South Africa February 3, 2007

Five games to make it work

Back in September of last year, despite Hairgate and despite players returning from injury, Pakistan's World Cup formula was looking near-perfect
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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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • 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.

  • AliAbbas on February 10, 2007, 15:44 GMT

    Chuck Rana naveed out Bring in the under 19 guys

  • Indian on February 8, 2007, 21:50 GMT

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 !!!

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • AliAbbas on February 10, 2007, 15:44 GMT

    Chuck Rana naveed out Bring in the under 19 guys

  • Indian on February 8, 2007, 21:50 GMT

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 !!!

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Muhammad Ather on February 7, 2007, 11:38 GMT

    Leaving aside the sentimental attachment with our cricket team and hoping for the cup,we must be realistic to expect and accept the forthcoming result.By watching all the teams in ongoing games one can easily predict that Australia,Newzeland and South Africa are the sure semifinalists.The 4th one may be from Windies or Srilanka. Pakistan will be noway near to these.Our nation should mentally prepare to accept the reality.

  • MIR on February 7, 2007, 10:48 GMT

    Pakistan Cricket is going through an interesting era. There was a time when the team was loaded with stars like Imran, Wasim , Javed Miandad, Waqar, Salim Malik, Saeed Anwar all playing in the same 11. In such a case the issue was how to handle these stars. However, now look at the whole team and other than Shoaib Akhtar and Muhammad Yousaf, I dont think there is anyother player who can fit in the same league. Pakistan Team has always been known for its talent, raw talent. Right now we have more players than ever bofore but not the same talent. All I can think is that the Pakistan Team is not the team where ppl are joining to become the Stars. There is nobody who can teach anybody forward the tricks of the trade. There is no imran to guide Wasim and Waqar. Nobody is there. I think our team will never be able to perform under a overseas coach, he can never teach reverse swing as he does not anything about it. I think the whole issue is that Wasim and Waqar left and they did not act as Imran Khan, they did not passed on the tricks forward. There is no platform that is giving them the chance to. Wasim is so open to discuss that he can give advise to foreign players who can then do wonders, why not he can do the same to Umer Gul. I think Umer Gul has a long way to go before he can join the same league. He is not in the same category as Asif is yet. Well moving on, I think Pakistan has wasted a unique talent Shahid Afridi, he has been mishandled, he could have been a monster and could have been a star player, but the way he has been utilized is really bad. Australian Cricket Structure makes a simple ordinary person into a consistent batsman or bowler, the present pakistani cricket structure makes a raw talent, into a useless cricketer. Something needs to be done about it or we might find ppl start playing Other games like it happened with West Indies !

  • Salman on February 7, 2007, 8:32 GMT

    I am unable to understand to this date why Afridi is not given the opener position? From the day he has been moved down in the batting order he has stopped performing and none of the replaced operners have performed consistently after that. Why do we not understand that Afridi is an opener, and that is his position, and from there he can play a decisive role and torment the opposition. I hope our selectors and team captain realize it and give Afridi his position. If he gets out early, it does not matter, as all the operners have been doing that, but it is a position where he has most chances to perform better and destroy the opposition.

    Best regards

    Salman Toronto, Canada

  • J.Singh on February 7, 2007, 3:50 GMT

    Shahid Afridi. Shahid Afridi. 2/42 (10.0) What brilliant analysis in the face of a 392 run total. Brilliant. Pakistan need the capability to upset teams such as Australia. And there is no doubt that Shahid Afridi brings that capability, he is deadly and dangerous, and Australia are afraid of him. Remember what he did to Glenn McGrath in Australia a couple of years ago? All the Pakistani batsman were looking terrible in the tests, then in stepped Shahid and showed true class with a 40 odd, before finding another bizarre way to get dismissed. The answer is simple: Shahid Afridi.

    P.S. Kamran, I am still awaiting your apology about your article claiming that Qadir was better than Warne. I understand that you simply were making it up and trying to stir up some debate and I commend you for that. Of course Shane Warne was twice as good, as you of course know, however it was still good to get some debate going as Qadir was excellent to watch.

  • PCB on February 7, 2007, 1:57 GMT

    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.

  • Gulab Khan on February 6, 2007, 21:42 GMT

    PCB and Captain should answer to this question:

    Frist see the statistics btw three players.

    Asim Kamal Test Runs Highest Average 12 717 99 37.73 ******************************** Faisal Iqbal: Test Runs Highest Average 18 773 139 25.76 **************************** Imran Farhat Test Runs Highest Average 27 1655 128 33.10 *****************************

    Why Faisal Iqbal & Imran Farhat were in the palying test team against south africa? But once gain Asim was not consider for the playing eleven team.

    PCB and Captain should give answer to the cricket fans. Is it merit?

    we did not find any reliable opener after Saeed Anwar departure. Asim could easily play as a opener. His defensive batting techique is even better than Inzamam.

    why he is OUT????

    Gulab Khan Peshawer

  • tashbeeb on February 6, 2007, 16:43 GMT

    I think Bob Woolmer has done excellent work in building a strong and talented team that we can all be proud of. I believe Pakistan’s team for the world cup will be the strongest team on paper and second only to Australia in reality (i.e. mental toughness and physical fitness). I agree with cricinfo’s analysis that we have a strong bowling line up if we can get our three main guns fit and firing at full throttle. Our middle order batting boasts the two finest batsmen of this era and with three of the most devastating all-rounders at our disposal we should have the best chance of winning this world cup.

    I would strongly propose Salman Butt to open instead of M. Hafeez but I don’t foresee a Butt recall until after the world cup. We definitely need to see M. Hafeez convert his 20s to 50’s and stay on crease longer to score big. I know Afridi has shown his intent to bat down the order but I cannot emphasize enough the impact he would have at the top of the order. When Pakistan bats first, he has the potential to launch an attack that can enable us to set huge targets and it will always pay off to have him open when Pakistan is chasing big scores too. We already have Kamran Akmal, Razzak and Shoaib Akhtar to use the long handle down the order, so I really think Bob and Inzi need to convince Afridi and make him appreciate what effect he has on the opponents when he opens. I agree that he can put additional pressure on our middle order when he fails at the opening slot but I think his usefulness outweighs the pressure that he might inflict. Younis Khan can really live up to any pressure that may come his way and I think he has the ability to tailor an innings based on the situation at one down. We hope and pray that M. Yousaf continues his form from last year as now he’s not only the most stylish batsman in the world but the most dependable too. Inzamam can build partnerships with the top order and is the best batsmen to play with the tail and win matches; I wish him all the success in this world cup both as a batsman and captain. I know there is a tendency to put Shoaib Mallik at the top of the order but I think he really brings depth to our middle order and can explode if he stays until the end – his partnerships with top order can be very useful in winning matches as well. So we potentially have recognized batsmen all the way to number 8 with Shoaib’s talent to use the long handle as well.

    With Shoaib’s sheer pace with the ball, Asif’s precision and Umer Gul’s talent we really have a match winning combination, as you yourself claimed in your article < http://content-usa.cricinfo.com/extracover/content/story/278405.html>. I think instead of having Razzak or Afridi bowl the remaining 20 overs; it would be best if its split 4 ways amongst Afridi, Razzak, Hafeez and Mallik. Imran Khan utilized his part time bowlers in the most useful manner in the ‘92 world cup and I suggest we do the same this time around, depending on who’s getting the most out of the wicket on the particular day. Kamran Akmal has been under scrutiny lately but I think management should put their full weight behind him until the world cup. Sami and Hameed can provide a batting or bowling replacement in case of injury or fatigue to a bowler or a batsman respectively.

    Again, I’ve proposed a top 11 with all match-winners (except M. Hafeez, who I think hasn’t played to his full potential, yet) with the hope that a couple of them will click on any give day and I strongly believe that’s all we need – wish Inzi and his team Godspeed.

  • Adnan on February 6, 2007, 9:11 GMT

    Five games to get it right, seems like we are already running out of time, the most important thing to consider in the wc will be the mentle strength and self belief that we can win, and not be scared of teams like SA & AUS. These two teams have been a big problem for us and we should atleast try to address this problem. We should never employ or select players who are not stong upstairs, talent is good but it is temparament that will always count, you cannot have ppl like hafiz, fahrat, rana, sami in this team , it is a disgrace keep them on, they should be replaced and not given another chance, also i think it is about time that we get rid of Wasim Bari, a better stagist should be employed ASAP.

  • Owais on February 6, 2007, 7:47 GMT

    Given Pakistan's performance and rise in the standards of other teams, world cup prospects look pretty bleak. We have slipped down in one-days at the expense of test cricket. I think its similar to what has happened to England. I am not saying one days are more important than tests, to the contrary, test cricket is the real cricket. But one day planning should have been better as well like Aussies and SA. Even teams like England are better prepared than us because they have been playing tri nation down under for a month now and we can see their combinations have started clicking. The current Pakistan team can win or lose against ANY team in the world. Thats a Big problem.

    If the bowlers like Rana, Sami, Razzaq are being butchered like this, it would be a much better idea to have likes of Kaneria as he is bound to take wicket if batsmen go after him. Look at this figures in tests, they were able to keep him at bay, only by NOT attacking him. So this way that way, he is better than Rana (our so called one day specialist), Rao, Razzaq and Sami. Afridi is a better bowler than a batsmen and should NOT open. Farhat is not performing, again needs to make room for someone else. Its good that they have called up Azhar Mehmood, at least give him a chance and see the results.

  • ali on February 6, 2007, 4:08 GMT

    I keep reading the comments about maybe give a chance to u19 or other young guys. I would have to say that there is a time for experiment, which is best suited in home series. In away series you cannot keep on experimenting. In one of the newspapers someone has mentioned that Razzaq's age is affecting his performance. Razzaq is only 27, how can his age is showing? One of the reason he bowled badly was because he was coming off the injury, I agree he should have been rested at least for one more game (hopefully the next). This is an interesting link for all those people who keep on asking for young players

    http://content-usa.cricinfo.com/talk/content/multimedia/feature.html?genre=3

    I think the problem with our team is lack of professional attitude and work ethics. Look at Australia (they had one of the oldest team) and how convicingly they beat England. Its because of their team work and work ethics. They are simply not satisfied with no. 1 or wins after wins. They want to simply rule like the WI of 80's. Also they don't seem to play dirty politics within their ranks unlike PCB, Bob Woolmer and Inzi. And that affects the team behavior a lot.

    I saw the highlights of ODI, while Sami does not take wickets, I don't think he bowled that badly compared to Rana Naveed. I believe Razzaq, Rana and Kamaran Akmal should be rested for next ODI. Inzi an d Bob should get a boot in their ... and should be given some wakeup call. Inzi has been out of form since his 2005 peak and its about time. I still don't know what's wrong with Afridi, he keeps getting out by lofting the ball too high (reminds me more like a "Tullaeh Bazz". You look at SA batting, they not only score runs but held their wickets. You look at Pakistan batting - a few runs here, few there and then same strokes to lose wickets. Their batting and bowling has become to predictable to SA.

    I hope Shohaib and Gul comes back for WC, otherwise it does not look that good for us. I believe Wasim Akram (or Waqar) should be immediately appointed as bowling coach as our bowling has already started to show cracks.

    PCB should seriously think about Bob too (as his interest probably is towards becoming England coach) and he's just three months to pass. I was amused at his article in which he accuses Rana and Kamran's domicile as an execuse for their inclusion. Well why don't you get rid of them, you don't see us complaining. Also, he has give us a name of which Karachi player he wants in team instead of saying Karachi is not getting its fair share. I don't know how would Rana and Kamran feel about Mr. Bob's views. All I can say is don't try to play the secatarian games and pit one against the other and simply focus on your lousy coaching Mr Bob.

  • Rahman on February 5, 2007, 21:28 GMT

    hi, Pakistan can only win the WC if INzi and uncle Bob dont play dirty politics with the player , i think they should go on form and fitness rather than big names or big hitter apart from Inzi,Younis,Yousuf, Asif,Akhter all other players should be selected on there current form and fitness, if one player played good innings and after that fails in 10 innings ( just in case of Razzak) we take him as our hero and we start saying as our future captain. and I also think we should go with younis khan as our wicket keeper in the world cup and played an extra batsman for kamran akmal. for me the best combination for wc which can dominate will.

  • ali ayaz on February 5, 2007, 21:16 GMT

    Pakistan have known they have issues with the opening batting pair for atleast 2years - yet a month before the world cup we still havent got a settled opening pair - the ideal would have been Imran Nazir and Salman Butt, left and right combination both young enough and possibly good to cement the place for years to come...but alas every other combination has been tried except for this one..and its too late - but still imran nazir should be given a chance in the remaining matches.....altho9ugh bob wollmer is known to take people along and keep them sitting on the sidelines: asim kamal, Sami ullah niazi, shahid yousaf.....so its not looking too good for nazir.

    another thing is just because younis khan is a good test player with a healthy average - doesnt mean he is a one day player aswell....he never makes a contribution with the bat when it is needed...and i personally think he is occupying a place in the team which he does not deserve - - THE GUY SHOULD NOT BE ANYWHERE NEAR THE ODI TEAM....LET ALONE THINKING ABOUT MAKING HIM CAPTAIN....he was captain most recently for the twenty20 game..enough said!!!even some one like hassan raza, misbah ul haq...should have been given a chance...and yasir arafat was teated very badly after the ICC fiasco - i cant believe he was the scapegoat for that loss - and yes Younis khan was the dummy captain there aswell.

    As for our bowling. A country whohc thrives on producing genuine fast bowlers the best we can dish out is medium pacers like Razzaq, Rana, Shahid Nazir, Iftikhar Rao - they are not threatening enough to backup Asif, Akhtar and Gul - i dont know what happened to the u19 guys but atleast they looked impressive and could have been tested. instead we are stuck with Rana who has been bowling badly since the indians came to pakistan in winter 2005 and Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh took him to cleaners.....he is way too expensive. Sami - agian this guy should have been discarded from the odi team atleast 1year ago and some youngster should have been given the chance to gain some experience.

