Champions Trophy September 18, 2009

Champions Trophy a truer test of Pakistan's progress

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Pak Spin has been taking a break, gathering itself for a season of cricket. In the absence of cricket, the controversies that regularly engulf the Pakistan team usually escalate. Now this may just be the natural order of things. It may be trouble makers in the media. It may be players, ex-cricketers, officials, or politicians with a career to promote or an axe to grind. I've chosen to stay out of those zones of misery for the past month. I've also been taking a break. Sometimes bloggers need to give everybody a break as well.

But cricketing matters are now genuinely upon us. The Champions Trophy is generally lambasted as an irrelevance, an unwanted dessert after a binge meal. Pakistan cricketers and fans will not share that view. For Younis Khan's team, this tournament matters. It will be a barometer of Pakistan's rehabilitation as a serious international cricket nation.

We were all surprised and delighted by the T20 victory and its manner--and rightly so. But the subsequent tour of Sri Lanka showed that the longer formats require greater readjustment. This is no fault of Pakistan's players. External circumstances have robbed them of series after series of international cricket. Their domestic structure and cricket board infrastructure is unsuitable to deliver the preparation that is required to compete at the highest level. For the World T20 Champions, the Champions Trophy will be a stern examination.

Nonetheless, there are many positives for Pakistan going into the tournament. They have a fullish season of international cricket planned, which is unlikely to be disrupted. A season that will include contests against Australia, England, and India is always mouth watering for Pakistan supporters. Important ICL players have been welcomed back. As has Mohammad Asif, whose selection will invite controversy but acute interest. And Pakistan are beginning to assemble a settled nucleus of players under a leader who is in full command thanks to the T20 victory--a sharp contrast to the start of the last Champions Trophy.

Indeed, Younis Khan has set his side the right objectives: winning a World Cup and a Champions Trophy. These are tough challenges. A 50 overs match is a much less forgiving examination than a T20 encounter. The summit of Test cricket is further off still. Still, these one day milestones are exactly what Pakistan should be aiming for.

Achieving one of them this time round will be tough. Pakistan have traditionally performed badly in one-day cricket in South Africa, the 2003 World Cup disaster being a perfect example. Pakistan's players, as good as they can be, remain short of top level cricket. And their usual slow start will not be tolerated as there are no minnows in this tournament. The tough matches are immediate.

Although anything can happen in a short snappy one-day tournament, Pakistan will be pushed to win this one. Supporters will, however, expect the team to be competitive. The label of World T20 Champions will bring some pressure but hopefully some pride too. For me, we're at the beginning of a new era for Pakistan cricket. It will be a nomadic, often difficult time, but it is a period that will require wise leadership, long-term strategies, and a large supply of patience.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Faraz Khan on October 10, 2009, 19:29 GMT

    Correct Javed butt this really is unfair.I think that ICC should have to take some action about this thing because Indians are really trying their best to let Pakistan down thats why they didnot allow Pakistan's to play in IPl but Pakistan win the T20 world cup and Insha Allah no Indian team will win the champions leagueT20.

  • Javed Butt on October 7, 2009, 20:49 GMT

    Why no pakistani team is playing in T-20 champions trophy started today in india.I think ICC should be fair to all & not allow any country to dictate her policy. How can you alllow this tournament when the T20 word champions are not invited.

  • Vinoth on October 7, 2009, 7:47 GMT

    I am from Srilanka ! Any way ! always Pakistan team is best for me ! I love pakistan for ever !

  • Abdur Rahman on October 6, 2009, 11:54 GMT

    HI This mail from Sri Lanka. I like tell something about PAK cricket. In my opinion, Yonus did the mistake when Pakistan close to win. YOUNS finished M.AAMIR's over before the batting power play. S'eedh Ajmal's over used in batting power play. And Younus MISSED THE WANTED CATCH @ THE RIGHT TIME FOR PAKISTAN. OUR BOOM BOOM AFRIDI missed the RUN OUT CHANCE OF VETTORI WHEN YOUNGER U.AKMAL THREW TO BOOM BOOM. And the Coach & the Captain kept Wonderful & Wanted bowler M.Asif out of the match with out the reason. THEY HAD TO KEEP RANA OR I.NAZIR OUT OF THE MATCH. DEAR SIR IJAZ BUTT THE CHAIR MAN OF THE PCB! PLEASE FORGIVE ME, IF THERE ARE ANY MISTAKE!

  • Faraz Ahmed on October 4, 2009, 20:17 GMT

    dat Faraz Ahmed whu commented erlier is sooo not me......i'd neva ask or pray for da paki team......loool eventhough i support pakistan!

  • Iqbal on October 1, 2009, 14:32 GMT

    OZ have shown their hand, negative bowling in the first 15-20 overs (to put pressure on the batting side re run rate). The Pakistan coaches have come up with a strategy to defeat this kind of bowling and set field. Really if Pakistan win the toss in the final they should do the same - negative bowling (2 feet at least off the stumps)in the first 15-20 0vers (so the run rate pressure is on the batting side)with a offside field full of sharp fielders.

