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September 21, 2007

Twenty20 World Cup 2007

Attitude goes a long way

Kamran Abbasi
Salman Butt drives against a Sri Lankan bowler, Pakistan v Sri Lanka, Abu Dhabi, May 20, 2007
 © AFP
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After the misery of the Caribbean, India and Pakistan will be relieved to be reacquainted with success in a world tournament. A final meeting would be the most resounding comeback but both teams face difficult semi-final contests. Pakistan, of course, will be delighted to face New Zealand, the least threatening of the semi-finalists.

Semi-finals between New Zealand and Pakistan have become a modern feature, and up to now Pakistan have had the upper hand. In 1992 at Auckland, New Zealand looked unbeatable until Inzamam-ul Haq played a thrilling carefree innings to stun a passionate home crowd and millions worldwide.

Seven years later, New Zealand and Pakistan met in Manchester on a similarly gloomy day but with a vast majority of Pakistan fans. First Shoaib Akhtar produced a devastating spell to restrict New Zealand and then Saeed Anwar stroked a convincing march to victory as horns blared and firecrackers exploded.

A New Zealand semi-final is a good omen for Pakistan but they cannot afford to be complacent. Daniel Vettori's team has big hitters and wise heads in its batting and decent variety in its bowling thanks to Vettori's spin and Shane Bond's speed. New Zealand's fielding will also be exceptional.

For a Pakistan team whose own varied bowling attack has excelled in this tournament, New Zealand are not to be feared. Indeed, unusually for recent times, Pakistan have settled on a bowling formula that is proving successful. A threatening burst from Asif and Tanvir, followed by the intelligent spin of Shahid Afridi and Mohammad Hafeez, with Umar Gul's yorker attack to kill off the end of the innings.

Under pressure, of course, any formula can unravel but it is reassuring to have a clear plan, which is something Geoff Lawson must be applauded for.

Pakistan's batting remains a point of concern, although with Afridi back at the top of the order there is more sense to it--if you can ever say that about Afridi. The misfit among Pakistan's batsmen is Salman Butt whose long game has struggled to adapt to this short version. The only place you can bat Butt is at the top of the order where his cover drives might beat the fielding restrictions. Lower down he isn't sufficiently flexible to be useful. Lawson rightly values consistency of selection but if there is one change it should be the introduction of Fawad Alam or Yasir Arafat in place of Pakistan's vice-captain.

While Pakistan will be relieved to reach a semi-final and confident of repeating their success over New Zealand, the shortest version of cricket is the most unpredictable. Ironically, it is the most unpredictable team of all that seems to have benefited most from this format. You should never expect absolute consistency from Pakistan, which is why it is good that they have got a below-par performance out of the way against Bangladesh.

Unusually, this has been a happy African adventure for Pakistan and perhaps the most encouraging signs have been the team spirit, intensity, aggression, and passion that have returned to Pakistan's cricket. It goes to prove that in life, just as in Quentin Tarantino movies, attitude goes a long way.

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

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Posted by Noor Effendi on (September 22, 2007, 13:15 GMT)

Well Salam To you Kamran Bhai. I think you have become a hero of all the Pakistanis especially expatriates .......Thanks

No No salman Butt He should be kept away for semis &as well as finals depending the results.I said that befire about Misba that he is doing good as long as he doesnot swells his head .He is doing good Masallah. No the Salman ,well good looks & few good scores does not cut now adays in cricket .One has to be consistent .The game has become very competitive ,it is fast & very demanding ,those days of Moha Hanif has gone crowd wants results.SO Vice Captain did not came upto the par & did not palyed good cricket ,it was an awful display the way he got run out NO GOOD BUTT SAHIB .You need some time off again to get your act together .Being a Vice Captain does not gives you a 100% solid position.Actually Shahid Afridi should have been the Vice to begin with ,but any way not to late the Hero. Love you ALL .......

Posted by JAVED A. KHAN, MONTREAL, CANADA on (September 22, 2007, 10:56 GMT)

Whether it was a technical glitch or a human error or simple lethargy, it is good to see that the blog is moving once again at a normal pace. At this time, just before the semifinal, all of us are very anxious and excited about the match and we all want to vent our views, opinions and our feelings during these "slog-moments," so thank you Mr. Abbassi for paying heed to our request.

khansahab

I agree with you about Asif's overall ineffectiveness and his lucky performance against India, barring that performance he has been very mediocre. And its good to see that your views about Shoaib Malik's captaincy are changing. At least you are able to see the flaws which most people don't notice or don't care taking into consideration as long as the team is winning and one of them is our neighbour - Mabsoos Bhaiya. It is good to see that your loyalties are with us despite being an Indian. But, my dear Mabsoos Ahmad, "your captain" Malik has allowed Afridi to open the innings only after heavy criticism. Probably you haven't watched the TV shows or heard the expert comments. Its not just Ramiz Raja but, Ian Chappell, Ian Bishop, David Lloyd, Nasir Hussain, Ravi Shastri et al were raving and ranting to make changes in the opening slot and bring in Afridi. So, that was the result he asked Afridi to open against Bangladesh. And we all heard Malik's post match comments, so we don't need any further explanation on that, except a thank you for your support. And may I ask you, who would you be supporting if there is a India / Pakistan final?

Wasim Saqib

khansahab has answered your question about placing Fawad Alam in a pressure cooker. I think he is right that including him at this moment is adding too much pressure on him. You are saying that if Rohit Sharma can prove himself in the first match, why can't Fawad Alam? Probably you are forgetting that a cat has nine lives and the rookie Sharma got three and I don't think Fawad Alam would be that fortunate. Even the other debutant Junaid Siddique who prefers to spell his name the way they pronounce i.e. Zunaed, also got 3 lives and one was a sitter which was "Miss-bah-ed."

