Pakistan in India 2007 November 4, 2007

A time to learn

Whatever political turmoil Pakistan endures, cricket will soar above any press blackouts, house arrests, curfews and martial law
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Whatever political turmoil Pakistan endures, cricket will soar above any press blackouts, house arrests, curfews and martial law. The Pakistan Cricket Board is always willing to play, as if fearful that when cricket stops the pulse of the nation will stop with it and the United Nations will certify Pakistan as an irredeemable basket case.

Indeed, Pakistan's rulers have sought the success of their cricket team to help overcome unpopularity over tricky domestic and international crises. But this current tour of India begins with little prospect of cricketing rescue. Shoaib Malik's team are an unconvincing bunch, unsure of their best batting or bowling options.

The World Twenty20 was an uplifting beginning, but the longer the version of cricket the greater the magnification of weaknesses. Frustratingly, Pakistan's failings have become constants, insoluble problems beyond the wit of captain, coach, or cricket board. It is early to judge captain and coach, of course, but now is their opportunity to carve changes, an opportunity they seem reluctant to take.

The blight of modern Pakistan cricket has become the situation of the opening batsmen. It would be hard to argue that Pakistan cricket is any closer to solving this problem than it was immediately after the 2003 World Cup. This is inexcusable. The dilemma was highlighted by the farce of vice-captain Salman Butt being unable to hold onto his place. As Geoff Lawson has suggested, Pakistan need to choose two openers and give them a run. That could mean an opportunity for Butt and Yasir Hameed. All will be revealed tomorrow.

Just as depressing is the wicket-keeping slot. Kamran Akmal has performed miserably for over a year, right back to last year's tour of England when Bob Woolmer was calling in experts to help correct fundamental flaws in Akmal's glovework. Hardly a game goes by without Akmal making a major blunder. As much as everybody wills him to recover his form, can this really be the way to manage Pakistan's wicket-keeping position? Pakistan need to find a safe pair of hands behind the stumps and this has to be Akmal's last chance.

The bowling, despite the loss of Mohammad Asif, is the least troublesome, partly because Asif isn't quite as adept in one-day cricket as he is in Tests. If - and it is a gigantic if - Shoaib Akhtar can stay fit and free of trouble, a Pakistan pace attack of Akhtar, Umar Gul, and Sohail Tanvir or Rao Iftikhar Anjum has a more formidable look about it than one spearheaded by Asif, simply because Asif has yet to work out the variations in length and pace that are essential for success in one-day cricket on unhelpful wickets. Without Akhtar and Asif Pakistan will be in trouble.

Shahid Afridi is another bowling asset and Pakistan's most improved one-day bowler. But facing India's batsmen on home turf will be a genuine test of his development and his status as an international class leg-spinner. The Afridi conundrum continues in other areas. Views are divided between him opening the batting and batting lower down the order. Lawson's argument that his age determines he should not open doesn't hold water when you consider the age of Sanath Jayasuria, Matthew Hayden, and Adam Gilchrist.

Finally, Pakistan have missed another opportunity to appoint Afridi as one-day vice-captain. Younis Khan might make sense for Tests but in one-day cricket Afridi is a natural leader, and a sense of responsibility might even help his batting. Imagine vice-captain Afridi opening the batting against India?

However you look at it Pakistan are not quite ready for this tour of India. The team combination is unsettled. The captain has failed to translate his command of the Twenty20 arena into control over the longer versions of the game. And the South Africa tour brought with it an unwelcome tag of 'chokers.'

On the bright side, India have their own problems and Pakistan can learn from their bitter experience against South Africa. But the central problem for Pakistan cricket over the last decade is that it has failed to learn from mistakes and experiences. Until the organisation that is Pakistan cricket, and this includes the cricket board and the players, is able to become a learning organisation we will be discussing the same issues in a decade from now.

But the immediate challenge is India at home, and it will be a tough one. Let's see how quickly Malik and Lawson are able to learn.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Hamza, Islamabad on November 10, 2007, 1:23 GMT

    A bunch of comments over the lack of a real finisher for Pakistan. Every one is asking about Razzaq, no doubt we miss him. But few days back while watching a match in Rawalpindi I saw a real allrounder there. Can you believe it a sharp fielder moving like a panther in the field. A genuine fast bowler and above all the great finisher. Best if I call him an advanced version of Razzaq - a great fielder, splendid hitter of the cricket ball, an emerging fast bowler. Named Hasnat Malik is well know in Pindi. We gathered Sohail Tanvir from the same club. If some one from the cricket authorities could spare some time and see the real allrounder. Best of luck for Pakistan's new cricketing talent

  • md abdul wadood on November 9, 2007, 20:30 GMT

    Abdul Razzaq should come back.please do something my friend,pakistan cricket needs a player like Abdur Razzaq in the lower order,if Naseem Ashraf can bring back Yousuf then he too can bring Abdur Razzaq.please for Allah sake do something

    md abdul wadood (india)

  • Shibili Ahamed USA on November 9, 2007, 16:20 GMT

    I cannot agree with Shahid Afridi opening the innings with the power play game structure in place. Afridi airs the ball too much and in power play structure fielders have all the time in the world to run back and take the catch.

    Shoaib Malik also should not open. With the current structure of the team we cannot replace anyone to bring in an extra opener, other than Kamran Akmal who is failure in both keeping and batting (opening as well). Of course he did not commit any crimes in the 2nd ODI. His catch to dismiss Sachin was good to watch and was a real great contribution. If he has passed the 100 mark, Sachin would have bombarded the stadium with 4s and 6s. Kamran Akmal need not have to do any heroics. All he has to do NOT TO COMMIT any mistakes, as he did in MOHALI. The result is Pakistan won the match. If he had held the catches against SA, the results of that whole series would have been different.

    Misbah did a great job and role in the 2nd ODI win, though he did not finish and did that crashing paddle sweep again. He swept a straight ball on to his stumps, which denied him a much deserved 50. Let us hope that he exhibits a better sense of shot selection.

    Sohail Tanvir is an asset. He needs to work on his bowling more hard. He needs help from some seniors like Wasim Akram. Hope he gets it.

    Umar Gul sends down the ball wobbling, that is taking away its punch and pugnacity. He also need to correct. He needs to resort more to yorkers and more good length balls. He must use the seems to produce more lift or bounce from the pitch and should choose a line of middle and off.

    Shoaib Akther should cut down him run up at least as a tribute to Bob Woolmer who advocated that to him 2 years back. Shoaib is as effective as his original run up and bowl to his shortened run up. I would suggest him to reduce a bit weight too. This will help him and team's cause on slow over rate.

    I will give another run for Salman Butt for the opening. He needs to learn some more shots, especially when playing the slanting in deliveries from left handed bowlers. India will play Sree Shanth - a right handed bowler in the next match.

    Shoaib Malik perished two times straight to poor shots or exposing the shot selection to the bowler too early. He is getting carried away.

    Rao Ifthikar Anjum should also work hard on him line outside the offstump. His yorkers are good. He needs to use more seem into his bowling.

    Malik should use Shoaib Akther in short spells. May be in 3-3-2-2 over format spells. I would also suggest to bowl out the fourth seamer.

    Most important, Pakistan must learn to more ground fielding techniques. Come in and Cover and back up fielding must be adopted.

    Finally a WIN is always a WIN. One in this fashion the best any team can ask for. GREAT JOB TEAM. DO IT AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN.

    Wish you all the best and better.

    Our prayers are always with you.

  • fan of kamran akmal on November 9, 2007, 15:57 GMT

    Mr. Abbasi, will you please write something about Pakistan recent great performance. i guess whats going on in our country. this article from you will start a positive dicussion. just a suggstion. i guess we can start with positive display from younis khan for the last few weeks desirve few lines from your keyboard. by the way i am reading your articles and blog for few months now. over all job well done. i guess one more request write something about Kamran Akmal. can you write and article and e-mail him that link so, feedback with positive way let Mr kamran Akmal know that pakistan team is not his dad's property to do what ever he likes.

  • Rashid Jooma on November 9, 2007, 5:43 GMT

    So Kamran. What about that for a run chase? Warms the heart. Your blog is awaited.

  • siddiqi on November 9, 2007, 4:57 GMT

    Ok to keep alive the tradition of this blog as Pakistan has won so everyone should start praising the Pakistani players and if they will lose the next match than again start cursing them. Misbah was the hero in world cup but still after some low scoring games most of the people on this blog called him safarshi. Now he has played another great innings under pressure to give a shut up call but I am sure whenever he will fail again he will be called a safarshi. Anyway great win for Pakistan. Younis was special today, Salman is the most stylish and talented player in the team and great to see him back him in form. Shoaib's rythem is also getting better and that gives a lot of hope to Pakistan for winning the series.

  • WASIM SAQIB on November 8, 2007, 21:52 GMT

    At last the Pakistani team woke up from their slumber and showed the world if they play as a team and play aggressively they are still a force to be reckoned with, India after they put 321 runs on the board were favorites to win this match, but a different Pakistan team came out to bat they were determined to spoil the Dewali celebrations of the Indians, from the beginning they attacked and just for a brief moment after Pakistan lost both the openers, when Yousuf and Younis were batting it seemed as if the match is going to slip away they batted for six overs together and scored @ of 3.41 and after Yousuf got out and Malik came in to bat he started scoring at a brisk pace and inspired Younis Khan to come out of his shell and play aggressively although Malik only scored 25 but in his brief stay he demonstrated that there were no demons in the pitch and the bowling was also not extra ordinary he led from the front and the rest of the team responded well.

    Younis Khan played extremely well and this is how we want him to bat, I hope in the coming matches he will bat in similar fashion.

    Misbah also played a good knock although he again failed to finish the match but he did most part of his job, he did not break the tempo of the game and continued from where Malik left and that’s not an easy job.

    Afridi again proved why bowlers all over the world fear him the most, and why he is an indispensable part of the Pakistan ODI team.

    The series has leveled, and the way Pakistani team played today I don't think Indian fans will display any more over excitement now as they did after the first match as for most of them after winning just one match the series was already won. Dehli Abhi Door hey:

    PS: Mr. Abbasi can you please update the thread regularly, it seems as if you are on a vacation.

  • Dawar on November 8, 2007, 19:50 GMT

    Well done Younis Khan.

    Dawar LA USA

  • JAVED A. KHAN, MONTREAL, CANADA on November 8, 2007, 18:23 GMT

    A time to learn: Especially for Shoaib Akhtar; and for Shoaib Malik too.

    Time and again Shoaib Akhtar was advised by his coach, captain and ex-great bowlers of Pakistan to curtail his run up. BUT, he thought he is an aircraft, a Jumbo 747 that needs a long run up for take off. And, today Shoaib Malik was leading his side in fear and anxiety owing to the slower over rate, which not only meant penalties for Shoaib Malik and his team, but a possible ban for Malik for 3 matches! And he was literally begging everyone to hurry up and some how he persuaded Shoaib Akhtar to bowl with a shorter run up. In Zaheer Abbass's words it was a "marry-kill" that he got convinced. Malik was even seen requesting Harbhajan Singh to hurry up and even went to the extent of removing Shoaib Akhtar's cap and handed over to the umpire to save time. Those were very nervous moments for Malik, but in the end all is well that ends well. Finally the middle order clicked and in the end Tanvir and Afridi did the rest.

    "I hope" Shoaib Akhtar must have learnt a lesson today that he can bowl better with a shorter run up. If he contemplates and analyze his bowling after this match, he can see for himself that in his first six overs he gave away 35 runs with too many wides and took only one wicket. Whereas, in the last four overs with a shorter run up he gave only 7 runs and took two wickets, his tenth over was a maiden over. Although Gul got the award for good bowling but, Akhtar was the pick of the bowlers with most wickets and better run rate, his wickets were not of tail-enders but of Ganguly, Dhoni and Pathan. And Kamran Akmal, before taking that excellent catch of Tendulkar dropped a straight forward ball (wasn't a catch) and that gave jitters to many people. But, his diving catch on his right that he picked up inches above the ground to dismiss Tendulkar at 99 must have boosted his confidence a lot.

    Back to Akhtar bowling, with a shorter run up he bowled accurately and was also able to maintain a speed of 135 - 140 kmph which is faster than most of the Indian fast bowlers, even faster than McGrath's average bowling speed. As they say, you always learn from your mistakes or through your experience, today must be the learning day in Shoaib Akhtar's life. He should realize and admit that he was wrong, stubborn, rather obstinate and was not paying any attention to the suggestions made by people who are more senior and more experienced than him. After all Wasim Akram - who is such a great bowler, in the later part of his career curtailed his run-up and was still very effective and lethal, even his advise was turned down by Shoaib Akhtar and that is mainly because of his inflated ego. He is not match fit and needs to reduce his weight by at least 15 kg.

    Malik's field placements were very poor, most runs were scored behind the wickets on both sides and he was not keeping his fielders in the right spot. Also, he should not send Afridi at number 7, it was one of those days that Afridi clicked under tremendous pressure. Afridi must play at number 4 and take up the role of a pinch hitter. Because, Younus and Yousuf always slow down the run rate and the job of the lower middle order or the tail-enders becomes very difficult. Whether it is Afridi or any other hard hitting batsman who can play the role of a pinch hitter and score brisk runs must come at number 4. I have said this before and like to reiterate my point again that Tanvir must be groomed to fill in the role of Abdul Razzaq. He has all the potential and the qualities required for an all-rounder and he must also share the new ball with Akhtar, rather than bowling after the 10th over. The series is level now and it would be very interesting to see the battle at Kanpur! Can Afridi repeat his performance?

  • Awas on November 8, 2007, 17:35 GMT

    So, today they are all heroes ;-).

    Successfully chasing this kind of total must be some kind of a record at least in India. Anyways well done Pk! So, guys please stop slagging the players so much. Javed A Khan, I am glad for once Yunus Khana’s good work didn’t end up in a loosing cause. This team effort should really boost their morale.

  • Hamza, Islamabad on November 10, 2007, 1:23 GMT

    A bunch of comments over the lack of a real finisher for Pakistan. Every one is asking about Razzaq, no doubt we miss him. But few days back while watching a match in Rawalpindi I saw a real allrounder there. Can you believe it a sharp fielder moving like a panther in the field. A genuine fast bowler and above all the great finisher. Best if I call him an advanced version of Razzaq - a great fielder, splendid hitter of the cricket ball, an emerging fast bowler. Named Hasnat Malik is well know in Pindi. We gathered Sohail Tanvir from the same club. If some one from the cricket authorities could spare some time and see the real allrounder. Best of luck for Pakistan's new cricketing talent

  • md abdul wadood on November 9, 2007, 20:30 GMT

    Abdul Razzaq should come back.please do something my friend,pakistan cricket needs a player like Abdur Razzaq in the lower order,if Naseem Ashraf can bring back Yousuf then he too can bring Abdur Razzaq.please for Allah sake do something

    md abdul wadood (india)

  • Shibili Ahamed USA on November 9, 2007, 16:20 GMT

    I cannot agree with Shahid Afridi opening the innings with the power play game structure in place. Afridi airs the ball too much and in power play structure fielders have all the time in the world to run back and take the catch.

    Shoaib Malik also should not open. With the current structure of the team we cannot replace anyone to bring in an extra opener, other than Kamran Akmal who is failure in both keeping and batting (opening as well). Of course he did not commit any crimes in the 2nd ODI. His catch to dismiss Sachin was good to watch and was a real great contribution. If he has passed the 100 mark, Sachin would have bombarded the stadium with 4s and 6s. Kamran Akmal need not have to do any heroics. All he has to do NOT TO COMMIT any mistakes, as he did in MOHALI. The result is Pakistan won the match. If he had held the catches against SA, the results of that whole series would have been different.

    Misbah did a great job and role in the 2nd ODI win, though he did not finish and did that crashing paddle sweep again. He swept a straight ball on to his stumps, which denied him a much deserved 50. Let us hope that he exhibits a better sense of shot selection.

    Sohail Tanvir is an asset. He needs to work on his bowling more hard. He needs help from some seniors like Wasim Akram. Hope he gets it.

    Umar Gul sends down the ball wobbling, that is taking away its punch and pugnacity. He also need to correct. He needs to resort more to yorkers and more good length balls. He must use the seems to produce more lift or bounce from the pitch and should choose a line of middle and off.

    Shoaib Akther should cut down him run up at least as a tribute to Bob Woolmer who advocated that to him 2 years back. Shoaib is as effective as his original run up and bowl to his shortened run up. I would suggest him to reduce a bit weight too. This will help him and team's cause on slow over rate.

    I will give another run for Salman Butt for the opening. He needs to learn some more shots, especially when playing the slanting in deliveries from left handed bowlers. India will play Sree Shanth - a right handed bowler in the next match.

    Shoaib Malik perished two times straight to poor shots or exposing the shot selection to the bowler too early. He is getting carried away.

    Rao Ifthikar Anjum should also work hard on him line outside the offstump. His yorkers are good. He needs to use more seem into his bowling.

    Malik should use Shoaib Akther in short spells. May be in 3-3-2-2 over format spells. I would also suggest to bowl out the fourth seamer.

    Most important, Pakistan must learn to more ground fielding techniques. Come in and Cover and back up fielding must be adopted.

    Finally a WIN is always a WIN. One in this fashion the best any team can ask for. GREAT JOB TEAM. DO IT AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN.

    Wish you all the best and better.

    Our prayers are always with you.

  • fan of kamran akmal on November 9, 2007, 15:57 GMT

    Mr. Abbasi, will you please write something about Pakistan recent great performance. i guess whats going on in our country. this article from you will start a positive dicussion. just a suggstion. i guess we can start with positive display from younis khan for the last few weeks desirve few lines from your keyboard. by the way i am reading your articles and blog for few months now. over all job well done. i guess one more request write something about Kamran Akmal. can you write and article and e-mail him that link so, feedback with positive way let Mr kamran Akmal know that pakistan team is not his dad's property to do what ever he likes.

  • Rashid Jooma on November 9, 2007, 5:43 GMT

    So Kamran. What about that for a run chase? Warms the heart. Your blog is awaited.

  • siddiqi on November 9, 2007, 4:57 GMT

    Ok to keep alive the tradition of this blog as Pakistan has won so everyone should start praising the Pakistani players and if they will lose the next match than again start cursing them. Misbah was the hero in world cup but still after some low scoring games most of the people on this blog called him safarshi. Now he has played another great innings under pressure to give a shut up call but I am sure whenever he will fail again he will be called a safarshi. Anyway great win for Pakistan. Younis was special today, Salman is the most stylish and talented player in the team and great to see him back him in form. Shoaib's rythem is also getting better and that gives a lot of hope to Pakistan for winning the series.

  • WASIM SAQIB on November 8, 2007, 21:52 GMT

    At last the Pakistani team woke up from their slumber and showed the world if they play as a team and play aggressively they are still a force to be reckoned with, India after they put 321 runs on the board were favorites to win this match, but a different Pakistan team came out to bat they were determined to spoil the Dewali celebrations of the Indians, from the beginning they attacked and just for a brief moment after Pakistan lost both the openers, when Yousuf and Younis were batting it seemed as if the match is going to slip away they batted for six overs together and scored @ of 3.41 and after Yousuf got out and Malik came in to bat he started scoring at a brisk pace and inspired Younis Khan to come out of his shell and play aggressively although Malik only scored 25 but in his brief stay he demonstrated that there were no demons in the pitch and the bowling was also not extra ordinary he led from the front and the rest of the team responded well.