  • sonia naz on September 27, 2009, 9:03 GMT

    no comment. all the best boom boom team pakistan yonus n afridi veryyyyyy good captain india ko kia shikst di hai nice malik,yusuf,gul,aamir,umer and all plyers best of luck y icc champions trophy 2009 hum hi jeety gai INSHALLHA humri dua aapni team k sath hain best of luck

  • tawheed(kashmir) on September 26, 2009, 6:56 GMT

    although evergeens will be he champions today. but they will not enjoy it,because they wanted sehvat,uv,zaheer&evenmore to show them.best of luck pak,we r enjoying with all of u

  • Akhtar M Syed on September 24, 2009, 14:44 GMT

    Gentlemen: Don’t get too excited. It is only a start, we only won the one match which is only against WI 2nd XI. Here is reminder that the honesty is the best policy. We will not advance until favoritism stop. It is simple is that? We need to give Fawad Allam a fair chance in this tournament. God is watching

  • Asad Malik on September 24, 2009, 12:14 GMT

    Why do we need Shoaib Malik and Iftikhar Rao? In fact why do we need Younis Khan? Bring back Razzaq and Asif. Where is Salman Butt? Where is Yasir Hameed? Are we gonna spoil them as we spoiled Basit Ali, Aqib Javed, Saqlain Mushtaq and many other?

  • Faraz Khan on October 10, 2009, 19:29 GMT

    Correct Javed butt this really is unfair.I think that ICC should have to take some action about this thing because Indians are really trying their best to let Pakistan down thats why they didnot allow Pakistan's to play in IPl but Pakistan win the T20 world cup and Insha Allah no Indian team will win the champions leagueT20.

  • Javed Butt on October 7, 2009, 20:49 GMT

    Why no pakistani team is playing in T-20 champions trophy started today in india.I think ICC should be fair to all & not allow any country to dictate her policy. How can you alllow this tournament when the T20 word champions are not invited.

  • Vinoth on October 7, 2009, 7:47 GMT

    I am from Srilanka ! Any way ! always Pakistan team is best for me ! I love pakistan for ever !

  • Abdur Rahman on October 6, 2009, 11:54 GMT

    HI This mail from Sri Lanka. I like tell something about PAK cricket. In my opinion, Yonus did the mistake when Pakistan close to win. YOUNS finished M.AAMIR's over before the batting power play. S'eedh Ajmal's over used in batting power play. And Younus MISSED THE WANTED CATCH @ THE RIGHT TIME FOR PAKISTAN. OUR BOOM BOOM AFRIDI missed the RUN OUT CHANCE OF VETTORI WHEN YOUNGER U.AKMAL THREW TO BOOM BOOM. And the Coach & the Captain kept Wonderful & Wanted bowler M.Asif out of the match with out the reason. THEY HAD TO KEEP RANA OR I.NAZIR OUT OF THE MATCH. DEAR SIR IJAZ BUTT THE CHAIR MAN OF THE PCB! PLEASE FORGIVE ME, IF THERE ARE ANY MISTAKE!

  • Faraz Ahmed on October 4, 2009, 20:17 GMT

    dat Faraz Ahmed whu commented erlier is sooo not me......i'd neva ask or pray for da paki team......loool eventhough i support pakistan!

  • Iqbal on October 1, 2009, 14:32 GMT

    OZ have shown their hand, negative bowling in the first 15-20 overs (to put pressure on the batting side re run rate). The Pakistan coaches have come up with a strategy to defeat this kind of bowling and set field. Really if Pakistan win the toss in the final they should do the same - negative bowling (2 feet at least off the stumps)in the first 15-20 0vers (so the run rate pressure is on the batting side)with a offside field full of sharp fielders.

  • sonia naz on September 27, 2009, 9:03 GMT

    no comment. all the best boom boom team pakistan yonus n afridi veryyyyyy good captain india ko kia shikst di hai nice malik,yusuf,gul,aamir,umer and all plyers best of luck y icc champions trophy 2009 hum hi jeety gai INSHALLHA humri dua aapni team k sath hain best of luck

  • tawheed(kashmir) on September 26, 2009, 6:56 GMT

    although evergeens will be he champions today. but they will not enjoy it,because they wanted sehvat,uv,zaheer&evenmore to show them.best of luck pak,we r enjoying with all of u

  • Akhtar M Syed on September 24, 2009, 14:44 GMT

    Gentlemen: Don’t get too excited. It is only a start, we only won the one match which is only against WI 2nd XI. Here is reminder that the honesty is the best policy. We will not advance until favoritism stop. It is simple is that? We need to give Fawad Allam a fair chance in this tournament. God is watching

  • Asad Malik on September 24, 2009, 12:14 GMT

    Why do we need Shoaib Malik and Iftikhar Rao? In fact why do we need Younis Khan? Bring back Razzaq and Asif. Where is Salman Butt? Where is Yasir Hameed? Are we gonna spoil them as we spoiled Basit Ali, Aqib Javed, Saqlain Mushtaq and many other?

  • Muhammad Hamza on September 23, 2009, 9:50 GMT

    No comments.....Just 1 thng n tht is Pakistan Will win inshAllah.Just win..

  • sumit on September 23, 2009, 6:00 GMT

    Thank you guys for your enlightening thoughts. Although I am new to blogs here but have been an ardent cricket lover and a follower for quite some time now. I think there is no reason for any one of us to dislodge the Pakistan team from the contention. Despite their mediocre performance in Sri Lanka, they are a great side and on their day they have the capability to drub the best. A team studded with potential match winners and a good leader in Younis Khan, I am positive they will do well. Dont forget Shahid Afridi has rediscovered himself with the ball and he needs no introduction when he comes out to bat. With a good pace attack and the revisit of Mohammed Yousuf I hope Pakistan does well in the competition, but the result for Sept 26 match should go in our favour, the MEN IN BLUE!!!!

