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February 27, 2007

World Cup 2007

Road to Jamaica 2: The all-rounders

Kamran Abbasi
Azhar Mahmood celebrates his comeback wicket, South Africa v Pakistan, 2nd ODI, Durban, February 7, 2007
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All-rounders were meant to be a topic for discussion later but Abdul Razzaq's injury has thrust them to the heart of the debate. Pakistan's strategy is built around their all-rounders, and they have plenty of them. Shahid Afridi, Abdul Razzaq, Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Hafeez, and now Azhar Mahmood, can all blow hot or cold. One day they are true all-rounders, the next they are dismissed as mere bits-and-pieces players.

Afridi and Razzaq have the added element of being super-explosive hitters, and my view is that Razzaq can be a vital ingredient in the last ten overs, when Pakistan often aim to score over 100 runs. Pakistan will miss him. Could he have been sent to the Caribbean and withdrawn in a couple of weeks if he had not improved?

In any case, Razzaq's loss is Azhar's gain. The Surrey all-rounder has been mistreated by the PCB, ever since, in fact, he gave me a commendably frank interview for Cricinfo. Azhar's bowling is a stronger suit than Razzaq's. He can also be an explosive hitter, but Razzaq is extra-special in that regard.

But the question is whether or not Malik and Hafeez can step up and provide the Pakistan batting with some solidity? In addition, Hafeez's one-day bowling form is impressive although Inzamam has tended to underuse him.

More than the rest, though, Afridi can be a talisman. His bowling form is good enough for him to be selected on that alone--and a wise coach and a smart captain will use that to take the pressure off him. But when his batting comes off, he wins matches. Now that may not happen enough for many people's liking but Afridi has hit rich veins of form in the past. Can he do it in a World Cup? If he hits straight and true, like he did memorably in Chennai, he could emerge as a true champion rather than a breaker of hearts. On this one, you all know, I'm with Boom Boom. Let's hope he doesn't boom out.

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

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Posted by Zaka Sheikh on (March 6, 2007, 21:23 GMT)

Azhar has always been a better player compared with Razzaq but somehow has been kept out of the national side. Look at their performances in the English county. Razzaq was dumped by Middlesex after his contract for two years and Azhar is still playing for Surrey. That is is judgement by non-Pakistanis who are very emotional and cannot always carry out an analytical review.

Posted by MUHAMMAD KHALID QURESHI on (March 6, 2007, 12:47 GMT)

Razzak is an exceptional player specially in last 10 overs and azhar can not fill razzak absence .But I am 100% hopefull that ALLAH KAREEM will help pakistani team becouse all are offering 5 time prayer now INSHAALLAH pakistan will win .

Posted by M.Saad Durrani on (March 6, 2007, 10:06 GMT)

Well i would like to ask you all and also respectable MR K.Abbasi that Q.1 On what basis Y.Arafat Selected Despite Having Shaihid Nazir whoz more experiace and better bowler than Y.Arafat second Que is Q.2 Do you all think sending K.Akmal an opner is Scencible descision despite having plenty failure by him in past why bob Woolmer Innst him to come out an opener dispite knowing that they have Genuine openers like S.Malik And M.Hafeez ? Plz tell your comments on that what you all want to say on that

Posted by Mushtaq Ali on (March 6, 2007, 9:47 GMT)

In the absence of Soaib, Asif and al rounder Abdul Razzaq, only miracles can win this world cup for Pakistan. With the loss of Razzaq, we might certainly miss a great spectacular game, especially in last ten over.Azhar may replace him in bowling but never in batting. I think a little charm for any Pakistani has been left in the batting of Afridi. Rest of the team will play humbly. Little expectations are envisaged from Pakistani team. There is lack of enthralling players.Umer Gul may prove some helpful in redeeming pressure from bowling point od view.Shoib Malik may be the key if Pakistan records some wins in the world cup

Posted by shaz hussain on (March 5, 2007, 22:00 GMT)

