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September 18, 2009

Champions Trophy

Champions Trophy a truer test of Pakistan's progress

Kamran Abbasi
Younis Khan speaks to reporters, Karachi, September 16, 2009
 © AFP
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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

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Posted by Faraz Khan on (October 10, 2009, 20:29 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.

Posted by Javed Butt on (October 7, 2009, 21:49 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.

Posted by Vinoth on (October 7, 2009, 8:47 GMT)

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

Posted by Abdur Rahman on (October 6, 2009, 12:54 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!

Posted by Faraz Ahmed on (October 4, 2009, 21:17 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!

Posted by Iqbal on (October 1, 2009, 15:32 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.

Posted by sonia naz on (September 27, 2009, 10:03 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

Posted by tawheed(kashmir) on (September 26, 2009, 7:56 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

Posted by Akhtar M Syed on (September 24, 2009, 15:44 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

Posted by Asad Malik on (September 24, 2009, 13:14 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?

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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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