium and landed somewhere in Anarkali!!! Or was it a wayward Shoaib Akhtar bouncer which went over the keeper's head for an eighter (sixers are small)? It sure made some poor Aussie blood boil...LOL.

    As for your current post, I'd say this is where the true test of leadership lies, namely: contingency planning. Unfortunately, Shoaib's recall indicates an enormous weakness to me on Inzamam's part. If he had taken a principled stand he had better stuck with it. Shoaib, the crafty character that he is, now stands on higher ground from where he can dictate his terms to Inzamam. This is an almost certain recipe for an on and off-field fiasco.

    It also seems to me that the whole PCB along with the team had gone off to Hajj as if they had all scored their 900. Their stomachs seem to be too full to me. At least Mohammad Yousuf’s is pretty full after that outrageously princely six million rupee payoff. That just might have destroyed a career and deprived the team of a very good batsman.

    With all that has been happening in the background, I dread what’s going to happen once the series gets underway. But, I guess I’ll take a cue from you Kamran, and hope against the hope that one of these “old-youngsters” might save us all some embarrassment. For now I’ll be a false optimist rather than be a realist.

  • Umar on January 9, 2007, 19:50 GMT

    I am very optimistic about Pakistan's performance, specially after the warm-up match where the batsmen relatively stayed much longer on the pitch than I expected. Hope Shoaib/Rana/Nazir do better than SA bowlers.

  • KABIR AWADHI on January 9, 2007, 19:12 GMT

    guls absense wouldnt affect much cuz pak has got enuf bowling bench strenght,MOYO will be srely missed badly ,as d recent indias series with S.A proved inexperience and less talented batsman failed, while experienced batsman like ganguly n laxman succeded, so besides inzi atleast 2 more batsmans who have the temperament of playing a long innings is must ,so if atleast 3 paki batsman consistently play long innings on fast n bouncy wickets, then except for GOD nothing can stop this paki team from making the record of defeating S.A IN S.A, and yes also if PCB doesnt do another stupid thing during the series.

  • Jabran on January 9, 2007, 18:51 GMT

    Mr Abbasi another thing I would like to hear your views about is Resignation of Waqar Younis.I personally beleived and saw bowling of Umar Gul n all improve whilst he was the coach. Mohammed Asif even said his bowling improved due to waqar's input. Why are Pakistan Cricket Board so pathetically stupid!!!.I can see this happening a tour to India or Vice Versa, they will be running to him, to coach them.England lost troy cooley and their bowling failure was shown.really is a shame

  • Imran Khand on January 9, 2007, 18:44 GMT

    Which new heroes are you referring to Kamran? Heroes or zeros? The batters apart from Inzy and Yousuf are hopeless!

  • Dr. AHSAN on January 9, 2007, 18:39 GMT

    Pakistan have really a slim chance to beat South Africa.They say "Test Matches are won by bowling".But for subcontinent teams the problem has been Batting on those bouncy wickets.Pakis batting will let them down in South Africa just like Indians.

  • Chacha Koora Kirkit on January 9, 2007, 18:30 GMT

    A rather dull article Mr Abbassi! Very predictable after your adventures into the leg spin territory!

    I will be surprised if Pakistan do not continue their business as usual in South Africa. Steyn, Ntini, Pollock and Nel are too strong on lively pitches against our club batting.

    Then again, I predicted the Windies to walkover in the recent series. I hope I am wrong again!

  • Talal on January 9, 2007, 18:15 GMT

    I don't want to sound to pessimistic but i believe pak have no chance in south africa. We would be fav's if every one was fit. however this is not the case. The other problem is that if SA prepare bouncy tracks pakistan will be found out. We have the bowlers but we need to get to make sure we get SA batsman 1-8 very cheaply. We also need the belief that we can beat SA in SA I believe India lacked this. Mo asif was pakistan's best bowler last year not Umar gul!!!!!