    Younis Khan played extremely well and this is how we want him to bat, I hope in the coming matches he will bat in similar fashion.

    Misbah also played a good knock although he again failed to finish the match but he did most part of his job, he did not break the tempo of the game and continued from where Malik left and that’s not an easy job.

    Afridi again proved why bowlers all over the world fear him the most, and why he is an indispensable part of the Pakistan ODI team.

    The series has leveled, and the way Pakistani team played today I don't think Indian fans will display any more over excitement now as they did after the first match as for most of them after winning just one match the series was already won. Dehli Abhi Door hey:

    PS: Mr. Abbasi can you please update the thread regularly, it seems as if you are on a vacation.

  • Dawar on November 8, 2007, 19:50 GMT

    Well done Younis Khan.

    Dawar LA USA

  • JAVED A. KHAN, MONTREAL, CANADA on November 8, 2007, 18:23 GMT

    A time to learn: Especially for Shoaib Akhtar; and for Shoaib Malik too.

    Time and again Shoaib Akhtar was advised by his coach, captain and ex-great bowlers of Pakistan to curtail his run up. BUT, he thought he is an aircraft, a Jumbo 747 that needs a long run up for take off. And, today Shoaib Malik was leading his side in fear and anxiety owing to the slower over rate, which not only meant penalties for Shoaib Malik and his team, but a possible ban for Malik for 3 matches! And he was literally begging everyone to hurry up and some how he persuaded Shoaib Akhtar to bowl with a shorter run up. In Zaheer Abbass's words it was a "marry-kill" that he got convinced. Malik was even seen requesting Harbhajan Singh to hurry up and even went to the extent of removing Shoaib Akhtar's cap and handed over to the umpire to save time. Those were very nervous moments for Malik, but in the end all is well that ends well. Finally the middle order clicked and in the end Tanvir and Afridi did the rest.

    "I hope" Shoaib Akhtar must have learnt a lesson today that he can bowl better with a shorter run up. If he contemplates and analyze his bowling after this match, he can see for himself that in his first six overs he gave away 35 runs with too many wides and took only one wicket. Whereas, in the last four overs with a shorter run up he gave only 7 runs and took two wickets, his tenth over was a maiden over. Although Gul got the award for good bowling but, Akhtar was the pick of the bowlers with most wickets and better run rate, his wickets were not of tail-enders but of Ganguly, Dhoni and Pathan. And Kamran Akmal, before taking that excellent catch of Tendulkar dropped a straight forward ball (wasn't a catch) and that gave jitters to many people. But, his diving catch on his right that he picked up inches above the ground to dismiss Tendulkar at 99 must have boosted his confidence a lot.

    Back to Akhtar bowling, with a shorter run up he bowled accurately and was also able to maintain a speed of 135 - 140 kmph which is faster than most of the Indian fast bowlers, even faster than McGrath's average bowling speed. As they say, you always learn from your mistakes or through your experience, today must be the learning day in Shoaib Akhtar's life. He should realize and admit that he was wrong, stubborn, rather obstinate and was not paying any attention to the suggestions made by people who are more senior and more experienced than him. After all Wasim Akram - who is such a great bowler, in the later part of his career curtailed his run-up and was still very effective and lethal, even his advise was turned down by Shoaib Akhtar and that is mainly because of his inflated ego. He is not match fit and needs to reduce his weight by at least 15 kg.

    Malik's field placements were very poor, most runs were scored behind the wickets on both sides and he was not keeping his fielders in the right spot. Also, he should not send Afridi at number 7, it was one of those days that Afridi clicked under tremendous pressure. Afridi must play at number 4 and take up the role of a pinch hitter. Because, Younus and Yousuf always slow down the run rate and the job of the lower middle order or the tail-enders becomes very difficult. Whether it is Afridi or any other hard hitting batsman who can play the role of a pinch hitter and score brisk runs must come at number 4. I have said this before and like to reiterate my point again that Tanvir must be groomed to fill in the role of Abdul Razzaq. He has all the potential and the qualities required for an all-rounder and he must also share the new ball with Akhtar, rather than bowling after the 10th over. The series is level now and it would be very interesting to see the battle at Kanpur! Can Afridi repeat his performance?

  • Awas on November 8, 2007, 17:35 GMT

    So, today they are all heroes ;-).

    Successfully chasing this kind of total must be some kind of a record at least in India. Anyways well done Pk! So, guys please stop slagging the players so much. Javed A Khan, I am glad for once Yunus Khana’s good work didn’t end up in a loosing cause. This team effort should really boost their morale.

  • Muhammad Asif on November 8, 2007, 13:58 GMT

    Malik must open.

  • Osman Ali Khairi on November 8, 2007, 13:05 GMT

    Why doesn't the Pakistani team just go in with 11 bowlers? I mean WHAT THE HELL is going on there? Argh. Also, in in a score of 321, if the extras are the third highest score, that says something about the team being disciplined and learning from their mistakes. And lastly, for all the die hard Afridi fans, I wonder if you guys saw the way Harbajhan and Zaheer batted? This is what 'sensible', 'calculated', 'measured' and 'controled' hitting is all about.... But what can I say. If only Afridi had a brain. I know I said I can tolerate a 5-0 hammering. But geez, this is just way too depressing. Somebody, use your influence and get this team back home. Please. Argh

  • Khalid Shaikh on November 8, 2007, 1:24 GMT

    Akmal needs to go, and instead if Adbul Rehman, Abdul Razzaq should come back. Malik should have brought Gul or Akhtar in the middle of the Indian innings in the first ODI.

  • Waheed in USA on November 7, 2007, 22:25 GMT

    It is a shame but true most of our batsmen regardless of the experience have basic flaws in their batting techniques. They all have a very poor judgment when it comes to shot selection. I am not sure where all this nervousness comes from. It is so evident when one observes all the top and middle order batsmen. There is no such word as calm, thoughtfulness and planning. Unfortunately, this has been the characteristic of our batsmen from as long as I remember. No matter how good of a batting line up we have had in the past, our best of best batsmen have been found wanting. It has mostly been left up to Pakistan bowlers to bail the team out. In the past, in home series at least, except West Indies, Pakistan was very hard to beat team. Lately, our batsmen perform equally with full of jitters in home and away series alike.

    Lastly, I have a word about Shoib Malik’s captaincy. In English it said, 'Lead, Follow or Get out of the way'. Being the Captain it is evident, either Malik has not been given the complete charge or he is hesitant to discharge his duties the way he should. He should learn from the example of Smith as, he was younger than him and had far less experience of international cricket when he was given the task. Yet, as leader he seems like he was a born leader and he shows his authority over everybody in his team. Malik has to forget about pleasing everybody and consult Afridi before sending him opener or at no. 8. He has to remember if Pakistan loses he will be held responsible alone but, when we win there will be many there who will be gladly share the glory.

  • ruchit on November 7, 2007, 22:06 GMT

    Misbah-ul-Haq, who was hero for Pakistan after the World Twenty20, and had been labeled as a the next great, is not worth of finding a place in the squad anymore. This aptly shows why Pakistan cricket is in total shambles right now particularly when the golden 1980s and 1990s are taken into context.I notice in Pakistan, talent means only six hitting like Afridi or sheer pace like Akhtar. Misbah smashed a few sixes and played a couple of fine cameos in and he was touted as the next great. And a few failures in real cricket and clamour is on for his for his ouster.

    I find it similar to the manner in which a lot of Indian fans also react. I remember Hrishikesh Kanitkar smashing Saqlain for a four on the penultimate ball of 1998 Dhaka final and he was made the next great. Where is he now? Basically both Indians and Pakistani fans react hysterically to smallest of successes and failures and it reflects on our national teams as well. No wonder both countries are struggling with their cricket right now.

  • Imran Quraishi on November 7, 2007, 20:13 GMT

    I don't understand why Fawad Alam is not being given a chance to show his worth and why Rao Iftikhar is in the team. Why is Anwar Ali not in this team and when are we getting rid of Kamran Akmal for good. God save Pakistan cricket team from turning into a Bangladesh like team. I think those days are not too far.

  • Prakash Kalanjeri on November 7, 2007, 17:20 GMT

    It disappoints me to no end about this Shoiab Malik bashing business.

    Skills that we arent readily born with, have to be learnt and mastered the hard way.

    I have heard this Malik guy speak a few times before and comes across as a fine cricketing brain and an excellent human being.

    He is very capable and the results will start to show up once the nucleus of Tests and ODI teams has been identified and persisted with.

  • JAVED A. KHAN, MONTREAL, CANADA on November 7, 2007, 11:08 GMT

    A time to learn is the theme or, the subject of this thread.

    We all learn throughout our lives and every now and then we try to sum up our achievements to draw a learning curve if not on paper but definitely in our minds not always, but sometimes. For some the question arises, what is a learning curve and how does it progress? It is a point that needs to be understood by everyone and not just the cricket players through their performance and achievements. There is no specific time to learn, you learn from the cradle to the grave. The learning curve or the graph that depicts rate of learning, especially a graph of progress in the mastery of a skill against the time required for such mastery is a learning curve. Does the mastery comes by experience or by efficiency? And whether it is an inborn quality or is it acquired? It is a question which may be very hard to answer and it could also be very simple and easy if we look into it in some detail.

    Since we are talking about the role of leadership with reference to Shoaib Malik's captaincy, we need to understand a wee bit about the subject of leadership skills and whether it is an inborn quality or an acquired one? In my opinion, the general misconception or should I say the myth about leadership or leaders is, 'leaders are born and not made' and, 'there is a genetic factor to leadership.' This myth asserts that people simply either have certain charismatic qualities or they don't have it. This is nonsense, in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born.

    When the role of captaincy was thrust upon Inzamam it was kinda shocker for everyone. Because, Inzamam wasn't perceived as a leader, he never had that charismatic ability like Imran Khan to motivate his players on the field (may be in the dressing room he did by talking to them about religion or whatever, and he gelled the young team very well) yet the overall performance of the Pakistan team wasn't that bad under his leadership. And that was because, he was made to believe by the PCB selectors that he is their only choice. Likewise, Malik should do, he ought to have faith in his abilities and believe in himself and act like a leader.

    Inzamam's situation was more like, parents encouraging their child that he is very brave and they instill this quality in his mind and then he grows up to be a brave man. This is true in case of Inzamam he beat everyone against the odds. The fact is, I was also against his team selection, choice of batting order and field placement. Like most people, I also remember only the defeats and not the wins. We talk about getting eliminated from this WC from the first stage. We talk about loosing a series in Australia and also against India in Pakistan for the first time. But, no one remembers the come back from Inzi, when he drew the test series in India and won the ODI 4-2 and then the wins in Sri Lanka and in the Caribbean test and ODI series and against England at home.

    There is another misconception about leaders, most people think of leadership as a position and therefore they don't see themselves as leaders. I have said this before that education is very important for everyone so, how can we exclude a cricket player from that category? And education cannot make everyone a leader, but it can certainly teach us which leader to follow. I love the quote by Tom Peters, the Management guru, he said, "Leaders don't create followers, they create more leaders."

    I would like to digress a little by moving across the border, because this is a very HOT news and cannot be ignored. I would like to discuss the subject of leadership and how it is being perceived by the great living cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar. The contemporary adversaries of his era i.e., Inzamam and Brian Lara did not hesitate to take over the leadership mantle when it was offered to them. But, Sachin Tendulkar once again threw a monkey wrench into the plans of the BCCI by declining to lead the Indian cricket team. This is the third time he has refused to lead India.

    Once again his decision is purely on the basis of protecting his self-image. As a captain, he has lead the side in 25 test matches and won only 4 times, which is a very abysmal 16% win ratio. I have said this before and feel no hesitation in saying it again no matter how bitter it may sound, but the truth is, the little master-bater plays for his personal records and not for the country. This can be argued on the basis that if he feels uncomfortable to lead, then he has the right to decline the captaincy post. But, it should remembered that cricket is a team game and you have to play for the team and not for your personal records and personal gains.

    On the previous two counts when he refused to lead the side, he was still young (in terms of cricketing age) but, now at 34 plus, he knows that if he fails, which is more likely to happen, then the ending of his career would be disastrous. As it is his batting is not that good and the performance graph is declining. A lot of people have been criticizing his inclusion in the team but, once in a while, his one or two good performances keeps him in the contention, but more than that it is on the basis of his past performances. Its weird that he himself wants to see a new and a young captain to lead India, but he doesn't want to give room to a new or a young player in the side. Some Indian supporters on this very blog say he has past his prime, some say he has past his expiry date and some say he is a spent force. Right now he is a highly exaggerated player purely on the basis of his past glories and past performances.

    He knows that even a 1-0 defeat against Pakistan in test matches would mean a lot for the Indians, and its not going to end there. The team is going to Australia and the stakes of losing the test series in Australia are very high and that will be like, the last nail in the coffin to an otherwise a "glorious batting career." Therefore, in my opinion he should retire gracefully now. In cricket, only a few men of action have been able to make a graceful exit at the appropriate time. But, it doesn't happen very often in the sub-continent of India - Pakistan. Only Imran Khan stands head & shoulders above the rest in the crowd of retirees.

    Tendulkar must see the movie, "The Last Action Hero," Arnold Schwarzenegger, as a cop gets mortally wounded in an explosion - which of course leaves the 'made of iron' action hero untouched - and he gasps out with his last breath that he was going to "retire tomorrow". Or may be Tendulkar has already seen it and that is why he doesn't want to accept the captaincy role, because he knows that a defeat under his captaincy would be like a sudden explosion to end his career and he won't be able to say, I was going to retire tomorrow!

    I think he should have accepted it as a challenge and must lead India, and if he wins against Pakistan and Australia also, and announce his retirement from all forms of game, then he would be an immortal Last Action Hero in India. For some people, retirement is an ugly word - its like, 'to retire is to die.' Death is not ugly, its a reality. And, the fact is sooner or later one has to retire before one dies. The question is do you wish to retire gracefully and remain an icon? Or, do you like to retire like anyone else i.e., when they retire nobody knows the difference. Or, when you retire, people say "good riddance." If that happens to Tendulkar it would be very sad.

  • Rauf lala on November 7, 2007, 6:39 GMT

    Pakistan's experiment with spin in SA series has already failed so i do not see any point in continueing same with indians who are better player of spin than SA. Not playing Sohail tanveer is a mistake who has some batting talent also.

  • abdullah on November 6, 2007, 21:13 GMT

    Pakistan lacks consistency. The openers are an ongoing problem. I reckon Imran Nazri and Salman Butt are the ideal combination. Nazir must play. He is an impact player who can dominate with his aggressive and inventive strokeplay

  • Hassan Abbas on November 6, 2007, 19:36 GMT

    Javed Khan, what we do need most right now is a few changes in our team. I don't want to get into any kinda depth, but if you have any kind of sense about this game you would realize that we need to make changes otherwise we are sunk. Players like Wasim Akram, Javed Miandad, Aaqib Javed, Mushtaq Ahmed and so many other came from under-19, without playing too much of first-class cricket. The point is that these players were given a chance to prove themselves when others were failing to do so.

  • WASIM SAQIB on November 6, 2007, 18:57 GMT

    Osman Ali Khairi

    To all your questions regarding Abdul Rehman the answer is yes, he is still new at the International level the only mistake he made in the last match was that in order to give away less runs he was pushing the ball in a flat trajectory rather than giving it flight, he could have gotten a lot more turn if he had flighted the ball, but somehow he was looking not to take the wickets and was more interested in containing the batsmen.

    And the captain of the Pakistan team does not know how to set the field for his bowlers, on a slow and turning wicket his field placement was too defensive even for Shoaib Akhtar he started with two slips and no Gully and we saw quite a few edges flew past third slip and gully region. It appeared from the body language of Pakistani cricketers as if they wanted to let this match go without even putting up a fight.

    IMO other than Kamran Akmal nobody needs to be replaced from the team as these are the best players we have, all we need is integrity and intensity from these players,or we can adjust the combination by making some adjustments. When I criticize Younis Khan it doesn't mean that I am undermining his abilities, he is not giving his 100% and the same can be said of some of the other senior players too.

    Misbah is coming too late most of the times he is still scoring run a ball he is no Afridi or Razzak he has a different batting style he takes a little while to get settled and then starts scoring but in the end his strike rate is always around 90 or 100 we cannot expect a #7 batsman to score a 100 or a 50 it can only happen if the top order completely collapses and he comes in to bat early. He has been scoring at an average of 25 this season which is not bad keeping in view the number of overs left when he comes in to bat.

    Those people who want Razzak to be recalled make me laugh so why not recall Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis in place of Gul and Rao. Replacing Akmal is going to cause two problems, Who will open if he is replaced? as the new wicket keeper will not be a batsman. The Idea of asking Younis to keep the wickets will not solve any problem. The only solution which comes to my mind is that if Kamran Akmal is replaced, then either Shoaib Malik or Afridi should open, preferably Shoaib Malik, we will loose two batsmen in the lower order as the new keeper will be just a tail ender, by doing so in order to fill that gap we have to play Tanvir and Fawad Alam in place of Rao and Rehman, although this will for sure weaken our bowling but our opening and keeping problem will be resolved.

    I don't think this is the ideal solution but if the problem persists we might have to go for this move and with the current set of players there is no other combination which comes to my mind. The current combination has failed us consistently, it will not be a bad Idea to change this combination for better results.

    Our batting line up is failing us consistently, even though that we have a strong batting line up and its quite deep and these are the best group of batsmen we have, the only problem is that players are not playing up to their potential and the middle order is not pacing the innings if you let go 140 dot balls in the middle of the innings then it means you don't want to win the game you are only trying to waste the overs and let the game slip. No matter what combination we play and even if we play eleven batsmen in the team we will not succeed if our key players will not play up to their potential.

    One last observation the players were focusing more on their individual performance and were not taking any risk and were not being aggressive as we all know the adverse outcome of an India Pakistan series often results in shortening the careers of players. The team should play aggressively and unselfishly if they have to win.

    PS.All the Indian fans are most welcome to write whatever they want, the series has just begun, Pakistan team did it last time they visited India they can do it this time also, there is no reason to get over excited.Bring it on.

  • Hamid on November 6, 2007, 18:47 GMT

    The team currently have very few players who fit the bill for international cricket. They just haven't been exposed to tough enough cricket before entering the international arena. Most of our batsmen have flawed technique or poor shot selection and the team generally lacks sense of competition. None of the young batsmen, or for that matter even Yunus, show a sense of planning, trying to understand what the team needs. They just come and do whatever they feel like doing. They should think "team" all the time.

  • Waheed in USA on November 6, 2007, 18:10 GMT

    I do not see any logic in appointing Afridi VC. One can talk at length about the state of openers, the wicketkeeping dilemma and in general about the present state of cricket in Pakistan.I am going to stick with the ongoing series against India. I have following suggestions: 1. Shoiab Malik should start to open the innings in ODI in India as he is batting way too down the order. I think he has a better chance at succeeding as an opener when one compares him with any other option that is available. I again, repeat myself Shoiab is not the best choice but can be a better choice at this time. 2. Everybody, hold your guns, I would like to see Misbah coming at no. 3 as I feel Misbah has a much better technique and is able to move the scoreboard. Misbah may not be the best option but at this time he seems the best option as he is also batting way too down the order and is being wasted. 3. Younis has kept wickets before. I think while keeping in mind Akmal’s form Yunus cannot do any worse. So, Younis keeps and bats just before Afridi. 4. In place of Akmal and, according to the playing conditions either Fawad or Sohail Tanvir should be brought into the team as; either of these can be handy with bat and ball both. 5. After sitting out ODI’s, Akmal should be brought back into the tests as it is too risky to bring in a rookie in an away series.