  • Javed Zarif Canada on September 22, 2009, 21:50 GMT

    Cricket is back and so is Mr. Abbasi. Toughest challenge that pakistan face would be the right playing eleven. I would suggest that pakistan should go all out with specialists rather than packing the team with all-rounders. I would prefer Ajmal Playing all matches along with Asif, Gul,Amer and Afridi. If Pakistan wants to win they will have to show their ability to handle a chase. They need good start from the openers especially Imran Nazir who should take a leaf out of Afrid's book and see how important is to saty at the wicket. Overall, pakistan do have the 11 that can win the champions trophy. Good Luck boys.

  • Samad on September 22, 2009, 2:31 GMT

    Here we go again! I don't expect them to win. I do expect them to play bravely and not fall by the wayside as they have done in the past.

    Is it just me or does the prospect of a Gul, Aamer and Asif pace attack really look exciting...maybe not this tourney but our pace prospects haven't looked this good in forever!

  • MMHS (Dhaka) on September 21, 2009, 20:17 GMT

    After the opener against WI, it’s almost KO which often brings the best out of PAK. Besides, PAK, the slowest starters (No wonder their result is so poor in this tournament) will get the best possible 1st game. Still, it’s IND & AUS 4 me (Can’t bank PAK team to chase over 180 & not always middle orders can set significant target from 35/3) PAK’s main problem is in team composition, fitting Yousuf, Malik, Mezbah, Nazir & Alam in 3 slots. To my discomfort, with Razzaq not playing, they’ll go with batting experience leading Nazir & Alam to miss the cut. Invariably Malik opening to score cheep runs against WI & flopping next 2, & he can’t be dropped now for his meaningless but significant 130*. Yousuf don’t deserve a place, but he should never be dropped. That leads to Alam & Nazir missing again & a very poor fielding unit to support probably the best, balanced & versatile attack If they can make it, can finish at the final considering a SAF team in KO or anyone from other 3 in Semi

  • Jawad Haque on September 21, 2009, 17:39 GMT

    Nice article.. Well I think Pak has a very good chance this time around..but I wont be disappointed if aren't able to make to semi's...I think everyone is trying his best so I would like to them more time.. Best of luck!!!

  • big heded mehi on September 21, 2009, 12:02 GMT

    pakistan will hopefully win the champions trophy and will show everyone how gud they can play-pakistan Zindabad! Pakistan Zindabad! Pakistan is the besstt!!!

  • AHMED RANA on September 21, 2009, 11:55 GMT

    Picking the right team is key, with the right balance. Umar Akmal looks a real find. I would not play Mohammed Asif, he hasn't played enough competitive cricket in recent memory to warrant a place in the team, let alone the squad. I'd play Umar Gul, Mohammad Aamer and Rana Naved as frontline seamers, with Afridi and Ajmal as spinners. I think the batting picks itself, Imran Nazir, Kamran Akmal, Younis Khan, Mohammed Yousuf and Misbak ul-Haq/Uamr Akmal. Shoaib Malik is too selfish for my liking, although he is one of the best two/three fielders in the team. If they get out of a very tough group to the semis, that will be a bonus, and after that who knows.

    Finally, to those idiotic Muslims who insisit on saying Insha'Allah with Pakistani cricket. Save the INsha'allah for the important things in life, like prayers for Muslims less fortunate than use, who suffer from oppression and poverty, how the cricket team performs is trivial compared to the welfare of millions of Muslims worldwide

  • Marlo on September 21, 2009, 11:16 GMT

    I´ll put it all to Yousef and Younis, both are not performing. Younis is becoming a liability in ODIs. And then I will drop Imran Nazir to let Shoib open, I rate them both being out of touch but then Shoib can bowl a few overs if the wicket turns out to be a spin. On bowling side I wont play Aamer against Australia and instead choose Asif, but against India I will keep him in 11 and let Rana or Ajmal sit out. We must keep umar Gul in the 11 and the decision should not be effected by a slightly weak performances by him in SriLanka. He is one of the best in trade at the moment and will surely rise to occasion. Do we need Ajmal against India (so good spin players) on a fast wicket? Do we need Ranas batting against Indian weak bowling?? Why not play all out fast attack, Asif,Gul,Rana and Aamer against India supported by Afridi and Shoaib.

  • Shahid on September 21, 2009, 10:21 GMT

    Abbasi G, you are right in calling it a true test but not only the Champions Trophy but equally important will be the showings in all high profile test matches which Pakistan is going to play in this season. We have been pushed to wall in world cricket specially by the macho countries. In champions Trophy we need to find a team combination which will see us through. Adjustments in the playing 11 made to accomodate all the seniors while keeping Imran Nazir and Umar Akmal in the team can effect the end result as one of them has to sit out. And all the calculations and understanding leads to Imran Nazir sitting out to make place for shoaib at the top, otherwise its a choice between Misbah and Yousef, a hard one as Misbah just came back to form as per his his contribution in warm-up matches. But in my opinion it will be a huge mistake to drop Yousef. And then if we keep Rana in as being an allrounder then a choice of picking two among Asif, Umar, Aamer and Rao is a hard one too.

