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September 5, 2007

Twenty20 World Cup 2007

Anybody but Australia for the Cup

Kamran Abbasi
Pakistan will have to recover from the loss of Shoaib Akhtar (left) and Mohammad Asif
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I am looking forward to this World Cup. Twenty20 cricket is closest to the form of cricket that most amateurs play, and while cricket snobs might curse this modern blight I welcome it, its brevity, and its uncertainty.

I am also looking forward to the possibility that Australia - as wonderful as they are - might not win. Any of the major teams has a genuine chance in cricket's most unpredictable format.

Pakistan began their Twenty20 World Cup preparations in the best possible manner. Three resounding victories were all that could have been expected of Shoaib Malik's team in Kenya and they delivered. A pleasing start, though, will not easily translate into success in South Africa where the opposition and the conditions will be much more testing. Yet Pakistan will be helped by these preparation games to fine tune their team and their tactics.

A few questions have been asked about Pakistan's inability to bowl out two of the teams they played. But in twenty overs you don't expect to bowl out your opposition instead you expect to bowl them out of the match, something Pakistan comfortably achieved. With Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif back Pakistan are able to call on their first-choice bowling attack, a combination that should help avoid any World Cup-type slips against minnows.

The batting, meanwhile, has an explosive look about it. Pakistan's batsmen are naturally aggressive and many of their failures arise from being caught between their desire to attack and match conditions that require a more considered approach. In Twenty20 cricket there is only one way to play, a simplicity of mind that will help Imran Nazir and Shahid Afridi in particular.

Pakistan, then, must view this tournament with optimism. Other than Australia, cricket's hierarchy is confused and any of the major teams could emerge triumphant. Indeed, the shorter the version of cricket the higher the risk to Australia's supremacy. We can but hope. It's about time somebody else was crowned World Champions in some form of cricket - even if it isn't Pakistan.

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

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Posted by Nathan on (September 10, 2007, 5:32 GMT)

To talk up Pakistan's chances of winning the 20/20 WC is fine, but why does Australia always have to be dragged into the discussion? The author of this article never brings up Australia to give them any (justly deserved) credit, it is always to belittle them.

While it's all very well for people such as Faesal to request that Australians do not take to heart the author's bias, I find it hard to accept articles such as this given the 'rules' that seem to apply to Australians.

What I mean is that when an Australian journalist writes anything even slightly negative (no matter how factual) about teams from the sub continent, the outcry of 'racism' is deafening. Yet everyone thinks it's perfectly OK to denigrate Australia and Australians. But I wish non-Australians could cop negative comments about their country or their team on the chin, the way Australians have to, without bleating about racism every time.

Posted by Mohidin Gundroo on (September 7, 2007, 6:07 GMT)

It is the spinners rather than pacers who keep the run-rate down and take wickets in Twenty20, so I don't see a lot of scope for Shoaib Akhtar, who can be be very expensive. Keep the run-rate down and wickets tumble, that is what we have seen here in England over last few years.

Pak must rely on Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Hafeez and co. Among pacers, choose ones who can be relied for line and length. No scope for short-balls except for occasional surprise

Posted by Safi on (September 7, 2007, 6:05 GMT)

Watch out for India!

In a way its good there isn't much expectation on Mahendra Singh Dhoni's young guns. Virender Sehwag, Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh, IrfanPathan, Robin Uthappa areall big strikers and have things to prove. Fielding would improve just because the 'oldies' are not there. Piyush Chawla, Harbhajan Singh, Sreesanth, and RP Singh are not going to easy to get away. So watch out everyone - we might have India winning against all odds!

Posted by Kashif Anwar, M.D. on (September 6, 2007, 20:31 GMT)

Pakistan is so 'predictably unpredictable' that it can only win if a loss is predicted!! So better assume we are not good enough to win the World Twenty20. I hope few will agree.

Posted by Nasir on (September 6, 2007, 20:24 GMT)

There are a few teams capable of lifting this cup apart from Australia if they play to their potential. England, Sri Lanka and South Africa are amongst the second favourites with Pakistan, India and New Zealand as the dark horses.

Pakistan's team is too inconsistent. I don't think we have a solid top-order. Imran Nazir has yet to prove his worth and we are going to miss the big names in the middle-order. I think even 20 overs will prove too long to survive.

I have said this before, any time our hopes rest on Afridi means we are in deep trouble. With our bowling, Shoaib will throw his usual tantrums and Asif just looks exhausted and on evidence both will likely go for runs. Our spin department has no top-class spinner which will prove crucial in this format.

I do not have high hopes for our team but I hope they can prove me wrong for once.

Posted by Shahmeer on (September 6, 2007, 20:22 GMT)

I think the preparations in Kenya would actually hurt Pakistan. They'll give us a false sense of confidence. Strategies and tactics that worked against Uganda might not work against Australia.

Posted by Anil Rao on (September 6, 2007, 19:17 GMT)

World Twenty20? What a waste of time. Call me traditionalist, I am not going to watch it without Sachin Tendulkar, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Rahul Dravid, Ricky Ponting etc....just a waste of time.

Posted by Saif Ahmed on (September 6, 2007, 13:02 GMT)

Counting Australia out would be a big mistake.The Australians have the tenacity and will to do even better in worse conditions. In my opinion we will witness some real contests among Australia, South Africa, India and New Zealand. Again that is just an opinion, as far as Pakistan is concerned, they might come up with some surprises but I doubt that this team would pose any real threats to teams like Australia and South Africa . I am still at a loss at Yousuf's dropping. Razzaq was doing wonderfully well for his county, his exclusion is mind boggling too.

Malik opened the innings against the feeblest of sides, I am not sure what he was trying to prove! This guy does not deserve to be in the side but we made him our captain, this can only happen in Pakistan. We all want Pakistan to do well in all areas of life but realistically speaking this team does not stand a chance.

Posted by Tabs Farooq on (September 6, 2007, 12:20 GMT)

Mr.J.Khan has a lot to say! Good luck to the boys in SA. Time to stop moaning and giving them a chance. Good luck to the new regime and the young Captain!

Posted by Shoaib Amin on (September 6, 2007, 12:14 GMT)

Yes Kamran, as far as your idea of a team other than Australia winning the Twenty20 is concerned, I am with you. Because it is better for cricket. People are now bored with the continuous wins of the Aussies and no team is showing guts and courage to down them. But realistically, beating Aussies is difficult as they have developed their self not only physically but mentally.

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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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