  • Jaffery on January 9, 2007, 18:11 GMT

    Pakistan cricket team is a good balanced team but remember what happened in England? And after England's performance in the Ashes, One can easily assume what's goona happen to Pakistan. Still I pray for them. I am one of those followers who loves Test cricket and for me an away Test series against Countries like Australlia and South Africa is lot more important than World Cup. I always look forward to series like this. I was hopeful after India's performance against SA but not now. Without Yousuf, Malik, Gul, Razzak and Shoaib Akhter, Pakistan is not half the side. Add Shabbir, Salman, Aamir, Afridi, Rehman and a keeper and this side can beat Pakistan Eleven Anywhere( How about this blog?). Pakistan will be lucky if they get one favourable result otherwise this series is a hopeless cause now.

  • Yassar on January 9, 2007, 17:27 GMT

    To lose your two best performers of the past year is a major setback. Mohammed Yousuf and Umar Gul both have been magnificent with the former arguably in the form of his life...and long may it continue.

    Mohammed Yousuf's absence will be felt more so than Umar Gul’s. Worryingly Pakistan's batting revolves around three players, namely; Mohammed Yousuf, Inzamam-ul-Haq and Younis Khan. Considering that Inzamam and Younis have not been in prime form since the England series (Inzamam even before then) the problem becomes even more magnified. The rest of the batting line up are really going to have to stand up and be counted and none more so than the openers.

    On the bowling front it's a blow to lose Umar Gul, but it just highlights the silly decision of not to take Shoaib Akhtar in the first place. Yes he has been called up and rightly so but due to logistical reasons he more than likely will not feature in the first test. Had he been there in the first place then we would not have to field a potential weak link in the bowling department.

    This development also begs the question of the real reason of Shoaibs initial exclusion. I never brought into the idea that Shoaib's fitness was the reason for his initial exclusion and his call up makes me even more steadfast in that belief.

    All Shoaib has done since his exclusion in bowl a mere 20 odd overs and take a few wickets. So how much more fitter is he 20 odd overs later...can he be much fitter in order to warrant inclusion?

    The truth is...he never was unfit, it was the political reasons that kept him out...and it is a shame that Pakistani cricket is still being run like a political party rather than a sports team.

    I would finally like to end on Waqar Younis' resignation. Pakistan has 3 of the most influential players in the recent history of the game who are not being utilised. Imran Khan, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis are all once in a life time players with a wealth of experience.

    Imran Khan doesn’t want to get involved with the PCB due to its management structure, Wasim Akram potentially for similar reasons and Waqar Younis we have now lost and potentially to New South Wales.

    Waqar Younis’ work with the bowlers is there to be seen, he himself said this and I would not disagree. Mohammed Asif, Umar Gul and Shahid Nazir have all benefited from working with Waqar. All 3 have admitted publicly that working with Waqar has been vital in the development. If we look at the 3 best bowlers Pakistan have had over the last year then Mohammed Asif, Umar Gul and Shahid Nazir would be the names on most people’s lips.

    Pakistan cricket has produced more exciting fast bowlers than perhaps any other country and it continues to churn them out. It is therefore vital that they are guided appropriately by a former great and now legend of the game in order to make sure these bowlers too develop into greats. The PCB should have tied Waqar down in long term contracts, instead they offered him contracts almost on a tour to tour basis.

    Most bowling coaches in fact all coaches are given medium - long term contracts in order to have the necessary time to properly guide and develop the talent at their disposal. Waqar in a short period has shown his ability to work and develop players...yet he still was treated poorly.

    He was then left out of the ODI set up which was the apparent final straw. The flimsy excuse given - it is felt he cannot offer much in that format. An experienced player who performed in both formats im sure has more to offer.

    Whats more baffling is the appointment of Mushtaq Ahmed and no doubt he will replace Waqar as the bowling coach now. I have nothing against Mushtaq and he seems a credible person and I’m sure he will be an important part of the team. But Mushy was a spinner...Waqar Younis was a legendry fast bowler.....Pakistan have a history of fast bowlers and that is their main strength so who would be more appropriate as a bowling coach.

    Instead of coaching the nations fast bowlers...Waqar now will be strengthening New South Wales and Australian bowlers.

