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November 18, 2007

Captaincy

Malik masters his destiny

Kamran Abbasi
Shoaib Malik attempts to steer one through the off side, Pakistan v South Africa, 4th ODI, Multan, October 26, 2007
 © Getty Images
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The last one-day international mattered little in the grand scheme of cricket but it had become a genuine challenge to Shoaib Malik's authority. Pakistan's young captain revelled in the glow of a Twenty20 near triumph but his time since has been wretched.

On the field, Malik has at various times looked confused, clueless, and catatonic. His soundbites have underestimated the intelligence of his supporters. The whole of the South Africa series was excused by a Twenty20 hangover and the India one-day series has been more competitive in Malik's head than in the eyes of anybody who has witnessed it.

Malik's own form has been a disappointment, as has Pakistan's evidently timid approach under his captaincy. In many ways, the debate boils down to the manner of defeat--and the manner of defeat suffered by Malik's Pakistan has been soulless, an intolerable circumstance for Pakistan fans and ex-players.

Today's Man-of-the-Match award is a relief for Malik and helps him begin to establish his authority. Only rare captains, take Mike Brearley for example, are able to lead an international side without any semblance of form. Since Malik cannot hope to demand the intellectual authority of a Brearley, or even an Imran Khan, his form will be the route to his success as a captain.

That is lesson number one for Malik. Lesson number two is that Pakistan cricket is an aggressive beast, a captain must ride it with attitude to achieve success and satisfy the faithful. Pakistan played with something of a swagger today and it helped bring out the best in its young talents.

These have been tough and slow lessons to learn but let's hope they have sunk in. Furthermore, this series defeat has produced some positive outcomes. Sohail Tanvir has confirmed his status as Pakistan's most exciting young fast bowler and possible allrounder. Salman Butt may have solved one half of Pakistan's opening conundrum, at least in conditions where the ball doesn't move too much or for too long. Sarfraz Ahmed has shown that there is life behind the stumps without Kamran Akmal--and about time too. And Fawad Alam's frenetic energy hinted at why he has become a domestic hero and should find a regular place in Pakistan's one-day team.

Yet one win doesn't eliminate the weaknesses in this Pakistan team. They will have to play with this level of belief, commitment, and aggression to stand a chance against India in the Test series. Malik's best chance lies in the fact that though India might be the stronger team they are flawed too. Whatever happens, Shoaib Malik must realise that the only way to lead Pakistan is from the front and in the face of the opposition.

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

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Posted by abdullah shamim on (November 24, 2007, 11:09 GMT)

shoib malik is not a senior player. he is a terific batesman. pakistan had a very good t20 cup because of him.actaullly muhammad yousuf should me the captain.

Posted by JAVED A KHAN, MONTREA, CANADA on (November 23, 2007, 14:47 GMT)

This is ridiculous and so unprofessional of Lawson to say at the end of the first day test match. He said, "the reason for Pakistan's batting collapse was due to successive limited-overs tournaments played by his team in the recent months. The boys have been in the one-day cricket mode for a while now. And when you play Test matches, it's pretty difficult to shift the tempo." Ref. daily DAWN of Nov. 23, 2007

First, there was an excuse after losing against SA, that they are coming back from the Twenty20 WC where they played too much of the shorter version of the game hence, they are unable to adjust for the 50 over ODI's. How can one accept such lame excuses coming from professionals? Lawson should have thought twice before saying nothing. Mohammad Yousuf and Younus Khan are reportedly world class test batsmen and how come they make such lame excuses? Whereas, Misbah ul Haq who is relatively new in this arena was also with them in all forms of the game and since his inclusion in the T20i's he is a totally different player now. He applies himself so well under pressure and maintains a near to over 100% strike rate in the shorter version of the game and the other day when the situation demanded he played a very gritty innings with a strike rate of 34%. How come it is possible for him to switch or shift into different modes of the game so easily? And how come he is so successful in all forms of the game and it is not the same for the big 2Y's? And what a shame that Misbah got run-out in such a bizarre fashion.