    If Akmal is able to sort and solve his problems behind the stumps it is well and good. Otherwise bring in a new face. Keep in mind keeper’s main job is to be excellent behind the stumps but in modern cricket we can afford someone who is a great keeper but as a batsman is only good at no.11 because batting line up ends there. After the India series and if (keeping in mind the situation in Pakistan) Australia arrives in Pakistan we can ponder further.

  • Shibili Ahamed on November 6, 2007, 16:49 GMT

    No matter what happens, Kamran Akmal is a big mistake. Forget about his batting. He is wicketkeeper. Let him do that job at least. He dropped catches in the first ODI. We must replace him, if we are serious with our cricket.

    Misbah must be sent back. Replace him with Razzaq. That is the best choice we can do now and bring in Zulqarnain Haider or Sarfraz Ahmed. Then only Pakistan can leave India with some pride. Otherwise a 5-0 in one-day matches and 2-0 loss in tests are guaranteed.

  • Roshan on November 6, 2007, 16:39 GMT

    Somebody got to give Mr. Montreal khan a wake up call..he is just not stopping all his rants regarding Afridi...Why the hell he is trying to prove an ordinary cricketer extraordinary...& for god sake he is not a legend & as u say he has a long way to go to be a legend then I am absolutely certain that no matter how far he goes he will never be considered as legend. Reason is simple his test record is poor, his away record is dismal, his record against teams outside subcontinent is not worthy, & he doesnt possess a thing we call "technique" & most important he doesnt has common sense that requires to go through situations. No matter what you say Mr. Montreal khan you cant justify this one. One important thing, a player becomes legend when neutrals start appreciating him, history proves it so unless people from different countries acknowledge this fact all ur mile long posts over Afridi topic is meaningless!!!!....I dont think you need any more brighter light than this!!! keep writing about ur idol...or should I say Idle!

  • billy A on November 6, 2007, 16:36 GMT

    why not ask afridi where he wants to bat. he can choose that way he has no excuse if he under performs? and in the first ODI vs india who was that person batting with afridi's top on? because it certainly wasnt afridi. i think it was geoff lawsons. coz the way he was batting was a way only geoff lawson can tell someone to bat. let AFRIDI be AFRIDI

  • SAM on November 6, 2007, 16:22 GMT

    Pakistan team (with coach) and Indian team (without coach) are more or less performing in the same manner. I dont see any serious impact of Lawson on Pakistan team so far, and Malik's tedious approach in captaincy is adding fuel to the fire. I am not in favor of changing the captain right away but Malik has to adopt some aggressive approach otherwise a White Wash is on the cards. Abdul Rehman should be replaced by Fawad Alam, as Adbul Rehman's spin lacks variations and he doesn't seem like a match-winner bowler, plus Fawad Alam's inclusion will increase the batting strength of the team. At least for the current ODI series Pakistan should open with Afridi, if they dont want to play two regular openers, if Afridi fires it will take of pressure from specially Yousuf and other middle order batsmen. These days ODI cricket is all about Passion and Aggression which is lacking in Pakistan team may be because our captain is Laid-Back in his approach. One thing i noticed, the tussle between Afridi and Akhtar is hurting Pakistan team, as Akhtar was purposely miss fielding on Afridi's bowling, or may be there is a tussle between Akhtar and rest of Pakistan team, it should be resolved for the good of the team ASAP.

  • Afridi on November 6, 2007, 15:53 GMT

    To JAVED A. KHAN, MONTREAL, CANADA at November 6, 2007 12:35 AM:

    "First of all your stats may be right, may be not. Its just your word and its not authentic. But, the one I have quoted are not mine but, a link from S. Rajesh of cricinfo who is very authentic. "

    well, you can check the "authenticity" on cricinfo, or howstate, BUT i think links and clicks is too much, aye? here is the link. (HINT: list is sorted by country - search for pakistan)

    http://howstat.com/cricket/Statistics/Misc/MiscManOfMatch_ODI.asp?Stat=&SortOrder=Country

    About admitting afridi is the second best player - saeed, javed and Yousaf were/are batsmen NOT allrounder(AR)! Malik played 145 ODI with 12 MoM. Razzaq played 231 (14 less) ODI with 16 (2 less) MoM. you do the math.

    I am not comparing him with Javed and co. too (i mean comon!!), and as you said you never did (huh??!!) and nobody "dis" heroes (esp afridi!) that much - they do, BUT its like a phase, today @#$% tomorrow kool. everybody gives him credit. he is a good bowler, handy batsman and an awesome fielder, but the way you say stuff about him irritates most folks here. like you said - he is a good, charismatic player, a threat - AGREED. but best - ?? (chk your previous posts) - and Pakistanis are proud of him. they abuse/diss him like any other paki player - who mess up the match. BUT "you" dont accept that. its like, if malik (or whoever) did that he is a moron BUT for afridi, its ok!

    As Osman said (Osman Ali Khairi at November 2, 2007 11:29 AM): "I don’t blame for you for being unable to read between the lines in my previous post but what I was trying to say sir, was that Afridi, after having had so much exposure to international cricket, should be able to play ‘according to the match situation’. I mean after more than 250 odis, it’s about fricken time he did. You mistakenly ...."

  • Raja Pakistani on November 6, 2007, 15:09 GMT

    Remove Kamran AKmal, Misba,Nazir and Abdur Rehman from the squad right now.

    Kamran Akmal should be replace by either Sarfraz Ahmed or Amin ur Rehman or Salman. Misba Should be replace by Fawad Alam, who can bowl too and he is good filder and young player. We can see future of Pakistan cricket. Misba is 34 years old with his performance I can see only Darkness in future.

    Nazir should be replace by young 21 years old Khalid Latif, we can see future of Pakistan cricket. We are trying Nazir from 8 years and still he is in learning curve.

    Abdur Rehman should be replace by either Sohail Tanveer or Anwar Ali. Sohail can bat too. I am sure he is better fielder than 30 years old Abdur Rehman.

    Raja Pakistani Sialkot

  • Amit on November 6, 2007, 14:49 GMT

    @Osman A. Khairi, Let me answer ur questions. How many teams have got all match-winners(barring aus)? If u guys be patient then he might win some matches for u. For me he was not a bad choice for Guwahati match considering the pitch was slow and turning. It was just a bad day for left armer. Tanvir shud given chance ahead of him on pacy tracks (like mohali .. next match) .. but again ur team will have 4 pacers and unless u r going to bowl in lights this decision may get backfired. My point is everything is ok for this team accept mental one. And for that Captain, Coach and whole support staff are responsible. And yeah .. there is diff between "chances" and "drop catches".. ball shud carry through fielder's hand to call tht drop chance.

  • JamJar on November 6, 2007, 14:04 GMT

    Kamran,

    Nice of you to start a new thread.

    After the first ODI against India, it looks like Pakistan have picked up exactly where they left off with the SA series. There was much rhetoric coming out of the Pakistan camp after the SA series defeat of 'lessons learned', but if Pakistan learnt anything during that series, it certainly was not put on display during the ODI!

    I'm sorry guys, but any team who drops 3-4 catches during a match (whatever the correct figure was) does not deserve to win. The batting appeared sluggish and the fielding speaks for itself with 'makhana' Akmal at it again. Pakistan's lights were on, but not many people were home. I was disappointed that Tanvir was ommitted from the starting line-up but pleased with Butt's knock. Hopefully the latter can capitalise and continue his form for the rest of the series.

    Unless Pakistan pick up their intensity, we better get used to some disappointment chaps because Pakistan is going to get pasted. Lets hope they pull their act together for Thursday.

    The turmoil back home in Pakistan may be causing a major distraction for the players and is casting a shadow over this whole series. Over the past few months, it seems that Pakistan's affairs have constantly been in the western media for all the wrong reasons! Whether its Musharraf's madness or Bhutto's billions, Pakistan always manages to creep into a bulletin!

    Asad,

    Your comments on Akmal truelly made me laugh! I take your points about Kamran's high spirits, but to be fair dude, this isn't a circus (although Pak cricket appears to be at times) or a comedy club (although you have got to laugh at fielding efforts), its professional cricket. The dude isn't paid to keep smiling, he's paid to take catches and score runs. If he took all his chances with the gloves and put on a decent total with the bat, I couldn’t care less what his facial expressions are like or if he played the team joker. If he didn’t laugh or smile, he'd probably cry with his fumbles!

  • Osman A. Khairi on November 6, 2007, 11:17 GMT

    Just a few observations/questions: Can Abdul Rehman tear through the Indian batting line up? Wait, let me rephrase. Can Abdul Rehman take more than a couple of wickets in an ODI against the opposition? Can Abdul Rehman be a match-winning bowler and win us the game, when things aren't going our way? Can Abdul Rehman be a match winning bowler and win us the game, when the pitch is turning and things ARE going our way ? Can Abdul Rehman make up for his Richard Illingworth style of bowling by smashing a few sixes and justifying his position in front of Rao or even Shoaib in the batting line up? Can Abdul Rehman, be realistically expected to win us a test match against the Indians, reputedly, the best players of spin? I think EVERYONE here knows the answers to ALL of these questions. I just wonder whether Malik and Co do.

  • Qasim on November 6, 2007, 10:05 GMT

    When Shoaib Malik was appointed captain, I had expected better from him than what he has delivered so far. Yesterday’s was another example of his defensive approach. Either the team strategy is extremely negative or it doesn’t exist at all. I am also perplexed on Geoff Lawson’s contribution to this outfit.

    The problem with this team is that it is trying not to lose rather than trying to win, if you know what I mean. The killer instinct associated with Pakistan sides of the post Imran-era is missing. Its all run of the mill stuff.

    Akmal’s downward spiral doesn’t seem to end. He needs a rest, definitely.

    Younis batted as if it was 21-4 and not 42-1 in the 10th over. He tends to mix up his extremely defensive batting with bouts of unreasonably aggressive running which more often than not ends up in a run out hence extra pressure on the team. When he finally goes for one of his laborious heaves, you fear for the cars parked outside the stadium only to find one of the “silly” fielders gulpng down the dolly. Maybe we need to rethink playing him in ODI’s. Yasir Hameed in his place.

    Yousuf may be scoring but it seems that he realizes that he is the only one and gets into a shell of some sort. He used to thrive with Inzamam around. Inzamam will be missed for some time.

    Misbah is constantly playing in difficult situations. A lot of people jump the gun in asking for his axing. He should be coming up the order.

    Afridi is vital for this team. Perhaps the purist is scoffing at this. Truth is, he is the only one in this team who plays with passion.

    The bowling lineup is exciting barring Abdur Rehman. Tanvir Sohail should be played and at least Shoaib and Umar should bowl all out. Afridi is an attacking spin option. Sohail is the unorthodox one and Rao the steady one. Shoaib Malik as back up.

    The only positive outcome of the match was the performance of Salman. He is definitely a future prospect and we can hope that he is finally out of the rut he was in. PCB missed an opportunity to try out promising Khalid Latif. He could’ve been the solution to the opening problem.

    So my Pakistan final XI looks like,

    Salman, Yasir, Misbah, Yousuf, Malik, Afridi, Akmal, Tanvir, Rao, Shoaib, Umar

  • Mohammed Munir - Sharjah, UAE. on November 6, 2007, 6:02 GMT

    Afridi .... Good job for the MOMs stats, now we wait for the reply from JAK of Montreal, Canada.

    While Ganguly was batting, there was a clear ‘snick’, and neither Akmal nor the bowler appealed to umpire.

    - Fully agree with Javed A. Khan that Younus Khan should be replaced as wicketkeeper, this was we will have at least one more spot to try another batsman, and Younus can not be worst keeper than Akmal anyway.

    - Seeing by the way this series is headed, I guess it would have been better to cancel this tour on the pretext of ‘emergency’.

  • Abdullah on November 6, 2007, 5:48 GMT

    Pakistan selectors have failed to see the deficiency or lack of self-confidence in Akmal. Akmal may have the talent, but surely, he lacks self-confidence. He is always gripped of the fear of being dropped. He must be told that he is rested only for his good. He should play more and more domestic cricket, see again and again replays of his 2005 games and try to regain what he has lost as world-class wicketkeeper that he was a couple of years ago. Till then, Younis Khan, considered to be good at wicket-keeping could be utilized instead of trying out a new face. The place left by Akmal can go to a specialist batsman like Imran Nazir or Yasir Hameed. These two also provide options as openers. As long as Akmal is part of the first XI, Pakistan does'nt stand a chance of victory, especially in shorter versions of the game.

  • JAVED A. KHAN, MONTREAL, CANADA on November 6, 2007, 3:33 GMT

    This one is for Posted by: ILU From USA at November 5, 2007 6:49 PM

    ILU

    Nasim Ashraf was on PTV tonight and he was hysterically calling, ILU, ILU Where Art Thou? And he has announced that you must take a chartered flight to Mohali and release Shoaib Malik from his job with immediate effect.

    Congratulations you have just won a water cooler!

  • Kabeer (pp) on November 6, 2007, 3:06 GMT

    I've said it before,and I'll say it again, the position Afridi should bat at is precisely number 4, i.e., between Yousuf and Younis. Yousuf is doing a good job of holding one end tight. He should not be blamed. Yousuf should come at numer three and hold one end. We need some solid player at number three. Younis, on the other hand should come at nmber five. Look at th effect, the promotion of Afridi has had - he scored a brisk 31 before his brain-child took over. It will take time for him to adjust, but if we want to build a formidable batting line up, we need Afridi at four. He should take cue from Symonds - which he will if given proper chance.

    Inshallah we will win!

    Keep the faith

    Kabeer.

  • Junaid on November 6, 2007, 2:52 GMT

    Younis Khan should be given man of the match for running out well set Salman, throwing his wicket after wasting 55 balls and than dropping Gambhir. This is the weakest team ever for Pakistan and 5-0 for India is not impossible this time. But than we have a few world class players like Mohd Yousaf and Shoaib Akhtar so we never know they will win a game or two for Pakistan. Anyway well played Salman and Yousaf. Pakistan need to change the batting order. Either Afridi should come up with Salman or Shoaib should come in between Younis and Yousaf.

    We are definitely missing a genuine all rounder like Razzaq and great Inzi in this series.

  • Omer Admani on November 6, 2007, 2:33 GMT

    Pakistan's story is one that rotates in circles, with a new twist each time, as and when the tangents change. Now the general has conquered his own nation, while the doctor and the patient together are increasing the speed with which it crumbles. The people feel isolated and alienated and, sadly, defeated. This time, however, there are only two ways in sight: (1) A rebellion from the people that might rejuvenate the system, or, (2) the rebellion doesn't come from the people while the other rebellion against the general degenrates the country into 4,5 different cricket teams. We can blame our leaders, from the country or the cricket team, as much as we want, but it is the system behind it that lets these leaders come into power which is the problem. Likewise, for a proper system to emerge and work, it is the people who need to change it and, thereafter, respect it and participate in it, to make it indeed powerful. The disease of our people is the lack of skepticism and the abundance of cynicism. The former searches for improvement and betterment, while the latter, villainously, accept things as they be. It should be noted that our respective leaders are supressing their subjects in one way or the other, defying the potential, while, ironically, the same people merrily accept that and resign to defeat. Our cricket team runs parallel to these considerations, our captain failing to harness potential (not entirely his fault), while the people yet again, devoid of skepticism and hope for improvement, resign to such an unfortunate culture. The cricket team, the PCB, and certainly the country as a whole, need wholesale changes. This is a volatile time, and a crucial time, in Pakistan's history, and as it is, cricket is inseperable with our culture and our politics. If indeed there will be a turnaround for the better, the force of the people will need to be analogous with the force with which the French revolution and the American revolution were achieved. People need to wake up from their slumber; we have just had a lawyers revolution and a revolution for democracy, but unfortunately they have been landed a killer blow by a leader corrupted with the thirst for power. If we accept things as they are now, and if the revolution for democracy is gone with the blink of an eye, we will have defeated ourselves. We will lose hope, the twinkle of hope that had recently emerged.

    (Note Kamran Abbassi sahib: I know that this post digresses to the general politics of the country, but such is the state of the country and our cricket team, as you allude to in your post, that an argument for cricket needs to be paralleled with the general flaws and the state of the country).

  • Shibili Ahamed on November 6, 2007, 0:44 GMT

    Thanks for this topic which deals with major problems of the current team.

    Of course it is too early to judge Shoaib and Geoff Lawson. Being said that, how many one dayers and test they might require to learn? That will be the million dollar question. Frankly speaking I am not seeing a GOOD CAPTAIN in Shoaib Malik. Of course he is holding together a string of players and cracks some jokes at the press conference. A captain should at least know how to set a field. He failed in this account miserably against SA and now in India. He lacks thought process in terms of batting order and bowling order. He lacks knowledge in picking the right people for his final playing 11. Tell me is he a good captain?

    Keeping Kamran Akmal for Keeping is a crime. He has proved that he is NO good recent times. Again in the first one dayer (though the decision was termed unfortunate).

    Salman Butt came up with some runs this time and let us hope that he continues......

    Even though I will support Afridi coming up in the order, but not for opening. I cannot agree with the comment that he needs vice captaincy to act responsibly. That ridiculous for a player who is about to play his 250th match in this series.

    Take the shot Shoaib Malik played on a full toss to see a 'captain's responsibility' at a time when the team was just recovering.

    Misbah-ul-Haq is a big horrendous mistake. It is time for him to announce 'retirement'.

    Replace Asif's gap with Razzaq and replace Sarfraz Ahamed for Kamran Akmal. Also bring in Khalid Latif for Yasser Hameed.

  • JAVED A. KHAN, MONTREAL, CANADA on November 6, 2007, 0:35 GMT

    This is for Afridi at November 5, 2007 5:42 PM ... dude you don't have to be sarcastic, because:

    First of all your stats may be right, may be not. Its just your word and its not authentic. But, the one I have quoted are not mine but, a link from S. Rajesh of cricinfo who is very authentic.

    Secondly, assuming your stats are correct, then please admit that Afridi is the second best player in the history of Pakistan cricket after Saeed Anwar (or may be after Miandad for the lesser number of matches Miandad had played.) And you don't have to delve deeper in to the archives because, I don't think there aren't many, rather any other player who would have been nominated MoM award so many times. The other two have retired, but Afridi has many years of cricket left in him.

    Thirdly, I have never compared Afridi with the greats like, Miandad, Saeed Anwar or even Inzamam. My only point is we as Pakistanis have this tendency to "dis" our heroes. Afridi, is an icon for many in Pakistan definitely not for me, in my opinion he still has a long way to go even to be considered as a legend. Only the next decade will prove whether he has achieved that status or not. I think Afridi bashing is not mainly because he is a bad player, it is mainly because of the fact that people have very high expectations from him and when he fails with his bat - which happens more often - then, out of frustration people not only criticize him but they curse and abuse him which is wrong!