    What a waste!

  • Faraz Ishaq on January 9, 2007, 16:46 GMT

    I think this series is wide open for both the teams. Woolmer's sucess of converting a raq squad into winners is just amazing. Before Woolmers the base was laid by Miandad and I give some credit to him too. Miandad and Rashid Latif brough in a handfull of young cricketrs and trusted them for the biggest stage. It helped them grow the confidence within themselves to perform under immense circumstances and then it carried through until now. Salman Butt performed really well in 2005. His two centuries in Calcutta and other innigs were amazing and he definetly added notes to Woolmer's resume by being a successful batsman for a year. Then Kamran Akmal has torched several balling attacks on numerous occasions was a good display of a fighter. But he is lacking in his primary duties and I am sure Woolmer will work on it too. And the list is long and all these guys are willing to win the big prize this april and if they win it, surely Woolmer's stack will rise.

  • khansahab on January 9, 2007, 16:30 GMT

    just to speak on another point....kamran says that pakistan were the favourties before injury problems became apparent? Hello! pakistan has a poor record vs south africa on south african pitches. whereas i agree that SA are struggling with batting form in tests, they are giants in ODI's and to think about it, pakistan aren't a great test side either. look at the south african squad....smith, de villiers, kallis, prince, rudolph, dippenaar, amla, pollock,boucher, hall......this is a dream squad and as mentioned before, i think their bolwing is the best at the moment with pollock, ntini, nel, kallis, steyn etc. i'd like to see farhat playing his shots against the likes of pollock, steyn and ntini......my word, he won't even score more than 20 in any innings......... my heart is with the pakistani side but i think rationally, they only have a slight chance of a series win.

  • khansahab on January 9, 2007, 16:16 GMT

    nasir has hit the nail on the head- pakistan can only win this series and the world cup if the openers perform. but against the likes of world class bowlers like pollock , ntini, kallis, nel and the impressive steyn, langevedlt and hall, i think pakistanis are seriously riding their luck if they think they can defeat SA and even come close to the world cup. and dont forget that half of the names mentioned above are dependable all rounders, something pakistan doesnt have, considering the current form of razzaq (should be thrown out of the team now), malik (inconsistent) and afridi (ever inconsistent). im of pakistani origin myself but i dont understand why most pakistanis compare inzamam and yousuf to legends like tendulkar, lara, ponting, dravid and kallis. the outstanding feature of these legends' batting is that they have come and scored runs against any side, in any situation on any pitch. just look at inzi's and yousuf's record vs SA and australia, two of the best bowling sides of the past decade- it is average. inzi and yousuf both have fundamental flaws in their technique- they tend to shuffle alot in front of their stumps while playing their shots which frequently gets them out. yousuf has only been exceptional on the past year, whereas throughout inzi's career he has suffered from inconsistent form. one year he averages 60, the nezt year he averages 30.......thats the story of inzi's career. pakistan has so much all round talent that the only thing which is between them being the no1 team is their opening. farhat is a faiure, how many times has he performed in the practice matches but then lost it in the proper matches?

    akmal or malik should open instead of farhat......

  • Asad on January 9, 2007, 16:08 GMT

    i think pakistan can pull it off against SA if they bat well. pakistan have to make sure they keep their wickets in hand. i hope Farhat and Hafeez can give a good opening start. its been long since we have seen inzamam play his natural game, i haven;t seen him score 100 or 50 in past year or so,( maybe one or two ). keeping wickets in hand would be the key. i think Asim Kamal should be in the squad compare to Faisal iqbal. he bats with patience and i think his patience n skills would be a good key compare to iqbals.

    hopefully pakistan wins this series and get a possitive start in worldcup.

