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February 13, 2007

World Cup 2007

The Kaneria conundrum

Kamran Abbasi
Danish Kaneria is frustrated again, South Africa v Pakistan, 1st Test, Centurion Park, January 15, 2007
 © AFP
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In a few hours the World Cup squad will be announced and something has been bothering me since we started the debate on who should be in and who out. What's bothering me is this: Pakistan's bowling attack can have a toothless look to it, particularly if Shoaib Akhtar is injured--and who knows what might happen if Asif's niggle becomes more serious?

One of the reasons Pakistan won in 1992 and Australia won in 1999 was that a legspinner was a threat in the middle of the innings. It wasn't a case of the opposition milking the bowling, instead they had to bat for their lives. Some commentators--including many of you on this blog--have called for Kaneria to be selected. Given the uncertainty with Pakistan's other wicket-taking bowlers, I'd say that the clamour for Kaneria is a just one. This might spell bad news for Abdur Rehman or Azhar Mahmood, but I'd make one essential change to my squad and Kaneria would make the cut. Let's hope he's there. Defending against Kaneria in Test cricket has been possible but attacking him in the one-day game might be a different matter altogether.

Kaneria has been a conundrum. He should have been tried earlier. Some of you will say that this is a mark of my insanity or evidence of my desperation but Kaneria could be the matchwinner that Pakistan's bowlers can rally around. Will Bari, Bob, and Inzy do it?

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

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Posted by Mohd Yaseen Mir, Bangalore on (March 9, 2007, 13:07 GMT)

pak should use AFRIDI as an opener for this worldcup after that they have younus khan who can bat steadilly and then inzamam and in the last mohd yousuf should come.left the places 6, and 7 for shoaib and kamran they will bat well and lastly i can say that you should improve the bowling and fielding department where feilding is must .take catches and win matches this is what south africa players are doing.stay on the pitch wait for the ball and then play as you know you guys can score over 100 runs in the last 10 overs dont think your team is not strong without your duo called Akther and Asif.you have in your team likes Afridi who can turn the match just 5 overs like inzy yousuf then you have hitters atlast i would say your team can win this world cup but should have done lot of hardwork like other teams are doing

Posted by syed sibte hassan shah, CANADA on (February 19, 2007, 4:01 GMT)

Forget about world cup...don't go there...stay at home.....with all your injured player....still think you could win? wait for miracle.....Inzi are you a good captain? you must learn to accuse yourself, point a finger towards your head and say I am sorry, I did not play captain's inning. Say, I made mistake, I could have played better. Do you remember you were not selected in world X1 but afridi, shoaib and younis and started crying, why? think about it. Try to be a captain like Miandad,little MASTER, Mohammad Hanif, or Imran. Try to save the sinking ship,and do not run before others do. Here are some TIPS 1) IF DOPE TEST IS CLEARED AND SHOAIB COMES BACK, DO NOT FIGHT HIM, LISTEN TO HIM, HE IS AN INTELLIGENT PERSON, YES YOU CAN PASS YOUR OPINION ONTO RANA NAVEED AND KAMRAN AKMAL. 2) PLAY YOURSELF TOO, YOU ARE WAY DOWN THE RANKING NOW. 3) BATTING ORDER SHOULD BE LIKE THIS 1) Shoaib Malik and Imran Nazir to open 2) Younis 3) Yousuf 4) Yourself 5) Razzak 6) Afridi 7) Shoaib Akhter(if he is included) 8) Kamran 9) whoever ......

4) All the team should use brain

5) CONTACT ME FOR FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS.....

Posted by Sameem Lutfi on (February 16, 2007, 5:06 GMT)

We're all on the same page here Ali A. Neither of us wants to propogate acts of sectarian/racial discrimination. However, the fact remains that it is an on going issue that mars our selection process. Being defensive about it is not going to resolve the issue.

Posted by Arshad Jamal on (February 15, 2007, 18:12 GMT)

Sorry Kamran for this is a cricket forum not a political or religious one but since it is an ongoing discussion, I have decided to add my two red penies to it.

To my friend "ali a": I would agree on one and differ on one with you.

To every one: Hey guys calm down and please do not bring any sactarian and political issue in this forum.