    Give him the due that he deserves. He is a good bowler, he has taken 210 wickets in ODI besides scoring 5000 plus runs and we all know he is a better fielder than many (not to mention names to avoid sensitivity on this issue) and he not only saves several runs owing to his agile fielding, but he has also taken decent number of catches so far. So, over all he is a very good player, a charismatic player who keeps everyone on their toes, also, a threat to the opposition. Therefore, Pakistanis should be proud of him rather than dissing and abusing him. People should learn to respect their heroes, it comes from respecting one's parents, teachers, elders, superiors etc. etc. It is only then you will get respect in return.

    And I strongly oppose the idea of making Afridi as the captain of the Pakistan team or even the vice captain. First of all the post of a vice captain is a 'holy crap' and Afridi doesn't need to be a vice captain. Secondly, there is no need to remove Malik, people must learn to respect the decision that when a captain has been appointed he should be there to lead the team the next 3-4 years. I don't think Afridi has any personal problems with Malik being the captain. In fact they enjoy excellent camaraderie and it is so obvious from the way they hug each other when they celebrate a wicket or a win.

    People who like to make new experiments should seek their career in labs and pursue their careers as a wanna be Einstein. There is no need for them to vent out their frustration and juvenile suggestions to include 4-5 new players in the national team from under-19. Or, keep saying, kick him out, kick the other one out, or kick all of them out and make a new team. Its like, if wishes were horses, if pigs could fly, if turnip were watches .... then people would be digging holes to check the time!

  • Awas on November 6, 2007, 0:29 GMT

    It was such a dismal match, unlike any Indo/Pak matches. Where is all the aggression gone? Our batting was drab and the fielding well just as usual. I tend to agree with ruchit, the excitement factor is missing from this series.

    On bowling second, Pakistan had the use of the pitch when spinners should have been more effective but it was the Indian spinners who bowled better when the pitch, in theory at least, was less conducive to spin. It just shows that the Indians are better players of spin. Replacing Fawad Alam with Rehman is a better option as it also gives us an extra batsman. Pakistan needs this to be able to bat more aggressively.

    Kmaran Akmal, as expected, fluffed again. In the last thread I have already expressed my views on this issue. There is no doubt a change is imminent.

    Javed A Khan

    I can now see what Zaheer meant by his “U”s but I bet Ian Bishop was equally confused like me.

    khansahab

    Dravid is such a gentleman not to make a fuss for being dropped and I agree Pakistanis should learn from their Indian counterparts.

  • khansahab on November 5, 2007, 23:12 GMT

    Javed A Khan from Montreal, Canada raised the point recently that Pakistan may not have a sufficiently well-trained wicketkeeper in Zulqernain. I spoke about this issue several months ago citing that it is pathetic how a decent replacement is not being made ready for Akmal. There is some sense in what Javed A Khan from Montreal, Canada, said since we currently have two replacement keepers in the squad- Younis and Yasir but it seems that the idea of trying them out as makeshift keepers has not channelled into the minds of the captain and team management.

    Wasim Saqib does not like me but not too long ago I came out with the idea that Misbah and Younis should change batting positions, an idea that has now been propagated by Mr Saqib. In fact I am amazed again at Malik’s reluctance to give proper, meaningful chances to Fawad Alam. I wonder what Fawad has done to disappoint Malik? I think we are at a stage where if Fawad is again used in a slipshod manner as he has been used before by Malik, many people will start asking questions soon and Malik may well face the flak. Misbah has not been great since the T20 Cup at the no 6 position and Rehman is not an attacking bowler. In fact Rehman struggles to obtain wickets whereas Fawad is innovative and has a deceptive bowling approach. Fawad has a better LIST A bowling average as well as strike rate than Rehman (domestic level). In my view Fawad should replace either Misbah or Rehman. Recently Afridi was asked in an interview who he considered would be the next star of the Pakistan team. His answer was “Fawad Alam”. Clearly if Afridi were captain he would give chances to Fawad and I am sure Afridi, being the forthright individual as he is, must have communicated his concern to Malik.

    Regarding Younis’s batting position, in an ideal world his ODI inclusion will be questionable but realistically speaking we will have to accept that it is highly unlikely that his batting position will be changed. The no 6 position is a tentative one because normally a player does not have enough time to build and plan his innings at that stage. That is in fact another reason why it makes all the more sense to have Fawad in that position because at least Pakistan can benefit from his innovative and varied bowling if his batting falters.

    Malik has been disappointing with his captaincy. He needs a lesson in basics now. His captaincy has been so poor that it is not something he will get over this series. He does not understand which bowlers should be used at what stage- the only indication where I thought he knows a bit about that is when he used Gul to finish off the innings in the T20 Cup. He does not understand how to set attacking fields and at what stages. He cannot play subtle and conniving mind games with the opposition batsmen and often lets them dictate the terms which results in him setting defensive and reactive fields. The biggest problem is that he cannot control “Shoaib (Akhtar) Bhai, YounAs Bhai, YousAf Bhai and Shahid (Afridi) Bhai” and they can do pretty much whatever they want. YounAs Bhai has been involved in plenteous run outs recently and if Malik had some sort of authority he would have seriously consulted the problem with YounAs Bhai.

  • Dawar, LA USA on November 5, 2007, 23:11 GMT

    Kamran

    You said: This is a time to learn.

    We expect expert in our national squad not the trainee. Our cricket team is not a trainee camp.

    Why should we pay our tax money to the learners or losers? We do not expect any one to learn at the national level. Players should learn before they entered in the Pakistan cricket team. Captain should be smart enough to make changes. Mailk was under 15 captain in 1995. We expect professional approach from him. If he does not provide good service, he should be replaced.

    We have lot of talent in our country, Just bring some one with the professional skills.

    We do not need Kamran Akmal, Misba ul haq and Imran Nazir in our team squad. If Salman Butt will not score in other matches, he should be out too. From years we are providing training to some players at international matches. This is the reason our losing graph is going up.

    Dawar LA USA

  • Irfan Khan (UK) on November 5, 2007, 23:09 GMT

    A true reflection of country state in the team.

    Wrong decisions:

    • To bat first • Playing Rehman instead of Tanveer (who can bat as well) • Keep sending Akmal as opener / although Afridi can be very useful • Sticking to spinners which allowed Dhoni & Yuvraj time to settle • Not placing attacking field

    I wonder what low profile coach Lawson is waiting for. Why he does not put some influence on Malik to show some aggression, surely this is damaging for his reputation as international coach.

    He rightly said in a recent interview that bringing Australian technique would fail in Pakistani system but he should have been able (by now) to point out that in Pakistani system we are used to DANDA system

    Lawson must help Malik in making right decision outside the field (e.g. toss) otherwise Lawson era will head towards another Greg Chappell debacle but this time for Pakistan..

  • irfan on November 5, 2007, 22:21 GMT

    khansahab

    what kind of hypocrite you are? I remember you are the same person who said, "Pakistan is a stupid country" and now you are talking about sentiments? whose sentiments ? your personal moods and your personal sentiments? you call any player by names you call the whole country a stupid country. I also remember sometime ago you had a row with Javed Khan and called him by names, even said something about his "father" and there was no need for you to pass such petty personal and sensitive comment about his father. Hats off to him to have ignored you for that personal attack. I want to ask you have you ever lived in Pakistan? Or just your association with Pakistan is only through the virtual world of cricket? like i said before you are only remotely connected to Pakistan through this cricket blog and I doubt whether you are a true Pakistani or an Indian muslim who like many Indian muslims want to support Pakistan and get pissed off when Pakistan loose and they say all sorts of unwanted and silly comments. And let the Indian supporters say what they have to say you can also go on men in white or mukuls blog and say what you have to say but don't try to put up this holier than thou attitude when you yourself call Pakistan a stupid country! and don't try to warn the indian supporters if they say I want India to win, what is wrong innit?

  • Badar Siddiqi on November 5, 2007, 20:49 GMT

    I strongly feel that we should replace a defensive and timid Malik with a bold and aggressive Afridi as the captain for the ODIs and Younis for the tests. If someone argues for Afridi's irresponsible attitude then I'm sure the burden of captaincy will definitely turn him into a mature and responsible player just like an irresponsible guy changes after getting married. With an all important home series against Australia coming up, we need fighting captains like Younis and Afridi otherwise we'll have an action replay of the last series against South Africa. There's nothing wrong in having two separate teams for the ODIs and tests with two separate captains. This will allow to have specialist players in each team who are currently misfiring being in the wrong team. Having two separate teams will also accommodate other talented players who normally miss out on selection. I'm not saying that the two teams must be totally separate; of course, some of the players will get into both teams. This will also ease burden on the players and we'll have some back ups, too. I think the time's up for us to groom another wicket keeper. With increasing work load, Kamran Akmal isn't going to have a break to work on his faulty techniques. Many international teams now have a back up keeper; England have Prior and Mustard, Australia have Gilchrist and Haddin, RSA have Boucher and DeVilliers, Sri Lanka have Sangakara and Jayawardne and India have Dhoni and Karthik. Pakistan? Are we waiting for a disaster to happen before we can see our back up keeper?

    Also we need some finishers badly. Efforts should be made to bring Abdul Razzaq back into the team ASAP. In the ODIs, our batting should run upto number eight. We need some genuine allrounders in the team. With the current team composition, we are, as a matter of fact, relying solely on three players for batting; Yousuf, Younis and anyone from the remaining top 7 batsmen. Our openers are ever inconsistent, Younis is increasingly getting his partners run out, Yousuf seems to have lost the command needed from the best batsmen as he's too slow and lacking self belief and his big innings are going to waste with each match lost; he needs to break the shackles and dominate the opposition. Malik seems ever lost and confused, lacking quick and smart thinking, Misbah just can't seem to go past 20s and 30s and he's the greatest of all the chokers. Afridi is as good as a bet. A team can't be consistent if it relies on a couple of players to deliver the goods each time of asking. Without everyone's contribution, the win will remain elusive. Just how long more can we rely on batters who can never go past the 20s? Out of the top seven batters, the contribution is mainly from just three with four failing each time. Can you expect any good from that? We're missing sloggers and finishers for the late overs and need more penetrative bowlers to help Shoaib Akhtar at the other end. PCB needs to be flexible and innovative in its approach to bring Pakistan back to the top three where it truly belongs.

  • Macjoubert on November 5, 2007, 20:18 GMT

    Written after the 1st ODI: First off I must say it is a pity what's happening in Pakistan, the team morale and body language showed more than cricket. Pakistan had the cylinders to pummel 275+ on that ground. Very very poor shot selection and communication created just too many chances for India.India did play a very clinical game but discredit needs to goto Pakistan. Another telling tale was the lackluster captaincy,Malik just doesn't seem to cut it, he has no ideas and is almost defeated the moment he's pushed up a wall. Some on the board point to Afridi and this is a great choice, why wasn't he even offered the vice captaincy is one of those questions that is pushed into the Blackhole that is the PCB. I'm also not completely sold on Akhtar, it appeared Akthar was playing with 2 Indian players, the Pakistani players choosing to either ignore or disassociate with him which maybe deserving but not a good sign especially against India. Anyways knowing Pakistan, they are sure to bounce back, but will it be too late is the question.

  • TTU on November 5, 2007, 20:03 GMT

    This current pakistan team is the same team that was the same last year and the year before, but this year it has lacked the mental stability to cope with good cricketing nations such as south africa and from the looks of it, India. One thing this team has to get right is its tactics and its fielding, but it is not just them whos fielding is under question, it seems that in the subcontinent(exception sri lanka), players are laid back fielders. The pakistan team relies to heavily on Malik, Yunus and to an extent Afridi as there star fielders. The emphsise on fielding should be to take the easy catches and then attempt to take the harder ones, but if the harder ones cannot be taken, then at least save runs. The pakistan team, however seems to grass the simplest of catches. Tactics is also another technique which the pakistanis lack, today Dhoni and Yuvraj were at the crease, they were both new batsmen, but Malik decided to continue with afridi and rehman, were is the sense in that! surely when there are new batsmen in you bring back the pace bowlers so that they can bowl bouncers and yorkers to unsettle the new batsmen, that tactic is used in club cricket, let alone international. The batting today lacked sense, were was the shuffling of the feet from the batsmen when bhajji and murali were tying us down, shuffling across the stumps and movement of the feet usually puts the bowler off is intended line and can get easy runs, but hey presto, that was another tactic which the pakistanis failed to use. I agree with you, Kamran, about Kamran Akmal, this surely has to be his last chance and on the evidence of todays peformance, this will probably be his last series behind the stumps for the forseeable future.

  • khansahab on November 5, 2007, 18:53 GMT

    I want to make an appeal to Indian cricket fans who are contributing on this blog.

    Cricket is more loved in Pakistan than in India and Pakistanis feel much more zealous about their team than Indians do. So when people come here and make incensed comments like, "I hope India beat Pakistan" and "I want India to beat a full-strength and fully-charged Pakistani team" please realise it can hurt sentiments of most fans on this blog.

    I know this is an international blog and but it is an international blog ABOUT Pakistan cricket which means that the vast majority of contributors are Pakistani. Please respect their sentiments and don’t state the obvious.

  • ILU From USA on November 5, 2007, 18:49 GMT

    Few years back i was playing a big cricket club, and the captain of the club was so friendly with every one and has no sense to pick the right combinations, suddenly got dead in car accident and management gave me captaincy and management saw the positive results in the very next match.

    The things I changes for my team I made a combination that could bat tell the No.10 Our regular keeper was too poor, he couldn’t bat or catch the ball, he was a liability on my club team but he was famous bcoz of his only some good knocks but I replace him with my one 12th man opener he can bat very good and can keep better than him, in this way got more strength in batting and then other captain has a liability left arm spinner in the team I replaced him with an other left arm real all-rounder spinner who can bat very well and I started to send him in the one down position in the place of my one pregnant donkey style batsman who was used to made 25 runs around 60 balls. My new one down batsman made a 100 in the very first match for me. and our old donkey batsman never won a single odi for our club but he was more famous person in all clubs but I was the first person who realized that he is just donkey batsman he is not match winner.

    Then I picked a bowling all-rounder who can bowl some good first overs with his dodgy bowling style most of the batsman couldn’t pick him well bcoz of his different angle bowling and he always gave me some strength in the lower down the order. He was capable to hit couple of sixes lower down the order.

    Even though I was playing with non regular keeper but my club after that never lost match from llollo pollo fast bowling though we lost few matches against No1 club.

    Our long betting always gave us big help to win the matches against all poor bowling attacks and after this long betting lineup I was never worried about any kind spin and only some good fast bowling attacks created problem for us on only a bouncy and grassy pitches. After 5 years I joined the other club just for more money and better career. But in my captaincy my club won 90% matches that was a great owner for me.

    when I left the club everyone had tears in the eyes and sadness on the face sorrow words on the tongue. Finally every said in a one voice we salute you, your were the great captain of the history of this club.

    Karam abasi i am sure you will understand what i am trying to say.. please forward my these comments to pcb and team management and ramees raja.. it will must help the pakistani team trust me.

  • Karim on November 5, 2007, 18:08 GMT

    Let's face it:The state of Pakistan cricket reflects that of the country in terms of excuses, lack of maturity, corruption/nepotism, lack of prde/accountability etc Either way both are very depressing indeed at present.

    However, as this is a cricket blog, I'll confine my comments to cricketing matters but suffice it to say this has to be almost the weakest team Pakistan has had. I say 'almost' but barring the team which was shorn of the main players during the Packer era this is certainly I think the least talented outfit we have had.

    What the recent series against S Africa has shown is that Shoaib Malik is not captaincy material since he lacks the experience & stature necessary, not to mention the requisite talent and skills to lead. But for now he is captain and if he has any say in the selection process then you also have to question his judgment since there is no way one can justify the inclusion of players like Misbah (or 'Misfired more like it)ul Haq in the team.

    So the bottom line unfortunately for Pakistan supporters is that I can only see us going down further.The future looks very bleak on both counts but that is the reality. or 'Plus ca change' as the French would say.

    Second,

  • Asif Sarfraz on November 5, 2007, 17:53 GMT

    Short and simple!

    Make Shahid Afridi captain, drop Akmal and introduce Sarfraz!

    All Agreed!

  • JAVED A. KHAN, MONTREAL, CANADA on November 5, 2007, 17:45 GMT

    Never before, at least in the recent past that a cricket match between India / Pakistan was as boring, dull and one sided, as this one was. And never before in my entire life that I slept while watching a cricket match. I dozed off, when Dhoni and Yuvraj were batting and both had scored 25 odd runs by then it was around 4:30 a.m., here. The writing was on the wall, loud and clear and thats what happened - a very easy victory for India. Normally, when India is winning, the crowd is roaring and cheering, but they were all quiet. Perhaps, they too were disenchanted and were expecting a better fight from Pakistan which did not happen. And on top of that I had to go through the misery of bearing some of the terrible commentators like, Arun Lal with his ever so repetitive biases against the opposition, Shiva Rama Krishna in his cuckoo style singing drab and Amir Sohail with his phony accent loaded with deep throat grunts and arrogance of Robin Jackman in it, must be the other reasons for me to doze off.

    First, it was the pathetic batting (according to Zaheer Abbass - by the two "U's" Awas, he must have meant Yousuf and Younus and you know, you have to be "ZahEinstein" to think like that) :-) Anyways, they both batted like they were playing a test match and scored only 35 runs in 12 overs. Wasted, the time, balls, created "yawns" and killed the tempo that was created by Butt Saab, who came back in to his "uniform." Younus Khan took over that VC mantle from Butt or should I say the "vice curse?" And, Butt's head appeared lighter than before i.e., after passing on the VC crown to Younus, he played well in the warm up match 83 runs in 84 balls and now 50 runs in 57 balls. Its a shame that Younus got him run out when he was all set for a big score. Then, Younus killed the match with his slow scoring; 4 runs in 22 balls and finally 25 runs in 58 balls. Younus also dropped a couple of catches, though very difficult but, they must have been held. He is the main culprit for loosing this match. Now, in the next games he will play and score big and cement his place for another ten matches, even then Pakistan will lose that match in which he will score big, and that has been a regular feature for quite sometime now.

    Akmal was unlucky to be given out LBW but, he is lucky to be there in the team. Once again he missed a Shoaib / Gambhir snicker that went away for a four and then he dropped Gambhir. Again he dropped a very simple catch of Gambhir in the first over of Afridi. Shoaib Akhtar was not looking fully fit and he was seen "haanping" and sweating and wasn't up to his full steam. He gets very disappointed and upset when a catch is dropped on his bowling or a misfield resulting in a boundary. He has the right to get upset, but it should not affect his over all performance, which so often happens and he looses his cool very soon. Since he is on probation so he controlled his emotions, I wonder how he may have reacted if it was some other time?

    Mohammad Yousuf tried to get into Inzi's shoes by taking advantage of that Ganguly sitter when he dropped him on 10, but despite the fact that Inzi was bigger, fatter and more lazier than Yousuf he used to improvise the run rate. When Younus and Afridi were Yousuf's partners, he was relying more on them to score rather than accelerating the run rate himself his 83 n.o. were not good enough. Misbah has not been able to score 30 plus runs in the last 6 matches. It isn't that he didn't get enough time but, he is simply getting edgy and loosing his wicket when he is around 30. He needs to address this problem with his coach and reassess his approach.

