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January 18, 2008

New age

This might become a regular event

Kamran Abbasi
Shoaib Malik walks gingerly during a practice session, November 29, 2007
 © AFP
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Last year's World Cup plunged India and Pakistan into the world of minnows. By the end of the Twenty20 equivalent, redemption was within grasp but the neighbours have followed opposite paths since. India stand on the brink of a phenomenal victory against the world's number one team while Pakistan can't be entirely confident of a convincing victory over Zimbabwe.

In many ways the difference in fortunes is reflected by the difference in leadership. Mahendra Dhoni and Anil Kumble have assumed their roles in reassuring fashion, inspiring more senior and more celebrated colleagues respectively to outstanding performances. India's batting remains strong but the bowling remains raw, hence progress was not a given.

Across the border, Shoaib Malik has flattered to deceive. Pakistan, with out of form unsettled batsmen and injured bowlers, might have more rebuilding to do yet their achievements since the Twenty20 World Cup have still been a disappointment. The best batting order remains something of a mystery and the production line of bowlers might not have dried up but it cannot decide which is this year's model.

Above all, Malik has looked too much of a passenger in his own team. The change that Malik has to make, and he has to make it quickly, is that whatever his form, he must stamp his authority on the team and discard any inhibitions he might have over his leadership role. The biggest regret any failed leader can have is that they might not have done things their way.

The Zimbabwe series offers Malik an opportunity to learn how to command but as some bloggers have pointed out, the captaincy is not a learning role. The fans, if not the Pakistan Cricket Board, will quickly run out of patience. Anything but a crushing defeat of Zimbabwe will be unsatisfactory despite Pakistan's correct decision to blood new players.

Young players might provide hope and sporadic brilliance but the burden of Pakistan's resurgence in international cricket rests on the shoulders of its established players. Malik, Younis Khan, Mohammad Yousuf, Shahid Afridi, Salman Butt, and Misbah ul-Haq must take responsibility for guiding Pakistan to a better future. Misbah apart, responsibility has been an inconsistent trait among these players.

As such, the series should be a victory for Pakistan but its nature is uncertain. Indeed, we will not learn how good Pakistan are during this series although Zimbabwe might expose how bad the hosts can be.

Either way, Pakistan and Zimbabwe better get used to the look of each other. The political upheavals in both countries could mean that these meetings will become a regular occurrence. In that event, Malik might become the most successful captain in Pakistan's history.

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

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Posted by Rahul on (February 5, 2008, 9:40 GMT)

As an ardent fan of Pakistan, (not when they are playing against India :-)), I feel bad when they are going through a tough phase. The solution is in front of them, like the Indian team handover the captaincy of the Test team to one of your best senior player, i.e. Younis Khan or Mohammed Yousuf and for the one day team you need a very aggressive player and not the passive player that Shoaib Malik is. I have always felt that there is not a more dangerous player in ODI than Shahid Afridi. Yes he is inconsistent but you if given more responsibility he may change to be one of the greatest ODI players. He is bowling as well as ever and his batting is now more restrained. Pak selectors have almost everyone a chance to be Captain, why not put the mantle on Afridi for a couple for series as see how he performs?

Posted by Mr.India on (January 24, 2008, 20:52 GMT)

Dear Players from Karachi,

Please come and play for us. We will provide justice and merit for you.

Mr.India

Posted by abdul on (January 24, 2008, 20:10 GMT)

Aslamalaikum Mr Abassi

Firstly I would like to say why haven't you benn posting any aticles in the last month ?

I think that this series coming up is an oppurtunity to experiment both in strategies for shoaib Malik and youth.

I disagree with the team selection and in particular the bowling . I would like to see Sohail Khan, Mansoor Amjad , Danish Kaneria and Anwar ali.

Never the less whatever pakistani tem is palying I strongly support.

Come on pakistan lets win it 5-0 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by SAM on (January 24, 2008, 19:21 GMT)

Although Pakistan is winning against Zimbabwe but i seriously want to question to role of Shoaib Malik in the team, why the hell is he coming at number 5, then Misbah at 6 and Afridi at 7. what a stupid batting order is this. First of all, Malik looks the weakest character right now in the team, i am afraid how is he leading and commanding the other 10 players. Neither he is a slogger or quick scorer nor a perfect batsman. If we have to fit him in playing XI (just because he is captain) then he should come after Misbah & Afridi. By the way Malik must be praying Australia doesn't visit Pakistan because i can sense the humiliation (on field) coming towards Malik & Pakistan team, or he will spend Australia series sitting out with the excuse of injury. Its a shame, what kind of character is representing Pakistan Cricket team and the whole nation. Bring in a brave strong person who can lead the team with honor.

Posted by ubaid on (January 24, 2008, 18:51 GMT)

After watching Malik captain during the earlier matches it was dissapointing to watch his defensive mentality. I thought that this would change and he would become more proactive in the field throwing the gauntlet at the opposing teams. Setting fields that say " you can't just punch the ball down the ground take a single and get off strike. If you want to score, you will have to take some risks, invent shots be innovative, think and play better than you have ever done before, and if you can do that than good luck to you. You deserve to win. I will have at least six fielders inside the ring who will not let the ball go by. I will tell me bowlers to bowl to the stumps or just outside. There is not way you can score. but if you do you would have earned it." Needless to say that I was expecting to much from the thickheaded gentleman who is doing considerable damage to the legacy of pakistan cricket by setting the kind of fields that he is. Diagnosis: Borderline intellectual functioning.

Posted by Saima khan on (January 24, 2008, 16:11 GMT)

Good point Rizwan above:

Its high time they get rid of Kamran Akmal, Shoaib Malik and Salman Butt. Khalid Latif should replace Salman Butt, Fawad Alam should replace Shoaib Malik and Srafraz should replace Akmal. Also bring in Sohail Khan and Anwar Ali.

But unfortuately Karachi born players should not hope to start international career from Pakistan cum PUNJABI cricket team.

Saima Khan

Posted by Farhan on (January 24, 2008, 15:23 GMT)

who ever thinks that karachi players are being ignored because they speak urdu are right. I strongly suggest all talented players like Fawad, Sarfraz, Asim, Khram, Naved altif etc should move to lahore like saeed anwar did. Saeed did the smart thing. these all players should move to pujab and start speaking punjabi.

Posted by Oss on (January 24, 2008, 13:35 GMT)

Man Shoaib Malik is such an insult for Pakistan. This guy is trying to become another dictator. He didnt want this new kid Nasir Jamshed in the team and I am glad we finally have GOOD selectors. Malik wants his close folks in the team including KAMRAN AKMAL. I hope we can drop butt and bring in Khalid Latif. Also what's up with Fawad Alam? That kid was the best among the domestic players and Malik refuses to include him. We need to do something about Malik before its too late.

Posted by Omer Admani on (January 24, 2008, 5:57 GMT)

It is hilarious watching Pak/Zim second match Paki bowling about 20th over now. What a fine embarassment Malik is too this nation, he has got the whole field at the boundary against Zimbabwe as well. Apart from Waqar's comedy, both our commentators-- Waqar and Zaheer ABBAS-- missed the missed stumping by Akmal. LoL.

Posted by pakistani on (January 24, 2008, 1:16 GMT)

One more thing i forget to mention here that after winning the first one day against zimbawve Malik said on this score they can beat australia a really childish answer , my question will australia let them pass 300 ? i dont thnk so and even they pass australia can easily pass bye. He really needs to take care what he is saying. Right now every thing is money everyone in board in team getting money and that also too much and what the performance is all in front. So pray for pakistan cricket.

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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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