I am from Karachi and have feelings too, but for God's sake do not look at it like that. Pakistan is a small country with big population and Lion-hearted people. Lets propagate love and unity not hatered. Those people make me feel sick who bring MQM flags in the cricket stadiums and should be banned for life. We are all Pakistani regarless of origin language and religion. All Pakistanis including Muslims, christians, Hindus, Parsis, Sikhs, etc. are, for being Pakistanis brothers and sisters. Lets make a resolution to ourselves and do away with all the bigotry wether it be sectarian or religious and unit togather to form a punch. I don't believe for a moment that Inzi, who may not be a genius, is a bigot. Lets not go into this shamfull debate and pray that who ever gets the chance perform good for the hounor of the country. Diserving players should be given a chance and the only origin we have is Plakistan.

In my earlier post when I have stressed the need to introduce the new players, I by no means meant to assert that the new players are going to bring the WC 2007 to Pakistan. I am an optimist but also a practicle and realistic guy. For practicle reasons I do not believe that Pakistani team is going to bring much glory to the country in WC 2007. It was needed by management some time ago to start preparing for the WC by introducing new players and groom them. You don't need ages to recognize somebody's talent and temprament.

"ali a" has answered his own argument in his post by saying: "As I have been pointing out its not the team on paper that can win. Its the professional attitude, mental toughness, confidence, responsibility and team effort that win matches. Which shamefully our team is lacking. Its the laid back attitude which is causing inconsistency in performance."

Thank you. Professional attitude, mental toughness, confidence, responsibility and team effort win the matches.

1992 WC was won by fighting qualities of the whole team and two crickiting genius Miandad and Imran.

In 1978 there was a state of emergency, sort of, when lots of superstars were not available and in a haste a new team was put togather but it was not a process of gradual grooming a buliding a team and was not expected to give great result.

In 1981, it was shamfull that players have revolted against Miandad but the new team did perfom good under him and also won.

When you are persistant with a bunch of players and all you get in return is lethargy then why not do away with them bring in new blood and new talent which might bring in all those qualities which we talked about and it might help the current players to sort out their problems and improve their performance. You don't build a world beater team in a moment but it takes years to build the world beater team, provided somebody is prepared to take the first step. Aussis traveled a long journey to get where they are now. Losing the WC 2007 is not the end of the road, there are many more WCs coming. Just be positive and don't try to take short cuts and hope for a miracle. Long term planning, strict rules and hard work are the keys.

Posted by Faisal on (February 15, 2007, 5:16 GMT)

Well as for Lufti sahab comments, I may not tell karachi from Sindh. But at least I speak the truth. It is because of people like you that we have a Punjab XI representing Pakistan at the World cup and not a true Pakistan XI. Food for thought my friend, smile.

Posted by ali a on (February 15, 2007, 2:37 GMT)

To Karachi walay and Faisal (I believe):

You guys are trying to play a race (or sectarian game) here. I don't believe its players from Punjab not giving chances to players from other areas. Aren't Afridi, Gul, Yasir Hameed and Younis Khan Pathans and from frontier area - that's not Punjab? What about Kaneria and Faisal Iqbal - aren't they from Karachi? I remember Mustaq Mohammad (and all the 4 Mohammad brothers were) from Karachi and they played great cricket for many years. What about Javid Miandad.

Let me tell you I have never thought of where is a good player from - whether Karachi, Lahore or Peshawar - it does not matter as long as he is performing. No one cares, after all he's a Pakistani first and then a Punjabi or Sindi or Pathan. I cannot forget that in 1992 there were half Pakistani flags and half MQM flags (what a shame). Have you guys ever seen flags from any political party from any country in any world events? Never! Did you any sikhs carrying their flags in India games or Tamil tiger flags in Sri Lanka game ever? No wonder when they look at our games they laugh at how divided we are. You think if Sind or Baluchistan become separate country, will India or US let them hold their own, never. Look at what's happening in Iraq - Shia vs Sunni - both Muslims and they are killing each other so mercilessly. So stop being a Sindi or Punjabi or MQM and be a Pakistani and a Muslim.

Enough said as this is a cricket blog and not a political column.