  • AamirA on January 9, 2007, 15:39 GMT

    It is going to be a really tough tour for Pakistan to say the least. The experienced likes of Dravid, Tendulkar and co. found the conditions difficult to adapt to, so it will be real test for Inzi and Younis let alone the youngsters. Akmal really needs to supplement the front line batsmen too, so the sooner he rediscovers his groove the better. Woolmer's local know-how can only contribute so much, once the guys step over the line it's all up to them and a real test of patience and perseverance. With all eyes on how the Pakistani batsmen cope with the conditions, the bowlers need to keep on top their game, not to the mention the fielders. SA have a long batting line up with Boucher and Pollock coming in down the order. Can't wait to for the series to kick off, a real litmus test of how far Pakistan have come and whether they can establish themselves as the no.2 Test side in the World.

  • Qasim on January 9, 2007, 15:25 GMT

    Hi all,

    Big blow for Pakistan to loose Yousuf at such a vital time. Although in a way, Yousuf and Malik not playing can be a positive event.

    Allot of fans and ex-players critise playing bits and pieces (all-rounders) in the team. At the moment, the only all-rounder playing is M. Hafees, alhtough he is in the team because of his batting ability as an opener. I think that it is a good time for us to get an answer wheather specialist batsmen like F. Iqbal should be played instead of all-rounders like Malik.

    Pakistan without Yousuf and Malik have a 40% chance of winning the series. I am sure that Gul will be in the playing 11. Kaneria needs only be played if it is a slow pitch. Four man pace attach would be ideal for Pakistan as Asif, Gul, Nazir and Akhtar would make a formidable pace attack. If Sreesanth and Z.Khan can worry SA, then Pakistan's pace attack should be more then a handful.

    As like the Indian series, Pakistan will not win because of their bowling alone. No point getting SA out for 210 runs and getting out yourself for 110 runs. This is why Yousuf will be missed the most. With Inzi and Younis not in a considerate form, it only makes it worst with Imran Farhat opening. This tour is going to be a humiliating one for Farhat because Pollock and Co are in some brag'able form.

    Lets hope against the odds that Farhat, Iqbal and Kamran Akmal can confide their worth in the playing 11 and score some runs. What makes these guys selection even worst is that the likes of Imran Nazir, Shahid Yousuf, Fawad Alam and Hasan Raza do not get a chance to proove their ability to the world. Imran Nazir should be in the team openning because unlike Farhat, he has the talent to be explosive like Afridi and a good temperament, not to mention his stunning fielding. I remember he made Hafees, Malik and Afridi (Pakistan's best fielders) look ordinary when he was playing back in 2003.

    I just have to mention one more thing here........

    I just read on cricinfo where Sreesanth mentioned that he is bowling better because he little tips and advice from Wasim Akram on his bowling which he worked on and he also got advice from Waqar Younis last year aswell. We all can see the results of that, India for the first time in a long long time have a pace bowler worth being called a pacemen.

    It was foolish to let go of Waqar Younis as clearly he did help out the Pakistani pace department i.e. Rana N. Hasan is a clear example. Pakistan have two world class bowlers in Asif and Gul who are in their early 20's. They would have gained immense amount of knowledge, tips and advices that could have made them two of the best bowlers in the forsee'able future.

    If the likes of Johnson (upcoming Australian pacemen), Irfan Pathan and Sreesanth can take advantage of Wasim Akram's experience and invaluable tips, then why does PCB not realise that the likes of Samiullah Niazi, M. Khallil, I. Anjum and Gul/Asif can surely learn something worthwhile from him.

    I believe that Waqar Younis's loss as a coach is just as big loss as Yousuf the batsmen in the series. Sure, M. Ahmed has knowledge and experience but he was a leg-spinner. Pakistan only have two good spinners in the team compared to 5 world class pace bowlers.

    I hope PCB learns to respect legends like Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis and just as importantly, utilise these great assets for Pakistan's good.

    Oh and Mr. Abbasi, Wasim Akram being better then McGrath would be an ideal blog to follow up on A. Qadir and Warne ;), I think it would be more agreeable and you'll get more hits then the older topic :P....