  • Rooboy on September 21, 2009, 10:10 GMT

    I think all true cricket fans would be hoping that Pakistan are competitive in the upcoming Champions Trophy. As an Aussie I obviously want Australia to win it but it would please me to see Pakistan do well, because world cricket is always more exciting (and more unpredictable!) when Pakistan is competing strongly. Good luck Pakistan, except against Australia ;)

  • Ashok Sridharan on September 21, 2009, 9:35 GMT

    Well summed up Mr. Abbasi. I've always looked forward to your articles. As a neutral viewer, I have fond memories of Pakistan (esp; Wasim Akram) from the 90s when I grew up. As a lover of the game, I'd be delighted if Pakistan can recapture even some of the nerve and verve of those glory years.

  • Sarmad on September 21, 2009, 0:10 GMT

    Pakistan team has traditionally performed poorly in SA but the warm up games have made me optimistic about their chances but then again Pak was so bad in the 20worldcup warm up games and finished winning the cup...so let's hope the history does not repeat itself and we perform better in SA and do equally well in the games after warm up...the 11 should be: Nazir Kamran Shoaib Younis Misbah/Yousaf Umar Akmal Afridi Rana Aamir Gul Asif/Ajmal

    fawwad can come in if nazir does not perform, dont think he should bat in the middle order.

  • Asim Rashid on September 20, 2009, 9:53 GMT

    aoa n hello every body! Nice comments from all of you.just to remind whole world dont ever under estimate Pakistan.on their day they can beat any one doesnt matter u r Assies or India. just watch out our old horses 'Misbah n Yousaf' this time they r going to shut every 1 mouth. I wl realy miss da 'Razzler' in this compitition n wish this cud b the last tournment for shoaib malik as he only deserve to play domestic cricket. Gud luck Pakees.Just go n show da world that We r da best. Br. Asim

  • Rafay on September 20, 2009, 9:32 GMT

    Very well written. I personally think that after a long time Pakistan is actually looking strong not just on paper but the players as well. We have some great specialist bowlers in Asif, Gul, and Afridi along with proisin youngsters like ajmal, aamir and not forget the new find Umar akmal. Our bowling is definitely strong and our batting line up looks formidable. If this team plays to its full potential we will bring the cup home Inshallah Ta Allah.

  • Khalil on September 20, 2009, 5:18 GMT

    We should get out of cricketmania now & treat this game like any other game, to save ourselves from embarassement at any stage.

  • Aamir Akhund on September 20, 2009, 3:16 GMT

    Kamran i think u have got it just about right this time. After the glory of T20 world cup it was sure a shock to lose against srilanka but we should remember one thing that srilanka are a damn good team at home and if it wasnt for the careless attitude of Mr.Malik and Misbah we would have had a favourable result. As for the selection of Asif, even though im a fan of bring a drug addict back but hey it will bloster our attack greatly. Hopefully uncle Rana will also bring some of his ICL magic to South Africa. GO YUNUS KHAN

  • Moin on September 20, 2009, 0:02 GMT

    Nice to see your article after a long time Kamran.

    I think Pakistan has good chance of winning the Champs Trophy.But SA, AUS and SL have the best chance and are contenders. Being an Indian, I dont think they have great chance due to the bowling resources, but you never now.

    Coming to Pakistan, I think their bowling shud strike well which is critical and it is not as gud as other teams. Spin wont be a big factor too. Leaving aside the two Ys, others cant play the moving ball.

  • Mohsin Irshad on September 19, 2009, 20:31 GMT

    Pakistan has good combination this time around. Best thing for them is that they are not declared favorites. That will ease a bit of pressure on them. I am confident of them reaching Semis...Good captain, well balanced team and match winners ...certainly a method for success

  • Ahsan on September 19, 2009, 19:42 GMT

    This whole bleak chapter that Pakistan Cricket has gone through started 3 years ago with the Asif-Akhtar episode right before the Champions Trophy. I'd like to think that we have come full circle with the ongoing turmoil and can finally pick up where we left off.

    Let the Two MAs (Asif and Aamer) be the Two Ws of the next decade.

  • Al Syed on September 19, 2009, 19:24 GMT

    Pakistan is moving in the right direction step by step in 2009. I m getting more optimistic about their prospects. With rising stars like Umer, Ameer, and Ajmal; with Asif returning, Rana gaining some form with bowling, Afridi playing sensibly (may be!)and Misbah firing in the last two games; we are looking dangerous side. Next two games will be critical to work out the problems with Yosuf, Shoib and Imran. I think Yonus is not the right man at #3 during power play. He blocks too many balls and can't rotate the strike in first half of his inning. Something to be done about Gul's dry patch with wkts in ODIs. He should come only after 25 overs. I would love to see Pak team working out the combination before India game. They can go all the way. Go Pakistan.

  • Faisal on September 19, 2009, 19:01 GMT

    to me, this series is a test of whether younis belongs at the one day level or not..an if he does what position should it be? people will be right to argue that he, as the best player in the team, should bat at number 3...but in one dayers he is not pakistan's best batsman...that honor goes to "soft under pressure" yousuf and shoaib malik....indeed it is these two players who will determine how far pakistan go in this tournament

  • Harpreet Bhinder on September 19, 2009, 18:22 GMT

    No one like Afrid Yuvraj and Dhoni

  • Faraz Ahmed on September 19, 2009, 16:34 GMT

    Every one please pray for the team. These are the best days to get ur prayers accepted ! :)

  • MFH Munis on September 19, 2009, 15:42 GMT

    Pakistani team is having a good combination. We shall miss Abdur Razzak but Rana Naved is going well so far. It is foolishness to underestimate Pakistan because Pakistani team is even a better package than T20I world cup squad. Umar Akmal is a new sensation and you can't ignore "old but Gold" M Yousaf... Ajmal is also a surprised "doosra" package which can attract more fans. SO........... just sit back and enjoy another triumph from a talented squad...(Insha ALLAH)

  • Dr adil on September 19, 2009, 15:18 GMT

    InshaAllah they l win the champs trophy. they r a tallented side just need to fire in time as per their abillities. Best of luck Team PAKISTAN

  • Harish Kojhani Singapore on September 19, 2009, 13:42 GMT

    I am quite agreed Mr. Kamran Abbasi. In these circumstances, if our team reaches semifinal, we will surely be Champion.