I have said this before and I am reiterating my point once again about the run out rule in cricket. In all other sports such as athletics from 100 meter race to 10,000 meters race and be it Olympics or any world class event, or even at international horse racing events, the winner is adjudged at the line through a photo finish and the judgment is based upon seeing the athlete's nose or his chest and not their feet at the finishing line. Same is the case with horses that their heads are taken into account and not their feet crossing the line. So, in cricket too, no matter if the bat or the player's body is in the air but, it is inside the line or the crease, then he should not be given out irrespective of the fact that his bat or his feet are not touching the ground. Mishab must have been at least a meter inside the crease but, a foot above the ground, an evasive action had cost him his wicket for which he must be mad at himself after playing so well, he sure deserved a hundred. But, the way he is playing so far he will make one soon.

Posted by WASIM SAQIB on (November 23, 2007, 5:40 GMT)

Pakistan team is again in a precarious position in the first test.The top order failed again, none of the top order batsmen showed any mental toughness and a commitment to their job, they all got out playing casual shots, I guess these batsmen should take a leaf out of Sami's book and they should learn from it, Sami showed the mental toughness and application and a strong commitment to his job and along with Misbah he did his best so that his team doesn't get humiliated although the final score 231 is still not enough considering the strength of Indian batting line up but it might give our bowlers a chance, the ball is keeping low and the fast bowlers have been able to move the ball so far, it all depends on Pakistani pace attack now if they can move the ball off the seam and do some early damage to the Indian line up. Pakistan will surely miss Omar gul or Rao here as both of them are the best seam bowlers Pakistan have besides Asif.

Misbah played a long and determined win but somehow he still couldn't overcome the bizarreness which has surrounded him since he made his comeback, ever since he made his comeback he always find himself in a situation where he is confronted with a huge uphill task, he shows a lot of determination and skill to complete the task but stops just short of it, even today when it seemed that he was going to take Pakistan into safe waters he got dismissed because of a bizarre run out,is it a lapse of concentration? or a lack of presence of mind? or just plain nervousness, but whatever it is, it's continuously haunting him.

Shoaib Malik made a terrible mistake to bat first with the overcast conditions on the first day he should have put India into bat,he must learn to play to his strength, the move he made was a defensive one because they evidently didn't wanted to face Indian spinners batting last on this pitch.Anyways Pakistan should bowl with extreme discipline the choice of Sohail Tanvir over Gul and Rao might become a very costly mistake as he leaks too many runs in shape of loose balls and extras and in my opinion was still not ready for test cricket.

Posted by dr aamir imtiaz on (November 22, 2007, 16:29 GMT)

India won the first two sessions; picking of 3 for 74 in the morning and 5 for 68 in the afternoon. Zaheer and Kumble led the bowling effort, taking two and three wickets apiece, and were well supported by Munaf and Ganguly.

However, their hopes of wrapping up Pakistan for cheap after tea were dashed by a dogged partnership between Misbah and Sami. Misbah began his innings extremely slowly but settled down and played a sensible innings. He farmed the strike efficiently as Sami took his time to settle down and looked for singles only towards the end of an over.

Kumble didn't look to attack Misbah and was happy to concede the single to him. Once Sami gre in confidence, Misbah was happy to give him more of the strike. They've taken Pakistan to 210 and if they can push towards 250 tomorrow, it will be a competitive first-innings total.

Posted by JAVED A KHAN, MONTREAL, CANADA on (November 22, 2007, 14:58 GMT)

Delhi Test started and at the end of the day-1 nothing significant happened except for Misbah fighting patiently and Sami giving him the much needed support both added some respectability to the total. Otherwise, starting from Butt, who passed the baton to Malik to ensure that they are comrades in misery and can easily add more miseries to the team by contributing the binary numeral system 0 and 1 to reel the team down and under and give Kumble the advantage. Kumble is already the leading wicket taker in this match so far and that I guess it is an advantage for Malik?

The pitch is reportedly flat and already breaking and it may not help much to the fast bowlers on the second and third day. Although Zaheer Khan and Munna Bhai Patel bowled well within themselves and got a few wickets in the typical misty, foggy and smoggy morning of New Delhi. Even Ganguly got lateral movement and troubled the batsmen and got the prized wicket of Mohammad Yousuf, that is perhaps due to him being a medium pacer and his slower one can deceive the batsman especially if you are caught napping and Yousuf was trapped in front of the wickets in the same fashion.

