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November 9, 2007

Pakistan in India 2007

Chokers have their catharsis

Kamran Abbasi
Sohail Tanvir and Shahid Afridi walk back after winning the match, India v Pakistan, 2nd ODI, Mohali, November 8, 2007
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All is far from perfect in the Pakistan cricket team. The questions posed at the start of this series about the openers and wicketkeeper are some way from resolution. But Pakistan's successful chase of 321 under lights was a welcome and essential triumph.

"Chokers" is a demoralising title for any sports team, even when it is well earned. It hurts the soul and shrinks the spirit. When Shahid Afridi and Sohail Tanvir entered the final act of Mohali's memorable one-dayer, a further stumble might have caused mental damage that would have quickly handed the rest of the series to India. Instead, they held their nerve in confident fashion.

Now Pakistan face the next encounter with an unexpected optimism. Tanvir plays with refreshing gusto and positivity. Afridi has shown he can measure his aggression for a few overs when it matters. Younis Khan has an influential century to calm his one-day anxiety. And Shoaib Akhtar and Umar Gul are beginning to forge a rapid and penetrative partnership. Crucially, India have problems aplenty to offer some balance to Pakistan's weaknesses.

One dramatic chase has revived Pakistan's optimism and begun the banishment of the chokers tag. Cricket is an exhilarating sport when contested by flawed but flamboyant powers. Pakistan, you might argue, are a touch more flawed and a shade more flamboyant, which probably places the advantage with India. But Pakistan fans at least expect their team to fight, an attribute that mysteriously disappeared during South Africa's tour only to reemerge in Mohali. What inspired its return is unclear but now this team knows it can perform when it matters--and that should be a moment of catharsis.

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

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Posted by Badar Siddiqi on (November 11, 2007, 21:15 GMT)

The truth is that Pakistan team is just following the same path it's been on for the past few years; inconsistency. They're heroes one day, zero another day. It's tough to predict how they will play on any given day; no wonder it's called the most unpredictable team in the world. It's obvious that Pakistan is missing that one responsible player in the team who could rise to the occasion and finish off the game for them. Just scoring big runs is not enough; someone has to play till the end rather than leaving it for the tailenders. If finding that finisher is tough at the moment then they can assign that job on a game to game basis. If one falls then the other should raise his hand and say that he'd do the job. Also, they seem to have problems with their spinners failing on the Indian tracks while their Indian counterparts look potent. Malik, Abdul Rehman and Afridi all look non-threatening and failing to contain the Indian batsmen. I believe spinners are the main difference between the two teams. Pakistan can't restrict India to low totals with just three bowlers. I'm wondering why on earth Malik isn't calling up Younis when his main bowlers are thrashed all over the ground. Younis has improved on his bowling since joining the county cricket and he can be trusted for few overs when needed. Also, Misbah needs to raise his game. We need more than 20s and 30s from him. A big innings from him is long over due. I think one way of solving the opening problem in the ODIs will be to have Malik open with Butt. We need a slogger at the top who can thrash the bowlers and dent their confidence making good use of the field restrictions. In a run chase, that will also ease pressure on the middle order batsmen. It seems like PCB godfathers finally decided it was enough of Akmal's misery and arrange for a replacement although they're still calling that as a back up. A fresh and long over due addition of Sarfraz Ahmed to the team will definitely bring a sense of relief for the frustrated bowlers who were increasingly getting frustrated with Akmal's buttery gloves. Sarfraz is a talented batsman also and thoroughly deserves his place in the team based purely on merit rather than past performance. Hopefully the team will bounce back twice at Gwalior and Jaipur and enter the test series with their heads up.

Posted by Daaniyal on (November 11, 2007, 21:01 GMT)

I swear I just cannot take this akmal torture anymore.... my kingdom for a 'keeper!!!

Posted by Owais on (November 11, 2007, 21:00 GMT)

Could someone tell me what "Pawwaa" or "sifarish" or "parchee" Mr. Untouchable Akmal has got ? Today a "backup wicketkeeper" is sent "not as a replacement but as a back up" because Mr. Exhaulted Akmal is little injured. No replacement just an additional bench players like Fawwaad Alam. I wish I was even 100 times less lucky/fortunate then Kamran Akmal - I would surely have been president of USA.