  • EAMiran on September 19, 2009, 11:33 GMT

    I'd like to say "GO GREEN MACHINE", except that Pakistan cricket is hardly machine-like. Infact it is much more organic in character, subject to and influenced by it's external environment. Lilting at one stage and experiencing full bloom the next. Unfortunately, the format of the Champions Trophy does not suit the Green Team. For Pakistan to be successful they will have to be in full bloom from the word go, which is unheard of. Anyway, lets hope from Pakistans perspective that they bring further cheer to a troubled nation. My flowers (double entendre not intended) for the tournament should be as follows: Nazir Akmal sr. Younis Yousuf Misbah Akmal Jr. Afridi Rana Aamir Ajmal Asif

    Fawad Alam to replace any under performing middle order batsman as the tournament progresses. Shoaib Malik (the weed) needs to be yanked out and not played.

    Go GREEN TEAM---- Flowers----Plants----er---- whatever.

  • Rafay on September 19, 2009, 10:57 GMT

    The majority of the comments here sum up exactly why pakistani cricket is so tumultuous. Though i must admit that i haven't read through all the comments, the jist of it is that the "fans" are expecting exceptional performances from the team. As Kamran so rightly said, this is the beginnining, a nomadic time. The champions trohpy is not a destination, it is part of the journey that we have embarked upon, and every journey has its good times, and its bad times. I can all too well imagine the team getting slated by all and sundry if they do end up getting knocked out in the initial rounds. Please get a sense of perspective here, gentlemen. At the moment, we are probably only above West Indies and New Zealand (I don't see Bangladesh having a winning ODI team anytime soon)in terms of cricketing status. This is not a time to place expectations on our team, and burn their hypothetical(thank god) effigies when they fail fulfill them. It is a time to be true supporters and get behind them.YNWA

  • Asim Khan on September 19, 2009, 10:51 GMT

    Nice blog Kamran bahi, we seem to have a settled team, no apparant infighting, a captain who is has the respect of the senior and junior players, we have picked the best players available - COMEON BOYS LETS SHOCK THE WORLD AGAIN!!!!

  • Abde-Ali Bohra on September 19, 2009, 10:21 GMT

    This current pakistan team has to imagine itself as being it is 1992, and how Imran Khan (now younis khan) and Javed Miandad (combination of Mohd Yousuf & other batters) played the crucial 15-40 overs, by scoring runs at a rate of 3.5-4 runs per over, but keeping wickets intact. Now 1-15 overs, try to make 90 runs, might end up in loosing 2-3 wickets, then 100-150 runs partnership upto 40 overs, which will come from Yonis, yousuf, malik and misbah. And the remaining 10 overs, afridi, umar akmal and rana can score 8-9 runs per over further 90 runs. Thus bringing always a total somewhere between 270-320 runs, always winning score with the quality bowling attack of amer, asif, umar , afridi, and ajmal & rana. Our dua is with the Pak team, inshallah let's perform to our best potential and leave the rest to God. Pakistan Zindabad.

  • Nasir Siddique on September 19, 2009, 10:14 GMT

    I would love to be optimistic but unfortunately we have been let down upteen number of times. Pakistan's team is like a sine curve, ready to implode and return to ground zero.

    All looks well at present with Younis leading and the team winning and lloking strong especially with the return of the ICL pariahs.

    Bit what concerns me is that you never know what lies ahead. More than winning or losing, its the controversies, internal rifts, politics that rob this team of its deserved wins.

    We have the players to beat anyone, anywhere, anytime its just focus and commitment we lack.

  • KJ on September 19, 2009, 9:22 GMT

    Limited overs cricket involves a large element of luck and fortune so it would be unfair to judge the future of Pakistani cricket from this tournament. If they do well, that would be brilliant; if they fail; it won't be the end. Pakistan's biggest weakness is in batting against the rising ball. Why can't they produce artificial pitches in Pakistan with random strips of bouncy rubber under the pitch in the batting area so they can practice against the unexpected lifting ball? If they don't learn this, Pakistani openers will come a cropper against Aus and England and destroy morale. About the team itself, Nazir is a slogger so he should not open. They might as well send in Naved to open and Nazir to come in at 7. Umar Akmal truly looks good and Aamer looks the brightest prospect in years. Let's hope Paakistan do well but not fall into gloom if they fail.

  • Nipun on September 19, 2009, 7:54 GMT

    Have Pakistan played enough cricket to use the term PROGRESS ??? I can recall only the World T20 & the Sri Lanka series (both home & away) in recent memory.That's not sufficient for a team to progress.Had they played even 6 months of continuous cricket,the term progress could have been valid in my view.But so little cricket is not sufficient for progress in my view.

  • M Adeel M on September 19, 2009, 7:53 GMT

    INSHALLAH T-20 Champs will also be Champs of Champs.