    I don't think they will make any changes in the team for Mohali ODI, unless Shoaib Actor comes up with a fitness related problem, which won't surprise me. Then Tanvir will get in. Since, Butt has played well he will stay and they don't have Akmal's replacement in the current team, he will stay too. Barring Shahid Afridi and Gul, everyone gave away too many runs per over. It was good to see Afridi bowling off-spin and off-cutters besides his leg spin and the way he got Gambhir behind his legs was a superb off spin delivery.

    Malik needs to rethink about his strategy of spin bowling, IMO Abdul Rahman should be out in the next match at Mohali because, Indians play well against spin bowling. Tanvir should get in, he can do some damage if he bowls first with Akhtar, because so far, neither Ganguly nor Tendulkar has played Tanvir and he can surprise them, especially Tendulkar has this tendency to get out against new bowlers. Umar Gul and Rao Ifti should come in as first change bowlers. Malik, himself is not very effective with his bowling and has taken up the role of a fill-in bowler. He used to be a partnership breaker, but now he is lacking in self confidence and self belief and he now thinks that he could be effective when a new batsman is in and, he can contain the runs rather than getting wickets.

    PS. The only way Kamran Akmal and Younus Khan's problem could be resolved is, if Younus Khan takes over the gloves from Akmal there will be a spot for a specialist batsman. In India, I would prefer Imran Nazir and not Yasir Hameed. Pakistan needs to bat aggressively, if they don't play aggressively then, this could be a white-wash.

  • Afridi on November 5, 2007, 17:42 GMT

    To JAVED A. KHAN, MONTREAL, CANADA at November 2, 2007 2:40 AM:

    "OK, now if you use your Grey Matter i.e., if you have any, here is something for you to ponder and wonder! Out of the 243 matches he was MoM for 18 times, right? I have asked this question à Monsieur Osman Khairi to give me a name of any Pakistani player or any player in the world who has been named MoM 18 times in ODI matches?"

    One of my friend told me about this post, and i was like "huh!!!!". There is NO ONE in PAKISTAN.. forget the "world"! i wish i could say something - BUT NO USE - Some people are just getting dumber, but more opinionated.

    Here is the list - ONLY PAK players! i have taken out players with 247+ ODI.

    Player Mat Awards Saeed Anwar 247 27 Javed Miandad 233 18 Shahid Afridi* 245 18 Mohd Yousuf* 247 17 Abdul Razzaq* 231 16 Shoaib Malik* 145 12 Younis Khan* 156 8 Shoaib Akhtar* 134 8 Yasir Hameed* 55 5

  • WASIM SAQIB on November 5, 2007, 17:15 GMT

    Pakistan cricket board and selectors are waiting that Kamran Akmal completes the century of catches dropped behind the wickets and then probably they will think of retiring him, he is so close to this unsurmountable record, that it will be a huge injustice with him not to let him complete that record so guys all of us will have to wait and see, he had a good match last night he dropped three catches again and is inching towards his record which if completed will be unbeatable and Kamran Akmal's name will be etched forever on the wall of shame in PCB hallways.GO AKAMAL GO. GO PCB GO.

  • shahryar on November 5, 2007, 16:31 GMT

    Looking at Pakistan’s defeat it seems to me that both Shoaib Malik and Lawson who were expected to adopt a very aggressive approach towards Pakitani cricket ( that is natural to the way Pakistan plays) are surprisingly conservative in strategy.

    Pakistan have to stop fearing their worst fears, they have to stop being afraid of a batting collapse and should keep 6 specialist batsmen, 4 specialist bowlers and 1 really good all- rounder. As far as a Abdur-Rehman goes we see that Malik had to take him off very quickly and he was neither pentrative nor contaning as a bowler against the Indians. It is high time Pakistan take some chances, its high time Lawson and Shoaib take some risks without fear and they should bring in a Specialist spinner who can be an attacking wicket taking threat in ODIs in the form of Kaneria.

    Kaneria is cetainly going to add an extra dimension to the attack and we need to replace Abdur-Rehman with Kaneria. The rest of the team is fine the way it is except that Hameed should come in at the top in place of Misbah at the bottom. Pakistan has to stop burrying its good batsmen down the order. Either bring Misbah up the order or Hameed at 1 down.

    I would agree with Lawson that they should pick an opening pair with the greatest potential and run with it. In Pakistan's case we don't have alot of options and Yasir and Salman are the best opening combination we have as far as talent goes after that we need to stick it out with them and check their learning curve to see them grow and become formidable new ball batsmen.

    Also with the problem of Kamran Akmal we may be able to strike 2 birds with one stone. For those who don't know, Kamran was a specialist batsman who took up wicket keeping to improve his chances of getting into the national team. And I think the reason why his keeping has dipped is because he doesn't get to do alot of what he loves most which is bat.

    He's been consistently giving us lower order 15s and 30s and I'd rather have Akmal come in to open and give us that early momentum which is always crucial for the Pakistani line-up. Also I feel if they stick it out with Akmal they are going to find a formidable opener in him. He is agressive, yet has a very orthodox style and his performance against a moving ball in Karachi against India proves he has the ability to play the moving ball better than other Pakistanis.

    Therefore if you're looking at the top 3 batsmen of the line-up you can open with Akmal and Butt and have Yasir come in at 1 down. Misbah is going to have to sit on the bench, Pakistan should play positive cricket and should bat top heavy and not go down with middle order trenchmen who may be sublime at chasing but we need our batsmen to play positively and aggressively and for that we need run-makers who create momentum.

    Pakistan needs to adopt its natural aggressive approach towards cricket, the ‘all-or-nothing approach’. A coach that was once part of the media and a young captain might be too ‘media conscious’ , they need to forget what everyone thinks and take some chances because if they aren’t going to win they are going to be derided anyways. Shoaib needs to bring Kaneria in and bring in Hameed at 1 down. Good luck Pakistan!

  • Muhammad Asif on November 5, 2007, 16:28 GMT

    In Pakistan even a streethawker knows that it was Butt's call, but except The Great Younas Khan. He 1st nailed Butt right in the forehead & then even the whole team. Buckup Khan saaaaab

  • Roshan on November 5, 2007, 16:15 GMT

    I have a strange feelings for pakistan late overs tactics....why didnt they went after the bowling in final 10 overs when they had 5 wkts in hand & a well set batsmen in Yousuf....Their conservative approach cost them the game as they were 20-30 runs short which they would have a got easily if they attacked a little more!....we have a history of getting walloped for many in final 10 & pakistan didnt do what was obvious....for me our best bowler is RP singh & since he is also struggling that means our bowling is where it was before......Good start for India but a long way to go! I am sure pakistan will come back stronger.

  • Gulab Khan on November 5, 2007, 15:38 GMT

    PCB please send Kamran Akmal to Peshawer. We will tune him. He needs performance tunning.

    His performance is worst than school level.

    KHAN KA WADAA PAKAA WADAA

    Gulab Khan Peshawer

  • Saima khan on November 5, 2007, 15:35 GMT

    Mohd Yousuf played inning for him self, very selfish innings. I agreed with Rameez Raja's comments during his commentry.

    Kamran Akmal sucks again, why is he in the team? This is called real friend ship with Captain and the board. Misba is not usefulness. In last 10 overs any talender can score 20 to 30 runs. Its better to give a chance to young Fawad Alam instead of Misba, Fawad can bowl too. He is a spinner and Indian wickets mostly very spin oriented. Look at thier bowling strategy. Fawad Alam is a good filder too. Unfortuately Misba is a buddy of Captain Shoaib Malik, so I am sorry for Fawad Alam.

    Its better to have Sohail Tanveer instead of Abdur Rehman who is not good in fielding and batting. Abdur rehman has ordinary bowling skills more appropriate for test cricket. Sohail Tanveer can bat too.

    Saima Khan Islamabad

  • Abdul Kadir Hussain on November 5, 2007, 14:35 GMT

    As a Pakistan supporter (albeit a very hesitant one these days) my ardent wish is for a sound thrashing on this tour. Only when we lose to India will the selectors make changes that are so obvious it is painful that they cannot see them. On the batting front we had one weakness, now we have two. First it was only the openers now its both the openers and a finisher. I think we have been looking for Misbah to play this role due to his experience in the 20/20, well he was not quite able to finish in the 20/20 and he looks woefully out of touch here. I agree with the thinking of promoting Afridi to 5 so that he can bat with a Yousuf or a Younis. I think Malik needs to taken on the responsibility of finishing, I dont think there is any room for Misbah in the side. For the next match drop Misbah and Rehman replace with Hameed and Fawad Alam. Rehman will never trouble the Indian middle order he is too scared to flight the ball and it was pathetic how badly he was out bowled by Kartik. If Rao bowls like he did today, again, then Tanvir should come in. Akhtar looks very unfit but he bowled well.

    Akmal, well the less said the better.....

  • Syed Naqvi (Bristol) on November 5, 2007, 14:17 GMT

    Reflection on the 1st Ind v Pak ODI:

    The Pakistan side has no equilibrium, there is no balance. It's a bottom-heavy team with one few specialist batsmen and too many bowlers!

    Opening the batting and not scoring any runs will do nothing to bolster Akmal's already fragile confidence and place in the team. Why not open with Butt and Hafeez, drop Akmal down the order to 7 or 8. Drop Rehman as Hafeez can bowl spin (along with Afridi and Malik). Drop Rao Anjum and bring in Asif when fit.

  • Amit on November 5, 2007, 13:43 GMT

    What a boring match it was .... Shoaib malik needs to know how to defend low scoring total ... attack doesnt mean more fielders inside the circle ... he needs to place fielders in catching positions. Lets hope remaining matches will be quite competitive.

  • Imran Ali on November 5, 2007, 12:47 GMT

    Kamran, God knows how many more matches it will cost Pakistan before 'good for nothing' Younis khan and Kamran Akmal will be dropped. I can't believe that a player (Yunis Khan) is selected just because he claps on every ball and throws smile for no reasons. I feel pity to see Shoaib Malik at the presentation ceremony. I tried my level best but I can't see him to be a 'Captain Material' from any angel. God be with Pakistan Cricket.

  • kris on November 5, 2007, 12:06 GMT

    Probably I am may one of the first to post this after the first ODI. An ardent India supporter, I also enjoy when Pakistan play. It is sad to see Pak criket in such a turmoil. All said and done about team composition and balance on both sides(which is similar on both sides), the bottom line is mental toughness which is the single most dividing thing between success and defeat. For Pakistan it is alarming that the captain seems to have lost it.He had a thougt block and left Dhoni & Yuvaraj clatter his spinners all over the ground. He did not attempt to change any bowling or fielding conditions and this cost them the match.India has become mentally tough because of Dhoni. He is a no-nonsense non-fearing individual and this reflects in his batting and also rubs onto his players. The players self belief rises and then they snatch victory from defeat. Pakistan has to change the captain (under present circumstances Afridi is the only person who can give headaches to India).

  • ruchit on November 5, 2007, 11:36 GMT

    Hi Kamran,

    I think you are reading too much into Pakistan's recent slump against South Africa. Based on that performance alone Pakistan cannot be rated as underdogs. By that logic India has not done any better. They lost 4-2 to Australia. It is a different thing that Australia is far superior to South Africa but still a defeat is a defeat. However yes Pakistan would be under lesser pressure if they are labelled underdogs. It worked last time in 2004 and it might work this time around as well.

    I just finished watching India Pakistan first ODI and believe me I am no longer really excited on seeing either of the teams take on each other anymore. I mean there was a time in 1980s and 90s when it real tesnion and excitement everytime these two teams courted each other on a cricket field. it is missing this time.

    Few reasons for it. I think neither of the teams has real solid characters in the teams any more. Gone are the days when there used to be certain Javed Miandad Khan to needle opposition when even he didnot have a bat in his hand. People like Manoj Prabhakar,Aamir Sohail, Salim Malik,Kiran More they may not have been best of cricketers but they were great characters.

    Some people might say that Shoaib is there, Sreesanth is there and Bhajji is also there but these guys dont really bring that much of a flair. I mean with Shoaib you can never be sure whether he would bowl the next over or not. He was a big threat to India in late 1990s and early years of this century but I guess now his meance is gone.

    Sreesanth needs to walk all his talk and so far in short carreer except couple of outstanding spells he has done nothing to change my notion about him that he talks more and delivers less.

    Also in last decade and first 5 yerrs of this century both the teams had several class acts and some other players who otherwise ordinary players tended to perform better than their potential against their arch-rivals.

    India had Sachin,Azhar,Dravid,Ganguly,Kumble,Sehwag and Srinath all in their prime. Then there were ordinary players like Venkatesh Prasad, Sidhu,Robin Singh who raised their game against Pakistan.

    Similarily Pakistan has Akram, Waqar, Anwar,Inzy,Yousuf Youhana aka Mohd. Yousuf, Razzaq, Saqlain and of course a much more mentally balanced Shoaib Akhtar.

    I mean at that time a Sachin-Akram or Azhar-Saqlain or Inzy-Kumble duel had really some meaning. All the pairs were in prime form.

    Now what do we have Sachin-Akhtar or Sehwag-Akhtar duel!!

    Sachin is past is expiry date, Shoaib is never fully fit and is at certain times an over rated threat (Pace is very critical but not everything) and Sehwag the less is say about him the better.

    I also saw too much of camaradeire and friendly spirit in between the teams. That is alright but when keep outside the ground. We want to see some hard cricket and some sledging (though no personal/family/religious or racial abuses) as well. A couple of exciting altercations won't hurt any one seriously. It would really add to color. I really wanted India to beat Aussies because of all that stuff that was floating in the papers but with Pakistan the same zeal is missing. I mean honestly for the first time I won't mind too much if we loose to Pakista this time around.Some needling,some hositility from both the sides is needed certainly.

    Finally India and Pakistan need to seriously re build their teams. Instead we are seeing the same old worn out faces again and again.

    There is so much of bullshitting in Pakistan about young players. Guys playing for 5-6 years keep on failing and then as a part of musical chairs keep on coming back on the pretext of youth policy. Being an Indian I should not ideally be commenting on state of Pakistani cricket as it is basically an internal matter but a strong Pakistan team is in interest of World cricket.

    In India they are too scared of a severe political backlash if they drop some one like Sachin or Ganguly from the team. And then this arrogance: "Why do we need a coach"? Those guys have gone nuts..total nuts.

    I also guess India Pakistan series should atleast have a 30 month gap so that the excitement stays in. otherwise it may be the case of killing the goose that laid golden eggs.

    Best of luck to both teams though I hope India wins. But really this series is gonna be a drab affair.

    Regards.

    Ruchit.

  • Satyajit on November 5, 2007, 11:28 GMT

    Hearing Shoaib Malik speak at the post match presentation was very touching. Very rarely do we see a captain speak with such a lack of confidence or conviction.

    Peronally I feel that Malik's position as a captain is very precarious. He bats at no 6 and bowls a few overs of mostly friendly off spin.And he isnt exactly a tactician either. More often than not he lets the game drift away at crucial junctures.Purely as a player he is not exactly irreplacable.

    Shoaibs comeback is most exciting. The pointlessly long run up, the theatrical accusing stare towards the sky, the hand on hips grimace..ah we did miss him.. And then he runs straight into the hoardings and does his best impresion of a bleeding-to-death hero in a bollywood blockbuter. We must appreciate the effort he puts into his act ,atleast.

  • Osman Ali Khairi on November 5, 2007, 11:19 GMT

    After bearing a world cup final loss to India, I'm sure we can bear a white-wash!? Yup, it's on it's way. Enjoy!

  • Tarun Yadav on November 5, 2007, 11:15 GMT

    As an Indian fan,I dont think Pakistan should make this tour. Simply because of the turmoil in Pakistan [they'll be affected mentally because of friends/family back home] and also, because this Pakistan team is a shambles in terms of its planning and preparation. I want India to beat a fully fit,fully charged and full strength Pakistan. That would be ideal, but I'll take any victory over our biggest rivals. I predict 2-0 India in the Tests. ODIs slightly tougher to call, but since India won the first ODI today, I'm going to go 3-2 India in the ODIs.

  • Mohammed Munir - Sharjah, UAE. on November 5, 2007, 10:16 GMT

    Shahid Khan Afridi, well I agree that he is a gamble for us and as they say, ‘Juwa Kissi Ka Na Huwa’, but at least he can make a space for himself due to his bowling or fielding, if not batting. This ‘Khan’ will never change no matter what, therefore, the trick, for captain and coach, lies in appropriately utilizing a “Bad Asset”. Idially speaking, he should always open the innings, but he may play at no. 6/ 7 when we are batting first, because there will not be any pressure at 6/ 7, but when we are chasing, Afridi, should only open or play at top order, because if the game went on to no. 6/ 7 when we are chasing a target, there is bound to be pressure, and he knows only one way to play.

    I am neither Punjabi nor from Karachi, so I can comfortably say that the BIGGEST problem we have is the ‘Punjabi Lobby’ Versus the ‘Karachi Lobby’. Both these sides are puling the bloody team to parts…… and for now Punjab is definitely winning.

    Another serious problem is that for all these years we have been saying that we have “Talent” in Pakistan, but it seems now we have absolute dearth of new talent. If we seriously give it a thought, we do not have any reliable and good Keeper, Spinners, Openers, Fielders and Batsmen (except Yousuf), so our only hope is on Fast Bowlers (IF they played for the whole series).

    The problems are many and hopes ..… not any.

    On the positive note, well we Pakistani are “HOPE-FOOL” people !!

  • Prakash Kalanjeri on November 5, 2007, 10:01 GMT

    This is the weakest Pakistan team that has ever toured India. They hence automatically start as underdogs.

    A new captain, A new coach, A hastily assembled squad and the turmoil back home simply does not auger well for the prospects of this team.

    Ijaz Ahmed, Wasim Akram, Salim Malik, Inzamam Haq, Moin, Anwar, Waqar, Aquib Javed and Saqlain were exceedingly skilled than this batch of 2007. No contest involving these former greats was ever lopsided.

    While we all agree that Pakistan is rebuilding its team and the results should start to show up with passage of time, my crystal ball cannot help predicting a whitewash in India's favour in both tests and in the shorter format. But we have always admired the Pakistan team's remarkable ability to rebound in the past when down in the dumps. We would like to see an encore of the same please.

    And where in the hell is that mightily talented Yaseer Hamid?

  • Shaheer Shikrani on November 5, 2007, 7:25 GMT

    "Yasir Hameed should open with Butt" - so says Imran Khan and I. Hameed is very consistent, has the best technique and is probably the best Pakistani opener. Butt's flair is more like Saeed Anwar's than any other Paki opener right now. Butt has loads of talent, but he needs to fix his mental strength a lot more and he can surely become a World Class opener.

    PS: Pakistan is better off without Asif in ODIs. But definitely need him in Tests.

    A question to Javed A Khan of montreal - how do you write with BOLD letters?

  • Farhan on November 5, 2007, 7:16 GMT

    The reason Pakistan was persisting with Kamran Akmal was the hope that his batting might spark again. If batting is now considered as an important criteria in choosing a wicket-keeper, then why dont the selectors give Yasir Hameed a try behind the wickets? He has been a keeper before, and he is definitely one of the best upcoming batsman - just look at his international averages.