    Now we are faced with going into a wc...with batting out of form - they have been struggling in odi's since going to Sri lanka last january and fluking a low scoring series , bowling that the opposition look forward to facing and at least 2 1st team regulars who shouldnt be anywhere near the team.

    Finally there is too much cronyism in the pak team selection - friends get in before people who deserve to....a classic example is Shabbir Ahmed what the hell has the guy done since his ban to warrant going straight into the twenty20 team - when he's not even 100%...just because he's inzy's mate...enough said

  • saad on February 5, 2007, 18:17 GMT

    As somebody else stated earlier...Pakistan would be better off skipping the World Cup...the only matches I see Pakistan winning are going to be against the minnows...So, if you are an overseas Pakistan fan, don't waste your money on cable or pay per view to watch the embarassement that will be on display courtesy of a collective effort of PCB management and the players...

  • Robert on February 5, 2007, 14:29 GMT

    Are the Pakistan selectors listening to me? Seems Mahmood is on his way to South Africa. About damn time I would say. Some people might not perform against all, but be sure they all have their favourites - horses for courses they say.

    Tank... you noticed the bat vs the spectator? Yeah, visions of Merv Hughes there. Again, unaceptable. Unfortunately I tend to agree with the assult charges, three is no excuse for attacking another. I think the pressures of the world cup are beginning to show and some are really starting to crack up.

    The biggest problem I see for Pakistan at this point however is the selection policy. How do you pick someone that has been out for so long and expect them to perform? (Shaoib) somes to mind... then again, how do you keep picking that guy who thinks he is a wicketkeeper? He might be able to bat a bit, but his job surely is to keep wicket! Then again, if that is not so important, put Inzi behind the stumps :P

    I was dissapointed by the South African batting while Prince and Kallis were at the crease. They were only putting on about 4,5 runs to the over. Thankfully Boucher eventually got out there.

    As for Poor Afridi... nuff said about his off field temperment. He was still the pick of the bowlers on sunday, going for only 42 off of his 10 overs. Thats 4,2 runs per over which is respectable on any kind of pitch.

  • Tank on February 5, 2007, 13:22 GMT

    I think the Pakistani supporters are being a bit harsh on their team. They might have got a hiding yesterday (and on Friday) but they still have an awsome ODI squad. Even Australia battled on SA pitches at the beggining of 2006 and lost 2 games very convincingly. And as some have pointed out the West Indies pitches are very different to SA.

    What is a bit worrying is there doesn't seem to be a plan B to fall back on, and the discipline is always a concern.

    And taking a swipe at a spectator doesn't help. Minimum 2 match ban and assault charges should be laid. Irrelevant what was said. As Gibbs found out there is no excuse.

  • Chacha Koora Kirkit on February 5, 2007, 12:27 GMT

    @ Afridi - the spectator-beater

    I agree, Afridi should get a ban for his behaviour. He should not in any way venge his anger on a spectator with a big mouth. Its not the bystander's fault that Afridi is so crap at cricket!

    You cannot slog your way to a fifty in every innings. He is such a complete prat!

  • gojjo on February 5, 2007, 12:06 GMT

    as somebody has said on this blog, pakistan's ODI form has been in decline since the last 12 months, this time last year we were thrashed by the Indians, we barely drew the series in England.

    I tghink we have reached the depths, now its time to peak at the right time and with different permutations ( as England is wishing similarly to qualify for the CB series in Australia and similarly when we won in 1992 with the help of rivals beating other rivals), we are in with a chance, but wither Pak cricket? the current coaches and selectors are the Test discards of the past. Bring in Majid, Asif and Mushtaq. They went, they played, they conquered - not Zaheer ( guy did not want to captain Imran's team in Australia 1984!), by the way the board is full of people whose titles start with Dr, can they sort out these injuries or are they PhD holders?. Faith Unity and some discipline

  • Abbas on February 5, 2007, 11:29 GMT

    The cracks are appearing... now we can see what goes on in our team's dressing room. We all know that Pakistan is never a team, its individuals. If one of them clicks sometimes we win otherwise we seldom see a team effort. Look at Aus, SA & NZ they are teams on paper they have no comparison with what we have but they go in as team "one for all and all for one", unfortunately our team is reflecting what we see in our society. We only come closer when there is a big disaster. Lets hope this is the one which we have seen in the 1st ODI. As they say "Ittefaq mein barqat hai", I still feel if we are a team we can come back... I pray at-least.

  • Robert on February 5, 2007, 10:06 GMT

    I keep seeing how many want to toss Afridi out of the side. Again his behaviour as he left the field after batting leaves an awful lot to answer for! I didn't realise that centurion park was the next venue for the WWE crew! But look at the stats, he was the ONLY bowler that actually performed... having bowled 10 overs for 42 picking up a wicket... yup.. that means the the other 40 overs went for 350 runs!!!!

    Don't know what ever happened to Mahmood... he was the best player vs SA on these pitches!

    But at the end of the day, Pakistan just didn't come to the party. Then again, chasing a huge score that is normally the case, matters not who is playing. Either you get close, or nowhere.

  • Saqib Sarfraz, Perth Australia on February 5, 2007, 7:29 GMT

    I dont think that Pakistan can win the world cup because they lack the mental strength that is required when the going gets really tough and the situation demands to hold nerves. They panic and thats what u cant afford to do in a tournament like world cup esp in the knock out stages.

  • ali on February 5, 2007, 4:48 GMT

    As I have said in some other blog that the decision to get rid of Waqar Younis as bowling coach would be costly to Pakistan (Woolmer and Inzi). And its already showing now....

    Waqar who has the one of the best ODI records in economy and strike rate was forced to leave as a coach on the basis as his service were not needed. This was one of the stupidest decision by PCB and Woolmer Inzi co. Its like denying any great ODI player's record (Viv Richards for example or McGrath) and saying they cannot contribute their experience to young players.

    Personally Woolmer should be dropped as Pakistan coach - he's more time writing his blogs than coaching the team.

    I found his article and explanation regarding Pakistan's dismall performance in tests amusing, when he said Pakistan should make fast wickets at home. Its like hello you've been the coach for two + years, why haven't you made them yet. Why didn't you ask for these pitches when WI was touring Pakistan?

    But its kind of good in a way that Pakistan is realizing their chances of a World cup from this series as not very favorable. May be PCB learn from its mistake and get Waqar back as a bowling coach?

  • Andrew G on February 5, 2007, 4:42 GMT

    Hi Kamran,

    Take a deep breathe people.

    Don't throw the baby out with bathwater!

    There is a group of players that play Pakistan that can still win the WC. Please note I said group as opposed to TEAM. Pakistan will never win a WC like Australia has by going thru the comp undefeated. What I mean is - the things that intrigue me most about Pakistani cricket is the unpredictable nature of the group of players.

    When Imran's Pakistan won the 91 WC they did it by scraping through the preliminaries & then stringing together a couple of great back to back performances to win. It was a bit like a thief sneaking in the open back door & raiding the trophy cabinet. What I am trying to say is - Pakistan had no form but won!

    In 1999, they made the final despite falling to Bangladesh!

    Pakistan lost a test to Zimbabwe back when they were nearly the best test team in the world.

    A week I put forward a Paki team that if they made the final - I think would win it. Team being; 1. Afridi 2. Kamran Akmal 3. Yousuf 4. Haq 5. Younis 6. Malik 7. Razzaq 8. Rana 9. Asif 10. Ahktar 11. Kaneria 12th man - best fielder you can find.

    You have nothing to lose with Afridi & Akmal opening - plus you have everything to gain - hitting over the in-field during power plays. The best batsman should be at #3, that is Yousuf. Haq @ #4 because of experience & ability to re-build if the openers fail. Younis @ 5 because it dosnt matter if @ 5 you only score 30 & get out, then the other 2 allrounders. Rana is a good ODI bowler - strike rate is very good, same with Ahktar & Asif. Kaneria is in the side to strengthen the slow bowling options & take wickets.

    This group though to win the WC would have to field above & beyond their normal capabilities.

    Things to remember - Pakistan in Sth Africa has no influence on WC in West Indies - providing no knee-jerk reactions are made. If the WC is as bad as 2003 start the rebuilding process straight away & be ruthless with selections. You only have to beat the minnows to get in to the business end of the tournament - from there on in, who knows....

  • David Furrows on February 5, 2007, 3:35 GMT

    IT'S TIME FOR AZHAR MAHMOOD

    With all three all-rounders misfiring, surely the fact that Mahmood is in the best form of his life should count for something.

    In the current season he has:

    1) Scored 391 runs in 5 innings (two fifties, and his last 2 scores were 105 and 169), at an average of 78.2.

    2) Taken 26 wickets at 13.26 each.

    I've never been an Azhar fan, but those figures just can't be ignored. He should be catapulted into Razzaq's slot, with Razzaq encouraged to displace him.

  • Omer Admani on February 5, 2007, 3:31 GMT

    Adnan Ahmed, you are one person who has the team completely right-- or, in any case, the way I would have it. Malik/Hafeez/ Imran Nazir are borderline. Personally, I would prefer Nazir, though Hafeez is handy with the ball as well.

  • Observer on February 5, 2007, 2:18 GMT

    I think the Pakistan selectors are complete idiots. They need brain transplants! It is obvious that Asif and Kaneria are Pakistan's best bowlers by a long way. Asif got thrashed today, because of lack of support from the frontliners - there's only so much that bits n pieces players like Razzaq, Hafeez, Malik, Afridi can offer. However with REAL specialist bowlers like Kaneria, Akhtar, Asif backed up by Gul and the miriad of allround talent mentioned, this would be the best Pakistan side by far (on a par with the best in their history). Nvr has there been a pakistan team with such allround ability (Raz/Haf/Afrid/Mal), quality bowling (Kaneria, Asif maybe Akhtar) and able batting (Inzi, Yusuf). This is the best Pakistan side in their history, but selectors mess it up by picking Sami and Rana who let down the bowling as "specialists" with appalling economies; the back up of Rahman/Shabbir(post 1 year ban and remodelled action) is disgracefully short of international class - emboldening the opposition.

  • Karachi on February 5, 2007, 1:40 GMT

    Kudos to the post by Bob Woolmer. The likes of Rana and Akmal should have been kicked out long time back except for their domicile being their saving grace. Too bad all the batmen and other talented cricketers from Karachi will never get a chance to represent at the highest level. The likes of Imran Farhat, Mohammad Hafeez, Rana and Kamran Akmal are basically glorified club cricketers. Their Test and ODI averages speak for themselves.

  • Paul on February 5, 2007, 1:39 GMT

    I think we sar what we all knew-Inzy is an awesome batsman, and probably as a father type figure leader (i.e. day in day out) is great, but as a tactical captain he's awful. Admittedly his bowlers were awful, but Inzy made none of the moves to try and stop the carnage that all other internation captains would have made, and he made a few big errors (er....give a medium pacer who can't bowl yorkers his first over in the 45th? yeah that's tactically smart). Sadly there's no better tactical alternative.

    And secondly, open with Afridi you idiot! Yes he's get out prone, but in the first 10 overs where all one has to do is clear the circle, that's giving him the best chance to bat him then. We've seen when teams do this in the first 10 overs and force the fielding captain to change how he takes the powerplays, what an affect it can have. Yet he's put in the middle where he has to try and build an anchor type innings-for goodness sake that's what Inzi's for. You put Afridi up front or at the death-it's not rocket science.

    And do away with Rana, when he's good he rocks but he has no consistency. A more McGrath type bowler in Gul, where at least you know what you're going to get, and the captain can plan around it accordingly, would be way better.

  • David Furrows on February 5, 2007, 1:15 GMT

    Calm down. This is the time when Bob Woolmer, Wasim Bari and the PCB need to keep their nerve.

    South Africa and Australia have been playing for weeks with an intensity they cannot possibly sustain for 11 more weeks until the end of the World Cup.

    Pakistan's limited overs results may be poor at present, but they lost 5-0 in the West Indies in 1987-88 when, in similar fashion, they were nursing unfit players back to health - and they still came back to perform magnificently in the big matches which followed.

    At present, three key all-rounders (Abdul Razzaq, Shoaib Malik and Shahid Afridi) are being re-integrated gently into the team, and each of them is only firing in one domain or less (Malik's batting OK, Afridi's bowling well and Razzaq is basically just getting fit.)

    To that you can add that Younis Khan, Mohammad Yousuf and Inzamam are perfectly on track for the World Cup, as is Mohammad Asif. That makes seven key players who need to be in the team, and need to peak between 10 and 12 weeks from now.

    Then you need to add Shoaib Akhtar and Umar Gul, who are recovering in Pakistan, and for whom the current tour is irrelevant.

    That makes nine key players, all of whom are on track for the World Cup, even though five have little they can contribute in South Africa.

    The remaining problems, then, are relatively less significant. Kamran Akmal needs a rest and some form. Rana Naved needs to get back his mojo.

    And the only combination the team needs is a settled opening pair. I wish Woolmer and Bari would go back to the pair which defeated England 13 months ago: Salman Butt and Shoaib Malik as a settled opening pair. Stick Younis, Yousuf and Inzy in at 3,4 and 5, Razzaq and Afridi at 6 and 7, Akmal at 8 and then Rana, Shoaib and Asif at 9, 10 and 11 and you have a strong team, with Umar Gul, Yasir Hameed, Imran Nazir and Sami as a good 4 back-up squad players.

    Don't panic. South Africa belted Pakistan 4 years ago before the World Cup, only to run out of steam, just as Australia did in the 1992 World Cup.

    I would rather be the tortoise than the hare.

  • Afridi - the spectator-beater on February 5, 2007, 1:04 GMT

    Don't be too hard on yourselves, after all you are playing SA, which is a very underated team. Even the Sky experts don't rate SA that high :)

    So while it was the highest ODI score against Pakistan, it was only 7th highest ODI score ... 3 of which are SA scores. BTW, the highest ever was Australia against SA last year ... which SA went on to beat (and win) in their innings! So not too much to feel bad about there, the great Australia have the biggest whipping record.