  • Faisi on September 19, 2009, 7:14 GMT

    Indeed its a true test. I don't have very high hopes but expect the team to put up a reasonable fight. A bit of luck ...and then who knows!! Make up of the team looks good. Bowling department, already good, will recieve a further boost with return of Asif and Rana. It is batting where all attention will be focused. With Imran Nazir and Umer Akmal as additions and hoping the seniors do there bit, a better performance by the team, even in South Africa is a clear possibility. Good Luck team!

  • Narayan on September 19, 2009, 7:03 GMT

    Well said Dr. Captain Khan has his milestone but path to glory will be as tough as climbing Everest without O2. If we leave 2nd string West Indies, then you have Ind(winning almost all ODI series) and Austrai-lee-a(thrashing Eng brutally) to make it to next round. If Captain Khan makes it to next round then I guess we will see another Champions trophy comin back to Asia. Lets hope we get competitive matches on good pitches.

  • khalid jan on September 19, 2009, 6:55 GMT

    i am totally agree with kamran abbasi. pakistan cricket team is not playing that much cricket which must affect there performance but they have good skills to compete with any world class time...for proving them self in this tournament they have to be united other wise its very difficult to get the results in their favor

    no doubt winning an loosing is the part of game but the collopse of pakistani baating may hyrt a lot

  • Mozzam on September 19, 2009, 6:37 GMT

    I agree with you that this tournament is important for Pakistan. But let's get realistic, lately Pakistan has not been performing at the Test and ODI level. This can be the due to playing less number of matches. But I don't understand the Pakistan selection policy. Shoaib Malik has been underperforming since the last 18 months or so if I remember correctly but he is still in the team. Unless PCB get their selection structure right, it's difficult to see them prosper into one of the top teams. As far as the bad record in SA is concerned, it can be bettered if they play with focus. I would like to request people from Pakistan not to expect too much, as they are in a transition phase. As they are placed in a tough group with India and Australia, don't be surprised if they go out in the first round. They are the dark horses of the tournamnet. But if the likes of Shahid Afridi, Kamran & Umar Akmal get going, you never know. Yousuf will need to fire to stabilize the middle order.

  • Mehdi Singapore on September 19, 2009, 5:26 GMT

    As i had mentioned earlier,we have turned the corner now with a proper leadership and a motivated team with a good combo of old and new talent.Keep it up boys and make our nation proud again.You can do it.Best of luck.

  • Muhammad Tariq on September 19, 2009, 4:39 GMT

    Absolutely right that it is a period that will require wise leadership, long-term strategies, and a large supply of patience. I thiink the selectors have chose the best team for the Champions Trophy except Abdul Razzaq but just leave it for now because it is not the time to discuss the conterverses. If Younas captained them well and made good decisions at right time, as we all know that he is able to do so, then Pakistan is my first favorite for the Tornament. I wish good luck to Pakistan team. And at last Abbasi uncle please do right for us regularly because we need your columns for our cricketing brain. thanx

  • Muhammad Umair Jafri on September 19, 2009, 3:15 GMT

    Welcome Back. I am also missing cricket here in Saudi Arabia. Desperately, waiting to watch the upcoming matches. Hopefully, Younas Khan will Live his Dreams on the grounds. Inshallah Pakistan will win.

    Best Wishes,

    Umair Jafri

  • shafique on September 19, 2009, 2:53 GMT

    the last few lines of the article are really depiction of pakistan cricket at the moment .in short nice start to the new season of writing kamran ..thumvs up

  • Tahir Rashid on September 19, 2009, 1:44 GMT

    Clearly Pak team has the talent to win the trophy. Batting partnerships will be the key to success! Euphoric memories of Twenty20 have long gone. Only Pak team has the ability to experience their zenith and nadir inside few months.

    But bringing the trophy home would be nothing short of sheer cricket genius as they are placed in a group of death without shadow of a doubt.

  • Zain Shah on September 18, 2009, 23:50 GMT

    We shouldnt get our hopes up...fundamentally we are still a weak batting side. We do not have a settled and stable opening pair, and we have a shaky middle order. Mohammad Yousef rarely scores outside of Pakistan in tough situations and against tough opponents..Younis Khan is more than capable of nicking the first ball he faces to the slips, Umar Akmal is inexperienced, Shoaib Malik and Shahid Afridi are not consistent in the ODI version of the game, and coming back to the openers...Imran Nazir is as inconsistent as they come. Point is, sure things may click and we may do well but at the end of the day, for all practical purposes our batting line up is nowhere near the lineup we had when we had Saeed Anwar,Aamir Sohail,Ijaz Ahmed,Inzamam,Salim Malik,Moin Khan,Wasim Akram, occupying positions 1 to 7. We have to develop two openers asap. For the ODI game Salman Butt and Shoaib Malik should open. For the test matches Yasir Hameed and Imran Farhat. And M.Yousef needs to be dropped from ODI

  • M. Y. Kasim on September 18, 2009, 23:34 GMT

    For the first time, Pakistan has selected the best available team. It will not be asking too much if the fans expect atleast Quarter-final stage. Being T20 Champs, one of four out of eight is nothing special. I, for one will not settle anything less than the cup!