I cannot believe how a great country of 160 million can produce such rubbish. We have players with no technique, no passion, no remorse and no sense. We play the game like kids in a park there is no professionalism. We pay foreign coaches vast sums but do not realise they do not care for Pakistan. Our own coaches and players have a tendency to focus on players from their own cities and hence the cycle of despair continues. We have the most talented players in the world but we shall never see them play for Pakistan. If you look at our administrators they are present when we forfeit a test match and yet accept no responsibility. How can you be guilty of drugs offences if the same traces are in your blood from before. In the whole world no one can be accused of the same offence twice. We have no one who can speak for us. We have no one who can represent or articiulate our point of view. Why? Why are we so helpless. Yet we love our team. Can't they see the grief they cause us. Pakistan used to lose in the past but they used to fight. when have we lost the will to fight. We cannot run between wickets, we do not ground our bats at the crease to maximise our chances of making a run and not getting run out. We field poorly and we have a wicket keeper in Kamran Akmal who cannot catch. Shoaib Malik since he hurt his arm in a collision with Shahid Afridi some years ago cannot hit any sixes. He only accumulates ones and two's and the odd four. I have observed all the cricket Pakistan has played in recent years yet nobody else seems to notice. I am very happy for Azhar to play yet he seems very heavy and was not impressive against South Africa. He was good in 97 to 99. That was 8 years ago. We seem to be going back rather than forwards. Finally rather than playing useless one day tournaments all over the world, we need to take time out. Perhaps send the team to swing, seam and bouncy conditions for two to three months for them to practise and be coached in the techniques and basics of the game so that they improve and can thrive in different conditions and never let us down in the future as soon as there is a little bounce or movement. Please do not take my comments the wrong way. I hope we do well and my prayers will always be with the team. We rarely have any good news to celebrate. But I am tired of excuses, all of us need to face facts and take responsibility for our actions and be accountable.

Posted by Aky on (March 3, 2007, 21:43 GMT)

I do not know why Azar Mahmood and Mohammed Sami have been included in the team, instead of these two the selectors should have picked ANWAR ALI and JAMSHED AHMED from Pakistan Under 19 squad. They are both good bowlers.

Posted by Jigga on (March 3, 2007, 21:36 GMT)

Wel I dont think Pakistan has lost much. lets hope for the best yaar. I am sure pakistan is gonna make it to sem final easily and after that Allah neghiban. lets cheer up for what we have....

Posted by mustansar on (March 3, 2007, 18:46 GMT)

i think its good to lose razzaq as his bowling is too limp to cause an affect, he will surely go for 8 an over in windies in the present form

Posted by Prof.dr.med.Kahn on (March 3, 2007, 16:45 GMT)

Prague 3 March 2007

The greatest enemy of the Pakistani Cricket is Pakistan Cricket Control Board. In my opinion, Shohaib Akther should be barred from playing again for his country. His words always speak louder than his actions. He also lacks the discipline and strength of characters that one would expect from an international sport. This time, though sad, Pakistan won’t progress beyond the preliminary round.

Posted by Dil Shah on (March 3, 2007, 5:01 GMT)

Oh my God Asif & Shoaib for which I am morethan haapy he is done now .Useless.He has spoiled Asif also.Any way .Real issue are these two bowlers God or the best in the world no match could be won because of them .How many matches we have won without them alot & how many we have lost alot of them.Why doesn't this religious captain or the tableekhi jamat team depend n Allah's Blesing.Hers hey have for gitten him .aAsif & Shoaib actor are their saviours & Gods .Shame on U Mr Captain .You always recite Bimilallah on your start of every interview do U realy kow the meaning also.AH!!!!!. It is all for your convinence only .when U win thanks to HIM.Otherwise Asif & shoiab are the saviours ,rest of the team members are just foolish players picked from streets .Y don't U say that U will prove & lead the team from front like Imram Khan. By whinning about these two players what R U giving the message to others that U R just nothing shamne on U Inzi .U R bigger than this way to bigger .I still love Uas player & as a person.I have always stood by U .Good Luck .Don't worry do your best rest leave in his hands ,when he wants some thing he will bless us from where U won't even expect. Love U all

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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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