  • Sohail on January 9, 2007, 14:33 GMT

    Like fielding, fitness is an oft ignored aspect in Pakistan cricket. While Yousuf's personal problem is unfortunate, fitness issues of other players is just an indication of how much has been done to tackle this issue. And it is heard that our so-called man with a mission and "vision" is also down with chest infection. When the going gets tough, most of our stalwarts are down with ill health. I guess Pakistani fans must have not forgotten how Inzi missed most of the last series against the Aussies. Now it's up to him to show true grit and determination in what could be his last hurrah.

  • eddy on January 9, 2007, 14:21 GMT

    oh dear Kamran Abbasi after your Warney/Qadir masterpiece youve left me feeling flat with this new topic. what about some more of your wonderful, provoking debates...such as whos the best miandad or gower? Imran or sobers...or even how would Bradman cope today and Lara in 1937? ha! good luck ..i cant wait for the flack your gona take. P.s. Pakistan are mad to be playing test match cricket so close to the world cup!!

  • nasir on January 9, 2007, 14:00 GMT

    Pakistan can only win the series of two men perform, Hafiz and Farhat. Unless we face the new ball confidently and produce some decent partnerhips, neither the bowlers nor middle order batsmen can help us out. The difference between the West Indies and South Africa is that there are not second string bowlers in SA, they will come at you all the time. Pakistan will have to play all five days well, each and every session. SA took India lightly and paid the price in the first test. When they got their radar right, the results followed.

    It is a good oppurtunity for the other batsmen and bowlers to get counted and give us hope that there may be life beyond Yousuf and Inzi.

  • Jag on January 9, 2007, 13:59 GMT

    Surely Kaneria ought to be a shoe-in in any Pakistani Test squad, let alone the bouncy wickets of SA. I'd say he was Pak's best bowler in 2006, along with Umar Gul.

    ..was the author suggesting Umar Gul was the best bowler in international cricket or just Pak...certainly hope it's the latter

  • Shahbaz Faheem on January 9, 2007, 13:50 GMT

    Even in the absence of Yusuf & Gul-Malik absence will not even be felt- I think Pakistan has the capability, especially in the bowling department, to pull-off a sensational series win. They just have to concentrate on their batting more.

    I think Pakistan team can learn a lot from Ind-SA series. India could have pulled-off a historic series win if only had their senior batsmen played positively.

    I think it is very important for Pak team to play positive all through the series. SA's bowling is very good but their batting is more brittle than Pakistan's, here where pakistan should win the race.

    I look forward to see some positive & tactical captaincy from Inzi, after all he must have learn something from 15-year of international experience. Shoaib's inclusion must be a boost for Pak team.

  • Burhan on January 9, 2007, 13:50 GMT

    You just know it with the pakistan team management that shoaib was going to be back and that too for the test series . For me Danish should be dropped if it is a seaming track and pak should play with 4 seamers . Kamran i hope u would write a blog on how much of an over rated bowler danish kaneria is. i read his comment some days back saying that he wanted to take on shane warne mantle , and trust me he is still a novice compared to Warne. Anywayz we again have a list of injured playerz just like the UK tour and God knows when all of our playerz will be fit for a tour . I think if we had all our playerz fit we would have defeated SA easily in the test series that is becoz all of SA 's big names are out of form .But now i think it will be a keenly contested series and lets hope the best team wins.

  • Irfan on January 9, 2007, 13:31 GMT

    Pakistan has the worst record against SA, and they ll be really missing Yousuf in this series as he has mastered batting on every surface which including Inzi has yet to acheive, there is an interesting observation that all the current Paki batsman inzi , yousuf, younis has yet to score a centruy against SA, so it will all depend on our batting, our bowling is more then capable but the concern is batting, I hope yasir hameed can fit in the boots.

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  • Irfan on January 9, 2007, 13:31 GMT

    Pakistan has the worst record against SA, and they ll be really missing Yousuf in this series as he has mastered batting on every surface which including Inzi has yet to acheive, there is an interesting observation that all the current Paki batsman inzi , yousuf, younis has yet to score a centruy against SA, so it will all depend on our batting, our bowling is more then capable but the concern is batting, I hope yasir hameed can fit in the boots.

