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September 10, 2007

Twenty20 World Cup 2007

The right time for death or glory

Kamran Abbasi
Shahid Afridi blasts one of his four sixes during his 34-ball 73, Pakistan v Sri Lanka, 1st ODI, Abu Dhabi, May 18, 2007
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I'm fascinated to see how Pakistan perform in the ICC World Twenty20. For many years Pakistan's batsmen have been treating Test and One-day cricket like a twenty-over thrash, exhibiting their various versions of death or glory. Pakistan will perform incredibly well or laughably badly, probably they will manage both extremes in the same match.

Shahid Afridi and Imran Nazir have always been basket cases, their madcap assaults inspiring an amused following that includes this blogger. The other batsmen in the squad are also prone to a rush of blood to the head. Even Pakistan's deserving Test Player of the Year, the mysteriously absent Mohammad Yousuf, is well known for batting like a lunatic in Test cricket--until he acquired a remarkable serenity last year.

Hence, for this tournament I'd pick all the erratics: Nazir, Salman Butt, Mohammad Hafeez, Younis Khan, Afridi, Shoaib Malik and Kamran Akmal, probably in that batting order. My bowlers would be Mohammad Asif, Umar Gul, and Yasir Arafat, whose batting counts strongly in his favour.

That leaves one place to juggle between Fawad Alam, Iftikhar Anjum, and Abdur Rehman probably in that pecking order and depending on conditions. We are all virtually clueless about Sohail Tanvir.

Pakistan are an attacking team with a refreshingly positive coach. Geoff Lawson says his team can win. Perhaps so. They have as much or as little chance of winning the tournament as a group of five or six possibles who sit below mighty Australia.

But Pakistan fans will be hoping that these miserable last twelve months, beginning with Inzamam's striking revolt and ending with Shoaib Akhtar's revolting strike, will give way to some cricket to cheer even though it might not end in a ICC World Twenty20 triumph.

Small mercies will suffice at the moment, and you can't get much smaller than Scotland.

(You will be allowed to post your XIs on this occasion)

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

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Posted by JAVED A. KHAN, MONTREAL, CANADA on (September 14, 2007, 4:38 GMT)

Rain Gods deprived India of some match practice before they meet Pakistan tomorrow. Scots are to be blamed for the rain, wherever they go they carry the rain with them. According to weather forecast more rain is expected in the morning, hopefully it will be clear by evening! The twenty overs game itself is very short, if it is curtailed further then its like murdering the game by strangulation. Lets hope we get to see a full 20/20 match tomorrow.

Wasim Saqib its not just one match I am talking about, in the previous matches also Salman Butt did not score much. And, Asif has not performed well, not just in the last match but, in the previous warm up matches and in the quadrangular tournament and, in the domestic tournaments as well. And, in the last match he has given away more runs than all other bowlers, that's what matters and not that he gave "only" 28 runs, which you think is good for 20/20. Yes, it may appear as good. But, just look at the meagre total of 120 runs where 6 bowlers have bowled and Asif's economy rate is the worst of all. He struggled through out and took the solo wicket of the last batsman, a tail-ender.

In June 2007 during the Afro-Asian tournament Asif's analysis are as follows: 1st ODI 57 runs 3 wickets; 2nd ODI 82 runs 2 wickets and 3rd ODI 62 runs 0 wickets. It is an abysmal performance from a hero. And I am not quoting something from thin air, these are mere facts.

And secondly, Afridi is not my cousin; you can criticize him as much as you wish. But, the fact about Afridi is when he fails with the bat he takes wickets. And whenever he scores big, invariably every time Pakistan wins. That is a fact too.

A word about the Bangladesh. They have sent the WI team back home. (I hope England will dispatch Australia tomorrow) Despite some poor bowling by the captain Ashraful, who shouldn't have bowled his 4th over especially after being thrashed by Dwayne Smith in the 3rd with huge sixes and gave away 20 odd runs in the 3rd over, he was punished again in the 4th. He was fortunate enough to have compensated that mistake by batting aggressively and scoring 61 in 27 balls. That was a great knock, on his day he is a treat to watch. His unorthodox stroke which he spoons the ball with a flat bat from outside the off-stump and flaps it backwards into the deep fine leg which often sends the ball into the crowd for a six, is becoming his trademark. During the world cup in Caribbean against SA, he frustrated Ntini with those strokes. Whenever he scores big, Bangladesh wins.