  • WASIM SAQIB on November 5, 2007, 7:11 GMT

    I assumed that Pakistan team will play out of their skins but so far they have played strangely defensive cricket,Younis Khan played again his signature innings got his well set partner run out and then played an extremely slow innings of 25 of 58 balls at a strike rate of 41.10, and ruined the platform which Salman Butt layed, Yousuf also played a selfish innings he should have scored much quicker although a late charge by him increased his strike rate but his effort might have been useful for the team if he had scored a bit more quickly.As a result Pakistan ended up scoring at least 40 runs less than what they should have scored on this pitch.

    Lately we are seeing a pattern if our openers fail to score the middle order batsmen Yousuf and Younis they score a decent 50 or 40 odd runs each and get out soon after that and if the openers lay a good foundation then they start their innings very slowly and in the process we always see a run out and in the end the lower order batsmen are left under a lot of pressure.I believe Misbah Ul haq or Shoaib Malik one of them should come at #3 position, as we are not utilizing their potential properly both these players know how to pace their innings and we should utilize them more properly. Now it is all up to Pakistan's bowling if they can restrict India below 240,the target is not easy as on this ground only twice a team has scored over 250 runs the wicket is slow and is turning it all depends on how Pakistan bowlers bowl on this Pitch.

  • Hassan Abbas on November 5, 2007, 7:00 GMT

    Khan Sahab

    I dont know why you have written Afridi's name in the inconsistent players' list. Afridi has a bowling average of 22 at 4.1 runs per over and a batting average of over thirty with strike rate in 150's this year. Do you call this inconsistent? I think he is the most consistent performer along with Mohd. Yusuf in onedayers these days.

    Cant agree more with Mr. Javed A. khan here. We are missing Inzi and its more so because we haven't chosen someone in his place on whom we could rely. Misbah is not a bad player but he is certainly not a replaceent for Inzamam. I've said earlier that we need soeone in Inzi's place who can have a long carrier, not only because of the current situation of the middle order but also because yousuf wont be playing for another 10 yrs. Younis Khan is the most unreliable player in the team, so I think we definitely need someone solid and young like Shahid Yousuf maybe to take the three down place.

    It is most unfortunate that we haven't been able to find good openers and we are still persisting with Kamran Akal with the gloves. I dont know what kind of 'sifarish' he has (must be a big parchee) for him to be out of form for so long and still having a place in the international side. We must try new faces and try them now, we need atleast 4 of them(2 openers, a wicketkeeper and a middle order batsman), otherwise the future looks quite dark to me.

  • Osman Ali Khairi on November 5, 2007, 6:54 GMT

    At the time of writing this post, Pakistan has posted a ‘competitive’ 239. Ramiz and Bruce are of the opinion that this is a below average score but I think otherwise. I think the pitch is definitely a lot slower than it looks; in the sense that the ball isn’t really coming onto the bat. Nevertheless, Pakistan will have to bowl and field, ‘exceptionally’ well in order to put pressure on a strong Indian batting line up. I believe Yuvraj (if we manage to get there) along with Afridi and Rehman will all have significant roles to play for their respective teams. What I would like to say though is that Arun Lal has easily and successfully at that, taken the role of being the most annoying commentator from our very own ‘Zaheer Abbas’. I sometimes feel that Arun fails to realize that there are TWO teams out there, not just ‘his’ side. It would help, if he looked at things from an all round perspective. I wonder where decent, eloquent and fair commentators like Sunil and Sanjay have disappeared: S I also think that Pakistan is missing Razzaq’s presence in the last few overs. I believe 'that' is essentially the reason, why Yousuf and Misbah were reluctant to go for the big hits at the end of the 42nd- 43rd over, for they knew very well that the likes of Abdul Rehman would be unable to hit the big ones. In hindsight (Even though, we're only half way through this game), our selectors have dented Pakistan badly with their biased and politically motivated selection policy.

  • srivathsan on November 5, 2007, 6:38 GMT

    Kamran,a very well thought out article.The recent happenings in pakistan is bound to have some concern in the minds of players which may affect their performance.Pakistan should sort out their opening problem.As far as bowling is concerned,they are much better off even without asif.Batting wise, they have MY & YK & both are solid.Overall, pakistan team is much better off than india.Selectors ,here, have done a great blunder in dropping dravid which is welcome from the PAK's point of view.The dropping was purely a vengence from V(ENGENCE) SARKAR & THE BOARD IS SITTING QUIET.HAD IT BEEN SACHIN,THEY WOULD HAVE SACKED VENGS BY NOW.POLITICS IN BCCI IS MUCH WORSE THAN PCB.NO OTHER COUNTRY WOULD HAVE EVEN THOUGHT OF THE IDEA TO DROP A PERSON OF RAHUL'S CALIBRE,& IT CAN HAPPEN ONLY HERE.THE REASON AS KHANSAHAB MENTIONED THAT DRAVID IS A GENTLEMAN & HIGHLY DIGNIFIED& HENCE EASY TARGET.ANYWAY INDIA'S LOSSS IS PAKISTAN'S GAIN & PLAYERS ACROSS THE GLOBE HAVE CRITICISED HIS OMMISION. It is high time k.akmal is dropped or he will cost pakistan many more matches.

  • Nabbu on November 5, 2007, 3:57 GMT

    Agreed with all of the opinions put in Kamran's column but I wouldn't second making Afridi the vice-captain for ODIs. The vice-captain should be a responsible player for which Younis is a better choice , just recall how Afridi got out in the last ODI against South Africa. I think he is in the team not only as a bowler but as an allrounder.

  • Ali_a on November 5, 2007, 3:23 GMT

    I think this contest will come down to the survival of the fittest. Shoaib Akhtar needs to remain calm and not be intimidated by the crowd or the likes of Yuraj or Dhoni. He should bowl yorkers and slow balls and mix his pace. I wish Pakistan would have taken Sami in Asif's absence. He may only take one or two wickets in Tests, but he definitely bowled with pace against the ill-fated match against Ireland. His pace would have definitely came in handy in ODIs. I am not sure about Afridi's batting as I have been saying in my previous comments that he performs in one match and then fails in another. I think Pakistan should have made him a vice-captain just to get the best out of him. I also believe that one of the reasons for Pakistan's failure was the management decision to make Salman Butt the vice-captain. He was not even a regular player in both forms of the game - his batting was pathetic. Not sure what was the criteria used to pick a vice-captain who was not even a regular in team, who had not played for almost a year. I think that Younis and Afridi had felt this more than any other player and their performances in the critical matches have shown that. Its only when Younis was made an acting captain when Shoaib was absent from field that he showed his real performance. Granted Younis did not want to become captain, it was foolish to name Salman Butt as the vice-captain. Although I was not in favor of Afridi as captain, I would have liked him to be the vice-captain instead of Butt. Although India's bowling showed a lot of promise against Australia in ODIs, I still believe Pakistan's bowling has an edge. If only their batsmen including Misbah and Malik can hold their nerves. I would like to see Afridi open in those ODIs in which Pakistan is chasing a target, but play in middle order when Pakistan bats first. I think he could do less damage that way even he gets out cheaply. Also maybe Pakistan should shuffle Misbah's position too, half of the time he comes when Pakistan is in trouble. He is half sure about his shots and shows his vulnerability outside the off stump. In the end, I would like to wish good luck to Pakistan and hope they come home victorious. Pakistan really needs something positive right now to lift nation's spirits.

  • MaQ on November 5, 2007, 2:28 GMT

    Many people are saying that India have a slight edge over Pakistan, but that is not quite the case. India have an amazing batting line-up but Pakistan have the likes of Yousuf, Malik, Afridi and Younis. I think Younis should open with Butt, with Misbah at No. 3, then Yousuf, Akmal, Malik and Afridi. Abdul Razzaq will be missed. He is a great allrounder. The selectors have wasted the talent of Asim Kamal. We should forget guys like Hafeez and Nazir. Our bowling attack is a consolation, if only Shoaib remains fit for the Tests. Hameed and Kamal should be recalled. There is no need for Misbah. We only need one spinner, Afridi can be the second, and the fast bowlers for the Tests should be Akhtar, Asif and Gul. Who knows, we might even emerge victorious. Good luck Pakistan, but please don't get your hopes up, we might have a very embarrassing and forgetful time in India.

  • Adnan Sami on November 5, 2007, 2:27 GMT

    I think Pakistan should make some bold decisions. They have to drop inconsistent performers and inject some young blood. Salman Butt, Yasir Hameed, Shahid Afridi, Misbah-ul-Haq and Kamran Akmal are all inconsistent performer and they should do something to find their replacements. We have backup as there are lot of players who are playing consistently in Under-19 and also with the A team

  • Ranj on November 5, 2007, 1:39 GMT

    Kamal sahab, kamaal post. I took a while to read through. Decades ago, we would marvel at Pakistan's ability, mind you as a smaller country than ours [India], to put forth a never ending number of great players, as we lamented our country's inability to do the same. If Pakistan is indulging young players like Kamran Akmal, something is very wrong, and if India is blitzing our big 3, right or wrong, then the roles have been reversed. Either way, both teams can win on any given day. Personally, I think the India -Pakistan cricket scenario is a media driven. Still, one looks forward to a good contest.

  • Ubaid on November 5, 2007, 0:58 GMT

    Khan Sahab brings up quite an interesting point regarding the team’s consistency, and Younis Khan’s point of view about it. I was looking at the team list during the final match against South Africa and six out of the 11 players playing that match were either in the team due to bowling or had started off their careers as bowlers later turning into batsmen. The seventh player was Kamran Akmal, who could hardly be called a model of consistency. Of the two “native” batsmen that played that game, Yousuf and Younis, Younis cannot be called a consistent player in the one-day format, and that leaves us with the openers. I don't have to say anything about their consistency. For a team to be consistent, it needs to have at least six specialist batsman, the kind of batsmen that can hold down an end and are primarily batsmen by trade. If we have six primary batsmen, we may not win matches in spectacular fashion, but we will not lose matches that we were not supposed to lose. The team will be more predictable, and you will know what to expect in a given situation. As they say, 'batsmen save matches', and that is the primary and single most important bit of foundation that a team needs. In the present circumstances, however, we do not have a move towards that goal. We cannot find six batsmen that are primarily batsmen that can occupy a space in the team in international cricket . So, I expect much of the same to continue for some cricket in years to come. i.e winning some matches that we are not supposed to win, but far more often losing matches that we are not supposed to lose.

  • Ziyad on November 4, 2007, 23:09 GMT

    Lets try Afridi and Butt as openers for a bit. This allows Pakistan to play an additional specialist seamer or spinner.

  • Asad on November 4, 2007, 20:41 GMT

    First and foremost, the issue about Kamran Akmal's wicketkeeping. Firstly, I would like to point out that however bad his wicket keeping may be, his the owner of a very joyous and bouyant character and always keeps his spirits up, chatting, laughing, and smiling all the time. This in turn helps the other players as he keeps giving them encouragement, tips, and keeps up the banter.

    Secondly, about Afridi. Certainly, Shahid Afridi is an adept batsman, and, looking at recent form, a very adept bowler. However, he can be, as we all know, very inconsistent. Look at the blistering score in the first ODI and the disappointing three-ball duck in the second one. His major problem is that if he faces three good balls he comes under amazing pressure and crumbles, giving his wicket away to a loose shot.

    Thirdly, Asif is in many ways better than Akhtar, Asif plays for his country, while Akhtar plays for himself.

  • Salman N Malik on November 4, 2007, 19:09 GMT

    This Pakistan team is not likely to achieve much on the tour to India. I agree with Khan Sahib on this blog. The problem is a) mental and b) complacency in the fact that the players know that even if they do not perform, they could still be in the side/squad.

    It is clear to see that Akmal is not learning from his mistakes (crucial ones in that they resulted in series defeats from a much superior SA side - imagine if they had lost the series against this unimpressive Pakistan side). It is clear that Imran Nazir and Yasir Hameed are not any more professional or matured, it is clear that Misbah-ul-Haq cannot finish off games. I think it is the right time to jettison these players and get some newer faces in, Malik might be able to handle those people better. Aside from the bowling unit, the team needs wholesale changes from Number 1 through Number 7 (except Shoaib Malik, Younis and Yousaf). Afridi should be made the ODI captain at least for six months to a year, otherwise he will need to go too! Better to have young blood battsmen get whipped into an international force rather than keep persisting with junk immature batsmen who can't learn from their mistakes. In short Pakistan remain a good bowling side with lousy batting unit, who if their key batsmen fail, are unlikely to chalk up victory. I still remian a Pakistani fan and hope Pakistan wins at least the Test matches. I don't think they have a hope in the ODIs.

  • dani on November 4, 2007, 19:08 GMT

    i just want to say that pak is under much more pressure in this series mainly due to the fact that they lack true class batsmen. India possess some legends in the team such as Dravid,Ganguly and Tendulkar. Pakistan on the other hand only have Yousuf. It is obvious that pakistan will miss the class and cool head of inzi since he helped them win and save important matches the last time pak toured. Apart from Yousuf, thy don't hav any reliable batsmen, Shoaib Malik can contribute with 40/50 runs at times and Younis occassionally fires. Apart from those people, pak hav no one. The opening pair will continue to be pathetic no matter how many times the management try to chop and change it we shud jus accept the fact that the openers cud only contribute 15/20 runs max. AT the bottom we hav the madman afridi . Although he is entertaining , it could not be ignored that he plays well in 5 of the 100 matches . this is one of the reasons as to why i don't feel he shud be appointed captain or vice captain. He continues to play selfish cricket in which he duzn't care abt the team but bats in a crazy sense jus to live up to his reputation The only thing tht could save us is our bowling which appears to be strong as long as shoaib akthar duzn't do anything crazy again... anyway i am hoping beyond hope that pak win and even if thy do lose thy shud lose thy shud lose 3/2 Indian fans appear to be very confident, in my opinion they have every right to be so GOOD LUCK PAKISTAN!!

  • atik on November 4, 2007, 19:05 GMT

    they say all-rounders win games(actually they dont i made that up) but in a sense they do we have the edge as far as allrounders are concerned and batting...people say that because of people like tendulkar india have the edge but to be honest if u look at these guy's recent record its not extraordinary...its not like theyre still a formidable force...its just the reputation theyve made that still carries them and if pakistan can brush aside the reputational advantage india have(which surely they shud) then we should repeat what we did 2/3 years back in india as far as bowling goes...i'll not even start...we are just too far ahead of india anyway pakistan team dissappoints more than it amuses so fingers crossed

  • shahryar on November 4, 2007, 19:01 GMT

    The problems highlighted by you, Kamran are running through the minds of every Pakistani fan. At the same time I would agree with Lawson that they should pick an opening pair with the greatest potential and run with it. In Pakistan's case we don't have alot of options and Yasir and Salman are the best opening combination we have as far as talent goes after that we need to stick it out with them and check their learning curve to see them grow and become formidable openers. Also with the problem of Kamran Akmal we may be able to strike 2 birds with one stone. For those who don't know, Kamran was a specialist batsman who took up wicket keeping to improve his chances of getting into the national team. And I think the reason why his keeping has dipped is because he doesn't get to do alot of what he loves most which is bat. He's been consistently giving us lower order 15s and 30s and I'd rather have Akmal come in to open and give us that early momentum which is always crucial for the Pakistani line-up. Also I feel if they stick it out with Akmal they are going to find a formidable opener in him. He is agressive, yet has a very orthodox style and his performance against a moving ball in Karachi against India proves he has the ability to play the moving ball better than other Pakistanis. Therefore if you're looking at the top 3 batsmen of the line-up you can open with Akmal and Butt and have Yasir come in at 1 down. Misbah is going to have to sit on the bench, Pakistan should play positive cricket and should bat top heavy and not go down with middle order trenchmen who may be sublime at chasing but we need our batsmen to play positively and aggressively and for that we need run-makers who create momentum.

  • WASIM SAQIB on November 4, 2007, 18:46 GMT

    I don't know if I will be able to enjoy and watch the matches given the current serious political turmoil in Pakistan, I don't want the series to distract the Pakistanis from the Political situation in Pakistan as it is more important. The timing of the current attack on civil liberties has been thought of carefully so that people stay in their homes and watch the series between India and Pakistan and do not take to streets.

    I am sure that the instructions to the team will be to win at all costs so that it further creates interest amongst general public so that they get distracted from the political turmoil. I will not be surprised if we see a different Pakistani team on the field, although the players and the captain will be under immense pressure to win the series as failure in India and Pakistan series often cuts the career of players short so I am sure we will not see any player under performing especially the senior players they will give their 100%. Shoaib Malik knows that if he loses this series his captaincy days will be over as failure is not an option, I can only hope that he gets full support from Afridi and Younis Khan as both of them have failed him on several key moments in the last series.

    The opening problem still remains and I understand that the management wants to give these players a run, Salman Butt might score against India as he has scored against them in the past, I don't think that we will see any improvement in Imran Nazir or Kamran Akmal as both of them lack temperament and technique their success will largely depend on their luck.

    Pakistan's batting will largely depend upon Younis Khan, Yousuf, Malik and Misbah. I will not include Afridi in this list as it will be a wishful thinking, if he performs with the bat it will be a bonus. In Bowling Pakistan will depend greatly on Shoaib Akhtar and Afridi with Umar Gul and Rao providing support. One thing which worries me is that in the recent past Pakistan has been dependant on their spin bowlers to contain and to take wickets and Indians are really good players of spin, our chances of success will largely depend on how our spin bowlers bowl.

    The Indian team is also not free of problems, their batting line up is no longer as formidable as it used to be , Dravid is not in the team and Sachin and Gunguly are way past their prime, they will also largely depend upon youth, but they have some exciting new batsmen, it will be interesting to watch how they hold up against Pakistan's bowling attack, their new batsmen failed to perform against Australia so there is a hint of fragility in their batting line up also and it would be interesting to see if our bowlers are capable of exploiting it or not.

    Indian's if they have really improved somewhere it's their bowling, their bowling has a lot of variety and almost all the bowlers are in good form, Rp Singh has improved a lot he has gained extra pace and he can move the ball both ways, Similarly Srisanth also is bowling at a good pace although he falters on the line and length periodically but he brings in a lot of energy. Zahir khan and Harbajan Singh will be the key bowlers for India in the ODI series.

    Overall both the sides are quite even India has a home advantage, but if Pakistan's big 4 batsmen if they perform well then it will be very hard for India to beat us. Pakistan for sure will miss Inzimam, his cool and calm presence with an amazing ability to score at a decent pace against any bowler will be greatly missed, but then again India will also be missing Rahul Dravid.

