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May 20, 2007

New age

Welcome back Team Pakistan

Kamran Abbasi
Mahela Jayawardene heads back after being dismissed by Mohammad Asif, Pakistan v Sri Lanka, Abu Dhabi, May 20, 2007
 © AFP
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It might be the enthusiasm of youth. It might be a flash in the pan. It might be a false dawn. But when Shoaib Malik, Shahid Afridi, and Mohammad Asif gathered to discuss how to bowl and set a field to Mahela Jayawardene it struck me that this was a sight Pakistan cricket has been missing. The team huddle is all well and good but the team think-tank is a far more valuable concept.

Australia, as usual, are the premier exponents of the think-tank approach. Ricky Ponting has grown into a formidable leader but his lieutenants, Messrs Warne, Gilchrist, and Hussey--or anybody else with a bright idea for that matter--will not hesitate to have a word of wisdom with their captain or the bowler. Gilchrist, for example, will often hatch a plan in the middle of an over. Even if it is a chat about the next episode of Neighbours it puts the batsman on edge.

Under Inzamam-ul Haq the Pakistan think-tank had ebbed away. All thinking resided within his tank-like frame. The huddle, an opportunity to impart instructions and urge common purpose, reigned supreme. But I'm refreshed by the return of the think-tank. It shows that Shoaib Malik is willing to debate and listen. He must have the final say, of course, but no individual has a monopoly on the best ideas.

Winning two matches against a jaded and under-strength Sri Lankan team does not make you the best in the world. It does not mean that every move that Captain Malik made was the correct one. It does not mean that Sergeant-Major Afridi will rescue Pakistan in every match with bat or ball--and today there was genuine pressure from Sri Lanka when Afridi bowled his team back into a dominant position.

Yet there is more to team spirit than the embrace of a huddle. There is a degree of sharing of ideas and strategy, as well as some disagreement, that unites players in their quest. It has to be done in the middle of a match not confined to the middle of the captain's brain.

On these counts, Malik's era has begun optimistically. Welcome back Team Pakistan.

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

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Anwar Husain on (May 26, 2007, 10:14 GMT)

Hi Iam an Indian but a great fan of pakistan

I have read your article. I feel its too early to say Welcome back Pakistan because:-

1 Pakistan is the worse fielding side in the world. Made is worse because the upcoming players like Yaseer hameed, salman Butt, Fawad Alam, Najaf Shah are not good Fielders 2 Running between wickets is pathetic. 3 Malik needs to learn a lot and very quickly especially bowling changes. 4 Find some genuine fast bowlers by organizing Speed Gun Camps. 5 Catching should be improved. One can be a very good side in the field even if it take all the catches. 6 Batting technique of Salman Butt, Imran Nazir is not up to the mark. 7 Some work needs to done in the throwing department from deep. 8 Wicket keeping of Kamran Akmal is not up to the mark

All this can be achieved only by lookig ahead of Abdul Razzaq, Shoaib Akhtar, Mohamand Sami, Roa Ifthekar, Ran Naved,

Posted by Saffer on (May 22, 2007, 19:55 GMT)

Great Win For SL. Well I suppose they were giving a send-off gift for Tom Moody.

Posted by Sahil Khan on (May 22, 2007, 19:20 GMT)

3rd match over! How about saying "welcome back team pakistan" NOW! I think the way they've lost the 3rd match is a better reflection of the true Pakistan Team BACK in their own shoes. WELCOME BACK!

Posted by asif on (May 22, 2007, 18:42 GMT)

kamran Bhai.....the pakistan team management is shit!! why was the need to bring very new team for Shoiab in the 3rd oneday? what da hell was da need for? just to do shits?? Not a single player did anything well except Captain Shoaib!! Pakistani management is shit... they just demoralise the winning track of Shoaib!!!

Posted by JAVED A. KHAN, MONTREAL, CANADA on (May 22, 2007, 17:40 GMT)

3rd ODI: The Pakistan team selection always baffles me. I don't understand why this emotional ad hocism is always applied in team selection? They made quite a few changes, fine you need to give a chance to the newcomers like, Fawad Alam and Najaf Shah, but Abdul Rahman, NO. He is a mediocre spinner and not suitable for ODI and definitely not for twenty20 and his fielding is pathetic.

Dropping Abdul Razzaq and Imran Nazir is fine, but dropping Sami and Afridi is ridiculous. If at all someone needed a rest it should have been Mohammad Yousuf and Mohammad Asif. One is a vintage player who is taking too much stress on his head and getting out cheaply and I wonder whether he would do any good today? The other is a vice captain who is loosing his stamina in the heat, both have no problems in retaining their spot in the playing XI for any important match against stronger opposition and they should have opted out to give a chance to the new comers. Like, the second ODI was a one sided affair, this one would be another one sided affair BUT, Pakistan will be on the other side of the fence this time. Like I said b4 (2-1) that my predictions are not as bad as Mr. Kamran Abbassi's, so I am convinced that I won't be wrong especially based on this team selection. Perhaps Mr. Abbassi will create a new thread on this defeat, will he? :-)

Anyways, Mohammad Sami, started to bowl well in this series after a big gap and he needed more match practice for building up his confidence and they just seized this opportunity from him and its really sad to see him not playing in this match. Shahid Afridi is an entertainer and, for the sake of the public interest and for the viewers he should have been in the team, they keep doing this with him every now and then only to make new experiments and to ruin his rhythm. Umar Gul is very fragile, giving him a much needed rest and bringing in Rao Ifti is a good decision. Rao is an experienced campaigner and he bowls very tight, plus he is a wicket taker too. He is a very unassuming character and people don't realize how effective he is.