  • Burhan on January 9, 2007, 13:50 GMT

    You just know it with the pakistan team management that shoaib was going to be back and that too for the test series . For me Danish should be dropped if it is a seaming track and pak should play with 4 seamers . Kamran i hope u would write a blog on how much of an over rated bowler danish kaneria is. i read his comment some days back saying that he wanted to take on shane warne mantle , and trust me he is still a novice compared to Warne. Anywayz we again have a list of injured playerz just like the UK tour and God knows when all of our playerz will be fit for a tour . I think if we had all our playerz fit we would have defeated SA easily in the test series that is becoz all of SA 's big names are out of form .But now i think it will be a keenly contested series and lets hope the best team wins.

  • Shahbaz Faheem on January 9, 2007, 13:50 GMT

    Even in the absence of Yusuf & Gul-Malik absence will not even be felt- I think Pakistan has the capability, especially in the bowling department, to pull-off a sensational series win. They just have to concentrate on their batting more.

    I think Pakistan team can learn a lot from Ind-SA series. India could have pulled-off a historic series win if only had their senior batsmen played positively.

    I think it is very important for Pak team to play positive all through the series. SA's bowling is very good but their batting is more brittle than Pakistan's, here where pakistan should win the race.

    I look forward to see some positive & tactical captaincy from Inzi, after all he must have learn something from 15-year of international experience. Shoaib's inclusion must be a boost for Pak team.

  • Jag on January 9, 2007, 13:59 GMT

    Surely Kaneria ought to be a shoe-in in any Pakistani Test squad, let alone the bouncy wickets of SA. I'd say he was Pak's best bowler in 2006, along with Umar Gul.

    ..was the author suggesting Umar Gul was the best bowler in international cricket or just Pak...certainly hope it's the latter

  • nasir on January 9, 2007, 14:00 GMT

    Pakistan can only win the series of two men perform, Hafiz and Farhat. Unless we face the new ball confidently and produce some decent partnerhips, neither the bowlers nor middle order batsmen can help us out. The difference between the West Indies and South Africa is that there are not second string bowlers in SA, they will come at you all the time. Pakistan will have to play all five days well, each and every session. SA took India lightly and paid the price in the first test. When they got their radar right, the results followed.

    It is a good oppurtunity for the other batsmen and bowlers to get counted and give us hope that there may be life beyond Yousuf and Inzi.

  • eddy on January 9, 2007, 14:21 GMT

    oh dear Kamran Abbasi after your Warney/Qadir masterpiece youve left me feeling flat with this new topic. what about some more of your wonderful, provoking debates...such as whos the best miandad or gower? Imran or sobers...or even how would Bradman cope today and Lara in 1937? ha! good luck ..i cant wait for the flack your gona take. P.s. Pakistan are mad to be playing test match cricket so close to the world cup!!

  • Sohail on January 9, 2007, 14:33 GMT

    Like fielding, fitness is an oft ignored aspect in Pakistan cricket. While Yousuf's personal problem is unfortunate, fitness issues of other players is just an indication of how much has been done to tackle this issue. And it is heard that our so-called man with a mission and "vision" is also down with chest infection. When the going gets tough, most of our stalwarts are down with ill health. I guess Pakistani fans must have not forgotten how Inzi missed most of the last series against the Aussies. Now it's up to him to show true grit and determination in what could be his last hurrah.

  • Qasim on January 9, 2007, 15:25 GMT

    Hi all,

    Big blow for Pakistan to loose Yousuf at such a vital time. Although in a way, Yousuf and Malik not playing can be a positive event.

    Allot of fans and ex-players critise playing bits and pieces (all-rounders) in the team. At the moment, the only all-rounder playing is M. Hafees, alhtough he is in the team because of his batting ability as an opener. I think that it is a good time for us to get an answer wheather specialist batsmen like F. Iqbal should be played instead of all-rounders like Malik.

