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March 2, 2007

World Cup 2007

Road to Jamaica 3: Any bowlers?

Kamran Abbasi
Mohammad Sami traps Andrew Strauss lbw as England subside in the face of a massive target, Pakistan v England, 3rd ODI, Karachi, December 15, 2005
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Has the farce ended? Injuries, we are told, have ruled Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif out of the World Cup. The truth, though, is believed to be something else. The decisions of the Pakistan Cricket Board, such as sending the players to England, while the rest of the squad was preparing for the tournament, have turned the players and the board into an international laughing stock. Whoever dreams up these glorious strategies might benefit from a brain transplant.

One day, of course, the truth will get out, and if their withdrawal is because of remnants of nandrolone in their bodies then it will bring a further disgrace upon Pakistan cricket.

On the face of it, Pakistan's chances of winning the World Cup are seriously damaged. Certainly with Shoaib and Asif available, Pakistan would have been genuine contenders. You might even ask if there are any remaining bowlers that are worth mentioning. Well, call me an eternal optimist but there's still plenty of potential in this squad.

When Waqar was ruled out of the 1992 World Cup, I felt the blow in the pit of my stomach, this double loss doesn't feel the same to me.

Shoaib has appeared so inconsistently that we've all grown used to him being unavailable. A real shame considering his ability. Asif might be considered by some people to be a bigger loss but let's remember that Asif isn't greatly experienced in one-day international cricket, and he looked far from comfortable once South Africa started getting after him in the recent one-day series.

Most importantly, it's no use hankering for what you don't have and Pakistan must make the best of the resources available to them. Where there's heart there's always hope.

When it comes to bowlers, Pakistan's one-day strategy is such that their all-rounders usually bowl at least twenty of the fifty overs, sometimes more. So that's work for Shahid Afridi, Mohammad Hafeez, and Shoaib Malik.

The other three bowlers have to be wicket-takers. Umar Gul grew in speed and in stature as an international bowler in 2006. If he can recover his form quickly, he is capable of carrying the pace attack. The next wicket-taker is Kaneria, who should be played whenever conditions suit him.

That leaves one or two places, depending on conditions and form, for Mohammad Sami, Rana Naved-ul Hasan, and Rao Iftikhar to contest. Sami, for my money, looked a better bowler in South Africa and his one-day record is good. Rana had a good home series against West Indies and recent cricinfo stats showed that he is the most effective death bowler, which is perhaps when he should be used. Iftikhar is probably the most consistent of the three at the moment. All three of them bowl at a fair clip, which is an advantage.

That leaves Azhar Mahmood and Yasir Arafat to slot in whenever opportunity allows.

The World Cup isn't only an arena for heroes but it is one that creates them. The question that Pakistan's remaining bowlers must ask themselves is whether or not they are willing to seize the opportunity to make an international reputation in this World Cup?

Gul, Kaneria, Sami, and Arafat would be my bowlers to watch.

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

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Posted by Ashfaq on (March 9, 2007, 4:26 GMT)

I don't care who is playing and who isn't playing for the Pakistan team at the world cup. I will continue to support the team and wish them well. It's not worth while to ponder what might have been if Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammad Asif and Abdul Razzaq been playing.

Posted by madatinzi on (March 8, 2007, 21:01 GMT)

all i can say inzi is so happy, with shoib and asif out. he knew already that Paki will never win the WC. even with those 2 druggies in team. but now being them out. he found him self reason. he know knows with them being out and have a reason to lose confirmed his next 15 years of being capt. every thing in Pakistan works on same rules. put on others and enjoy your positions for as long as possible. that's why i left Pakistan. every time i go back it is worse and worse. kamran akmal just signed 30 years deal with pakistan cricket team because his picture was posted on cricinfo web site. Inzi feels that he is the best keeper in the world because his picture is on web page. every time you ask inzi a question, he answers. "Boys play very well" what is your name inzi? boys play very well. how is the pitch? Boys play very well? u are a fat moron? boys play very well? inzi you just won another 20 years with paki team. Boys happy, boys play very well. inzi, rana, akmal, sami are morons. if i see them i promise i will tell them.

Posted by Asif Naqvi on (March 8, 2007, 14:33 GMT)

The weakest point of this paki side is the captain Inzimam himself.he is a bit weak psychologically in pressure times.paki batting line-up is fine except the problem openning slot.without asif n akhtar,their bowling attack is no doubt under pressure,but still they have a chance in the world cup if Inzi remains succuessful in combining the lads into a team.

The point is that a psychologically strong and cool-minded captain can extract huge results from even a team of average players.paki lads are well enough,they only need vigilance from their captain Inzimam.if Inzimam can hold-on to his nerves,then pakistan is certainly in with a chacne.

Posted by Jahangir Khan on (March 7, 2007, 21:40 GMT)

The world of secrecy is so strong in anything in Pakistan that general public is simply doesn't exist to know. Start from the President himself. He is a liar since he took control of the country ,destroyed democracy and with it The Institutions. Now, that Pakistan is worse off with his leadership, the last entertainment institution ( cricket Board) which provided the Only mass entertainment and sports affiliations by millions of Pakistanis , could not survive the stupidities of the General and his hand picked chairman of the Cricket board, Dr. Nasim Ashraf. This is because of their in-competencies that today Pakistan team is where it is today: divided, grouping, politics and etc,. There is nothing wrong with Shoaib or Asif. Perhaps they do not compromise with the Stupidities of the Board which is good in my opinion. The solution to this problem :Kick Inzemam's ass out of the team and Bob Woolmer's along with Dr. Nasim Ashraf's and all will be fine. Inzemam is 37 and it's time for him to go. It is Obvious and he is the one who is creating this crisis with some backing. I can guarantee you that with these people out and retired cricket players in in the management and top position, the team would have been not what it is Now.