  • Amit on November 4, 2007, 18:27 GMT

    Definitely this pak team lacks punch, but who knows memories of hard rivalry may bring back their best. Since most of the matches here will start early around 8:30(IST) .. which means first an hour or so is going to be crucial .. and there i think pak team has upper hand when they bowl first. So more than middle order clash .. i think its going to be early hour clash .. where technique is going to be count ... so again Sachin is going to be crucial in this series. Now a days he is playing really control aggressive inning when the bowl is doing a bit .. but i suspect other batsmen specialy in the absence of dravid. Whereas if India bowl first its easy for them to remove their openers but they need to go past their openers. Their main batting is yousuf and yunois. Lets see the first match before throwing many assumptions .. as i already did ;)

  • Pakistani on November 4, 2007, 18:06 GMT

    HI everyone. I agree with all your points kamran. and regarding the openers and wicket keeper. Also with tirmizi points regarding imran nazir and misbah . there are certain players who now had long time playing at national level and our bosses at PCB want them to continue. Imran nazir, salman butt, kamran akmal , muhammad hafeez ( atlast drop out). all these players dont deserve to be any sort of team in pakistan. Looks at Kamran performance for last 2 years how many catches he drops who cost the matches for pakistan. Whenever some people talk about certain players people here thought they are playing regionalism but thatz not the part. on the one side selectors saying that asim kamal have to perform at the domestic level and on the other side they are picking players on there past performance like imran nazir and salman butt . I am not talking regionalism here. i am just saying if we take a neutral view we found certain players even from the punjab or any place deserve to be in team but not in the team. this mean we are on favoritism more rather than performances. I am just certain to say we need openers khalid latif and yasir hameed to give long run. we need shahid yousuf ( if we go on domestic he got more performance than misbah) and asim kamal in place of misbah( only can play 20 20) to strengthen middle order, Sarfraz ahmed should be in place of kamran akmal. what lawson say we need 12 months to settle this team thats what woolmer said about the openers which never been settle. Dont play favoristim for GOD sake thinks of pakistan than other things. dont trust player who already be find themselves untrusty in the field. Every one know about Muhammad Wasim how he been treated by PCB even though one of the best player in the V area. so people dont take it on regional make it on positive side. Khalid Latif, Yasir Hameed , Shahid yousuf, Asim kamal, Sarfraz Ahmed deserve to be in team in place of Salman Butt, Imran Nazir, Misbah, Kamran Akmal. If you want openers stick with khalid latif and yasir hameed for 12 months you will see how much they talented yasir hameed already have good talent he always show.

    MR. Javed ahmed and Mr Wasim Saqib and all other bloggers thinks its regionalism i dont think so.

    bye.

  • Ash Zed - Saudi Arabia on November 4, 2007, 17:32 GMT

    Good to see Kamran Abbasi back in business!!

    Well…I disagree with Kamran that Afridi is a natural leader for one-day games and he should have been appointed vice captain for shorter version of the game. In my humble opinion, Afridi should have been the captain for the next 5 years regardless of game version. He is the only natural leader we have at the moment. The rest are all less than ordinary stuff.Anyway, the series is going to be very interesting, no doubt about that.

  • Sameer Khalid on November 4, 2007, 17:08 GMT

    I think Pakistan's bowling attack without Asif is not as weak as many of you perceive. They have much more variety than the Indian bowlers. Afridi is in top bowling form. Akhtar is raring to go. It is the batting that worries me the most. On bowling-friendly wickets, only younis and yousuf will be able to survive unless other batsmen stop playing their needless rash shots at crucial times.

  • Osman Ali Khairi on November 4, 2007, 16:23 GMT

    This team is very similar to the previous one that toured India in 2005. However, one massive difference is that Inzamam is no longer around. I know that Khan Sahab and a few others thought that Inzi was indolent and defensive and though I agree with them that Inzamam was indeed, not the most high-spirited player around; I also think he was a terrific match winner who often held the team together in difficult and strenuous situations. I have to borrow Shoaib Malik’s favorite word here, for Inzamam was a ‘superb’ finisher who very rarely succumbed to the pressure of chasing a big total albeit on flat tracks, as was evident in his match winning knock at Ahmedabad. To be fair, credit should be given to Javed A. Khan who raised this very point in one of his posts a couple of threads back. I would just like to add on the comments made by Javed, that in the vacuum created by Inzamam’s absence, the likes of Yousuf, Afridi and the other late-order batsmen [I think Razzaq would have been very ‘effective’ here] will have to jump in and learn to not do a Sachin a la Chennai [1999] and take the team beyond the finish line. I think our chances of winning this series depend very heavily on our batsmen not throwing it away when set, in addition to the role that will be played by Afridi [provided he continues to come at 7-8] and Misbah. I also look forward to hearing the views of those living across the border and posting ‘acceptable’ rebuttals in collaboration with Awas, Wasim, Jam Jar, Khan Sahab, Javed Khan, and Euceph Ahmad, during the course of this serie. It’s going to be a cracker, in every aspect of the word.

  • Kishor on November 4, 2007, 16:20 GMT

    I think the current Pakistan team lacks experience and mature heads. The loss of Inzamam without getting the right replacement has caused brittleness to the Pakistan batting. So many times recently they have thrown away games right from their grasp. Players like Younis Khan and Mohammad Yousuf should take more responsibility now, which is surprisingly missing. Misbah is caught in jinx - getting out at the wrong moment. Afridi is doing well as a bowler but now he also should show some responsibility as batsman. Pakistan has a definite edge over India as far as allrounders are concerned.

  • Tirmizi on November 4, 2007, 16:03 GMT

    Kamran, you are an eternal hopeful. I would start with your last lines that we will be discussing the same issues a decade from now. Will we? I see Pakistan cricket following a downward spiral and it won't be far from now that we might hit the bottom.We used to pride ourselves on raw talent.That somehow is still trickling through the filters of selection committees to find its place in the national team sporadically. However,the lack of a basic cricketing structure will kill our cricket sooner or later.
    We are falling behind in terms of fitness,strategy and technical know how of the game from the rest of the world and it might cost us the game in a manner similar to Hockey.
    Lawson recently pointed out that the team needs 12 months to build the level of fitness required to compete in international arena. I found this statement rather bewildering as I thought fitness levels of our professional cricketers far better.
    We go into games without having plans A,B and C. We don't work upon strengths and weaknesses of our opposition and we hardly execute the game plans effectively.The South Africa tour exposed the fundamental flaws that were temporarily coated by an impressive performance in the ICC World Twenty20. We thankfully accepted the tag of chokers from South Africans. Maybe we are better suited to it now after the 2 matches against India in Twenty20s and the recent one against SA where we couldn't finish off the game.
    Talking about the Indian tour,we have taken five openers, three middle order batsmen and one wicketkeeper, which is quite amusing. Akmal will continue to give us heart attacks. There is no replacement for the middle-order batsman if one of them gets injured by bad luck. I think the place of Misbah shouldn't be an automatic one because he hasn't been able to translate his Twenty20 performances to the longer versions of the game and I doubt that he is capable of doing so. Imran Nazir, has he not been playing off and on in the Pakistani Greens for over 6 years now? Do we still have suspicions of him transforming into a future Tendulkar? We are shy of giving new talent a chance and are operating a revolving door policy in which we have been seeing the same bunch of players being tried in turns.Do you have to keep on trying the same players for 5-6 years?
    I am not sure of the stocks of Sohail Tanveer in the Test cricket.It will be interesting to see how he performs in that area.
    Another major factor in our failure is that our players and management lack a desire to learn from mistakes as you rightly pointed out Kamran, Asif has been on international stage since over a year now.He hasn't enjoyed the kind of success in ODI format as what he achieved in Tests. You have very expertly pointed out the reasons for that but we haven't seen any improvement in him in the ability to bowl yorkers and change his pace that has almost become a necessity for success in ODIs nowadays. Similarly Akmal has time and time again showed his unwillingness to work upon his mistakes and learn.
    There are others who have better attitude.The credit goes duly to Younis and Yousuf who have developed themselves into solid world-class batsmen by hard work and commitment.I wish the team a successful tour but I am afraid we might lose in rather shameful way.

  • Soul on November 4, 2007, 15:38 GMT

    Kamran, you are right about Pakistan not learning from their mistakes. If they keep depending on Akmal, Nazir, Butt and Misbah; I'm afraid we will have the same disappointment. These four individuals should be removed [not dropped] from this team. They have been tried numerous times but they don't have the skills to improve their game.
    Akmal cannot hold simple catches. He dropped Kallis again in the last ODI which again cost us the game because Kallis then scored 80 more runs. He dropped him in the Karachi Test, which also cost us the game. I think, we lost both the Test and ODI reason because of his heroics behind the stump. We have to give chance to new talent. Same is true with Nazir. He is like Afridi, he doesn't think before hitting a ball but he does not have the bowling talent.
    Misbah is the biggest choker of the team. He has proved this in Twenty20 and the last ODI against South Africa. He cannot finish games. He should be replaced by Fawad Alam.
    The two openers should be replaced by Khalid Latif and Khurram Manzoor. The selector can also include the Under-19 talent Ali Asad as an opener who can also keep wickets for ODI. If we can at least get rid of above individuals than there is some chance Pakistan cricket can improve. Its high time for Pakistan cricket and the selectors and team management need to take this brave decision.

  • Ananth Venkatesh, Mumbai on November 4, 2007, 15:32 GMT

    The Pakistan team's batting appears to be exceedingly frail with the honourable exceptions of the classy Yousuf, the efficient and committed Younis, and the all-round talents of Shoaib Malik. This is a cause for genuine worry. I deem that this undue dependence on them could pressurise them to a dangerous extent leading to their collapse. The bowling gives the impression of appearing to be reasonably settled, composed and at ease albeit inconsistent, which has been a hallmark of Pakistan cricket for long now. India definitely starts off as the favourite to emerge triumphant in both the series.

  • JAVED A. KHAN, MONTREAL, CANADA on November 4, 2007, 15:29 GMT

    A time to learn and a time to thanks. Thanks to the General Saheb for not playing politics in cricket. Lucky for us the tour is on.

    Malik says that the series defeat against SA at home has helped the team in pinpointing the deficiencies and weaknesses in the team. His comments were scrutinized and criticized by many. But, the reality is, a win always creates some kinda complacency. Whereas, a defeat puts you under pressure to reassess the situation and re-evaluate the strength and weakness and, Pakistan team has performed better when they are playing as underdogs. Everyone says that India has an edge over Pakistan, not only because of the home ground, home crowd situation. But, also because of their two consecutive wins in the twenty20 WC and, Pakistan ended as chokers and finally they borrowed that chokers tag from SA in the last ODI. This is mere criticism, if they win this series, no one will talk about them being chokers.

    In my opinion it is due to the Inzamam factor that is missing here. This void, gap whatever one may call it, must be filled in either by Yousuf or Younus. In a situation like this, they have to play a long innings rather than playing irresponsibly after making a mere 50. Had one of them stayed till the end in the final ODI at Lahore, the result would have been different. Now, there is a theory, a story based on rumours that Malik & Co., deliberately lost the final match because, they did not want to give away all the credit to Shoaib Akhtar, who otherwise would have boasted that, whenever he comes into the team - the team wins!

    I doubt, if there is any truth in this theory or there was any such intention among the players. But, those who believe in this theory were supporting their argument based on the irresponsible shots played by Younis and Yousuf, especially Yousuf getting out on almost a wide ball from Duminy. They argued that Malik himself played a very careless shot and got clean bowled and he showed no remorse, no regret after getting out. Misbah missed another opportunity. And, Afridi would never stop slogging under any situation. Even Tanvir played a reckless shot and almost got his toe fractured in trying to hit Morkel for a six on the first ball. Neither Rao ifti made any attempt to stay there and got out on the second ball for a duck.

    I inquired: OK then, what happened to Shoaib Akhtar? If that was a plot against him then, why did he throw away his wicket like others? He could have remained patient and instead of going for a big heave and playing a mindless shot, he could have got those runs in singles, the target was only 14 runs from 23 balls, then why did he play a similar shot and got out on the first ball? The reply was, he wanted to repeat his 2003 WC cup performance against England when he scored his career best 43 with 4 - 5 sixes and a couple of boundaries, but he failed. These are all theories based guess work. The fact is, the team is lacking the killer instincts whereas, India on the other hand has developed this skill of fighting hard till the end and snatching a victory from the jaws of defeat.

    There is a big talk going around all over and all the experts are airing the same views that, "This Pakistan teams lacks the punch." I think our pra Ashaq needs to remind the team of how to hit and where to punch like Muhammad Ali used to, or Inzamam used to stand like a great wall. I don't think this team is lacking in any talent, its the same team but, the mental strength is not the same. If Malik cannot inject that quality or demonstrate it through his leadership skills or even with his bat, then the so-called seniors must take control of the situation, they don't have to wear a Captain's hat for that. They only need to play the role of David by being cool and play till the end.

    David and Goliath analogies are often used in the sports arena especially in tennis. I will make an attempt to use it in the game of cricket. It is important to know how David slew the giant Goliath by means of his cunning and shrewd planning and skill which he used by rejecting the offer of using an armour and a sword. Instead he equipped himself with nothing but, a sling and five smooth stones he had taken from a nearby stream.

    Goliath mocked and cursed David, who calmly placed a stone in his sling and toppled the giant with his first shot. Unlike David, a bowler doesn't have to be able to topple his opponent with the first junk ball he bowls. He has to be persistent, pragmatic, practical, courageous, variant and must have faith in his abilities especially if he finds himself in a seemingly ill-matched contest against a player who threatens to overpower him, he must emulate David's coolness and calmness and show the comparable bravery and enterprise.

    Experts are talking about a contest between Tendulkar &. Shoaib or, Sehwag Vs. Shoaib and, Afridi Vs. Irfan Pathanwa etc., and that would be very interesting to see how the events would unfold in time. Using that David & Goliath analogy I would like to elaborate my point further:

    Shoaib Akhtar must remain pragmatic in his approach and must not try to exchange trade blows with Sehwag or Tendulkar because, you cannot win a slugfest contest with express deliveries alone. He has to be realistic in his approach and deploy an alternative weaponry like his slower ones, indippers and yorkers instead of his short pitched width balls on the off-side, they will disappear in the point and gully region or fly past the slips cordon.

    Afridi and patience are antonyms but, he needs to understand that Irfan Pathan varies his pace, especially against Afridi. And Afridi needs to remember this and adjust to his pace, especially the first ball he faces from Irfan must be dealt with extreme caution. Its like a battle of nerves - a wicket or a six. Afridi needs to settle for blocking a few shots back during the early exchanges. He needs to get the feel of the wicket, and weigh the shots before going for the big ones. Watching your opponent wind up for a big shot can be mesmerizing and intimidating, but it's just a ball - concentrate on watching it right from the time it is delivered. Hold your horses or your ground, whatever it is and don't miss the line, put your body behind and use a straight bat. But this is asking too much from Afridi - hope sanity prevails for a few minutes while he is there on the pitch.

    Umar Gul's variation is also very important, he usually rallies his yorkers with a steady rhythm that doesn't allow the batsmen to adjust, hence he must keep on varying the speed and deny them time and deny them rhythm to get into a stride. Mix up the pace and vary the speed and get the wickets. If Shoaib Akhtar can intimidate the other bowlers must capitalize and grab wickets.

    No player can perform well if he doesn't have faith in his abilities. One needs to believe in his ability to execute a plan that he has in his mind. He needs to take his sling, ooops, I mean the cricket bat or the ball and stand up to adversity with the knowledge that all the physical presence Goliath could muster was no match for David's guile. Like there is a very thin line between sanity and insanity, the difference between a victory and defeat is often very narrow. More than David, Pakistanis need to remember the likes of Inzamams and the Miandads.

  • Ahad on November 4, 2007, 15:13 GMT

    Yes..You are right mr.abbasi......Afridi should have been appointed vice-captain because of his aggressiveness and should lead the Pakistani team boldly BUT only in ODIs. India will most probably regret dropping Rahul Dravid because he averages high against Pakistan and might even strike form.....but yes of course....all this wont matter in an India-Pakistan match because always it come down to handling the pressure and a matter of a few runs.....but INSHALLAH Pakistan will win!

  • saqib on November 4, 2007, 15:06 GMT

    Sometimes i think pakistan will never learn. They put in a few good one day peroformances against south africa and everyone is thinking at last we are going places but then again the inconsistency and a lack of application is brought to the fore to lose 6 wickets for 20-30 runs is a real disgrace. Also i really liked afridi but he really showed us his true colours when he went for a 6 when pakistan needed 20 of 40 balls or so utterly disgraceful how can he be made vice-captain after that showing.

  • Shahzad on November 4, 2007, 14:45 GMT

    I am wrinting this just to get little relief for mind which got extremely depressed after news of attack on our judiciary and law by a dictator. Any way, I agree this is the time of learning and doing some positive experiments. There are three crucial positons where we need reliable players, 1- Wicket keeper batsman, I do not know why Akmal is being given so many mchances. Is there no any yong wicket keeper in domestic circuit who can be reliable? 2-Opening position which was never fulfilled after the retirement (by force) of Saeed Anwar.3- Number 6 position in batting order, Misbah was good in 20, he is basically 20 palyer. In his 8 innings agaist South Africa at home on relatively straight wickets, his performance tells itself about his talent. He is neither technically that perfect nor he his a young player who can be relaiable for the big matches. We should look at least for test matches some better young player, Asim Kamal has been good or any other for this position. Once Paksitan team was famous fro the late brust by lower order, after the removal of Abur Razaq we are completely lacking that ability. I belive in On-day Afridi should play at little ahead,if not at open then certainly at position 6 ahead of Misbah. Whatever the ability he has is wasted by putting him at No7 or 8. I can bet if in first one-day against South Africa had Afridi played that innings at No 6 or 7 instead of No 8, Pakistan would certainly have won that match. Good luck for Pakistan cricket team and Pakistan nation

  • Adeel Anwar on November 4, 2007, 14:12 GMT

    I agree with a lot of things mentioned in the writing by kamran abbasi. Pakistan batting is adept at creating headaches for the coaches coming in due to their own method of playing cricket, at times, unnecessarily playing aggressive cricket and at times totally unnecessary closed in the shell non confident cricket. IT seems that paki batting knows no middle grounds. the two You's have to do the bulk of the scoring and if they fail which they can since they are humans then the batting gets into a dangerzone. Openning slots have been the pain in the neck for pakistan long enough now. Every possible combinition has been tried and yet of no avail. some say afridi is the best choice to open on the sub continent pitches which apprently seems the right thing to say and yet one knows afridi is'nt consistent. batting slots cannot be filled in with patches. That is simply not professional enough an attitude. secondly by sending afridi up the order the team lacks the solid hit out batsman in the lower order. Absence of Abdul Razzaq is big hole in that spot in my opinion. he is one of the most sensible hard hitting player when it comes to batting. His bowling, ofcourse is debateable but i still believe the guy deserves a place in the one day squad. Imran nazir, The other player tried several times in the opening slot, is at the height of unpredictability and yet so predictable. He has got classy talent in him but the problem ,as defined by the great Ian chappel, that he has all the excellent shots and extreme timing in his hands but with a head filled with absurd ideas. he is one of the most self desctructing player i have ever seen play international cricket. Misbah another reveletion for the paki cricket has yet to impart his impact on the games following the T20 glory that he attained. Minute scores like 18 16 21 etc provide a disappointing story. There has been reasonable progress in the fielding department for sure in the recent times yet it still remains in consistent. From the bowling point of view pakistan has a balanced attack. IF shoaib akhtar is able to sustain his playing condition for the whole series that yet remains to be seen. Rao iftikhar is one bowler i think has been undeservingly been out of the team. He is a good one day first change bowler. more like a stuart clarke mould but with more swing and a bit more pace on his day. he has always performed whenever included in the team and yet he disappears after every good performance mysteriously. Gul is imporiving himself everypassing day as a great international new and old ball bowler and his performances have been impressive all along in recent times. all n all pakistan does lack the professional approach in thinking when it comes to their batting and they need to work on it.