  • Asim Muhammad on September 18, 2009, 23:21 GMT

    Hi Kamran and other Reaaders, Its been a long wait for your blog to restart,but anyway One thing consistantly happening in our cricketing fraternity is bad news or bad media, every single time u looked at sports sections of pakistan paper,someone is blaming someone, Amir sohail,Abdul qadir,Inzi,Zaheer Abbas,U name it,they r all at pakistan team,yes we played bad in srilanka but test series was very exciting and alive,now pakistan has very good team and great chance to prove the word they r back to winning ways,Umar akmal, Aamer,Rana, nazir are real crowd favourite and I m counting days for champions trophy,Pak need support from us not critisism,If we manage to beat india than we really have a chance.silly comment from malik to be given 12 matches to adjust as a opener,well he a performed everywhere he does'nt need that many chance,I think he is been clever,covering himself for the failure ahead, May be umar akmal as put in under lot of presure. Best of luck pakistan.

    Asim M

  • S.M Arsalan Arif Khan on September 18, 2009, 22:15 GMT

    Pakistan will win the Champions trophy. Here. I said it - and just like they wern't even mentioned in the top contenders to win the cup in the T20 World Cup - It's sad to know there's no mention anywhere on cricinfo once again. As someone quoted on cricket info "Ignore Pakistan at the cost of your own demise"

    Go Green.

  • aziz south african on September 18, 2009, 21:44 GMT

    I have just returned home from the Pakistan/Sri Lanka warm up match played in Benoni less than 2km from where I live. Pakistan put in a really spirited allround performance in preparing for the main event. This team will surely be a dangerous outfit if tonights result provides any indication. Afridi broke his fast while batting which signalled to some of us to do the same. I personally enjoyed my iftaar with some Pakistan supporters on a cold evening here in Benoni.The home made pies went down very well. The players look very relaxed and are quite friendly. BEST OF LUCK TO THE TEAM AND IT'S SUPPORTERS.

  • Mansoor Huda on September 18, 2009, 21:26 GMT

    The Pakistani team looks OK on paper, not as good as some of the other teams, with Younis, Yousaf & Malik the only experienced 50 over specialists. I am afraid for the batting to hold up, Pakistan will need new commers like Umar Akmal & Fawad Alam to play out of their skins. And Misbah and to get his act together. Allrounders will play a big part too, Rana Naveed & Afridi will have to bat really well. Bowling will be Pakistan's biggest disappointment I feel, Gul's yorkers are only useful when batsman are trying to score quickly, and Afridi's variation pretty much work the same way. When the opposition batsmen have time to settle in, in a 50 over format, compared to the 20 over one, I think Asif, Ajmal & Aamer will have bowl with their natural ability to take wickets. Just wish captain and coach play atleast 5 batters, 2 alrounders, 1 keeper & 3 bowlers, instead of 7 or 8 guys that can ball ten overs (Malik, Afridi, Younis). Our batting is weak, dashers don't count as fulltime batsman.

  • Adil on September 18, 2009, 20:42 GMT

    Nicely summed-up..... No matter what the rest of the world say, this tournament is of utmost importance to Pakistan, for our players, for our team as a unit, and for us, the blind supporters of Pakistan cricket. This is also the time where we will be seen as a real opposition, not an outcast of International Cricket.

    I think this is the last time we are going to play with this (baseless in my opinion) excuse of "not having played enough cricket" so it is perfectly aceptable if we crumbles under pressure or mess the situation up. This team is a professional team, and should perform like one. Sooner we come out of this self-pitty and defensive mode, sooner we stop making excuses for our third class performance and sooner we start accepting defeat as a defeat and not a result of circumstances, the better it is for Pakistan team.

  • xeeshan on September 18, 2009, 20:28 GMT

    Kamran i must say its a really nice and courageous article from you. Being a pakistani i agree to whatever you have said. Well pakistan got a good start by beating SriLanka in the warm up match. But the milestones are still on the way. I think we have got very good combination of Bowling and Batting so i am very hopeful that this champions trophy will bring cheer and joy for all of us. Hoping to see pakistani team in finals, but GOD knows better what will happen but i am hopeful about it. And yes you are absolutely right that this is beginning of new era of cricket in paskitan and hopefully we will be able to see a strongest team in future.

    GOD BLESS PAKISTAN.

  • taimur ali khan on September 18, 2009, 19:04 GMT

    Not 4 Younis,for entire nation this matters.V r hoping another cup from Paki Team.INSHALLAH they will return to country by bringing trophy of Champions.

  • Faisal Sami Qadir on September 18, 2009, 18:41 GMT

    Indeed, this is the time for Pakistan to show their worth. I was a bit amazed after watching some programs which heavily underestimated Pakistan and confined them only to a surprise package which surely is not true. After the return of some ICl players, surely the competetion has increased and the unit seems much formidable. Perhaps, a point which was overlooked by the experts. To add to this, Umar akmal sounds a real bright prospect and I am quite excited about that chap.... Go on PAKISTAn, Its high time to shun the world back into silence..

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  • Faisal Sami Qadir on September 18, 2009, 18:41 GMT

    Indeed, this is the time for Pakistan to show their worth. I was a bit amazed after watching some programs which heavily underestimated Pakistan and confined them only to a surprise package which surely is not true. After the return of some ICl players, surely the competetion has increased and the unit seems much formidable. Perhaps, a point which was overlooked by the experts. To add to this, Umar akmal sounds a real bright prospect and I am quite excited about that chap.... Go on PAKISTAn, Its high time to shun the world back into silence..

  • taimur ali khan on September 18, 2009, 19:04 GMT

    Not 4 Younis,for entire nation this matters.V r hoping another cup from Paki Team.INSHALLAH they will return to country by bringing trophy of Champions.

