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March 13, 2007

World Cup 2007

Abandon hope? Not yet

Kamran Abbasi

While some of you may be tempted to suggest I eat my words, I suggest you hold your fire. There is a long way to go in this World Cup. West Indies put in an admirable team performance that exposed the holes in Pakistan's strategy, and they should go a long way in this tournament. But I'll say again--at the risk of getting lynched--there is only team that Pakistan don't have the skill to beat and that's Australia. Whether or not they can achieve what they are capable of is a different matter.

Much depends on how quickly Pakistan can learn from this defeat. In short, the bowling was good and the batting was bad. Here are some issues for Pakistan's brains trust, if I can call it that, to ponder:

1 Many of us expected a new opening strategy. That didn't happen, in which case why was there chopping and changing in the warm ups? Why persist with a strategy that keeps failing again and again?

2 Whoever opens, surely Mohammad Yousuf and Inzamam have to push up to number three and four? The batsmen managed to excuse their dismal performances in South Africa by blaming the bouncy tracks (when the tracks weren't as troublesome as they might have been). What's the excuse now?

3 Surprisingly Pakistan abandoned their long-term strategy of batting deep with all-rounders. Today, Pakistan's tail stretched from number 8 to 11. Why this sudden change?

4 Rana's performances have become an embarrassment. He is a pressure valve for the opposition, releasing it at every opportunity. He needs to be given a break, probably a long one. His batting is too feeble to command the number 8 spot. Many readers of this blog can't understand how he keeps getting selected considering his expensive performance since his return from injury (OK, he had one good home series against West Indies). It's a fair question. Why oh why? Please spare us. If an all-rounder was required in that spot it should have been Azhar and if a bowler had been required it should have been Sami. Rana's selection was inexplicable. Somebody needs to explain it though.

5 Can Pakistan afford to discard their fastest bowler, Mohammad Sami?

6 Part of the problem is that Pakistan have turned up in the Caribbean with too many bowlers and not enough batsmen. Which reserve can Pakistan call on if one of their batsmen hits a bad patch? Nobody.

7 Afridi must play, but can Pakistan afford to play both Afridi and Kaneria? It depends on the conditions probably.

While it might feel like time to abandon hope, it isn't. This World Cup has only just begun and it's better to lose now and peak later. It's certainly better to cry later.

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

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Posted by Tony Afzal on (March 20, 2007, 11:19 GMT)

Time after time, year after year, Australia continues to produce champions. Why?

Firstly, our PCB should be annulled, decapitated, whatever. The Board should comprise of older senior veteran players, who should have a concrete hand in team selection and the afairs of cricket in Pakistan. Having done that the PCB should immediately send a team of two members to Australia, where they should very carefully inspect and examine how cricket is played there. From what age do they begin to play. How many schoolchildren play COMPETITIVE cricket, how many grounds are there throughout the country, what age do they begin,how many coaching centers do they have, etc. Australia has a small population compared to ours. Thus if we emulate them, then for every 10 expert players they produce, we should produce a 100! We can be world-beaters everytime.

But for God's sake leave the Mullahs out of the game. IMMEDIATELY. Thank you, Inzy for leaving: the longer you grew your beard, the worse you played. Same for you Shahid Afridi. You have awesome potential- drop that beard, play cricket!. Yusuf is a recent convert, so he is enthused about his newfound religion. We shall see how long his brilliance at the game lasts, before the 5-times prayers destroys his skull. Lastly, Imran Khan and the like. You all have had your innings: GO AWAY. Stop interfering. Saddened to see Bob Wollmer go. He did so much for cricket that it pains me to see that he has gone: Pakistan criket will miss this dedicated man. If only our players were as dedicated, and committed to their profession.

Posted by Zain Jeewanjee on (March 20, 2007, 5:33 GMT)

Mr. Abbasi, You got it right 100%, it’s interesting that you write what many in Pakistan are either ignorant or lost to face the truth. I guess we play our cricket the way we run public policy, and a step further, run our policies the way we run many of our families. It’s time we looked within and realized we must mature because the world has, we must accept our faults and look within and beyond.

These are sad times for cricket lovers, and for Pakistan overall. May God rest Bob’s soul and give his family strength in these trying times. As for Dr. Ashraf, what can I say, he was busier selling his tour packages to West Indies for 10,000 per couple, did anyone hear about that one?

Posted by Sudhir karnik on (March 19, 2007, 10:31 GMT)

When Indian Team is also in a very likely situation of being ousted before super eight stage, I as an Indian would like to give a few tips to PCB. As for team India there are 'm' wise guys talking on 'n' channels for 'p' hours 7 days a week.

Appoint coach, captain and wicket keeper by rotation. 2. Appoint Indian Captain on their Selection committee. (He can really back someone to the very "sad" end) 3. Ask the team to think that they are playing against India and the entire team will be tranformed into "a team with a rare team spirit and sense of mission"

Posted by Steve on (March 18, 2007, 17:32 GMT)

I guess it didn't take Australia - the only team to fear - to slay Pakistan. Mr.Abbasi, you are a great cheerleader for Pakistani cricket and I guess thats what these passionate Pakistani fans come to this blog for....hearing what they want to hear. And you provide that, not astute analysis. Sorry Ireland burst your bubble.

Posted by Kartikey on (March 18, 2007, 11:17 GMT)

Abandon hope ....not yet?

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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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