In the 2nd ODI, when Sami and Umar Gul shared the new ball, the ex-Burewala Express Waqar Younus was saying he doesn't like the idea of Sami sharing the new ball, he wanted Asif to open the bowling. Actually, Sami is the second fastest bowler in Pakistan after Shoaib Akhtar, using his talent to open the innings with a new ball is obviously a better option than any other bowler except for, "now you see him now you don't" Shoaib Akhtar. Today, Asif started with the new ball, he was smashed all over the ground and not by Jayasuriya but, by Upul Tharanga. It was so obvious that he lost his line, length and the rhythm and he also gave away 76 runs in 10 overs, which is so unlike his normal performance. And suddenly Waqar Younus had a different opinion about him, perhaps there wasn't any cloud in the sky!

I admit that I do make fun of accents and, I do it only in a very light hearted manner because, I find it funny and I don't restrict it to the English accents only. But, imo for a TV commentator who is there with an avowed purpose of commentating on behalf of the nation and representing the country then, he should not be making silly mistakes and making a fool outta himself. I am not talking about his accent, forget the accent which is so "Paindooish," but his English is really pathetic.

For e.g., he said: "Jayasuriya is a very good player, if you give him A room, he will hit it for four. But, he is such a good player even if you don't provide him A room he creates A room and hit you for a four!" Gosh, as if Jayasuriya is a contractor who construct rooms! Also, he said: " Empire, Mark Benson is a 48 years of old." These are just a couple of his bloopers that I have mentioned but, there is no limit to his constant, non-stop bloopers. I think someone should tell him that its not that we are judging him by his accent or his linguistic abilities but, for a TV commentator it is not one of the prerequisites but, an essential requirement i.e., to be able to speak correctly and properly.

Committing grammatical blasphemies is not a sin or a crime but, if you keep on repeating it like an ignorant idiot then its a vice. At least Rameez Raja doesn't make such silly mistakes. I know a lot of people will pounce on me for nick picking on accents but, don't we always talk about improvement in bowling, batting, fielding, catching etc.? Or as Waqar says: there is always "A room for improvement." (improvement ka Kamra hai - aur gunjayesh nishta.)

Finally, something for Ashaq Pra, 'aNo', I am not there yet and your complexes about age are obvious from your 1907 boxing quotes. Also, from your constant tharak for gaining attention from the Torontonian mid-wife proves who is suffering from that syndrome! :-)

Posted by Tauhira from Jamaica on (May 22, 2007, 16:56 GMT)

I think its unfair that all the blame is placed on Inzi for the recent failures of Pakistan. I guess he could have been more motivating to his fellow players [whatever]. But he just wasn't the one who had control of the bat when others were batting. There were soo many players whom high expectations were given. And poor Inzi, he gets the blame for their underperformance too, pity.

By the way, whats with all the excitement? Whats up with that?

I mean, its just 2 matches Pakistan won and everyone's all excited. Yes, they beat the WC 2007 semi-finalits on two occasions (maybe 3 today), big deal. Why not wait until they have past atleast 12-15 matches before judging that Pakistan is now "at the top of their game". Besides, (no offense to the team or anyone) anyteam can beat highest ranked team in ODI's, I'm just waiting to see how Pakistan manage during their Test matches ... I think their next Test series is against India in 2008, and what a team to start off with.

I don't mean to sound negative, I'm just being realistic. And I know my blog is going to step on a few toes; I'm here anticipating the responses.

-Peace out Y'all!

Posted by baqar on (May 22, 2007, 16:29 GMT)

i would like to see introduction of ALI ANWAR in the team. I saw on you tube -his bowling in under 19 world cup final against India - he was awesome, good fast inswing bowler - seems very good prospect

Posted by imtiaz on (May 22, 2007, 16:20 GMT)

Kamran, The 3rd ODI is in a very interesting phase right now. I am curious: Any thoughts on why Fawad Alam was not given a chance to bowl?

Posted by humza lutaf on (May 22, 2007, 14:51 GMT)

welcome back team pakistan very well done umar gul and mohammad sami out 3 fast bowlers rao iftikhar anjum, mohammad asif, and shoaib akhtar

Posted by Aditya on (May 22, 2007, 13:26 GMT)

Hold on everyone! In the Champions Trophy the people on this blog were saying that Pakistan needs Inzamam. Now you're all saying that Inzamam's dictatorship destroyed the Pakistan team! One man doesn't make or break a team, even if he is captain. It's about how the team performs. Under Inzy, only two or three of your batsmen fired, and the rest were just pretty maids all in a row for the most part. There is something called perspective. Two games doesn't define a new era, or even signal the start of anything. Make this team play on a green wicket where the ball is doing stuff, that's when the real test will come.

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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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