  • xeeshan on September 18, 2009, 20:28 GMT

    Kamran i must say its a really nice and courageous article from you. Being a pakistani i agree to whatever you have said. Well pakistan got a good start by beating SriLanka in the warm up match. But the milestones are still on the way. I think we have got very good combination of Bowling and Batting so i am very hopeful that this champions trophy will bring cheer and joy for all of us. Hoping to see pakistani team in finals, but GOD knows better what will happen but i am hopeful about it. And yes you are absolutely right that this is beginning of new era of cricket in paskitan and hopefully we will be able to see a strongest team in future.

    GOD BLESS PAKISTAN.

  • Adil on September 18, 2009, 20:42 GMT

    Nicely summed-up..... No matter what the rest of the world say, this tournament is of utmost importance to Pakistan, for our players, for our team as a unit, and for us, the blind supporters of Pakistan cricket. This is also the time where we will be seen as a real opposition, not an outcast of International Cricket.

    I think this is the last time we are going to play with this (baseless in my opinion) excuse of "not having played enough cricket" so it is perfectly aceptable if we crumbles under pressure or mess the situation up. This team is a professional team, and should perform like one. Sooner we come out of this self-pitty and defensive mode, sooner we stop making excuses for our third class performance and sooner we start accepting defeat as a defeat and not a result of circumstances, the better it is for Pakistan team.

  • Mansoor Huda on September 18, 2009, 21:26 GMT

    The Pakistani team looks OK on paper, not as good as some of the other teams, with Younis, Yousaf & Malik the only experienced 50 over specialists. I am afraid for the batting to hold up, Pakistan will need new commers like Umar Akmal & Fawad Alam to play out of their skins. And Misbah and to get his act together. Allrounders will play a big part too, Rana Naveed & Afridi will have to bat really well. Bowling will be Pakistan's biggest disappointment I feel, Gul's yorkers are only useful when batsman are trying to score quickly, and Afridi's variation pretty much work the same way. When the opposition batsmen have time to settle in, in a 50 over format, compared to the 20 over one, I think Asif, Ajmal & Aamer will have bowl with their natural ability to take wickets. Just wish captain and coach play atleast 5 batters, 2 alrounders, 1 keeper & 3 bowlers, instead of 7 or 8 guys that can ball ten overs (Malik, Afridi, Younis). Our batting is weak, dashers don't count as fulltime batsman.

  • aziz south african on September 18, 2009, 21:44 GMT

    I have just returned home from the Pakistan/Sri Lanka warm up match played in Benoni less than 2km from where I live. Pakistan put in a really spirited allround performance in preparing for the main event. This team will surely be a dangerous outfit if tonights result provides any indication. Afridi broke his fast while batting which signalled to some of us to do the same. I personally enjoyed my iftaar with some Pakistan supporters on a cold evening here in Benoni.The home made pies went down very well. The players look very relaxed and are quite friendly. BEST OF LUCK TO THE TEAM AND IT'S SUPPORTERS.

  • S.M Arsalan Arif Khan on September 18, 2009, 22:15 GMT

    Pakistan will win the Champions trophy. Here. I said it - and just like they wern't even mentioned in the top contenders to win the cup in the T20 World Cup - It's sad to know there's no mention anywhere on cricinfo once again. As someone quoted on cricket info "Ignore Pakistan at the cost of your own demise"

    Go Green.

  • Asim Muhammad on September 18, 2009, 23:21 GMT

    Hi Kamran and other Reaaders, Its been a long wait for your blog to restart,but anyway One thing consistantly happening in our cricketing fraternity is bad news or bad media, every single time u looked at sports sections of pakistan paper,someone is blaming someone, Amir sohail,Abdul qadir,Inzi,Zaheer Abbas,U name it,they r all at pakistan team,yes we played bad in srilanka but test series was very exciting and alive,now pakistan has very good team and great chance to prove the word they r back to winning ways,Umar akmal, Aamer,Rana, nazir are real crowd favourite and I m counting days for champions trophy,Pak need support from us not critisism,If we manage to beat india than we really have a chance.silly comment from malik to be given 12 matches to adjust as a opener,well he a performed everywhere he does'nt need that many chance,I think he is been clever,covering himself for the failure ahead, May be umar akmal as put in under lot of presure. Best of luck pakistan.

    Asim M

  • M. Y. Kasim on September 18, 2009, 23:34 GMT

    For the first time, Pakistan has selected the best available team. It will not be asking too much if the fans expect atleast Quarter-final stage. Being T20 Champs, one of four out of eight is nothing special. I, for one will not settle anything less than the cup!

  • Zain Shah on September 18, 2009, 23:50 GMT

    We shouldnt get our hopes up...fundamentally we are still a weak batting side. We do not have a settled and stable opening pair, and we have a shaky middle order. Mohammad Yousef rarely scores outside of Pakistan in tough situations and against tough opponents..Younis Khan is more than capable of nicking the first ball he faces to the slips, Umar Akmal is inexperienced, Shoaib Malik and Shahid Afridi are not consistent in the ODI version of the game, and coming back to the openers...Imran Nazir is as inconsistent as they come. Point is, sure things may click and we may do well but at the end of the day, for all practical purposes our batting line up is nowhere near the lineup we had when we had Saeed Anwar,Aamir Sohail,Ijaz Ahmed,Inzamam,Salim Malik,Moin Khan,Wasim Akram, occupying positions 1 to 7. We have to develop two openers asap. For the ODI game Salman Butt and Shoaib Malik should open. For the test matches Yasir Hameed and Imran Farhat. And M.Yousef needs to be dropped from ODI