    Pakistan without Yousuf and Malik have a 40% chance of winning the series. I am sure that Gul will be in the playing 11. Kaneria needs only be played if it is a slow pitch. Four man pace attach would be ideal for Pakistan as Asif, Gul, Nazir and Akhtar would make a formidable pace attack. If Sreesanth and Z.Khan can worry SA, then Pakistan's pace attack should be more then a handful.

    As like the Indian series, Pakistan will not win because of their bowling alone. No point getting SA out for 210 runs and getting out yourself for 110 runs. This is why Yousuf will be missed the most. With Inzi and Younis not in a considerate form, it only makes it worst with Imran Farhat opening. This tour is going to be a humiliating one for Farhat because Pollock and Co are in some brag'able form.

    Lets hope against the odds that Farhat, Iqbal and Kamran Akmal can confide their worth in the playing 11 and score some runs. What makes these guys selection even worst is that the likes of Imran Nazir, Shahid Yousuf, Fawad Alam and Hasan Raza do not get a chance to proove their ability to the world. Imran Nazir should be in the team openning because unlike Farhat, he has the talent to be explosive like Afridi and a good temperament, not to mention his stunning fielding. I remember he made Hafees, Malik and Afridi (Pakistan's best fielders) look ordinary when he was playing back in 2003.

    I just have to mention one more thing here........

    I just read on cricinfo where Sreesanth mentioned that he is bowling better because he little tips and advice from Wasim Akram on his bowling which he worked on and he also got advice from Waqar Younis last year aswell. We all can see the results of that, India for the first time in a long long time have a pace bowler worth being called a pacemen.

    It was foolish to let go of Waqar Younis as clearly he did help out the Pakistani pace department i.e. Rana N. Hasan is a clear example. Pakistan have two world class bowlers in Asif and Gul who are in their early 20's. They would have gained immense amount of knowledge, tips and advices that could have made them two of the best bowlers in the forsee'able future.

    If the likes of Johnson (upcoming Australian pacemen), Irfan Pathan and Sreesanth can take advantage of Wasim Akram's experience and invaluable tips, then why does PCB not realise that the likes of Samiullah Niazi, M. Khallil, I. Anjum and Gul/Asif can surely learn something worthwhile from him.

    I believe that Waqar Younis's loss as a coach is just as big loss as Yousuf the batsmen in the series. Sure, M. Ahmed has knowledge and experience but he was a leg-spinner. Pakistan only have two good spinners in the team compared to 5 world class pace bowlers.

    I hope PCB learns to respect legends like Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis and just as importantly, utilise these great assets for Pakistan's good.

    Oh and Mr. Abbasi, Wasim Akram being better then McGrath would be an ideal blog to follow up on A. Qadir and Warne ;), I think it would be more agreeable and you'll get more hits then the older topic :P....

  • AamirA on January 9, 2007, 15:39 GMT

    It is going to be a really tough tour for Pakistan to say the least. The experienced likes of Dravid, Tendulkar and co. found the conditions difficult to adapt to, so it will be real test for Inzi and Younis let alone the youngsters. Akmal really needs to supplement the front line batsmen too, so the sooner he rediscovers his groove the better. Woolmer's local know-how can only contribute so much, once the guys step over the line it's all up to them and a real test of patience and perseverance. With all eyes on how the Pakistani batsmen cope with the conditions, the bowlers need to keep on top their game, not to the mention the fielders. SA have a long batting line up with Boucher and Pollock coming in down the order. Can't wait to for the series to kick off, a real litmus test of how far Pakistan have come and whether they can establish themselves as the no.2 Test side in the World.

  • Asad on January 9, 2007, 16:08 GMT

    i think pakistan can pull it off against SA if they bat well. pakistan have to make sure they keep their wickets in hand. i hope Farhat and Hafeez can give a good opening start. its been long since we have seen inzamam play his natural game, i haven;t seen him score 100 or 50 in past year or so,( maybe one or two ). keeping wickets in hand would be the key. i think Asim Kamal should be in the squad compare to Faisal iqbal. he bats with patience and i think his patience n skills would be a good key compare to iqbals.

    hopefully pakistan wins this series and get a possitive start in worldcup.