    What I am waiting to see is how fair you Pakistani's all are ... today Afridi took bat to a spectator (who made no physical contact etc) ... not stopping at calling him an animal but actually striking at him with the bat - which is a very intimidating weapon, but I don't see any comments flying around - as in the Gibbs saga. That's a dissapointment ... I guess the younger Pakistani generations are nowhere near as honorable as the previous generations. ... btw he was a white spectator, but I guess racism only works one-way, right. Or maybe we should all just overlook this as it wasn't a SA player doing it, right?

    Which only goes to prove how biased (and racist) the ICC are (against SA). It's like racism all over again - with a twist.

    In closing this quote from the Gibbs post - which has not been repeated for Afridi and Pakistan ... why should there be two standards? : "All credit to Cricket South Africa for further investigating Herschelle Gibbs but what they really should be doing is considering the public conduct of their team. It is conduct that does little for the image of the Rainbow Nation."

  • Laszlo on February 5, 2007, 0:42 GMT

    I think cricket followers are overestimating the ability of Australia. Of course they are deserved favourites and they won the Champions Trophy, but there are significant weaknesses in their line ups. All Summer the opening partnership has appeared scratchy, with either Hayden or Gilchrist out of form. With Symonds out, the middle order is heavily reliant on Ponting to produce a good score. There's not a lot of flexibility in the bowling line up with the selectors insisting on the four seamers strategy. All the seamers at one time or another have looked vulnerable to batsman who attack them (imagine what the England total would have been the other night with Pietersen in the line up). The bowlers have shown a tendency to choke under pressure as we saw in Joburg and against New Zealand a few days ago when the batsman had set a big total. And they're not going to be facing the likes of Ed Joyce or Lou Vincent in the Carribean. More like Kallis, Jayasuria, Gayle, Lara. With Symonds out (even with Symonds actually) and Cameron White ineffectual, the fifth allotment of ten overs should always be taken for 70 plus by world class batsman. This is a good Australian team that can't be underestimated. They have some powerful hitters. But if their battings not right on the night, their attack can be taken apart. In a knockout tournament an Australian victory is by no means are foregone conlusion. and it could be argued that South Africa are at the moment better placed to take out the competition for the first time.

  • Nasser Ahmad on February 5, 2007, 0:40 GMT

    After the result of the first ODI, it looks like the Pakistan cricket think tank needs to go back to the drawing board. Pakistan will be hoping that Gul and Akhtar will be fit for the WC and along with Asif and the all-rounders should have enough fire-power to defend a total. The problem seems to be in putting up a total though.

    The last time Pakistan played well as a team in ODIs was on the tour to India when they came back from 2-0 down to win the series 4-2. There was no Akhtar, Gul or Asif in the team. However, Rana Naved bowled brilliantly and the supporting cast of bowlers did their bit. On the batting front, Afridi was on fire and Malik had a great series batting at 1-down. The rest of the batsmen also chipped in with good knocks.

    Pakistan have to figure out a way to rediscover that mojo and I believe the key lies in the batting line-up. The team has done well when Malik has come at number 3 and I think he should go back to that position. The other somewhat radical suggestion I would make is to have Younis open the innings. We tend to push our best batsmen too far down the order and by the time they get in it is usually too late to change the direction of the game. With Younis, I would go with one of Hafeez, Nazir or Hameed although I would have liked to see Salman Butt get another chance. Of all the openers we have tried in the last three years, he demonstrated the best temperament and his weakness to the swinging ball outside off-stump is less of a problem in the shorter form of the game. Yousuf and Inzi at 4 and 5 followed by Afridi, Razzaq, Akmal, Shoaib Akhtar (if he is fit and after today I am rooting even harder), Gul, and Asif. The backup would be Naved, Sami, Shabir or Rao Iftikhar, and two of Hafeez, Hameed or Nazir (the third would be opening the batting).

    If Afridi is in poor form, then I would play a specialist batsman instead. Razzaq though has to rediscover some sort of form with the bat and the ball. At the moment, he looks woefully out of form. Overall, for Pakistan to do well, the all-rounders have to show up to play. When Razzaq, Afridi, and Malik have performed the team has done well. They are the key to the WC campaign. Pakistan has relied on the all-rounder formula for the last 3 years and it is too late to go with the specialists now. The early signs are not good but let's see if they can turn this around.

  • S H on February 5, 2007, 0:32 GMT

    2 days before i saw an interview where Akram was in all praise of pakistan team and they being the only other team capable of winning the world cup. Great performance to follow. Team pakistan is too old with grandfathers in the side. Blood some youngsters.

  • Adnan Ahmad on February 5, 2007, 0:23 GMT

    Without repeating the reasons and details, I am convinced that now as close to world cup as we are, there is no reason to change the whole setup. We should keep Malik and Akmal as opners and then yousef, younis and inzi to follow. Note a small change that younis should be coming at 4. But for God sake get rid og Naved and Sami, they once showed som promise in one day arena but are fading away very very fast. Razzaq must find his touch in bowling ang batting if he stil feels to be an international player. I will like to have 4 bowllers playing and those are Shoaib, Gul, Asif and Kaneria and then only one of the two out of touch allrounders (Razaq and Afridi)

  • spleak on February 5, 2007, 0:11 GMT

    i dont really see the point of the discussion. i agree that pakistan has one of the best sides on paper, but they never perform well as a unit, which btw, is very important, if they hope to win the WC in West Indies. whats most likely to happen is that they'll be beaten by the USA & Kenya, before getting their asses whooped by India.

  • Irfan Safdar on February 4, 2007, 23:51 GMT

    Is this Bob Woolmer orignal? If he is then i want to ask him a few questions.

  • F Ahmed on February 4, 2007, 23:51 GMT

    The decision to "Pi** Off" Waqar Younis for no apparent reason and demeaning him to the extent whereby he had to resign to maintain his dignity, has come back to haunt the PCB.

    Sami - Was NEVER a ODI bowler. Asif - Poor lad has bowled his heart out this tour - was good until the death. Razzaq - Not his biggest fan, but Why only bring him on in the 46/47th ovr? Rana - What has happened to the man that demolished India? Kaneria - Why is he not even given a chance to play?

    IMO - The poor bowling performances have been building up to this as there is NO good ODI bowling coach!!! Waqar, as the bowlers themselves had said, had helped a great deal.

    I'll admit its up to the players to play well, but when your young you need SOME guidance - esp. to come back from this type of mauling.

    The two W's had Imran: What do our young lads have now? I'll admit Mushy helps the spinners, so why not have Waqar helping the Seamers? Why can Wasim help Pathan for India yet he is not utilised by the PCB?

    And EXPECT this to happen when Gul and Shoaib come back - just look at whats happened to the injured players that have returne: They've been smacked!

    Inzi - Showed complete incompetence when things went wrong. Good guy, but needs to show he can mayk the best decions WHEN IT MATTERS!!!

    The lack of openers since Anwar/Sohail is VERY worrying. Afridi has to play as an opener or come in at the death IF Pakistan are batting 1st - Asim Kamal SHOULD BE GIVEN A CHANCE!!!

    Azhar Mahmood - How he's not even in the 30 to got to the WC is astounding considerin his form!

    Nobody is upset because we lost ; Pakistani Supporters are upset with the manner in which the game was lost and the lack of direction witnessed by the captain, players, board and coach!!!

    The fact that there 4 matches to get things right is even more worrying.

    And all this after a promising 2006....

    Politics, favouritism/nepotism Will Ultimately kill the chances Pakistan ever had....

    It surely cant get any worse....

  • Siddiqui on February 4, 2007, 23:45 GMT

    well, make that four games to make it work!

  • haris khan on February 4, 2007, 23:30 GMT

    I cant understand what kamran akmal, rana naveed and sami are still doing in the team. They should have been benched a long time ago. Cant understand why kamran should open when we already have regular openers available, and if they were not to be played what they are still doing in south africa. Just four more matches to go the big event and our coach and captain are still vulnerable about the combination. Its a shame honestly. I dont believe Pakistan have any chance whatsoever to win the world cup.

  • taz on February 4, 2007, 23:27 GMT

    India, had a recent problem where they had to drop Sehwag so he could return 'back to the basics' of cricket and be a stronger person, I believe this will happen. Sadly if you applied this to any player in the Pak team it wouldn't happen !

    Imran Nazir looked good for the 4 he hit in the 20/20 ! a touch of Sehwag about the shot ! Why oh why can't we have a player who can just stay at the crease and accumalate runs like a tap on water ? Apart from Younis Khan, Mohammed Yousaf, Inzi and Mohammed Asif, who else deserves a spot in the team ? at this present stage I can't see us getting to the World Cup Semi's, that will most probably contested by Windies, Ausssies, SA and one other from India, NZ and SL. Although history does have it that when Pak perform badly at the previous world cup they bounce back in the next one, do you think it will happen this time ?

  • Bob Woolmer on February 4, 2007, 23:26 GMT

    Pakistan lost its ODI marbles during the home ODI series against the Indians couple of years back, which it still hasn't recoverd. The fact that the mgmt and the coach collectively haven't done zilch to rectify and solidify the ODI team and strategy, is a testement to their priorities or incompetence or a combination of both. As long as the same recycled bureacrats and physicians toeing the enlightened moderation hogwash line (their only qualification in mushie's dictatorial fiefdom) along with their love affair with anything anglo, read gora, are at the helm at PCB, Pakistan Cricket would contine to be a chronicly sick man...Also the likes of Rana and Akmal their only saving grace, the fact that they still haven't been shown the door is their domicile...get rid of this race/ethnic based politics from Pakistan cricket and you will see results...the overall demise in Pakistan cricket, particularly its batting has direct correlation with the lack one established batsmen from Karachi...

  • Hussain Khan on February 4, 2007, 22:44 GMT

    There needs to a major rethink of this pakistani lineup. There are too any players with bits and peices of expertise. More specialist is tha way to go.

    M Sami - out Afridi - out Rana - needs help Malik - good player to concentrate on batting only Ravak - out

    Top order - big big problem. no immediate solution

    World cup chances - obsolutely none

  • Asad on February 4, 2007, 21:53 GMT

    Salaam Kamran. Can we bring Waqar Younis back again as the bowling coach? Moreover, can anyone question Inzamam for sending Afridi to bat at a ridiculous time? One more thing. I have come to know that Aqib Javed has offered to coach Shoaib Akhtar. Can he really coach a bowler who has better stats than him? Shoaib needs either Waqar or Wasim. Also Asif should have a meeting with Wasim to learn how to bowl in the death overs because he can control his line and length. For God's sake get rid of Mushtaq Ahmed as the bowling coach. Please explain how can he assist the fast bowlers in any way at all.

  • Omer Admani on February 4, 2007, 21:47 GMT

    I had mentioned earlier on this blog that if Pakistan play Sami and Rana again and again, they will be dissapointed again and again. Here we go... Secondly, in matches where the opposition gets a very good start, I always knew that Inzamam's captaincy will be tested. Spinners were introduced late. It was obvious the way Smith was hitting the ball, a change of pace would do it. Unfortunately, I was left scratching my head for awhile, while Rana went on going for plenty (Does Rana ever learn?). Later, when Inzamam had taken three wickets with spinners, why did he go persist with Hafeez/Malik? And why did he put the field back to settle Kallis and Prince? Even if they played slow, 360 was always on the cards given the sort of batting that was to come. Pakistan's only option was to take wickets, which they didn't because of poor captaincy. After Kallis and Prince were aided to easily settle by Inzamam, SA were ready to post 360. They ended up in 390s because of more poor bowling. A mix of terrible captaincy and poor bowling made Pakistan's day. I don't quite know what goes in Inzamam's head, but how could he bowl Razzaq in the 46th (47th?) over when it would be Razzq's first? Why defend against two new batsmen when you know that if you let them settle, then the opposition is going to hit you around the park later? Inzamam has to understand that he has to make decisions 2 overs early, not two overs late...because 2 overs late is too late. Bottomline is that I always expected Rana and Sami to go for runs, but Inzamam left me scratching my head thruout Pakistan's bowling.

    Why was Abdul Rehman not in the team? And, where are Samiullah Niazi and Rao Iftikar? They have given enough chances to Rana and Sami, why waste an opportunity of someone else impressing for the world cup? Surely, they couldn't be worse, what is there to lose? Besides, after the test series, we were quite sure of what the great man Rana could do...

  • Sarmad on February 4, 2007, 21:35 GMT

    bismillah salaaam brothers

    there is only one word that can perfectly describe our beloved team....."roller coaster".... man talk about inconsistency......

    the mark of a great team is that they are good FOR A LONG TIME....... coaches...managers...the board members..they only get paid so that this is established in the team......

    current issues..... we have huge problems in all three departments of the game

    batting: opening stands.... and mental strength to chase big targets..

    bowling....consistency in line and lengths and keeping the presssure on that asif applies from one side....too many extras..u cant win a world cup by giving the opposition 30 to 40 runs( thats more then our top three score in a game)...

    fielding....EVERYTHING..im in the USA....and theres a big saying here...that "DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS" its hard for my boys sami and asif to get rolling when their fielders let them down...apart from YOUNIS....everyone needs tweaking.....

    this one day today showed how mentally weak our batting line up is.....to see openers, middle order (experienced) batsmen come out and hit from the get go..was torrid..... the explosiveness we have in malik, afridi and razzaq...can only be utiliezed if they are allowed ONLY ten overs to bat....u cant ask them to score over a run a ball against good attack for more then 5 overs..... the team lacks confidence..and spirit.....

    to all the akhtar haters...... asif cant bowl 50 overs by himself....if u dont have shoaib in the WC.. i will not pay 300 bucks to watch my team......its time that our HEROES realize that they are being watched in all corners of the world and start living up to expectations... die hard fans cant stay upp all night.....miss morning classes......be lazy at work....and then watch there team get massacred by 10 wickets or 164 runs........

