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February 3, 2007

South Africa

Five games to make it work

Kamran Abbasi
Kamran Akmal started brightly but fell for 21, South Africa v Pakistan, Twenty20, Johannesburg, February 2, 2007
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Back in September of last year, despite Hairgate and despite players returning from injury, Pakistan's World Cup formula was looking near-perfect. Few people could have imagined what followed but Pakistan approach this crucial one-day series with a formula that keeps being scribbled on the blackboard, rubbed out, and created anew. This cannot be a happy situation with the World Cup a few weeks away.

Obviously, there are myriad reasons why Pakistan find themselves in this predicament. Yet Bob Woolmer and Inzamam-ul Haq must decide quickly on the combination that wil best serve Pakistan in the Caribbean. Autralia, who might have been in turmoil with players retiring, are reinvigorated. Whereas of the possible pretenders to the title, India and South Africa look to be striding forward while Pakistan are regressing.

Unlike some commentators I enjoy 20/20 cricket, a form of the game that is closest to the one played by most amateurs. We mustn't be snobbish about it. But we mustn't overinterpret the recent result either. Pakistan essentially fielded six players who had been either twiddling their thumbs or returning from injury. The early conditions didn't help. And the crash, bang, wallop of 20/20 can be dominated by a couple of stellar performances.

But there can be no excuses from here on in. Pakistan must get their team right, their batting order right, and their strategy right. The formula has to be flexible but one that can allow reserves to substitute in case of injury or fatigue. It has to be one that contains players who can turn a match, particularly bowlers who can take wickets and batsmen who can see an innings through.

Above all, there can be no sense of it'll be alright on the night. It has be right from here on in. One look at Australia is enough to understand why there isn't a moment to waste.

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

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Posted by bob@aol.com on (March 25, 2007, 12:22 GMT)

update to your boring cricket: murder inquiry is on da way - i guess we need inspectpor cleuso to solve this one.

Posted by AliAbbas on (February 10, 2007, 15:44 GMT)

Chuck Rana naveed out Bring in the under 19 guys

Posted by Indian on (February 8, 2007, 21:50 GMT)

Every one Wants Good Pakistan Team to compete against Australia, South Africa and India.

Posted by Dawar on (February 8, 2007, 20:09 GMT)

PCB,

You said above: Well! Gulab Khan. We can give you an official explanation. One has a famous uncle, smile. The other belongs to a famous province with a favorable domicile (which is not just good for cricket but any sports, mind you). That is why other mediocre talent like Rana Naved not only plays in the National Cricket team but ALMOST made it to the National Hockey team,,, hehehe (GO Figure !!!)

We are also thinking along the lines of implementing a quota system, kind of like South Africa with 20% non-white players, only then will other provinces will get their fair share.

My Feed Back: What you wrote its 100 % true.

Posted by JAVED A. KHAN, MONTREAL, CANADA on (February 8, 2007, 9:08 GMT)

RANA Naveed, did not disappoint anyone. After 92 runs in 8 overs in the first ODI, his "disgustipatingly" pathetic form continued and he gave away 43 runs in 4 overs. Even before the SA started batting, I was saying that Rana's inclusion would be a disaster and it wasn't any great prediction, except for Inzi and Bob Woolmer anyone can predict how many runs Rana can give in each over.

Pakistan after putting on 351 runs on the board were not safe. They were a bowler short because of Rana's inclusion. In the middle of the innings they were almost two bowlers short when Azhar Mahmood was limping and was taken off the field and treated. Thanks to Shahid Afridi, not only for his fantastic batting, but for yet another classy bowling performance, he took 3 wickets for 25 runs, including the prized wicket of Mark Boucher.

Afridi was denied the man of the match award. I wonder on what basis the ICC referee decides the MOM award. Younis Khan played well scored 93 runs and fielded well, took 3 catches, that is fine. But, in my opinion it was Afridi who deservd that award. It doesn't really matter whether Afridi should have got the man of the match award or not as long as Pakistan's coach, captain and the selectors give him his due, that is enough and one cannot ignore his importance in the team. Many times he has won the matches single handedly for Pakistan.

Even in this match he stole the show, he turned the tables against SA by scoring an unbeaten 77 in 35 balls with five fours and 6 sixes. Actually his superb hitting and Pieterson style sweeps frustrated both Ntini and Nel to the extent that they lost the line and length, especially Nel, who is so arrogant and rude and always tries to get under the skin of the batsmen with his rude gestures, he was only giggling like a kid when Afridi was smashing him out of the stands. Then his three wickets at an average of 2.77, which are the best figures in the match by any standards its an excellent performance.

Asif bowled well, but he had completed his 10 overs quota, Razzaq even after taking 2 wickets was very expensive. With so many overs remaining to be bowled, asking Rana to complete his quota and bowl the remaining 6 overs was asking Boucher to Butcher his bowling. Azhar Mahmood was injured. Malik after being thrashed by Pollock for a huge six, gained some composure as the wickets were tumbling from the other end 'coz of Afridi's fine bowling. Had there been no Afridi, there was a big question mark that would have been there. And hats off to Imran Nazeer to give the first jolt to the SA fast bowlers. Thats the way to play against SA and Australia. You cannot win against them only with regular specialist batsmen or specialist bowlers, you need all rounders in the team. .

This Pakistani side was packed with ALL ROUNDERS and it won comprehensively. The theory of playing with only specialist batsmen and specialist bowlers may not have yielded this result. Except for Rana, this team for the remaining SA matches is good enough to put on a good fight against SA. Sami should replace Rana

As for the world cup, if Gul and Shoaib (if fully fit) can replace Azhar, Sami or Razzaq. But, Rana should not be in the WC squad.