Posted by Rafique Banday on (March 7, 2007, 11:25 GMT)

Have posted one earlier, but this one not about WC...It's about Imran Khan....

I have grown up in Kashmir not missing any thing that Imran Khan has spoken or done on/off the field. I have been a fanatic fan and would get courage before my club matches not onle because he was a great cricket player but he always was impressive with his intelectual content...

But, I have to admit laterly i am disappointed and avoid any channel where he speaks these days. And i don't blame myself for being his fan over the years but i think he has lost it... Is some one else noticing his statements, political or cricket related. Theye are so nude and cheap, an absolute opposite of what they used to be.. He's being critical of everthing for the sake of it and the worst of all he has made India his role model...just for the sake of being allowed to those elite parties and the NDTV shows.....

From a lavish lifstyle to the Khan dress style, his double standards are becoming to much to accept.... i still hope that his vision becomes clear again... I am not a great fan of Inzimam as a captain as well... But, at least he's modest... And my all time great will always be Fazal Mahmood.. who had the courage to refuse to join the Indian team for first tour of Australia just because he was a patriot.......

Posted by Prateek Tiwari on (March 7, 2007, 10:42 GMT)

I think, in Gul, Mehmood and Kaneria - Pakistan has a good bowling attack. Good controlled bowling by these three can see them doing pretty well - Of course, I would want India to win the world cup but don't rule out the Pakistanis due to the absence of Asif, Akhtar and Razzak. It is still a very good side and this world cup will be about good batting and clever & controlled bowling !

Posted by Rafique Banday on (March 7, 2007, 8:44 GMT)

I think there's no reason to get realy disappointed. Shoib's exciting for the game but i am not sure of the value he can bring in a limmited over's game. Asif,s is a big loss.

But, I still beleive that one day games the most critical are the initial 10-12 overs and the slog overs that you bowl. The middle of the innings you will generally conceed 4.5 runs per over... I don't Undestand Rana Naveed inclusion, it seems he has vowed to break all the records in run giving. Rao Iftikhar is a wicket to wicket bowler. U. Gul has a falir and is penetrative, with Arafat or (SAMI hmmmmm!!) and Shahid Afridi and Azhar Mehmood and some overs from Hafeez and Malik in the middle of the innings- It should be OK. I beleive the team that played the warm up match against Canada is OK excluding Rana Naveed and implanting Yasir or Sami in it. The batting order- Younus to open is a nice try but i beleive that way you have a lot of them staying the middle of the inning. It would serve better to have Hafeez(tech flaws may not be so noticed in the Cribeans) open with Imran Nazir, Younus to follow, then Inzi, Yousuf and Shoib, then the game situation will decided the next batsmen between Afridi, Azhar, and Akmal....

Azhar Mehmood is an asset to you ESPECIALL WHEN SHANE W. IS OUT OF THE GAME>>>> HE HAD DEVELOPED A STRANGE PHOBIA FOR HIM.....

Posted by KK on (March 7, 2007, 6:52 GMT)

India is going to beat pakistan so badly this time that it will forget the dream of playing cricket.

Posted by Safi on (March 7, 2007, 6:21 GMT)

I don't understand why Pakistani selectors are going back to EXPIRED bowlers? And who considers Navid as a bowler? Attack bowlers shouldn't only be good bowlers, they MUST be confident with high self-esteem, very aggressive who can pose a treat and challenge the batsman! Thats the only time an attack bowler could succeed and i will never see those qualities in Naveed or Sami! I must admit Asif in THE best bowler Pakistan have produced in the past few years. Come on give me a break, i'm sure pakistan has better bowlers then Navid or Sami or Azar! Another point to be noticed... Why is Yasir Hameed not on the team??? I think he has the potencial! Anyways, Best of luck to Pakistan

Posted by Moin Madraswala on (March 7, 2007, 5:23 GMT)

Anything can happen in Cricket these day. Look at what happened to South Africa and NewZealand. NewZealand lost to Bangladesh and SA almost lost. I think the these days cricket is totally different. I think all Pakistan has to do is force Inzi to take captaincy seriously and prepare based on the team that they are playing instead of playing good player or playing a winning combination. For example after Danish was taken to cleaner by WI, Pakistan should not play Danish against them or if they play him do not expect him to do well. On the other hand I totally do not agree that Rana should be with the team but he holds an edge against WI, he should be played but do not bowl him. I think what Inzi and Bob have to do is plan one game at a time. Inzi does have to realize that he can't relax during the middle order of the inning and keep attacking instead of just stopping run. I would give Pakistan a slim chance to win the world cup even with Shoaib and Asif because we are not learning from our mistakes. Pakistan performance would depend totally on captaincy, if they win the world cup it will b because of captaincy and if they lose it will be because of captaincy and lack of talent. If we great talent then no one needs a captain. A good captain is needed and I hope that Inzi makes some bold decisions Thanks

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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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