  • luqman on February 4, 2007, 21:28 GMT

    guys, i love reading the passion paki supporters show for their teams. i'm a south african and can best advise to stand behind your team no matter what. you still have one of the best teams in the world - be prod of that. there will always be losses and bad times. watch your team in the wc - they will come right - at the right time. my fear is that SA might peak too early.

  • abdul rehman on February 4, 2007, 21:05 GMT

    The Pakistan team is a good one, full of potential match winners... After watching the first one dayer...to think that Sami and Rana played was shocking! Sami is said before was mauled in Dubai by 40 year old retired batsmen...and im sure he is no more of international material! Hafeez, Kamran, Younis, Yousuf, Inzi, Malik, Razzaq, Afridi, Shoaib, Asif and Gul...if they cant win us matches...no one can! In the Windies...where the ball comes on to the bat nicely...we need Hafeez, Malik and Afridi to provide spin options...with 3 Medium Pacers and 1 Fast bowler to bowl in short bursts! Seriously...if this team cant win the world cup...no pakistani team can! sorry..but that is the truth...

  • Atif Subhani on February 4, 2007, 21:01 GMT

    Why are we not playing Azhar Mehmood? He has been scoring heavily, taking wickets and is an excellent cricketing brain. He should be a regular part of the team and for God sake enough of Hafeez, he's not good an international player. As soon as his score gets 20 +, he gets out to a poor shot.

  • glacier on February 4, 2007, 20:54 GMT

    Some of you guys post such hilarious posts. Its a nice laugh.

    Too much is being made of this and the WC. Pakistan has to be lucky, hope someone other team looses or wins at the the right time to have any chance in the WC. Our players are not good enough and nobody can deny that.

  • Danish on February 4, 2007, 20:40 GMT

    I can not understand Inzi's thinking as a captain. Didnt he realise that when the fast bowlers were getting tonked all over why didnt he bring on the spinners in the 9th over instead of the 17th. I thought the game had already drifted away from pakistan when hafeez did come in to take 2 wickets.

    Why was he continously asking asif to bowl a tight line when the real culprits were just going through the motions.

    Basic observations that inzi could learn from: When SA were attacking (smith and co) why didnt kamran come up to the wicket?? Doesnt inzi know that when seamers are being pasted you're supposed to slow down the game by getting spinners in beofre its too late.

    Looks like uncle bob and inzi dont seem to have any planningim ean for heavens sake how on earth can u bowl asif for 8 overs on the trot?

    apart from the toss....why wasnt imran nazir played after being called? with hafeez,afridi,and malik why on earth would u need abdul rehman in the squad

  • Muz on February 4, 2007, 20:35 GMT

    Are these professionals? I have no more to say.

  • Sajid Ahmed on February 4, 2007, 19:45 GMT

    Sami Out Naveed Out Afridi Out

    Abdul Razaq ?

    Kaneria In Asim Kamal In Gul In

  • Gugu on February 4, 2007, 19:41 GMT

    Kamran bhai yes don't read into 20-20 but no excuses further on.. so what about today's match.. see SA has a terrific record in WI and I think they will be amongst favorites to win it... somehow before every world cup pak team starts falling away... last time waqar started brilliantly as captian and then something happened before morroco tournament and then nothing went right... i m sick now... for God sake pick players on merit and not on reputation... i don't know what is happening... please by anyhow find me a contact to pcb and let me speak to wasim bari... please kamran bhai please... it's the first time i don't feel like writing seriously and feel wordless... i feel frustrated... i know nothing to panic... but please... no place for sami and rana... let us be honest... after playing years in england, azhar mehmud is playing in pakistan... scored a century and took 3 wickets then... even not in 30 probables.. please get him on the board... i can go on and on... kamran bhai please... can i speak to wasim bari or someone who will listen...

  • Irfan Safdar, CT USA on February 4, 2007, 19:25 GMT

    As long as people like Wasim Bari are involved with the Pakistan team i have no hopes. The guy has done nothing so far. All the youg players in the team with some level of success were brought by Aamir Sohail.

  • Amyn Habib on February 4, 2007, 18:46 GMT

    “If we keep doing what we are doing, we will keep getting what we got” Yogi Berra Behold the new look Pakistan team for the World Cup!! The problem with the Pakistan team is that they keep making the same mistakes over and over again and hope for a different result. Examples are trying to make Kamran Akmal an opening batsman. Or the repeated inclusion of Sami. Or thinking Afridi is an allrounder. Whether he merits selection as a specialist bowler over Kaneria is hardly a serious question. As for his batting, even at this peak, the poor fellow could manage a fifty in about 10-12 innings, but now his batting is just a complete embarrassment. The inclusion of Hafeez over Hameed and Farhat is interesting, based on their performances in the recent test series, and their overall ODI records (Hafeez averages 19 from 42 ODIs- completely unacceptable for an opening batsman-compared to 39 for Hameed). Dear Inzi and Bob (or did Younis also make a contribution here?), Please get down to the basics, do a reality check, you need bowlers who can bowl and batsmen who can bat. If you fill the team with substandard “allrounders”, this is the result.

  • ARZaidi on February 4, 2007, 18:21 GMT

    Fiascoe at Centurion! another combination in team fails and so do Inzi and Woolmer. Who advised Inzi not to bat first. ? It seems that he is haunted by SA pace attack. Be a big man Inzi, plz take correct decisions. Plz stop playing with a new combination. Why did u include an allrounder Razzaq in the team when u had to toss ball to him in 45th over? Why did u overbowl Asif for 8 overs in first spell? Did u want to see him injured too? Plz make one winning combination and teach them how to win. I think neither u nor Bob know nowadays how to prepare strategies for winning. Just before the world cup, we r the only nation who have not finalised any combination.

  • Asim Ghaffar on February 4, 2007, 18:13 GMT

    i guess pre-cup situation is not that green.. its blue.

    Likes of Abdul Qader believe that at international level its players who needs to perform and coaches cannot do any magic as they are not in playing eleven. But the way Pakistan were bowling I guess they really need coach (or rather think tanks) for each department.. giving them advice..

    Yes, that is the role of captain to go to the player and tell him to relax (or give some other advice).. but when the bad bowling is going on, inzy the giant finds it convenient (on 99% of times) to make a bad face, look at ground and leave the bowler to deal the situation himself.. So definitely we need a coach for captain as well.. Someone who has the courage to stand up and tell inzy the lazy & dumb ass to be but more energetic then what his body language is screaming.. ... Two wrong doesn't make a right so replacing inzy shall be out of question at this moment ...

    Only good thing from today's match is yousaf's performance.. Though he finally fell playing cross but he is the man with whom Pakistan hopes rest in the batting department.. Inzy is good but I am not convinced about his fitness.. Its remain to be seen if his old back can take the pressure of demanding innings from now on till the last Pakistan match in this world cup... Younis at best is 30 runs man when it comes to ODI.. From today it’s pretty clear that on batting tracks we don't need people who can make 30s and 40s. We need people who can score hundreds against test playing teams... Younis has 1 (from 138 innings), hafeez has 0 (from 42 innings), kamran has 3 (from 48 innings), shoain malik has 4 (in 118 innings), yousuf has 11 (in 215 inings), razzak has 2 (in 193 innings), afridi has 4 (in 222 innings), hameed as 3 (in 50 innings).. and inzy has 10 (in 342)... That pretty sums up Pakistan team's ability to score big..... Only hope is yousaf

    All-rounders! Why we still have 4 of them playing when it was supposedly decided after champions trophy that importance will be given to specialists.. Does razzak has a place in team on the basis of his bowling?? We need to cut down all rounder to maximum two... shoaib malik, shahid afridi, hafeez and razzak.. pick two of them not all................

    If Pakistan will have an overall chance then it will be because of bowling.. But the way our second string is performing (sami and naveed are not first string) the one can only wish that our frontline bowlers get fit as soon as possible else we can neither defend any total nor we can stop anyone form giving us unbeatable totals.. So we really need all three: Umar Gul, Mohammad Asif and Shoaib Akhter to be tournament fit to have any realistic hope from our bowling department. Having high hopes from shabbier will be unfair with him considering his lack of match practice. We really need at least one explosive opener on one end, if we want to put 300+ total on board. Lets see how Imran Nazir and hameed performs. I hope they will be given fair chance now when they are part of the squad touring SQ. Hafeez is disappointment, he seems composed but he is just unable to score something meaningful especially when it matters.

    I will like Yousaf to come at no 3. Considering inzy’s back problem it would be wise to drop him to No. 6 for matches against weak team and let malik and younis come before him. Against good teams he should come at No. 4. Then younis/Malik..

  • gojjo on February 4, 2007, 18:13 GMT

    just seen the drubbing at Centurion, is there any real talent in the Pakistan first class cricket? why am I asking now, because Pakistan should forget about this world cup, the Pakistan cricket performanace is reflective of the malaise affecting the whole Pakistan socio-political society - backbiting, coups and countercoups, favoritism - as I used to say in the 1990s when the two Ws were playing for Pakistan (Wasim & Waqar) - give the two Ws to Sri Lankan team of the 90s and they would have become world beaters!; point? - the point is you need an Arjuna (as rotund as Inzimam) like master captain, DiSilva like master craftsman ( as MoYo), a master blaster like Sanath ( not like Afridi)-injuries or no injuries there is simply not enough talent to replace injured players. Great former Pakistan players were never coached and they cannot coach either. Pakistan are the under 19 world cup champions! but still? Pakistan needs to hunt for strike bowlers of the future (the two Ws) - but even once when they are found - thesuccess will get to their heads and they will become too big to play together! - anyway for the World Cup I wuld not change the top 8 players in the batting line up ie Hafeez, Kamran, Younis, Mo Yo, Inzi, Malik, Afridi, Razzaq, - they have to click and perform, simple as that,

    The keeper has to open, so that there's extra option for another all rounder, the two 'dodgy' selections are Younis ( try who else - Hameed is a weakling, has no power to clear the ropes, Who else?) and Razzaq (his batting technique is exposed, his bowling the less said the better, how about Yassir Arafat?) The world cup will be won by Gayle for WI, Ponting for Austrailia, Sanath (again) for SL, Graeme Smith For SA, but for Pakistan to win will need the '3 all rounders'- not Afridi, Malik or Razzaque - but unity, faith and discipline as Quaid said. Rather I would say faith first then unite and have some discipline

  • Adam on February 4, 2007, 17:36 GMT

    Humpty Dumpty(pak team) sat(played) on a wall(pitch), Humpty Dumpty(pak team) had a great fall(loss) , all the kings men(Y's) and all the kings horses(S's) cudnt put humpty dumpty(pak team) back again.

  • Prat on February 4, 2007, 17:32 GMT

    I personally feel sorry for Bob Woolmer and Inzy, given the pepetual turmoil in Pak cricket. The best solution would be to cut down the insane amount of cricket being played by Pakistan, go slow and steady, and I guess Pakistan would be the only team today who can attack Australia even if Aussies have a good day. As for the world cup: Imran Nazir, Shoaib Mallik, Mohammed Yousuf, Inzy, Younis Khan, Razzaq, Akmal, Akhtar, Asif and Gul should be certainities. That leaves only one vacant spot in the XI, for which, probably, Shahid Afridi would be the best bet. In addition, the reserves could be Yaseer Hameed, Danish Kaneria, Mohammad Sami and one more batsman (anybody's guess as to this last spot)

  • Mawali on February 4, 2007, 17:23 GMT

    Kamran Sahib, right about now an unsettled, uneasy calm prevails over the landscape. Today, blood has been spilt and a massacre of unspeakable proportions has been committed the horror of which will forever change the psyche of the Pakistani cricket(NOT). The enemy was precise, cold and ruthless. There was no mercy begged and none given. This was the result of sending boys to fight men. Mothers are holding on tight to their young and whaling...son don't grow up to be a Pakistani cricketer. I just love the way people on this blog play Fantasy cricket. AMF!

  • Ateeq, Uganda on February 4, 2007, 17:08 GMT

    Younis Khan is becoming a dissappointment more than anything. His batting failures have cost the team time and time again and his mode of dissmissals are no better than Imran Farhat's. Younis is gonna have to turn in some good performances for the next four one-dayers against south africa or he joins the ranks of those who don't deserve to go to the Carribean. Hafiz is living on the edge as well and from now on Pakistan must keep Kamran Akmal opening and make sure he settles at that position. The performance that Pakistan gives in the South Africa one-dayers should not be used a great deal to judge their chances at the world cup. the pitches in carribean are a lot similar to those in Pakistan and the last time Pakistan was in West Indies in June 2005, they won the One day series 3-0 with Afridi man of the series. Just goes to show how important and vital Afridi will be to Pakistan.

  • Cricket on February 4, 2007, 16:40 GMT

    Cant bat, Cant bowl, Cant field.

    That sums up the Pakistan side for the first One Day International. And at one time we were thinking of beating Australia, and now the team is having trouble scoring 200 on a batting track. There have been numerous occasions in which former captains and cricket experts have said that bowling was the main strength of the Pakistan Cricket team, and here you have it, South Africa managed to pile like 390 runs with ease. To lose a cricket match is one thing, but to lose it by that much of a margin is just unacceptable. At the end, its probably right to say that South Africa are a much better cricket team than Pakistan.

    I don't even think we should even hope for winning the world cup, lets see if this Pakistan Cricket team can do any better than the 2003 world cup team.