Some people have pointed out the names of the rookies and U19 teams here. And mentioned that how Imran and Miandad gambled with them - so why doesn't the current team? First of all lets not forget we completely overhauled the team in 2003 and got new raw talent. But lets see if it has changed anything. I would say nothing. Pakistan always had a record of winning at home and losing abroad (exception being few games or series) and this with experienced and inexperienced players.

If you read about 1978 England series, when Pakistani top players were unavailable due to World series, Pakistan lost seires with new talent. Again if you read about 1981, when senior players refused to play under Miandad against Sri Lanka, Pakistan performance was mediocre until they came back in last test in which Imran completely destroyed them.

Moral of the story: Young and inexperience players cannot win you big games. You can only get good young players identified - such as Moshin Khan and Salim Malik at that time. I believe we got Gul and Asif and others out of 2003.

As I have been pointing out its not the team on paper that can win. Its the professional attitude, mental toughness, confidence, responsibility and team effort that win matches. Which shamefully our team is lacking. Its the laid back attitude which is causing inconsistency in performance.

Of course there is politics too, but this has to do with PCB mgmt and Inzi and Bob. Not Punjab vs Sind. I believe every other person has been experimented with so far.

We let go of: 1. Sharyar Khan as CEO PCB(I don't know if he was good or bad, but the timing of it just few months before WC), then 2. Zaheer Abbas as a mgr. I believe if he was a mgr in SA (he would have given some good advices to our batsmen compared to Talat Ali because of his experience). 3. Waqar Younis - who has one of the best strike rates in ODI cricket 4. And now PCB fitness coach Compton.

Its not that you cannot let them go, its the timing of it all. PCB should have tried to reconcile their differences considering the timing and sensitivity of the WC tournament.

Posted by Sameem Lutfi on (February 14, 2007, 18:48 GMT)

On a complete tangent - Good Lord! Granted that over the years Inzi has been one of Pakistan's most valuable assests. Granted that he has saved many a match and batted superbly throughout his career. Granted that he is the most senior player on the squad and has the most experience - with all due respect he's an IDIOT. I apologize for my choice of words but some of the recent decisions he has made, as captain, would leave the best of us at a loss for words.

I strongly believe that if after 15+ years of international cricket you can't read the pitch or make an intelligent decision after winning the toss, it should not matter how senior you are. I think there might have been half a valid justification if Inzi were capable of using his experience on field, for having him captain the side, however, he has consistently proven that he is incapable of doing so. Yet, as Faisal pointed out, he is capable of telling Punjab from Sindh. I think that almost guarantees him a future in the PCB selection comittee if nothing else.

Posted by tariq on (February 14, 2007, 18:24 GMT)

What ajoke by selectors selected rao Iftikhar before he played any one day in SA he must be supported by a very strong lobby, and discarding Azhar only on the performance of one game in which he bowled not a bad spell. Also I think Yaser Arafat deserve to be given a chance. Also under present performance Rana Naveed does not have any place in the team.

Posted by Asad Bangash, Toronto on (February 14, 2007, 18:21 GMT)

I think if Rana Naveed bowls in WC, a lot of batting records would be shattered...Keeping fingers crossed !!

Posted by alex on (February 14, 2007, 18:15 GMT)

Everyone contributing to this blog better not keep their hopes too high. This band of players doesn't possess any talent apart from Yousuf and Afridi. The rest are a bunch of journeymen. Gone are the days that Pakistan could boast natural talent to get them through. We now have the likes of Rana and Kaneria as front line bowlers in the World cup squad. Surely there must be some half decent bowlers around in PAkistan to take up the role when others are injured. Rana is not a consistent bowler and Kaneria is not a wicket taker in one dayers. If i were selecting the squad then just cut your losses and get a team that will at least get past the group stage. Pick decent batsmen and decent bowlers not bits and peices players. Just keep one all rounder (Afridi) dispense with the KAneria question and get a wickey who can hold onto the ball. That way at least the team can post a half decent total and try and defend it with bowlers who know what they are doing. The all rounder experiment has failed for far too long. Sorry guys but come March and APril u guys are going to be taking antidepressants...I've already planned a holiday so i can't see the carnage or even hear about it. Kamran forget about whether Kaneria can make a difference, lets look to the next world cup and see who is coming through the ranks. Since 1999 the country has discovered one bowler...Mohd Asif

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

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