  • Ananth Venkatesh, Mumbai on November 4, 2007, 14:04 GMT

    The problem with Pakistan is its undue and pressurising reliance on Yousuf and Younis to take them to safety while batting as was amply evident against RSA. If they fail, through inexcusable modes like the run-out or otherwise, the rest of Pakistan's batting, with the probable exception of Shoaib Malik, just doesn't display the gumption required to bail the team out. The bowling appears far more balanced and reasonably settled, with an efficient spinner in Rehman, and a slightly inconsistent yet laudable crop of fast-medium bowlers. India start as indisputable favourites for both the series. The excitement and eagerness that would accompany viewers before the commencement of any Indo-Pak series doesn't exist this time around. The reason could be that this is the fourth time in four years that India and Pakistan are playing against each other, with Pakistan having competed twice at home against India,and India once on her own soil,till now.

  • senior player on November 4, 2007, 14:03 GMT

    Please do not mix politics and cricket.

  • Osman Ali Khairi on November 4, 2007, 13:50 GMT

    Also, I think it’s fair to say that while growing up, I always saw Pakistan getting the better of India, be it in Sharjah or any other neutral venue (with the exception of the world cup games, of course!). Back then, we had an amazing team. But unfortunately, India hardly played any series against us, all on the pretext of the Kashmir issue, which I always thought was a lame alibi to not play 'cricket'. Now for perhaps, the first time in my life, the Indians have a pretty solid bowling line up along with an equally good batting side and have the opportunity to give us a real beating. Of course, things have now changed; the relations between the two great nations have significantly improved, India has had a good run in international cricket and importantly (read: conveniently) the Kashmir issue, has now been shoved out of the picture. Nevertheless, I completely agree with you Kamran bhai. Pakistan is definitely the underdog and all the players will have to play out of their skins to emerge victorious in this very important tour. On the upside, this team is very similar to the one that beat India on the previous tour to the country. So well, we can all hope for a similar result: S I think, Afridi, Younis, Akmal and Shoaib will all have to play sensibly and give it their best for the country. Let’s hope the ‘skilled rabble’ as Ian Chappel often puts it, comes together and gives the Indians a run for their money. InshAllah.

    p.s. I'm also hoping that our players will learn for the mistakes they made in the SA series and won't repeat them on this tour!

  • Ali on November 4, 2007, 13:37 GMT

    Thanks for highlighting Akmal's issue. It's strange that selectors can't find a keeper from so many teams playing in domestic circuit, are those teams are having keepers worst than Akmal?

  • stephen.philips on November 4, 2007, 13:00 GMT

    Kamran has already started preparing base or foundation for justifying defeat.And if Pakistan win it will be easier to say "I said so". Hang on Pakistan may defeat India or the....................obvious might happen too ;)

  • Andy Singh on November 4, 2007, 12:41 GMT

    First - Good Luck to Pakistan on this tour and hope they play great cricket. I also hope India wins. Next Pakistan's bowling is very formidable and their batting is not that bad as you are making it out to be. Pakistan always is a strong opponent against India. For India to beat Pakistan they have to put a good score on the board 275+ to put pressure and for Pakistan to beat India they need to take wickets at regular intervals. Times have changed a little bit with Pakistan pace attack blowing India out of water. India can now face pace a little bit more confidently. On paper both the teams are equally matched more or less but the game is not played on paper. Looking forward to a great series.

  • khansahab on November 4, 2007, 12:21 GMT

    Mr Abbasi has outlined some of the recent problems the team has faced quite succinctly. Most of us on this blog constantly offer our opinions and strategies as to how to make this team perform better. Some of us blame the captain, some of us blame the coach, some of us blame and selection of players, regionalism, batting order etc. Most of us though blame the system as a whole, citing lack of reason, common sense and meritocracy.
    One aspect that is frequently sidelined, perhaps because it is implicit and not overt, is the lack of pride our players demonstrate nowadays. I once read a Younis Khan interview where he was asked why the team is so inconsistent. His reply was that the team has been as consistent as it ever was; the only difference is that nowadays a lot of cricket is being played which means that fans highlight the defeats too much and hence blame the players’ inconsistency. My view is that Younis is wrong. Why is there an absence of supreme, consistent performance in the team that was personified by greats such as Wasim, Waqar, Saeed Anwar, Rashid Latif, Moin Khan, Inzamam, Salim Malik, Saqlain, Mushtaq not too long ago? The reason is that now our players have realised that they can remain in the team and earn big money just by giving 75% of what they can offer to the team and to the nation. They are satisfied with the status quo and do not want to go the extra mile. The patriotism and passion to go the extra mile for your country is missing. Nowadays international cricket offers plenty of money and glamour. In today’s materialistic world, having lots of money means having lots of respect, beautiful women and plenty of alternative avenues for even more ridiculously extravagant moneymaking.
    That is the one of the main reasons why our openers, Younis Khan, Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Akhtar, Kamran Akmal, Abdul Razzaq etc are not able to provide consistent performances and why our players suffer from lack of focus and poor form so much. Yes, the PCB is to be blamed for not doing enough to ensure that the talent of youngsters is harnessed which is also one of the main reasons why we do not have a Saeed Anwar, Waqar, Wasim or even Inzamam in the team now. Asim Kamal was a rare find in that he showed unique skill and tenacity that can be associated with Miandad or Inzamam but unfortunately for whatever reason he is not in the team anymore.
    Shifting the focus to this current series, I made an exception for players like Butt, Younis and Afridi a while ago. These players perform exceedingly well against India and they should be played in every match. Butt is a bit of a red herring now who has struggled against India’s left arm pacers like Pathan and Zaheer who can swing the ball away from the left hander. He has been unconvincing this year but it will be interesting to see how he handles India’s pace battery. I once had a discussion with Wasim Saqib where I informed him that it is strange how Butt always performs well in practice matches but always fails in the main international matches. Afridi has a strong opening record against India and although I don’t support him opening in ODI’s, an exception will have to be made against India. I have been disappointed with Misbah’s performances since the T20 World Cup. His selection in the squad is highly questionable now that he failed in both Tests and ODI’s played at home. I know Asim Kamal is not a T20 player but it will make great sense if he is included in any ODI squad, on accounts of him being a left hander and having excellent pressure handling skills. When people are too content to put the rubber stamp on Asim saying he is “just a Test player” especially when he has never been tried for ODI’s, is it not about time we should put a rubber stamp on Misbah for being “just a T20” player too, especially because he has failed in both Tests and ODI’s recently?
    You can expect anything from a Pakistan-India series but I feel inclined to say that Pakistan will find it hard to win any Test matches. In ODI’s it is anyone’s game really. India have some good youngsters now in Uthappa, Dhoni and Yuvraj plus Ganguly and Tendulkar are as good as anyone who ever played the game. India’s pace attack has improved as well with the likes of Zaheer and RP swinging the ball at a good pace. If it had not been for India’s impressive youngsters and the new and improved pace attack, I would have placed my bets on Pakistan.

    Finally I want to make a point about Dravid. Dravid is easily in the top 5 batsmen in the world today. He averages more than Tendulkar in Tests and out-averages Tendulkar in seaming-friendly pitches of Australia, SA, NZ and England. He has been the captain of the team and is one of the most admired and respected cricketers in the world. Now he has been dropped for the first 2 matches in this series by the selectors. Did he hold any press conferences, bad mouth anybody or throw any tantrums? Compare his behaviour with how our under-performing players like Razzaq, Younis, Imran Farhat, Shoaib (in Shoaib’s case, under-performing as in, overall behaviour and lack of fitness as opposed to performance on the field) etc have behaved when their performances have been criticised by the PCB. I think our cricketers have a lot to learn from Dravid, not just learning related to batting skills.

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  • khansahab on November 4, 2007, 12:21 GMT

    Mr Abbasi has outlined some of the recent problems the team has faced quite succinctly. Most of us on this blog constantly offer our opinions and strategies as to how to make this team perform better. Some of us blame the captain, some of us blame the coach, some of us blame and selection of players, regionalism, batting order etc. Most of us though blame the system as a whole, citing lack of reason, common sense and meritocracy.
    One aspect that is frequently sidelined, perhaps because it is implicit and not overt, is the lack of pride our players demonstrate nowadays. I once read a Younis Khan interview where he was asked why the team is so inconsistent. His reply was that the team has been as consistent as it ever was; the only difference is that nowadays a lot of cricket is being played which means that fans highlight the defeats too much and hence blame the players’ inconsistency. My view is that Younis is wrong. Why is there an absence of supreme, consistent performance in the team that was personified by greats such as Wasim, Waqar, Saeed Anwar, Rashid Latif, Moin Khan, Inzamam, Salim Malik, Saqlain, Mushtaq not too long ago? The reason is that now our players have realised that they can remain in the team and earn big money just by giving 75% of what they can offer to the team and to the nation. They are satisfied with the status quo and do not want to go the extra mile. The patriotism and passion to go the extra mile for your country is missing. Nowadays international cricket offers plenty of money and glamour. In today’s materialistic world, having lots of money means having lots of respect, beautiful women and plenty of alternative avenues for even more ridiculously extravagant moneymaking.
    That is the one of the main reasons why our openers, Younis Khan, Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Akhtar, Kamran Akmal, Abdul Razzaq etc are not able to provide consistent performances and why our players suffer from lack of focus and poor form so much. Yes, the PCB is to be blamed for not doing enough to ensure that the talent of youngsters is harnessed which is also one of the main reasons why we do not have a Saeed Anwar, Waqar, Wasim or even Inzamam in the team now. Asim Kamal was a rare find in that he showed unique skill and tenacity that can be associated with Miandad or Inzamam but unfortunately for whatever reason he is not in the team anymore.
    Shifting the focus to this current series, I made an exception for players like Butt, Younis and Afridi a while ago. These players perform exceedingly well against India and they should be played in every match. Butt is a bit of a red herring now who has struggled against India’s left arm pacers like Pathan and Zaheer who can swing the ball away from the left hander. He has been unconvincing this year but it will be interesting to see how he handles India’s pace battery. I once had a discussion with Wasim Saqib where I informed him that it is strange how Butt always performs well in practice matches but always fails in the main international matches. Afridi has a strong opening record against India and although I don’t support him opening in ODI’s, an exception will have to be made against India. I have been disappointed with Misbah’s performances since the T20 World Cup. His selection in the squad is highly questionable now that he failed in both Tests and ODI’s played at home. I know Asim Kamal is not a T20 player but it will make great sense if he is included in any ODI squad, on accounts of him being a left hander and having excellent pressure handling skills. When people are too content to put the rubber stamp on Asim saying he is “just a Test player” especially when he has never been tried for ODI’s, is it not about time we should put a rubber stamp on Misbah for being “just a T20” player too, especially because he has failed in both Tests and ODI’s recently?
    You can expect anything from a Pakistan-India series but I feel inclined to say that Pakistan will find it hard to win any Test matches. In ODI’s it is anyone’s game really. India have some good youngsters now in Uthappa, Dhoni and Yuvraj plus Ganguly and Tendulkar are as good as anyone who ever played the game. India’s pace attack has improved as well with the likes of Zaheer and RP swinging the ball at a good pace. If it had not been for India’s impressive youngsters and the new and improved pace attack, I would have placed my bets on Pakistan.

    Finally I want to make a point about Dravid. Dravid is easily in the top 5 batsmen in the world today. He averages more than Tendulkar in Tests and out-averages Tendulkar in seaming-friendly pitches of Australia, SA, NZ and England. He has been the captain of the team and is one of the most admired and respected cricketers in the world. Now he has been dropped for the first 2 matches in this series by the selectors. Did he hold any press conferences, bad mouth anybody or throw any tantrums? Compare his behaviour with how our under-performing players like Razzaq, Younis, Imran Farhat, Shoaib (in Shoaib’s case, under-performing as in, overall behaviour and lack of fitness as opposed to performance on the field) etc have behaved when their performances have been criticised by the PCB. I think our cricketers have a lot to learn from Dravid, not just learning related to batting skills.

  • Andy Singh on November 4, 2007, 12:41 GMT

    First - Good Luck to Pakistan on this tour and hope they play great cricket. I also hope India wins. Next Pakistan's bowling is very formidable and their batting is not that bad as you are making it out to be. Pakistan always is a strong opponent against India. For India to beat Pakistan they have to put a good score on the board 275+ to put pressure and for Pakistan to beat India they need to take wickets at regular intervals. Times have changed a little bit with Pakistan pace attack blowing India out of water. India can now face pace a little bit more confidently. On paper both the teams are equally matched more or less but the game is not played on paper. Looking forward to a great series.

  • stephen.philips on November 4, 2007, 13:00 GMT

    Kamran has already started preparing base or foundation for justifying defeat.And if Pakistan win it will be easier to say "I said so". Hang on Pakistan may defeat India or the....................obvious might happen too ;)

  • Ali on November 4, 2007, 13:37 GMT

    Thanks for highlighting Akmal's issue. It's strange that selectors can't find a keeper from so many teams playing in domestic circuit, are those teams are having keepers worst than Akmal?

  • Osman Ali Khairi on November 4, 2007, 13:50 GMT

    Also, I think it’s fair to say that while growing up, I always saw Pakistan getting the better of India, be it in Sharjah or any other neutral venue (with the exception of the world cup games, of course!). Back then, we had an amazing team. But unfortunately, India hardly played any series against us, all on the pretext of the Kashmir issue, which I always thought was a lame alibi to not play 'cricket'. Now for perhaps, the first time in my life, the Indians have a pretty solid bowling line up along with an equally good batting side and have the opportunity to give us a real beating. Of course, things have now changed; the relations between the two great nations have significantly improved, India has had a good run in international cricket and importantly (read: conveniently) the Kashmir issue, has now been shoved out of the picture. Nevertheless, I completely agree with you Kamran bhai. Pakistan is definitely the underdog and all the players will have to play out of their skins to emerge victorious in this very important tour. On the upside, this team is very similar to the one that beat India on the previous tour to the country. So well, we can all hope for a similar result: S I think, Afridi, Younis, Akmal and Shoaib will all have to play sensibly and give it their best for the country. Let’s hope the ‘skilled rabble’ as Ian Chappel often puts it, comes together and gives the Indians a run for their money. InshAllah.

    p.s. I'm also hoping that our players will learn for the mistakes they made in the SA series and won't repeat them on this tour!

  • senior player on November 4, 2007, 14:03 GMT

    Please do not mix politics and cricket.

  • Ananth Venkatesh, Mumbai on November 4, 2007, 14:04 GMT

    The problem with Pakistan is its undue and pressurising reliance on Yousuf and Younis to take them to safety while batting as was amply evident against RSA. If they fail, through inexcusable modes like the run-out or otherwise, the rest of Pakistan's batting, with the probable exception of Shoaib Malik, just doesn't display the gumption required to bail the team out. The bowling appears far more balanced and reasonably settled, with an efficient spinner in Rehman, and a slightly inconsistent yet laudable crop of fast-medium bowlers. India start as indisputable favourites for both the series. The excitement and eagerness that would accompany viewers before the commencement of any Indo-Pak series doesn't exist this time around. The reason could be that this is the fourth time in four years that India and Pakistan are playing against each other, with Pakistan having competed twice at home against India,and India once on her own soil,till now.

  • Adeel Anwar on November 4, 2007, 14:12 GMT

    I agree with a lot of things mentioned in the writing by kamran abbasi. Pakistan batting is adept at creating headaches for the coaches coming in due to their own method of playing cricket, at times, unnecessarily playing aggressive cricket and at times totally unnecessary closed in the shell non confident cricket. IT seems that paki batting knows no middle grounds. the two You's have to do the bulk of the scoring and if they fail which they can since they are humans then the batting gets into a dangerzone. Openning slots have been the pain in the neck for pakistan long enough now. Every possible combinition has been tried and yet of no avail. some say afridi is the best choice to open on the sub continent pitches which apprently seems the right thing to say and yet one knows afridi is'nt consistent. batting slots cannot be filled in with patches. That is simply not professional enough an attitude. secondly by sending afridi up the order the team lacks the solid hit out batsman in the lower order. Absence of Abdul Razzaq is big hole in that spot in my opinion. he is one of the most sensible hard hitting player when it comes to batting. His bowling, ofcourse is debateable but i still believe the guy deserves a place in the one day squad. Imran nazir, The other player tried several times in the opening slot, is at the height of unpredictability and yet so predictable. He has got classy talent in him but the problem ,as defined by the great Ian chappel, that he has all the excellent shots and extreme timing in his hands but with a head filled with absurd ideas. he is one of the most self desctructing player i have ever seen play international cricket. Misbah another reveletion for the paki cricket has yet to impart his impact on the games following the T20 glory that he attained. Minute scores like 18 16 21 etc provide a disappointing story. There has been reasonable progress in the fielding department for sure in the recent times yet it still remains in consistent. From the bowling point of view pakistan has a balanced attack. IF shoaib akhtar is able to sustain his playing condition for the whole series that yet remains to be seen. Rao iftikhar is one bowler i think has been undeservingly been out of the team. He is a good one day first change bowler. more like a stuart clarke mould but with more swing and a bit more pace on his day. he has always performed whenever included in the team and yet he disappears after every good performance mysteriously. Gul is imporiving himself everypassing day as a great international new and old ball bowler and his performances have been impressive all along in recent times. all n all pakistan does lack the professional approach in thinking when it comes to their batting and they need to work on it.

  • Shahzad on November 4, 2007, 14:45 GMT

    I am wrinting this just to get little relief for mind which got extremely depressed after news of attack on our judiciary and law by a dictator. Any way, I agree this is the time of learning and doing some positive experiments. There are three crucial positons where we need reliable players, 1- Wicket keeper batsman, I do not know why Akmal is being given so many mchances. Is there no any yong wicket keeper in domestic circuit who can be reliable? 2-Opening position which was never fulfilled after the retirement (by force) of Saeed Anwar.3- Number 6 position in batting order, Misbah was good in 20, he is basically 20 palyer. In his 8 innings agaist South Africa at home on relatively straight wickets, his performance tells itself about his talent. He is neither technically that perfect nor he his a young player who can be relaiable for the big matches. We should look at least for test matches some better young player, Asim Kamal has been good or any other for this position. Once Paksitan team was famous fro the late brust by lower order, after the removal of Abur Razaq we are completely lacking that ability. I belive in On-day Afridi should play at little ahead,if not at open then certainly at position 6 ahead of Misbah. Whatever the ability he has is wasted by putting him at No7 or 8. I can bet if in first one-day against South Africa had Afridi played that innings at No 6 or 7 instead of No 8, Pakistan would certainly have won that match. Good luck for Pakistan cricket team and Pakistan nation

  • saqib on November 4, 2007, 15:06 GMT

    Sometimes i think pakistan will never learn. They put in a few good one day peroformances against south africa and everyone is thinking at last we are going places but then again the inconsistency and a lack of application is brought to the fore to lose 6 wickets for 20-30 runs is a real disgrace. Also i really liked afridi but he really showed us his true colours when he went for a 6 when pakistan needed 20 of 40 balls or so utterly disgraceful how can he be made vice-captain after that showing.