  • Kamran Shah - Toronto on February 4, 2007, 16:26 GMT

    The PATHETIC performance of the Pakistani team in the 20/20 and the 1st ODI was absolutely devastating. However, it was not unexpected. All of the so-called "experts" were rambling on and on about how good the Pakistan ODI team was after a series win against the West Indies. Even back then, I was saying that we should not judge them by their performance against the Windies, because firstly the wickets we played on were sub-standard Pakistani wickets and secondly the Windies are a poor ODI team, they only compete when Gayle,Lara or Chanderpaul fire. Period. The acid test was to be against the South Africans, and as usual, we crumbled against them - for the umpteenth time. Pakistan have a poorer record against South Africa, compared to any other team in the world, and its not going to change anytime soon. Firstly, the selection from Wasim Bari and his gang has been DISGRACEFUL. What was the point of playing a guy like Imran Farhat against the West Indies when you know he has technical issues which every bowler exploits whenever he`s at the crease? That series should have been the perfect place to play Salman Butt and Imran Nazir to see which one could take the WC spot. As it is, right now we dont know who can open - Farhat has finally been shown the door, Afridi doesent want to open, Hafeez is a club-player who is only good at reaching the occasional 20-25 run mark before throwing his wicket away, Imran Nazir is on a comeback trail and is bound to take a few games to get going, and Salman Butt is still sitting in Lahore. If the opening issue wasnt enough - Younis Khan has shown time and time again he is a bits and pieces player who never comes to the party when the team needs him the most..he's another one in the long line of flat-track bullys produced by Pakistan. Furthermore, Razzaq is a shadow of what he used to be 2 years ago and is only in the team because of PAST reputation. The way he was torn apart is a calling to finally drop him and play Azhar Mahmood - who has been scoring heavily in domestic cricket these days or Yasir Arafat - who should have been in the team a long long time ago. Last but not the least, Rana Naveed - the biggest club cricketer in Pakistan history. Why this guy keeps getting a place in the team is beyond me...his economy rate is 5.50 per over!!! UNHEARD OFF for a frontline bowler!! Yet Pakistan continues to play him at the cost of the FAR MORE deserving Rao Iftikhar or Yasir Arafat or Samiullah Niazi - Pure and simple..blunders in selection. Pakistan have no chance in hell of winning against South Africa, they will continue to be demolished and I for one, am calling direct tv and cancelling my subscription to the remaining games as I have no interest in watching Pakistanis continue to get thrashed and embarass us at the International stage.

  • Khurram Sultan on February 4, 2007, 16:21 GMT

    Aesterics are all what would be posted after editing this message that I was going to put up here...hardly the team..infact the state of affairs with the team is as confusing as this message of mine..are we going anywhere..where are we heading to...Insanity is what prevails in the ranks of our cricket squad. Every other backup bowler in the country takes a free ride to the African safari. Next any one who is send as a backup seamer would be hardly anyone else other than Junaid Zia!! It is not like that one day you are injured the next day you are playing the third day you take a plane back home. Hello! We had been boasting about the bowling strength we had..but dudes 392..phew..we dont have batting resources to even think about a total such as that! The 20 overs powerplays is hitting us in cricket like the offside amendments in hockey. Cricket has taken a real turnaround these days! There is no such thing as innings building in modern day cricket. You have got to hit...right from the word go..and mantain that runrate. Akmal and Malik should open the innings. Yousuf to play the sheet anchor at number 3. Inzi at 4. Afridi at 5. Younis at 6. Razzak at 7. Sami 8th. Asif is the automatic number 11. We are short of two seamers now..Rana can be one but should now be given the new ball. We are missing number 9th and 10 in that team. Akhter and Gul might be there...but..we need quality bowlers..not club cricketers like Rana..coming and rolling their arms over.

  • Khalid arif Siddiqui on February 4, 2007, 16:15 GMT

    The first ODI is gone to South Africa and I really do not want to comment on the performance of Inzy and CO. for it was expected perticularly after the Twenty/20 match. Frankly speaking we should not be looking to just win the ODI's in South Africa, instead try and put to test the young brigade that we are carrying with us in South Africa....I am not howevr referring to the families of the Assistant Coach and other players travelling with the team. Here I would agree with Mr. Javed A. Khan's comment that it is a great opportunity to test out the youngsters as Inzy, Younis and Yousef are certaities for the world cup. As regards the opening let us try Imran and Hafeez followed by Younis at Number 3, or even Shoaib Malik. Shahid must come in at number 6 and should be a certainty in all the remaining matches in SA. Shahid and Shoaib are good players and have performed well in the past, may be a lil out of form now but is they get enough time to spen in the middle, they will most definately get back to their potentials. Inzy should be rested for the remaining part, for his fitness also has a big question mark and it will be wise enough to rest him. Coming to Abdul Rahman and Naveed....i will once again agree with Mr. Khan that Abdul Rahman has being highly over rated by our so called journalists. He has the potentials to become a good bowler but it will take him some time and at present he is very very raw. Naveed's case also has to be looked in seriously for he is brillant but not consistant, he has the ability to surprise every one at the same time he gives away lots or runs as was evident in the first ODI in South Africa, and I feel that we require consistant performers so Naveed to me lacks is consistancy and therefore should not be considered for the world cup to me the fast bowling line up for the world cup should be Asif, Gul, Sami, Shoaib and Shabbir along with Waqar as the bowling coach and not Mushtaq. If Waqar is not available then we must have Aqib Javed there and most definately not Mushtaq.

  • glacier on February 4, 2007, 16:09 GMT

    Plenty of evidence from the first ODI how rusty our one day team really is. Lame dismissals like playing back to the bowler(younis), playing one handed strokes(yousuf), limp pull shots(inzi and akmal) and ever-green capability of hafeez to edge innocous looking balls outside of-stump.

    Sorry to say but beating any asian side in asia or outside asia is pointless. Pakistan had three all-important tours Aus, Eng and now SA. They have failed in all(injuries as an excuse is not good enough). The fact remains that we havnet won a test series or a one-day competition aginast these sides for a long time. Pakistan is in for a tough 3 months (4 ODIS against SA and the WC). Our bowling is weaker than ever, Razzaq and Afridi never perform against the big sides, openers fail EVERYTIME, Naved/Sami leak too many runs.

  • Kamran Hashmi on February 4, 2007, 15:59 GMT

    Hi Kamran !

    After the pathetic cricket display by pakistanis I would point out that we are continuing the same mistake we did in tests by shifting Inzi and Yousaf down the order by playing Yasir at No. 3. In ODIs I always emphasized that Maliks is the best ODI player we have got. He should play at No. 3 . But I know this cant be happened. Atleast Younis doesnt deserve to be up there. If you dont play Malik at No. 3 then he should be opening because he is such a thinking cricket, he always plans his innings. In the past we have seen some great run chases because of Malik's batting. Secondly we are stil experimenting with openers. Why Imran Nazir didnt play today on a batting paradise. He couldnt have got a better pitch to settle on Hard SA pitches but sadly could not get a chance and I think he will spend the tour on bench. My first choice team doesnt include Younis and all the balance of our ODI team is spoiled by him. But as we know he is to be adjusted in the team at the cost of ?? you know.

    Hoping for some good luck for Pakistan in the remaining part of the tour.

  • taz on February 4, 2007, 15:54 GMT

    You right about one thing, after the spanking Pakistan got in the 20/20 match, they didn't manage to get out of reverse gear in the 1st ODI either.

    There are still some key areas that need to be addressed, like the fact that we haven't had a steady opening pair for the last 4 years, plenty of time to have been able to find and groom a pair, but no, toggle amongst 5 or 6 potential players who now all have an equal chance of making it. Hafeez has probably cemented his opening spot but not sure Akmal opening at the top of the order is still the right way to go, it leaves the tail horribly exposed.

    Salmat Butt, Imran Farhat, Imran Nazir & Yasir Hameed must all have a fair shout ot taking the remaining opening slot.

    Shahid Afridi might still not be a bad option in the caribean as well to open !

    Bowling department needs some serious rethink. Abdur Rehman looks good, but I think Kaneria should get the nod in front of him and play as well ! Rana Naveed, Shahid Nazir and Mohammed Sami are out of form. It has to be Mohammed Asif, Shoaib Akhter, Umer Gul and Kaneria that does it for us in the Caribean.

  • Mustafa Moiz on February 4, 2007, 15:54 GMT

    Once more reapeating myself, the opening spot is a toss up, with four decent openers; Imran Nazir, Salman Butt, Yasir Hameed and Mohammad Hafeez. These are the only capable ones and also the least credited ones. Then comes Younis, Inzamam and Yousuf. Now, comes the keeper, whosoever it may be. Then Malik, Razzaq, Sami, Shoaib Akhtar and Asif, since he's going to play for some reason. The reserves are the other two openers, who don't necessarily have to open, Rana and Afridi, since the management won't pick Rehman. After the World Cup, Mohammad Khalil should be played again.

  • babar ali, Birmigham, England on February 4, 2007, 14:41 GMT

    well folks let me just tell you no matter what technich, batting order, bowling we try we are not going to win a match in this current oneday series never mind the world cup, i am thoroughly dissapointed with paks performance at 20/20, but even the more today with the 1st ODI performance, i have supported this side through thick and thin but they have let me down one times to many. i do not care anymore how our squad looks on paper because what really matters is what you do on the pitch. no formulas will work. we are just going to the world cup just to show our presence and as a cricket playing nation we have to be there really and trully we wont win.

    So all of you have your hopes high please think realistic otherwise you all will be heartbroken just as i am. this team did not even put up a fight man you cannot win the world cup playing at this standard.

    just look at new zealand, west indies, they might have lost but they showed character abd a passion to win our team is lacklustre and overrated.

    AUSTRALIA,SOUTH AFRICA or INDIA to win world cup.

    ENOUGH SAID

    PEACE OUT YOU ALL.:(

  • nadeem on February 4, 2007, 14:39 GMT

    I really don't see pakistan even qualifying for semi-finals in wc. after watching todays performance and in T20 . they may get 5-0 thrashing and then their confidence will be so low they may forget if they can even compete in SUPER8 . I rate them only bett

  • Osman A Khairi on February 4, 2007, 14:23 GMT

    After the mauling that we have received at the hands of the South Africans today, I would greatly appreciate if our cricket team could strip PAKISTAN off their shirts and then continue with their business. What an embarrassment.

  • Ulysses on February 4, 2007, 14:01 GMT

    Dear Moderator, The latest comments should appear at the top of the page and older ones below. One should not need to scroll down to see the latest comments. For example see Daily Telegraph cricket site.

    Thanks Ulysses

  • AA on February 4, 2007, 14:00 GMT

    Pakistan should have included an additional batsman, Imran Nazir in place of a bowler, Mohd. Sami for the 1st ODI and hopefully for the remaining matches.

  • Ulysses on February 4, 2007, 13:59 GMT

    Under all circumstances Shahid Afridi must never ever be allowed to bat again below No. 7. He should be considered primary as a bowler and a late order slogger. Evidently, he lacks basic batting intelligence; he doesn't read the pitch or the bowler at all. Perhaps only in the dustbowl pitches of the subcontinent he can hit through the line of the ball, not in South Africa or elsewhere. Please Bob Woolmer don't send him to bat in the top order.

  • suleman on February 4, 2007, 13:56 GMT

    Pathetic Pakistan! Thats the evidence from the first one dayer. Can't bowl, can't bat and can't field. Revert to playing gilidanda

  • Haider on February 4, 2007, 13:50 GMT

    AAAAA Going by the current match that is going on Pak Vs SA (1st ODI) it doesnt seem like we have figured anything out.

  • Haider on February 4, 2007, 13:39 GMT

    We need a decent bowling coach to stop our second string of bowlers giving a way extras and teach them how to bowl yorkers at the death of the innings. Things have not gone too well in this department since the removal of Waqar.

    We haven't had Shoaib, Asif and Gul available for selection simultaneously for over a year. So I wouldn't bet the house on it for the World Cup. If they will bw available what's their match fitness and form going to be like???

    We need some decent openers to give us a good positive start if we are challenge Australia.

  • WALEED on February 4, 2007, 13:00 GMT

    OYEEEEEEEE.......392 for 6.......thats awesome......what is wrong with pakistan ......i think pakistan is not at the level of australlia n south africa.they both have hard hitting batsman which we dont ....some times kamran then sometimes shohaib or hafeez or farhat ......i think if pak keeps playin like this we'll lose the whole ODI series.....n plzz romove younis khan as captain n rana as a bowler.....today rana got 5 fours in 1 over (WHAT A DISCRACE)....cheers!

  • Indian on February 4, 2007, 12:51 GMT

    I concur with Khansahab above - installing the best players up the order. I'll add one more reason to the one's he's listed. Pakistan's lower middle order (the allrounders) are not utilized completely in the current batting order. Its just a 50 over game and its pointless to have a player like Afridi/Razzaq at 8. On a consistent basis you dont challenge them and often put them in no-win situations. A long batting lineup never hurts, but to doggedly achieve that by sticking inept or unsuitable ODI players as openers is self-defeating. By having your biggest guns open, you utilize the many lower order players Pakistan seems to have no trouble finding. They have real firepower and this will come in handy whether the big boys fail up top click or fail. You may even be able to pull in an additional specialist bowler, though given today's massacre at Centurion, some may wonder if that would matter.

  • Robert on February 4, 2007, 12:34 GMT

    I rather enjoy the 20Twenty format. I think it really does create that much more interest when you have players going out there and just bashing the ball about. Also, I don't think anyone should read too much into these results. In just 20 overs one amazing bowler, or one batsman that gets going can win it. Whereas in the 50 over format you have to rely on your whole team that much more.

    Akmal... you must be joking when you call that man a wicketkeeper! He has to be the worst in world cricket, county cricket or even poor league cricket. And sadly the fielding from Pakistan on the whole is poor.

    Currently watching the first ODI and that pitch is a real belter. Afridi did an amazing job with the ball. Lets hope his fireworks come out with the bat. But again, I think that 393 is just too many to get. Without the extra's and a bit better fielding 350 might have been the score. On that pitch I would back anyone chasing 350 to win.