Posted by Fayyaz Qadir on (September 13, 2007, 20:11 GMT)

I would like to include Iftikhar in games against India , srilanka and australia who r relaly good against the spin and in those games I would like to see Iftikhar Anjum open up the inings so Pakistan can save one batsman we cant live anymore expecting that openers will do well. since Saeed Anwar was made to leave we invariably fail to make a good opening partnership and we loose a batsman too early too often. playing an all rounder in that position could be good it could have been Razaq but again a brainless decision kept him out now that position should go to Iftikhar as he even if he goes early pak would not loose a batsmen also as Asif is very ineffectiove in later stages of game ( well lately even in early stages) this is where Iftikhar with his outswingers early on or inswinging yorkers later on can be very useful. Please think about it.

Posted by Wajeeha Zaidi - Saudi Arabia on (September 13, 2007, 19:53 GMT)

ICC T20 WC is now in the third days and we have already seen few upsets. This proves the following:

1. Anyone can beat anyone... 2. A couple of good or bad over can change the complexion of any game. 3. No team is guaranteed a place in last four stage.

Although I am not an ardent supporter of Pak team yet I am forced to think that this team has potential to do wonders in this version of the game.

Reason os my changed thinking is that the team is without that rasca..... u all know what I mean.

Posted by WASIM SAQIB on (September 13, 2007, 19:43 GMT)

Javed.A.Khan please don't be so quick to jump on the gun the team has played only one match so far and you are already trying to prove your point, if a player has to perform in every match to secure his place in the team then Afridi's career would have ended long time ago. I am amazed that you never took into account all the warm up matches and practice matches played in Pakistan and south Africa before the tournament. I don't think that Fawad Alam deserves a place as Misbah Played a very sensible innings and helped the team to post a decent total. As regards Asif he didn't conceded 50 runs he only conceded 28 runs in his 4 overs and I don't think its expensive by 20/20 standards. You need to look at the stats of Brett lee,M Johnson,Shaun Pollock and then pass your judgement.

Posted by Muhammad Asif on (September 13, 2007, 18:40 GMT)

"Official four-nation league launched / Indian league to follow franchise system."

Market-oriented world is quickly changing the formats of conventional cricket. Kamran would you please throw some light on a similar league in Pakistan, Because Pakistan is not included in that league. Please spare some time & do ask for different proposals & then forward it to the cricketing authoriies. The more the high quality cricketers we produce the more the prestige & foreign exchange too they will bring for Pakistan in near future. Now cricket is literally becoming a professional game like other games.

Posted by fhs on (September 13, 2007, 18:25 GMT)

India vs Scotland game seems to be abounded bc of the rain. Means, it is going to be a huge pressure game for India (vs. Paistan) tommrrow. I think we have a great chance to defeat them. I am confident that we will perform batter. All we need is the performance of Afridi, Gul, Nazir and Asif.

Posted by ryan on (September 13, 2007, 17:30 GMT)

i think pakistan dont have a chance at the 2020 world cup,the only way there going to have a chance of winning it is if they play as a teem and stop the voilence{my thought,bring back shoaib}

Posted by Abhay on (September 13, 2007, 16:44 GMT)

Pakistan is a really strong team...but many times before we have seen them lose from being at a good position. So the only thing they got to do is play good cricket. Not get carried away after the first innings if they bowl or bat well...in the inaugural match we saw an example of that. And if they manage to do that really successfully...they might even win...because they also have a really god team ...all-round. Batting, bowling and good fielding also compared to some of the teams.

Posted by Spartacus on (September 13, 2007, 16:29 GMT)

Death?? It is sport after all. Not gladiator fights.

Posted by Naser Ranjha on (September 13, 2007, 15:09 GMT)

Test is boring, 50 overs well thirty too many. God created Pakistan cricket and on the sixth day created 20/20. Perfect!!

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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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