About Asif's bowling against Bangladesh, in my previous post, I've questioned about his fitness. Because, we all saw that there was no run up, no follow through, no pace, no swing nothing and his bowling was very ordinary. I said, either he was influenced by Stuart Clarke's earlier comments about the pitch when he said, the pitch is slow and bowling fast is of no use, so Asif must have been influenced by those comments OR he is injured? So, you confirm that Asif is injured? I doubt that they will replace him if the injury is minor but, thats too bad to play with a half fit player in such a crucial match.

Mitch

I will give you a "B" for your post of September 22, 2007 2:50 AM for whining, if you replace it with the first letter of your nick, it will suit you even more, because thats what the Australian do, I mean apart from sledging and whining ;-)

Posted by feroz on (September 22, 2007, 10:13 GMT)

I dont know about any one but i am sure butt sahab is gonna fire today.It was misbah against india and australia...younis against srilanka ...afridi against BD and now its butt sahab time to fire in semi ....GOOD LUCK BUTT SAHAB

Posted by rehan khan on (September 22, 2007, 9:51 GMT)

First of all, i sincerely hope the pakistan team get rid of salman butt. He has no idea how to bat in this short form of the game. Pls Pls replace him with Yasir arafat. Even Imran Nazir hasnt really impressed me, even though this kinda style of cricket is best suited for him, he hasnt fired. Maybe its time to give someone else a chance who hasnt played yet. Anywayz i still feel this pakistan team doesnt look quite the finish product when it comes to 20/20 cricket.

Posted by Hashar Muhmood Toronto on (September 22, 2007, 9:49 GMT)

Dear Kamran Pakistan will have to go for aggressive approach in semi and make some change.if vettori from newzealand as left armer spinner then pakistan should make change bring abdur rehman in place of muhammad hafeez.he would stop runs.in 20 twenty to stop runs is more important than to get wicket.abdur rehman has excelent average.

good luck pakistan Hashar toronto

Posted by Haris Mohiuddin on (September 22, 2007, 9:16 GMT)

salman butt is most certainly a misfit in the twenty20 version... the best domestic twenty20 player, fawad alam, still hasnt been given a go... but anyhow... there is certainly a serious case of replacing salman with fawad or yasir for the semis. Pakistan Zindabad.

Posted by M Mahboob Hossain (Dhaka) on (September 22, 2007, 8:11 GMT)

Congratulations to both Pakistan & India to reach the Semi-finals.

For India, it's a team effort & some extent, failure of others (I was quite sure that the "Chokers’ will not be able to chase down any total, when the chips are down, but never thought that they are so ordinary when to make things count. Bat a little, bowl a little "All-rounder" don't work when it matters, in any form of cricket. And the English are as ordinary as their Soccer & Tennis so-called superstars). For Pakistan the only reason for reaching this stage is the absence of a skunk. He would spread enough stain to ensure that there is enough internal hemorrhage to heel up, rather than concentrating on oppositions. I am waiting for the day when Pakistani people will be convinced that their team is needed to be off-loaded a traitor, a black mailer, whose only possession is the gimmick of "what could happen if ..". If you want to win against South Africa & India in coming series, drop him. If you want the team to grow as world beaters (It’s quite possible, they are the last 2 under 19 World champs & I was excited to see some of the performances of present under 19 team in Australia & England), BAN him for LIFETIME. “Attitude” was the topic of today’s blog, don’t give this scoundrel the opportunity to spread his attitude to the next generation.

I was surprised to see Asif limping around against my team, especially when they have assured a semi-final place. I think Pakistani media had a role to play on this. Had Asif not played & somehow had they lost, all the great things done by this young team would have drained down to match fixing allegations (I was surprised to learn from Sarfaraz Newaz that the present captain was made captain due to his interactions with betting syndicates). Only weakness in this team seems to me is the position of Butt. I think Fawad will be a perfect replacement, especially at Newlands, with his left-arm spin & lower half batting.

Good luck India - Pakistan. India, I guess has the stiffer task to make a sub-continent final.

Posted by Asif Ali fromMirpur A.k on (September 22, 2007, 7:55 GMT)

hopefully pakwillwin against newzealand & in da final aus vs pak. i m watching shoaib lifting t20 wc trophey. Good luck pak

Posted by Suhaib Jalis Ahmed on (September 22, 2007, 7:50 GMT)

Asif is doubtful for the semis. Apparently, he got injured in the net practice before the match against Australia. Since then, he has played with injections.

Our team management has goofed up. i can understand the need to play him against Australia... but why in the dead rubber against Bangladesh ???? No wonder he was out of sorts against them. Asif is a key member of the team, and it is severe blow to our chances

Posted by Mabsoos Ahmad on (September 22, 2007, 7:38 GMT)

This is for Mr. Khanshahab (AA Khan).

Your statement about Shoaid Malik "he will be seen as a shallow, stubborn and one-dimensional captain" is untimely and unwarranted. Playing cricket and writing on the wall is a different ball game. The top 3 and 4 players in the batting has been a real problem for a long, but to stick with somebody and give him a confidence is not a bad idea till you are winning the matches. All cricket pandits are in favour that winning combination should be disturbed and Malik is doing right by not touching the combination. You people only know how and what to criticise. You people only know how to demoralize our captain. Let me tell you that Shoaib Malik will be our one of the most suceesful captain in the history of Pakistan Cricket. He is not stub born but he is following his plan and executing it very well. Twenty20 is anybody's game but Final will be played between India and Pakistan !!! How do you think, Khanshahab??

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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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