  • Kash on February 4, 2007, 12:32 GMT

    I think we should forget the upcoming world cup and concentrate on stability. Imran's era proved that Pakistan were consistent and won almost one day tournament from 1989 to 1992. The only place they did not win anything was down under and that was also taken care of when Pakistan lifted the world cup, thus resulting as the final icing on the cake. Let's not fool ourselves by thinking that Pakistan will win the 2007 world cup. Over hyped players like Shoaib, Rana, Imran Farhat, Sami & Kaneria should be shelved once and for all. The recent 20-20 debacle against the Springboks and today's CARNAGE in CENTURION is a reminder. In fact as Tony Greig once said, they have been hit by a wet sock on the back of their neck. Moreover, this team especially the captain does not deserve the world cup truimph. It takes more than talent and hard work to lift one. For starters consistency, strategic planning, charisma, continuity and back bench strength. All of this is not going to just appear in 5 ODI's against the Springboks or rather 4 ODIs. We might as well forget the first one today. Odds are Pakistan all out less than 200!!!!!!

  • murtaza hussain on February 4, 2007, 12:18 GMT

    wel mr abbas.........pakistan is only strong on paper....looking at the way they bowled during the 1st ODI againt SA. INZI.......BOB..

    TERRIBLE TIME AHEAD FOR PAKISTAN TIME

  • Azam Farooqui on February 4, 2007, 12:18 GMT

    Well Pakistan definitely needs to sort out it's top order in the series, not only the opening slot must be decided, but also the number 3 position. As much as i am a fan of Younis Khan and regardless of how much sucess he has had at number 3 in tests, i feel that he still does not owns the spot in number 3, much has been said about shoaib malik and is technical deficiency, but the fact is that he did have decent sucess at number 3, infact average in the mid 40's during the 20 month period when he was pakistan's regular one down. Younis to me just hasnt played well enough to pace his innings for a number 3 in oneday cricket, nor he seems good enough to force the pace in the end overs. Also another factor is pakistan's batting at the death, the reason team in the 90's did well was because they had 4 batsman who could easily clear any ground in the world, moin khan, wasim akram, azhar mahmood and abdur razzaq. I still feel that we lack atleast big hitter to compliment razzaq or afridi or Yousuf. Kamran akmal is a good batsman but he cant clear the ropes consistenly with sixes, he might probably be more usefull at the top of the order.

  • JAVED A. KHAN, MONTREAL, CANADA on February 4, 2007, 12:15 GMT

    FOUR AND A HALF MATCHES TO GO before the world cup........that means Pakistan is about to start their innings after Rana Naveed, Sami and Razzaq's pathetic bowling performances. Kallis and Boucher scored 106 runs in 6 overs. Pakistan bowled 21 wides and no balls and 34 runs were scored on those extra balls, which means 55 extra runs were given on a platter to SA who plundered the Pak bowling attack by scoring 393 runs. Only Shahid Afridi bowled exceptionally well and took two for 42.

    In my previous post, I chose a team for today's ODI (which Mr. Kamran Abbassi censored it) and that is the exact team that is playing today. The only thing that I have to see now is who is going to open for Pakistan? I have mentioned that I would not include Rana Naveed in the team, but there is no choice. Rana did not prove me wrong with his pathetic bowling and poor fielding.

    Winning seems to be a long way for Pakistan, if they cannot put up a fight in this game then they will be under tremendous pressure during the rest of the series and they will make too many changes in the team which is not good. I wonder why Pir Inzamam ul Haq chose to field first after winning the toss? I am always baffled by his decisions. Anyways lets see how the Pakistani Punters will play. I can only wish them success and watch them with my fingers and toes crossed.

  • Abdul Kadir Hussain on February 4, 2007, 12:08 GMT

    Well very much like the last world cup we plan for 4 years for the event and two weeks before we are in complete chaos!! Inzi's inability to think when things go wrong was shown up again today. Forget winning the toss and fielding that was an ok decision, but his bowling changes were amazing. Kept Rana on for too long at the start, brought Razzak on for the 1st time in the 45th over (had he forgotten that Razzak was on the field). Our bowling resouces are ridiculously thin, by persisting with Sami for too long and by acceding to Inzi's wishes and sending an unfit Shabbir we have further exacerbated things. Over in Pakistan, poor Azhar Mehmood, Rao, and Yasir much be watching with just a little bit of amusement. SO must Waqar after today. Our fast bowlers were horrendous. Asif showed he is not a death bowler, best to give 7-8 overs at the start and thats about it. Hafeez, Malik, Afridi can do a decent job in the middle overs, and I still believe in Naved the death. But we need another death bowler and we need better backup to Asif in the beginning. Shoaib and Gul will help but to me it all seems to late. I keep thinking to a comment made by Inzi about 18 mos back. He said we need to experiment more to get ready for the world cup. It will be interesting to see how many players we have tried since that comment. It was throught the process of trial and error that guys like Mitchell Johnson, Cameron White, Robin Uthappa, Fulton, Taylor, have come to the fore for other teams. Looks like its too late for us again.

  • Sheharyar Ahmed Siddiqui on February 4, 2007, 12:08 GMT

    To start off things..

    1.The selection isn't the best for quite some time now.Picking Shabbir straight away after a years ban showed justice in a day?or in half a day

    2.Having Mustaq Ahmed as a bowling coach?Well who will he be coaching really in the ODI's ??probably Shahid Afridi!!Good luck PCB

    PS We should hire a bowling coach ..Aqib jawed or Wasim Akram ,Sarfraz nawaz could also help in the next month.

    3.As many as 7 players can bowl yet we go for plenty.We have given our ALL ROUNDERS an extended run...The likes of Hafeez,Malik,Afridi,Razzaq should not be played in the same XI.

    4.Our bowlers have to be more disciplined..cut the extras.Stop bowling No-balls and Wides for heavens sake!!!

    5.Inzimam needs to be pro active when the heat is on.It is seen when the pressure is on..when the opposition is on the attack inzi doesn't do much to stop things.Younis should help him when we are in a spot of bother.

    Pakistan can win the World Cup as long as the believe that they can

  • HANIF Noorani on February 4, 2007, 12:06 GMT

    Make Afridi open,he is only suited to that position. because he just skies the ball to be caught in the deep once the field is spread out & on the flat and slow decks in the Carribean,he's worth being utilised. i just pray deeply that we can see the combination of Gul,Asif n Akhtar bowl in the same match specially in the World Cup. just watching our bowlers in tatters in Centurion really calls for deep meditation. Still, I have faith in our guys that THEY can defy the odds and pull it off for US. INSHAALLAH. Cheers

  • nafeel ahmed on February 4, 2007, 11:56 GMT

    the pcb must bring back waqar or wasim or someone else as bowling coach otherwise the hammering at centurion is going to be repeated.

  • Ahsan Karim on February 4, 2007, 11:50 GMT

    The fact is if we play like we did today (1st ODI) and the 20/20 we haven't got a chance in the world. Some of the most indisciplined bowling I've ever seen from Pakistan and thats saying something , because its always been like this. We are not learning from our mistakes and not hiring Waqar Younis for ODIs was a big one. With these performances its quite likely we may end up losing to Ireland or Zimbabwe in the first round, which may mean four years after the last World Cup, Pakistan cricket is stranded exactly were it was then, full of a dying breed of stars, some bright talent which is yet to be tapped and no constitution, rather like the country itself.

  • Khalid Arif Siddiqui on February 4, 2007, 9:02 GMT

    I think the chances of our team reaching the semi finals are bleak unless we settle down with a regular pair of openers as well as avoid injuries. Pakistan is the only team which is constantly dogged by injuries and that too at crucial times. Inzy has been almost half fit for more than 2 years and yet we have been unable to find a reasonable replacement for him, this speaks about the lack of planning in PCB. Pakistan still is facing the dilemma of putting up 11 names for the playing eleven and imagine the world cup is just knocking at the doore. Still we are thinking of reaching the semis.... I say all this because of the inconsistancy that I have observed in the sellection process....say for instance the case of Kamran Akmal....he was being sent back to Pakistan and there he is playing in the first ODI today while Zulqi who was included in the twenty/20 game is just warming the benches....I some times wonder why was at all he taken to South Africa. Imran Nazir was sent to South Africa again a mistry that I am unable to understand....because he is not playing. If he dosent play how in the world can we know if he is good enough to be there. This also gives a hint of the lack of coordination between the tour management and the sellectors. I personally feel that he should have been playing today.

  • Shahbaz Faheem on February 4, 2007, 7:24 GMT

    Rightly said Kamran. Pakistan is the only team who still do not have a set combination for WC.

    Barring a few players, others are not automatic choice for WC. This is the series where the team for WC should be set and stick to that combination.

    Younis Khan should be left out of the team. He is a liability in One-dayers.

  • Rizwan on February 4, 2007, 3:05 GMT

    Ok...so everybody keeps talking about "our middle 3" as the ultimate middle order.....but if you look at other teams they too have those sorta combinations ....look at India for example " Dravid, Ganguly and Tendulkar" < these 3 have close to 35000 runs b/w them...i dont see the indians always relying on them....long story short....everybody needs to perform...we need some decent openers I say Malik and Nazir ......and Abdur Rehman or Afridi down the order depending who performs better in this series and is worthy of a spot!......and yeah lately Razzaq has'nt done anything significant either!...he needs to up his game as well!..

  • Aftab Qureshi on February 4, 2007, 2:54 GMT

    Pakistan team for South Africa ODI series looks like a huge gamble. If Afridi and Imran Nazir click ( how I wish, hope and pray they would), then we sure have a chance in this series and will go into the World Cup with confidence; otherwise.......I dread even to think....So Kamran is right.....5 games is all we have to prove a point or two.

  • JAVED A. KHAN, MONTREAL, CANADA on February 4, 2007, 0:33 GMT

    Before, commenting on the WC squad, I would like to say that for a twenty20 game, especially in view of the twenty20 WC to be played in SA in October 2007, I think if Younis Khan has to lead a young team without Inzi then, he should put on the gloves. In a twenty20 game you don't really need a specialist wicket keeper. If Younis Khan put on the gloves, which he can, then there will be a slot available for a regular full time bowler or a batsman. After watching the recent game in SA, I would like to have 5 pace bowlers and NO spinners in twenty20 games in SA.

    About the current ODI's starting tonight, lets look at Pakistan's record against SA, they have played 42 and lost 29 and, in SA they have played 16 and lost 11, it is indeed a very pathetic record. However, I still believe that statistics and records have no significance, if the players believe in themselves and fight like tigers. A lot depends on the team selection, that means a lot depends on Pir Sayeen and Uncle Bob. Who gets the blessings and who gets the wrath is to be seen.

    In my opinion Shabbir and Abdul Rahman should not be considered for SA or for the WC, period. Sami would be a better bet, he bowls, bats and fields better than Shabbir. Shabbir looks like a nervous wreck, he has no faith in himself and there is no penetration or bite in his wayward bowling. I wouldn't even include Rana now in SA, but there is no choice. As regards Abdul Rahman, he is a very over rated player, just because he is young and took two wickets twice against a weak WI side the media has hyped up his performance, and some even considers him better than Kaneria, which is not fair. Malik, Hafeez and Afridi can easily complete Abdul Rahman's quota of 10 overs between themselves.

    If Pakistan wants to give a chance to the youngsters like Imran Nazir, Zulqarnain Haider or even Yasir Hameed then one of the seniors like, Inzi, Yousuf or Younis should rest alternatively (because their places for the WC are guaranteed in any case) and winning these ODI's in SA should NOT be the forefront of Pakistan's agenda but, building a team for the Caribbean WC should be the primary objective. Especially the opening conundrum needs to be sorted out and these 5 games is the best and last opportunity for Pakistan.

    The only way to sort it out this problem is to choose ONE opening pair for ALL 5 games NOW, and tell them very clearly that they are playing for ALL 5 ODI's irrespective of their performance. If anyone or both of them fail the test, then they are not going to the Caribbean WC. There is no point in experimenting the opening slot by replacing one of them or both of them with Imran Nazir or Kamran or Malik or Yasir Hameed in every other match. Opening pair should NOT be disturbed for the 5 matches to give a boost of confidence, which you cannot achieve in one or two games. The only good thing that will come out IF this experiment is carried out, both of them will try to give their best by playing their natural game, if not Pakistan is not losing anything, the opening conundrum is there and it will continue. This is the only opportunity to correct it here BUT by giving 4 or 5 players an opportunity in every other game is like cooking KHICHRI and messing up with this opportunity. Better stick to ONE pair and hope it works. Inshallah it will.

    For the Caribbean WC, Gul will definitely be back but Akhtar, with all his hissy fits, bad temper, tantrums, injuries and above all the politics in PCB and a hand in glove relationship between Uncle Bob and Inzi, may create certain doubts about his inclusion in the team. But, his God Father Imran Khan is already supporting him and creating a few ripples through the media, that Akhtar should not have been sent back, and in any case he should be included in the WC squad. So, we have to wait till Feb. 13th to see whether Akhtar would make it to the WC squad or left behind? Knowing PCB and Pakistani selectors, coach and captain anything is possible, he may be left out and flown in again like they did a few weeks ago. In any case a fully fit and tantrum free Shoaib Akhtar is a match winner, and if he is fit, then he MUST be in the squad. That means Rana and Sami will have to sit on the sidelines but, they must be in the team for the WC as a back up to injuries or to give Akhtar a break against Ireland or Zimbabwe, but again that is debateable, ijuries are very likely to happen, but giving a rest is breaking momentum. Come February 13th we will debate on the playing 11 again. Caribbean grounds are smaller and spinners may not be the right choice, 5 pace bowlers would be better than 4+1.