It is really a shame to see that the Indian bowlers and players in general were appealing for LBW on every single ball that was hitting the pads. Never mind there is an inside edge, or if it is outside the line or, if it is pitched on the leg side or, if it is moving further away from the off-stump, it doesn't matter to them, they kept appealing and they were appealing vociferously and blatantly vo bhee dhatai kay sath. Its good to see Simon Taufel umpiring otherwise, if it was Amish Saheba or Suresh Shastri umpiring this match, we would have seen India batting before the tea interval and Pakistan may have been bundled out under hundred - Advantage Malik - Kumble 6 wickets?

If the Rawalpindi Express or the Karachi trooper tries to bowl express deliveries of over 145 kph also, giving width to the batsmen then, they would only be dissipating their energies and will fall flat without achieving any success. Because, players like Tendulkar, Laxman and Dravid can leave the wider deliveries to frustrate the bowlers by not offering any shots. Besides, Akhtar can hardly bowl four overs in a row. So, there is a dilemma, like Asif was consumed and exhausted in South Africa early this year, I am afraid the same might happen to Tanvir or even to Sami. Because, the Rawalpindi Express is expected to be derailed despite his own assurances and also from his coach and the trainer that he is in "shipshape." But for sure we shall be seeing him sitting on the sidelines huffing and puffing inhalers or someone massaging his back or pulling his legs!

Right now Pak Spin appears to be derailed or is it Mr. Abbassi who doesn't seem to be inclined in updating the blog. Mr. Abbassi, I thought you are immune from the virus that has plagued the other blogs on cricinfo and the reason Pak Spin is better than them is because of the fact that you update it faster also, choose better subjects and create new threads faster than them. So, please don't join that bandwagon - stay unique and stay awake.

Posted by Irfan khan on (November 22, 2007, 12:35 GMT)

Hiiiiiiiiiiiii This comments are specialy for -------" JAVED A KHAN, MONTREAL, CANADA------ "

I just feel that, you dont have any any idea about cricket. You just go with one match and write you idea down..

Let me ask you one thing, how can you criticize malik???

I guess , u r just a fool... and just a question to you, when did u start watching cricket? or have u anytime played cricket?

Hey, plss my advice to u is, not to comment in site like pak spin, whih is a place for good cricketing brain people..

Posted by Karan on (November 22, 2007, 10:35 GMT)

This is in response to Mr.Osman Ali Khairi 's comments. I think the problem with your comments are that they are in the past, you seem to love to live in the past. But still you may have mentioned India's record overseas in the 80's & 90's, which is true that they did not win any series however at the same time you have to see their record in India and they have not lost Home series either (baring a match here or there). It was impossible to beat us in a home series and thats why even Steve waugh had called it his Final frontier but Alas he never won a series in India. I am sorry but the same cannot be said about your team and they have not only lost series outside however they have been loosing home series also. To England, Srilanka, Australia, South Africa and now even to India. You are quick to call us 'Lambs abroad' however even if that was true but it is also true that we are unbeatable at home. Something which I cannot say about your team. The may not be lambs abroad but certainly are no tigers abroad or at home. Even the current series will be won by us.

Posted by stephen.philips on (November 22, 2007, 9:41 GMT)

Pakistan is performing upto their potential. They are 150-7 in first innings.

Posted by noor on (November 22, 2007, 7:26 GMT)

Another pathetic batting display by our so called test players. These spineless players who represent Pakistan are nothing more than club cricketers. Malik is not fit run a dog's home. The trouble with Pakistan team is that their heads are over blown by the smart Indian ploy of treating the Pakis as heroes. I saw Malik and co at an Indian Fashion house. The adolation the Indian gave to these bunch of losers was incredible.

They send back one fool (Afridi) home now it would be wise to send the whole team "Paking" home and spare us the misery and mockery from our national team. It seems under Malik the team are more interested in their personal gains than for the country's honour. The team should spent more time on training than late night at discos and Indian restaurants. Malik should be sacked.

Posted by Omer Admani on (November 22, 2007, 3:56 GMT)

I just saw the team selected. I am surprised that Malik has selected Kamran Akmal Again. The PCB has given the captain too much power and the final 11 should be selected by selectors. Or blunders like Kamran Akmal need to be kept beyond Malik's reach, he should have been back in Pakistan.

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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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