Posted by noor on (November 11, 2007, 20:48 GMT)

How pathetic can it get? PCB are condering Sarfraz Ahmed as replacement WK for the hapless Akmal. What I dont understand why was Akmal playing in the first if he was injured. A fit Akmal was below par and injured Akmal was totally useless for Pakistan. I ask who those nincompoops who running Pakistan's cricket these days?

Posted by Fouad Khan on (November 11, 2007, 19:59 GMT)

Kamran Akmal has to go. He can't keep dropping MATCHES for pakistan the way he is... that's wat it is, when u drop a ganguly, u r dropping a match, not a catch.

Posted by Junaid on (November 11, 2007, 19:52 GMT)

India deserved to win the 3rd one day as they played better all day. Pakistan played well in patches but there too many culprits. Umar Gul had a very bad opening spell, dropped 2 catches, Spinners Afridi/Rahman/Malik were unimpressive on a spinning track and some loose shots & running b/w the wickets. But than there are some postives with Sohail Tanvir's bowling and AWESOME batting from Salman. Salman is defintely the most talented batsman and I am happy that he is back in form for Pakistan.

Posted by khansahab on (November 11, 2007, 19:49 GMT)

So how did Akmal "develop" the hand injury?

Answer: Shoaib Akhtar broke his hand.

Posted by Shibili Ahamed USA on (November 11, 2007, 17:01 GMT)

Yet another time, Kamran 'the criminal' Akmal has handed over a victory to the opponents. He must be tied to the war head of some missile and fired into the space.

Shoaib Malik, wins the toss only once in a while, then he takes decision as good as he loses it. It was an horrendous mistake to field first.

Then comes Kamran 'criminal;' Akmal's atrocities. Tanvir bowled superb. Shoaib Akther's bad luck will continue as long as Kamran 'Criminal' Akmal continues as the keeper. Umar Gul has to learn that once the pressure is applied properly, the opponents will force and will get out in a wicket like this. Both Sachin and Sourav is under tremendous pressure because of huge criticism they are facing. So just restrict them from scoring, then they will commit suicide.

Pakistani fielding is pathetic. Forget about ground fielding, what I am saying is about catching.

Shoaib Malik committed a huge mistake by choosing Afridi to open. Afridi was having a bad day with bowling and was in total disarray. In the second ODI Kamran 'criminal' akmal and Salman Butt gave a 'not so bad opening stand'. Younus Khan's and Misbah's assurance was that Shahid Afridi is coming after them to force the scoring. Here that was lost.

Mohammed Yousuf is playing with indifference. He threw his wicket away yet another time. Yuvaraj is the best fielder in India and running to left of him is an ultimate mistake.

I cannot understand for what reason Younus Khan took a stance at guard on offstump when he came down to the crease. Eventually that costed him the wicket.

Misbah always forgets where his own stump lines are.

I really missed Rao Ifthikar's yorkers and straight balls in this juicy wicket.

First and foremost, Shoaib Malik has to believe that he is also a spinner. No need for three spinners on a juicy track like this. Four pacers would have been the best choice.

Geoff Lawson needs to go back to the coaching school on decision making.

Yet another loss, which is self inflicted. Now winning the series is totally out of question with such a atrocious wicket keeper and 'no brain' captain.

Let me go and watch the 1993 World Cup DVD.

Posted by Awas on (November 11, 2007, 16:55 GMT)

Today, the best news that has come out after this third ODI defeat is that Kamran Akmal has aggravated his finger injury and the team management has requested for a replacement. Didn’t even know he had an injury.

I had often thought, the only way to get rid of Kamran Akmal was when he actually gets injured but he never does, until now. Now we can all breathe a sigh of relief ;-)

Posted by Underhousearrest on (November 11, 2007, 16:08 GMT)

The Pakistan has lost the third ODI. Just one win led to unbelievable euphoria and we lost all sense of perspective. We need to know that we have lost the edge against India. India is getting stronger by the day while we have players like Akhtar and Akmal who are just not good enough.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kamran Abbasi
Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He was the first Asian columnist for Wisden Cricket Monthly and wisden.com. Kamran is the editor of the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. @KamranAbbasi

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