  • Tameem, Toronto on February 3, 2007, 23:31 GMT

    Asalam; First of all the reason Pakistan is not doing good in my opinion is Shoaib, come on dog you are not that good of a bowler to come for few games then screw the whole system, get kicked out/injured and leave and keep doing it over and over for last 5yrs. If you see it throughly; he is not available regularly and because of him we are not grooming another full time fast-bowler(he is kind of looping around). Secondly Afridi; he is not a problem, he is real gangster, when he is standing on the pitch(bowling or batting) opposing team can expect anything, so open with him and don't pressure him for runs(he is kind of trump card). Third all-rounders; oh here comes the best part Hafeez, Malik, Razzaq and Afridi; they all are good in all aspect of the game. So in my opinion Hafeez, Afridi, Malik, Younis, Yousuf, Inzi, Akmal, Razaq, Danish, Asif and (gul, sami or shahid)is the best world cup combo in the same order as well.

  • Khurram Ahmed (Jamaica) on February 3, 2007, 23:16 GMT

    Mr. Abbasi:

    You're painting too bleak a picture.

    Our middle order needs no work. Younis, Yousuf and Inzamam need to be there, whether they bat 3 to 5 or 4 to 6.

    We have 3 frontline strike bowlers that most teams would be envious of in Akhtar, Gul and Asif.

    That's more than half the side complete, and set in stone for the most important matches.

    Razzaq, Shoaib Malik and Afridi are useful allrounders in the ODI format. Despite Afridi's past year, I don't believe form is a factor for him. He clicks sometimes, and when he does, he wins matches singlehandedly. Besides, Pakistan have not been fair to him lately.

    Moving him around the order, bringing him to play spinners between the 25th and 35th overs, and not using his overs with the ball properly are all failures of management.

    That's nine of the final 11. As keeper, I hope Haider shows his potential with the bat and makes no mistakes with the gloves. If his glovework is flawless, we shouldn't demand more. Akmal has had a horrid year behind the stumps.

    The final spot in the best Pakistan ODI team should go to a specialist opener. I like to think Imran Nazir will impress us.

    Rana, Akmal, Abdur-Rehman, and Hafeez should round out the squad. Sorry, Shabbir and Sami maybe 2011.

  • khansahab on February 3, 2007, 23:15 GMT

    I am not attempting to be bid-headed or anything, but if most people follow my comments on this blog, they would know that most of the times my predictions turn out to be true. A few days ago I presented an argument which essentially stated that Pakistan are is a desperate situation and they cannot rely any further on the so called “specialist openers”. Let us remind ourselves what makes an individual a “specialist Pakistani opener”- the ability to hit the ball cleanly on batting, low bounce and flat pitches of Pakistan. Looking at the current crop of players, I am afraid that I must adhere to Imran Khan’s “bat your best player right at the top” philosophy and come to the conclusion that Mohammad Yousuf should open with Akmal (the latter because he has to bat somewhere in the order, why not send him as opener?). The reason I choose Yousuf over Younis or Inzi is that he can bat explosively when he wants to, normally out of these 3, he takes the least amount of time to settle down before he starts playing his shots. For those who would like to dispute that my plan wouldn’t work or isn’t the best, I present two counter-arguments:

    1) Many combinations have been tried and have failed. There is a common ground amongst most of the so called “specialist openers.” When they have started their international careers, most of them have been in their early 20s, and have not been sufficiently experienced to understand the concepts of crease occupation and shot selection. All play with their hearts rather than their minds. 2) Other countries have also intermittently faced problems with opening. The result has been to send their best players at the top. India did that with considerable success with Dravid (when there was no one to accompany Sehwag- Tendulkar was out of form batting at no. 2), West Indies did that for a while with both Lara and Chanderpaul ( when there wasn’t anyone in form to accompany Gayle- this was before Morton etc. had made their mark) and even Australia saw Ponting opening in a few matches. Why can’t Pakistan send someone comparable, like Yousuf, as opener?

    My apologies to some regular participants on this blog like Mr Euceph Ahmed, but I absolutely disagree with sacking the 3 middle order batsmen Inzi, Yousuf and Younis because their experience is always vital. Experience can be very handy in pressure situations- Inzi’s experience has taken Pakistan through many nail-biting victories. A more frequent rush of young blood in the team will lead to more dynamism, but will also contribute to increased batting failures and hence, reliance on the big 3. The rest of the line-up should be something like this (here I am merely pasting from my previous comment on another topic, I presume the discussion on which players to play will be prevalent under this topic): 3)Younis 4) Inzi 5)Fawad Alam/ Yasir Hameed/Asim Kamal 6) Shoaib Malik 7)Afridi 8)Razzaq (I am hoping Razzaq’s experience will help, if he is still unimpressive, then Abdur Rahman should be played in his position) 9) Akhtar/Gul 10) Asif 11)Naved. (Some people have a problem with Naved, for those who do; Naved is a poor Test bowler, but a very good ODI bowler when he is fit) In the reserves I’d like to see Abdur rehman, Yasir hameed, Afridi/Razzaq, Asim Kamal, Sami, Shahid Nazir and Imran Nazir, Hafeez, Zulqernain, Shabbir

    As for the verdict on Woolmer, his position is less clear cut than Inzi’s. Woolmer has no say in player selection, as his choices would be based on reason and common sense, not favouritism and politics, so he must not be blamed for player selection. That he has communication problems with most players is not his fault either. This can lead indirectly to many things people blame him for- 1) not trying enough to make the openers consistent 2) not trying enough to sort out the injury problems with players etc. If anything, I believe Inzi should be blamed for those problems as he commands greater respect and carries more influence in the team.

    The prospects of a World Cup win: …….are rather slim. I think Australia and South Africa will play the final and I think India will go far. However, I am expecting surprises from New Zealand and West Indies (the latter, owing to the home advantage). However, with the above mentioned line-up, I believe Pakistan can beat most of these teams. I hope the selectors have learnt from their mistakes and will not repeat them yet again. I hope for a miracle……………………

  • Mawali on February 3, 2007, 21:38 GMT

    Kamran Sahib, It would be safe to say that the recent 20/20 drubbing was not too unexpected. "Baptism by fire" and before you know what hit you; you are out for the count.

    I have no problem writing this one off to simple match practice, and a lesson in growing up fast. You correctly pointed out that 6 of the 11 on the field were until recently bench warmers, waiting for a chance. The 20/20 should not be used as a yardstick for the new arrivals either. To say that they looked lost because of the missing leadership is ludicrous.

    For a variety of reasons including the pitches in South Africa I have little to no hope in Pakistan making any sort of a decent fight in the upcoming ODI series. I think in this case the saying “naach naa jaanay aangun tayraah” is quite appropriate. For the Pakistani’s the pitches in South Africa are nothing less than a “tayrah aangan”

    I remain hopeful of them making a better show of it during the World Cup. The reasons for hope are one, a complete bowling roster especially with Shoaib and second, the kind of pitches we will encounter in the Caribbean. I will not go overboard and say that Pakistan will claim this Holy Grail of Cricket. I do however; think that Pakistan has a chance to make the semis.

    For all the Shoaib Akhtar hater’s learn to deal with it. This is life; you don’t always have your best buddies to play with. A mature approach is to deal with the personality and utilize the talent. Win first, hate later. AMF!

  • Khan on February 3, 2007, 20:18 GMT

    Even if we go five down in South Africa I think we still have chance to make it to the Semi finals of World Cup. There is hell of a diffrence between pitches of SA and West Indies, Playing conditions will definitely benifit Sub-Continent Players. And YES we have the storngest pace attack (atleast on paper) Shoaib, Asif and Gul. and if our dashing opners Imra Nazir and Akmal provides a decent start then we might even make it to the Finals coz we hav a strong middel order Yonis, Yousuf, Inzi and then 3 dangerous all rounders to follow Afridi, MAlik, Razzak. To sum up we have a very lethal combination of match winners.

  • anwar , los angeles on February 3, 2007, 19:24 GMT

    salaam, i been regular in this blog by kamran bhai...and i been reading everybody's opinion and thoughts.i came to a unique solution for pakistan cricket team to stun everyone in the world cup..here how it works,instead of playing our 11 players from top to the tail enders...i think bob woolmer should go from bottom to the top...since openers are not scoring ..starting with tailenders might works.....AND second solution is to go in world cup with team having 5 fast bowlers 3 all rounders 1 wk keeper and 2 spinners...since our batting line is a not able to deliver, when needed...so ..i say go with a crazy plan like this....cause with a regular team we don't stand a chance.PCB should charge any player who makes less then at least 30 runs...and no match fee...then you will see the results....ALLAH HAAFIZ.

  • calgary highlander on February 3, 2007, 18:28 GMT

    Wel, i hope Pakistan can forget the past and look towards the future. We have such a strong pace attack, an excellent miidle 3,and a lower order that is fully capable of bailing us out. On paper we are 10 times better then Australlia.Why do we lose then. It ain't the injuries, it could be the selections, it ain't Kamran Akmal (well sorta) Its our players phsycoligy that they don't have to perform. They think that our team is so good that someone else wll win it for us. It's ok if only 1 or 2 ppl think like that, but our whole team with the exception of a few ppl (ASIF) are thinking that way, then we're gonna lose.

  • Euceph Ahmed on February 3, 2007, 17:20 GMT

    Listening to Bob Woolmer yesterday I am convinced about another thing now: Not only that the ODI and Twenty20 formats should have separate teams and captains, they should also have separate coaches. Most of all separate coaches, because some of the players could be good enough to feature in more than one format, but coaches have to be separate. Woolmer made no secret of his dislike for the Twenty20 format and no wonder the team did as miserably as it did.

    Twenty20 is an entirely different format, and whatever it is, it's here to stay. A test-match purist like Woolmer cannot handle such a format. Someone like Moin Khan would be so much more suited to coach a team of high-energy Twenty20 youngsters, because he has the personality that young guys can easily relate with.

    It was amazing to me how disjointed the team looked in Inzamam's absence. On the other hand, Smith played his shots with such disdain as to demoralize the Pakistanis until way after the world cup. For sure the pakistan team doesn't look like a team of happy campaigners who have come together for a single cause. There seems to be no binding element currently in the team. At present, it looks just like a collection of individuals laboring hard out there to earn basic bread and butter. I very much suspect that Shoaib Akhtar's short stint has completely and totally screwed up whatever semblance of team-spirit Inzamam and Woolmer were able to piece together. This is something I could see happening way ahead of time, but those intent on winning the next match didn't have the foresight for. So now, take this! all of those who wanted that rotten apple in the team. If I were a betting man, I'd be placing my bets on the West Indies or South Africa for the world cup.

  • Talal on February 3, 2007, 16:46 GMT

    Well lets face it we know that 2 players will come back for the world cup i.e. gul and akhter.

    So this will be a chance for one of our squad players to make an huge impression. Obviously asif, akhter and gul have to play. The other certaintees would be inzi, yousuf, khan, akmal and razzaq. This leaves three places to fight for.

    Some ppl may say akmal is not certain but i would have to say unless zulqi plays superbly in the series akmal will play in the windies.

    I still think there are three more places up for grabs. Two would be the openers and one more bowler. It will be a battle out of afridi, malik, hafeez, farhat, nazir, rana, shabbir and rehman.

    I think the way to win this world cup is through batting right the way down. Three of those players need to stand up and be counted. As a sialkoti i would probably play nazir and malik as openers and pick rana as well.

    We shall see if that actually occurs. The main importance of this series will be the performances. The fact is 3 of the games will be under lights which is not helpful seeing that all the games in the world cup will be day games. We all know that the toss is very advantageous in south africa. So we shouldn;'t look into those results too much.

    I personally think south africa may be too strong for this pakistani side in south african conditions. If pakistan capitulate as they did in the 20/20, as a pragmatist i would say the world cup is looking exceeding ominous for the pakistanis.

    COME ON PAKISTAN PROVE THIS ME WRONG!!!!!!!

    P.S. AFRIDI HAS AVERAGED LESS THAN 9 IN THE PAST YEAR IN ODI'S IT IS TIME TO RELIGHT THE FIRE IN THIS CRAZY PATHAN

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  • Talal on February 3, 2007, 16:46 GMT

    Well lets face it we know that 2 players will come back for the world cup i.e. gul and akhter.

    So this will be a chance for one of our squad players to make an huge impression. Obviously asif, akhter and gul have to play. The other certaintees would be inzi, yousuf, khan, akmal and razzaq. This leaves three places to fight for.

    Some ppl may say akmal is not certain but i would have to say unless zulqi plays superbly in the series akmal will play in the windies.

    I still think there are three more places up for grabs. Two would be the openers and one more bowler. It will be a battle out of afridi, malik, hafeez, farhat, nazir, rana, shabbir and rehman.

    I think the way to win this world cup is through batting right the way down. Three of those players need to stand up and be counted. As a sialkoti i would probably play nazir and malik as openers and pick rana as well.

    We shall see if that actually occurs. The main importance of this series will be the performances. The fact is 3 of the games will be under lights which is not helpful seeing that all the games in the world cup will be day games. We all know that the toss is very advantageous in south africa. So we shouldn;'t look into those results too much.

    I personally think south africa may be too strong for this pakistani side in south african conditions. If pakistan capitulate as they did in the 20/20, as a pragmatist i would say the world cup is looking exceeding ominous for the pakistanis.

    COME ON PAKISTAN PROVE THIS ME WRONG!!!!!!!

    P.S. AFRIDI HAS AVERAGED LESS THAN 9 IN THE PAST YEAR IN ODI'S IT IS TIME TO RELIGHT THE FIRE IN THIS CRAZY PATHAN

  • Euceph Ahmed on February 3, 2007, 17:20 GMT

    Listening to Bob Woolmer yesterday I am convinced about another thing now: Not only that the ODI and Twenty20 formats should have separate teams and captains, they should also have separate coaches. Most of all separate coaches, because some of the players could be good enough to feature in more than one format, but coaches have to be separate. Woolmer made no secret of his dislike for the Twenty20 format and no wonder the team did as miserably as it did.

    Twenty20 is an entirely different format, and whatever it is, it's here to stay. A test-match purist like Woolmer cannot handle such a format. Someone like Moin Khan would be so much more suited to coach a team of high-energy Twenty20 youngsters, because he has the personality that young guys can easily relate with.