Posted by Subodh B on (February 8, 2007, 5:26 GMT)

The Pakistan team must be the most talented outfit that one can hope to see on a cricket field but with results that hardly do justice to the talents. Whatever they have achieved is never because of the PCB but inspite of them. The team has always had charismatic leaders right from the one and only Imran Khan and later Javed Miandad and Rameez Raja who led the team by example which motivated the team to great performances and no credit for this should be given to PCB. The PCB has in recent times botched on almost every occassion right from the illegal action cases, doping scandals, ball tampering cases , discipline of palyers et al. However there is one thread that runs commonly through all these fiascos and that is the name of the Rawalpindi Express , he seems to have rubbed every person he comes across in the most unpleasant manner right from his captains, board memebers and last but not the least his team mates. He may be the fastest bowler but at the moment he is the most destabilising influence on the team and will work to their detriment in the world cup . The teams chances will be best served if he is shown the door for the big event. This is one moment for the board to bite the bullet and back their coach who most definitely wants the speedster out of the team but sadly doesnt have too great a say in the matter. As in all sub continental teams once there is a huge defeat in a major competition the first heads to roll are the captain's and the coach of the team so if thats the case why not give them the team they want and then make them answerable rather than tie their hands behind their back and then shoot out at them. The board can redeeem themselves for the past lapses on this ocassion by taking bold but sensible decisions and what better reward for that than the world cup adorning the shelves of the Gaddaffi stadium in Lahore !!!

Posted by ali on (February 8, 2007, 4:23 GMT)

Well I guess the PAK team silenced our criticism today (or maybe they read this blog). But today they made us proud with their performance. It does not come out every day... Although it would be nice to see them repeat this more often.

But I believe we are still a little justified in our criticism as they did not look good at all prior to 2nd ODI.

I have not paid that much attention to Imran Nazir, but today his batting was awesome - the way he thrashed all the bowlers, especially Nel.

Then Afridi, Younis and Yousuf all played marvellous and unbelievable innings. So glad to see Afridi shut Nel's mouth and Yousuf silencing the fat Kallis...

But Pakistan bowling is still struggling except Mohd Asif. I think Inzi and Bob should rest him for the next ODI (as I read that he was showing signs of cramps in his last over) - they need him badly for the world cup. Pak needs to get their backups ready, so they should play Sami and Rao in the next match. Give Zulqarain a chance and rest Kamran Akmal in next match.

But they shouldn't get too carried away with their well deserved victory as SA is going to play harder from now on. Hopefully PAK will keep up the good work and beat SA convincingly.

Inzi once again disappointed with his runouts. He needs to get back his form now. Razzaq needs to improve his short pitchers (although he bowled well today to get rid of top two batsmen).

Congrats Pakistan for a well deserved victory and Inshallah we will win the World cup if we keep playing like this.

Posted by KamranQureshi on (February 7, 2007, 22:51 GMT)

today we win a good match from SA by 141 runs which is good enough margin.good thing we found a best 11 team for wc also.only o change some batting orders i think Younis or Malik should open with Nazir and one of them should be onedown 4.Muhammad Yousaf 5.inzy 6.Afridi 7.Razzaq 8.Akmal (no choice wc on head) 9.Azhar/Gul 10.Akhtar 11.Muhammad asif (supper class bowler) and with back up hafeez,Shabir and Rehman/Hamid.it will be the best pakistani team in wc not only pappers in ground also just need avoid from injuries and give back call to Waqar Younis as bowling coach which is very importan and we should control on extraes.thanks

Posted by Iqbal Rashid on (February 7, 2007, 21:39 GMT)

If only we have patience....... Its sad to see how so many of us, even the more experienced and knowledgeable like Mr Samiuddin jump to conclusion and make public statements that only makes them look silly in a matter of days. Mr Samiuddin wrote after the first ODI....."On today's evidence, Pakistan would be better advised to go home now and skip the World Cup altogether. The hosts might be inclined to bottle up the form they showed with bat, ball and in the field and catch the next flight out to the Caribbean."

Its the same teams but exactly opposite results. May we ask him again which team should fly to the World Cup and who should stay home.

First of all its only a game and even the best of teams can have ordinary days. Even the most phenomenal cricketer can seem like a novice. Thats what cricket is and thats what we need to accept. And most importantly we should have consistency of support.

Posted by JAVED A. KHAN, MONTREAL, CANADA on (February 7, 2007, 17:11 GMT)

GOOD to see Pakistan hitting back SA after the disastrous start in the first of the 5 match ODI series and posted their highest ever total of 351 against SA. They must win this game now or else the team would be highly demoralized not only for the rest of the SA tour but also for the WC.

Good to see Imran Nazir taking control after Kamran Akmal's poor form in continuum. Also good to see Younis silencing his critics that he is not an ODI player. Mastered a crafty innings by scoring 93 in 98 balls and got out going for a big heave in the end proved that he was playing selflessly and only for the team. And what a classy innings Mohammad Yousuf played and got his first ever 100 against SA.

BEST of all was seeing Boom Boom Afridi getting back in to form. He did not slog every ball, he remained 77 not out in 35 balls with 6 sixes and I was so pleased to see him despatching Andre Nel out of the stadium.

The SA innings is about to start and I am so perplexed with the inclusion of Rana Naveed in the team, why the HELLO did they side lined Sami? He not only bowled better than Rana in the first ODI, but he gave some respectability to the Pakistani total by scoring 46 runs.

I think it is a grave mistake on part of Inzi and uncle Bob to include Rana Naveed, he is totally out of form and lacking in self confidence and he should simply be sent back with a one way ticket to his county where he plays against the novice English lads.

Pakistan should keep the same team for the other ODI's except for Rana and replace him with Sami. Or else there will be a HUGE DISAPPOINTMENT for everyone.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

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