    It was amazing to me how disjointed the team looked in Inzamam's absence. On the other hand, Smith played his shots with such disdain as to demoralize the Pakistanis until way after the world cup. For sure the pakistan team doesn't look like a team of happy campaigners who have come together for a single cause. There seems to be no binding element currently in the team. At present, it looks just like a collection of individuals laboring hard out there to earn basic bread and butter. I very much suspect that Shoaib Akhtar's short stint has completely and totally screwed up whatever semblance of team-spirit Inzamam and Woolmer were able to piece together. This is something I could see happening way ahead of time, but those intent on winning the next match didn't have the foresight for. So now, take this! all of those who wanted that rotten apple in the team. If I were a betting man, I'd be placing my bets on the West Indies or South Africa for the world cup.

  • calgary highlander on February 3, 2007, 18:28 GMT

    Wel, i hope Pakistan can forget the past and look towards the future. We have such a strong pace attack, an excellent miidle 3,and a lower order that is fully capable of bailing us out. On paper we are 10 times better then Australlia.Why do we lose then. It ain't the injuries, it could be the selections, it ain't Kamran Akmal (well sorta) Its our players phsycoligy that they don't have to perform. They think that our team is so good that someone else wll win it for us. It's ok if only 1 or 2 ppl think like that, but our whole team with the exception of a few ppl (ASIF) are thinking that way, then we're gonna lose.

  • anwar , los angeles on February 3, 2007, 19:24 GMT

    salaam, i been regular in this blog by kamran bhai...and i been reading everybody's opinion and thoughts.i came to a unique solution for pakistan cricket team to stun everyone in the world cup..here how it works,instead of playing our 11 players from top to the tail enders...i think bob woolmer should go from bottom to the top...since openers are not scoring ..starting with tailenders might works.....AND second solution is to go in world cup with team having 5 fast bowlers 3 all rounders 1 wk keeper and 2 spinners...since our batting line is a not able to deliver, when needed...so ..i say go with a crazy plan like this....cause with a regular team we don't stand a chance.PCB should charge any player who makes less then at least 30 runs...and no match fee...then you will see the results....ALLAH HAAFIZ.

  • Khan on February 3, 2007, 20:18 GMT

    Even if we go five down in South Africa I think we still have chance to make it to the Semi finals of World Cup. There is hell of a diffrence between pitches of SA and West Indies, Playing conditions will definitely benifit Sub-Continent Players. And YES we have the storngest pace attack (atleast on paper) Shoaib, Asif and Gul. and if our dashing opners Imra Nazir and Akmal provides a decent start then we might even make it to the Finals coz we hav a strong middel order Yonis, Yousuf, Inzi and then 3 dangerous all rounders to follow Afridi, MAlik, Razzak. To sum up we have a very lethal combination of match winners.

  • Mawali on February 3, 2007, 21:38 GMT

    Kamran Sahib, It would be safe to say that the recent 20/20 drubbing was not too unexpected. "Baptism by fire" and before you know what hit you; you are out for the count.

    I have no problem writing this one off to simple match practice, and a lesson in growing up fast. You correctly pointed out that 6 of the 11 on the field were until recently bench warmers, waiting for a chance. The 20/20 should not be used as a yardstick for the new arrivals either. To say that they looked lost because of the missing leadership is ludicrous.

    For a variety of reasons including the pitches in South Africa I have little to no hope in Pakistan making any sort of a decent fight in the upcoming ODI series. I think in this case the saying “naach naa jaanay aangun tayraah” is quite appropriate. For the Pakistani’s the pitches in South Africa are nothing less than a “tayrah aangan”

    I remain hopeful of them making a better show of it during the World Cup. The reasons for hope are one, a complete bowling roster especially with Shoaib and second, the kind of pitches we will encounter in the Caribbean. I will not go overboard and say that Pakistan will claim this Holy Grail of Cricket. I do however; think that Pakistan has a chance to make the semis.

    For all the Shoaib Akhtar hater’s learn to deal with it. This is life; you don’t always have your best buddies to play with. A mature approach is to deal with the personality and utilize the talent. Win first, hate later. AMF!

  • khansahab on February 3, 2007, 23:15 GMT

    I am not attempting to be bid-headed or anything, but if most people follow my comments on this blog, they would know that most of the times my predictions turn out to be true. A few days ago I presented an argument which essentially stated that Pakistan are is a desperate situation and they cannot rely any further on the so called “specialist openers”. Let us remind ourselves what makes an individual a “specialist Pakistani opener”- the ability to hit the ball cleanly on batting, low bounce and flat pitches of Pakistan. Looking at the current crop of players, I am afraid that I must adhere to Imran Khan’s “bat your best player right at the top” philosophy and come to the conclusion that Mohammad Yousuf should open with Akmal (the latter because he has to bat somewhere in the order, why not send him as opener?). The reason I choose Yousuf over Younis or Inzi is that he can bat explosively when he wants to, normally out of these 3, he takes the least amount of time to settle down before he starts playing his shots. For those who would like to dispute that my plan wouldn’t work or isn’t the best, I present two counter-arguments:

    1) Many combinations have been tried and have failed. There is a common ground amongst most of the so called “specialist openers.” When they have started their international careers, most of them have been in their early 20s, and have not been sufficiently experienced to understand the concepts of crease occupation and shot selection. All play with their hearts rather than their minds. 2) Other countries have also intermittently faced problems with opening. The result has been to send their best players at the top. India did that with considerable success with Dravid (when there was no one to accompany Sehwag- Tendulkar was out of form batting at no. 2), West Indies did that for a while with both Lara and Chanderpaul ( when there wasn’t anyone in form to accompany Gayle- this was before Morton etc. had made their mark) and even Australia saw Ponting opening in a few matches. Why can’t Pakistan send someone comparable, like Yousuf, as opener?

    My apologies to some regular participants on this blog like Mr Euceph Ahmed, but I absolutely disagree with sacking the 3 middle order batsmen Inzi, Yousuf and Younis because their experience is always vital. Experience can be very handy in pressure situations- Inzi’s experience has taken Pakistan through many nail-biting victories. A more frequent rush of young blood in the team will lead to more dynamism, but will also contribute to increased batting failures and hence, reliance on the big 3. The rest of the line-up should be something like this (here I am merely pasting from my previous comment on another topic, I presume the discussion on which players to play will be prevalent under this topic): 3)Younis 4) Inzi 5)Fawad Alam/ Yasir Hameed/Asim Kamal 6) Shoaib Malik 7)Afridi 8)Razzaq (I am hoping Razzaq’s experience will help, if he is still unimpressive, then Abdur Rahman should be played in his position) 9) Akhtar/Gul 10) Asif 11)Naved. (Some people have a problem with Naved, for those who do; Naved is a poor Test bowler, but a very good ODI bowler when he is fit) In the reserves I’d like to see Abdur rehman, Yasir hameed, Afridi/Razzaq, Asim Kamal, Sami, Shahid Nazir and Imran Nazir, Hafeez, Zulqernain, Shabbir

    As for the verdict on Woolmer, his position is less clear cut than Inzi’s. Woolmer has no say in player selection, as his choices would be based on reason and common sense, not favouritism and politics, so he must not be blamed for player selection. That he has communication problems with most players is not his fault either. This can lead indirectly to many things people blame him for- 1) not trying enough to make the openers consistent 2) not trying enough to sort out the injury problems with players etc. If anything, I believe Inzi should be blamed for those problems as he commands greater respect and carries more influence in the team.

    The prospects of a World Cup win: …….are rather slim. I think Australia and South Africa will play the final and I think India will go far. However, I am expecting surprises from New Zealand and West Indies (the latter, owing to the home advantage). However, with the above mentioned line-up, I believe Pakistan can beat most of these teams. I hope the selectors have learnt from their mistakes and will not repeat them yet again. I hope for a miracle……………………

  • Khurram Ahmed (Jamaica) on February 3, 2007, 23:16 GMT

    Mr. Abbasi:

    You're painting too bleak a picture.

    Our middle order needs no work. Younis, Yousuf and Inzamam need to be there, whether they bat 3 to 5 or 4 to 6.

    We have 3 frontline strike bowlers that most teams would be envious of in Akhtar, Gul and Asif.

    That's more than half the side complete, and set in stone for the most important matches.

    Razzaq, Shoaib Malik and Afridi are useful allrounders in the ODI format. Despite Afridi's past year, I don't believe form is a factor for him. He clicks sometimes, and when he does, he wins matches singlehandedly. Besides, Pakistan have not been fair to him lately.

    Moving him around the order, bringing him to play spinners between the 25th and 35th overs, and not using his overs with the ball properly are all failures of management.

    That's nine of the final 11. As keeper, I hope Haider shows his potential with the bat and makes no mistakes with the gloves. If his glovework is flawless, we shouldn't demand more. Akmal has had a horrid year behind the stumps.

    The final spot in the best Pakistan ODI team should go to a specialist opener. I like to think Imran Nazir will impress us.

    Rana, Akmal, Abdur-Rehman, and Hafeez should round out the squad. Sorry, Shabbir and Sami maybe 2011.

  • Tameem, Toronto on February 3, 2007, 23:31 GMT

    Asalam; First of all the reason Pakistan is not doing good in my opinion is Shoaib, come on dog you are not that good of a bowler to come for few games then screw the whole system, get kicked out/injured and leave and keep doing it over and over for last 5yrs. If you see it throughly; he is not available regularly and because of him we are not grooming another full time fast-bowler(he is kind of looping around). Secondly Afridi; he is not a problem, he is real gangster, when he is standing on the pitch(bowling or batting) opposing team can expect anything, so open with him and don't pressure him for runs(he is kind of trump card). Third all-rounders; oh here comes the best part Hafeez, Malik, Razzaq and Afridi; they all are good in all aspect of the game. So in my opinion Hafeez, Afridi, Malik, Younis, Yousuf, Inzi, Akmal, Razaq, Danish, Asif and (gul, sami or shahid)is the best world cup combo in the same order as well.

  • JAVED A. KHAN, MONTREAL, CANADA on February 4, 2007, 0:33 GMT

    Before, commenting on the WC squad, I would like to say that for a twenty20 game, especially in view of the twenty20 WC to be played in SA in October 2007, I think if Younis Khan has to lead a young team without Inzi then, he should put on the gloves. In a twenty20 game you don't really need a specialist wicket keeper. If Younis Khan put on the gloves, which he can, then there will be a slot available for a regular full time bowler or a batsman. After watching the recent game in SA, I would like to have 5 pace bowlers and NO spinners in twenty20 games in SA.

    About the current ODI's starting tonight, lets look at Pakistan's record against SA, they have played 42 and lost 29 and, in SA they have played 16 and lost 11, it is indeed a very pathetic record. However, I still believe that statistics and records have no significance, if the players believe in themselves and fight like tigers. A lot depends on the team selection, that means a lot depends on Pir Sayeen and Uncle Bob. Who gets the blessings and who gets the wrath is to be seen.

    In my opinion Shabbir and Abdul Rahman should not be considered for SA or for the WC, period. Sami would be a better bet, he bowls, bats and fields better than Shabbir. Shabbir looks like a nervous wreck, he has no faith in himself and there is no penetration or bite in his wayward bowling. I wouldn't even include Rana now in SA, but there is no choice. As regards Abdul Rahman, he is a very over rated player, just because he is young and took two wickets twice against a weak WI side the media has hyped up his performance, and some even considers him better than Kaneria, which is not fair. Malik, Hafeez and Afridi can easily complete Abdul Rahman's quota of 10 overs between themselves.

    If Pakistan wants to give a chance to the youngsters like Imran Nazir, Zulqarnain Haider or even Yasir Hameed then one of the seniors like, Inzi, Yousuf or Younis should rest alternatively (because their places for the WC are guaranteed in any case) and winning these ODI's in SA should NOT be the forefront of Pakistan's agenda but, building a team for the Caribbean WC should be the primary objective. Especially the opening conundrum needs to be sorted out and these 5 games is the best and last opportunity for Pakistan.

    The only way to sort it out this problem is to choose ONE opening pair for ALL 5 games NOW, and tell them very clearly that they are playing for ALL 5 ODI's irrespective of their performance. If anyone or both of them fail the test, then they are not going to the Caribbean WC. There is no point in experimenting the opening slot by replacing one of them or both of them with Imran Nazir or Kamran or Malik or Yasir Hameed in every other match. Opening pair should NOT be disturbed for the 5 matches to give a boost of confidence, which you cannot achieve in one or two games. The only good thing that will come out IF this experiment is carried out, both of them will try to give their best by playing their natural game, if not Pakistan is not losing anything, the opening conundrum is there and it will continue. This is the only opportunity to correct it here BUT by giving 4 or 5 players an opportunity in every other game is like cooking KHICHRI and messing up with this opportunity. Better stick to ONE pair and hope it works. Inshallah it will.

    For the Caribbean WC, Gul will definitely be back but Akhtar, with all his hissy fits, bad temper, tantrums, injuries and above all the politics in PCB and a hand in glove relationship between Uncle Bob and Inzi, may create certain doubts about his inclusion in the team. But, his God Father Imran Khan is already supporting him and creating a few ripples through the media, that Akhtar should not have been sent back, and in any case he should be included in the WC squad. So, we have to wait till Feb. 13th to see whether Akhtar would make it to the WC squad or left behind? Knowing PCB and Pakistani selectors, coach and captain anything is possible, he may be left out and flown in again like they did a few weeks ago. In any case a fully fit and tantrum free Shoaib Akhtar is a match winner, and if he is fit, then he MUST be in the squad. That means Rana and Sami will have to sit on the sidelines but, they must be in the team for the WC as a back up to injuries or to give Akhtar a break against Ireland or Zimbabwe, but again that is debateable, ijuries are very likely to happen, but giving a rest is breaking momentum. Come February 13th we will debate on the playing 11 again. Caribbean grounds are smaller and spinners may not be the right choice, 5 pace bowlers would be better than 4+1.