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September 24, 2009

Champions Trophy

Afridi's captaincy of luck and judgement

Kamran Abbasi


Shahid Afridi was impressive in his stint as captain © Getty Images
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Pakistan escaped their tussle with the West Indies with points on the board and a sense of relief. Had the West Indian captain asked Pakistan to bat first we may have been considering a nightmare scenario and a disastrous captaincy debut for Shahid Afridi. This match was something of a lottery and the team batting second would hold a major advantage.

As it turned out West Indies aptly demonstrated why their cricket requires resuscitation. A weak team requires all the help it can get, and that help ended the moment West Indies won the toss. Pakistan should also pay close attention to the pitiful state of West Indian cricket. A few more wrong calls by cricket adminstators and Pakistan could be hurtling to join Bangladesh, West Indies, and Zimbabwe in the bottom echelon of the international game.

Good fortune apart, Pakistan can take some heart from this encounter. The bowlers were outstanding, bowling with excellent control to extract maximum bounce and movement from an unsusally helpful track. Umar Gul and Mohammad Aamer are becoming formidable, while Rana Naved looks in better shape and form than prior to his ICL flirtation.

But two other performances fascinated me more. First, Shahid Afridi has been an eager captain short of opportunities. A previous outing leading the 'A' team suggested that captaincy was beyond him. Nonetheless, Afridi has focused his energy and his mind to become a responsible cricketer. Individual success, as ever with Afridi, has settled him, and his captaincy was refreshing for his encouragement of his young charges and his aggressive approach as Pakistan sensed a rout. This began as an easy day at the office but Afridi excelled when the going was easy and knuckled down when the tough needed to get going.

It was, however, Umar Akmal who added most to his reputation. A stunning entry on familiar tracks has been seen before. Many Pakistani batsmen have thundered into town only to be shot down by the first serious challenge. Umar came through a tricky situation on an unhelpful track, which is a sign that he may have the right mentality to blossom. Clearly, he has a long way to go but all Pakistan fans will be excited to see how he performs against stronger opposition.

Pakistan are now well placed in the group, one good win away from a semi final. India and Australia are both strong but beatable. Once more, Pakistan's bowling offers hope that the team can be competitive while the batting remains a worry, although Younis Khan will be back to strengthen the top order.

Now for the big one.

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

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Posted by haider ali dogar on (May 7, 2011, 7:29 GMT)

crict is not a game this is a live move and prform 25 actars.i like crict but i am very disheard

Posted by Asif Rathod on (September 25, 2009, 10:00 GMT)

After having extra responsibility of captaincy, approach of Shahid Afridi is totally cahnged. Now he care lil bit more abt his game. He understands value of his wicket. In few of his latest innings he took calculated risks. This version of Afridi can set new standards for Pakistan cricket.

Posted by Muhammad Arif Butt on (September 25, 2009, 9:41 GMT)

My team for India:

Imran Nazir Kamran Akmal Younis Khan Muhammad Yousuf Umar Akmal Shahid Afridi Saeed Ajmal Muhammad Asif Muhammad Amir Rana Naveed Umer Gull

Posted by abdullah on (September 25, 2009, 9:40 GMT)

this team does not look good and its going to loose to india as always it did in the past in icc worldcup matches...sorry for the cric fans of pakisthan..

Posted by Muhammad Arif Butt on (September 25, 2009, 9:36 GMT)

I think Misbah and Shoib Malik are now burden on team, not only with their performances but also with their body language, which shows that they are not enjoying playing cricket for Pakistan. Droping Abdul Razzaq is not understandable, while Fawad Alam, who is with the team is sure will not get a chance. In the recent T20 W Cup, with the inclusion of Razzaq, the combination of the team changed completely and looked a better team, which was reeling at that time. Anyhow, we pray for Pakistan and back them up strongly.

Posted by M Khurram Shahzad on (September 25, 2009, 9:31 GMT)

people here are talkin like there was only one team in the match. we should give WI some credit guys. they tried there best. standouts were miller and tonge. and tonge did bowl relly well lets not take it away from him. apart from the wicket of yousaf all were on very good balls. also there is something that when some new players come on international scene they are always a surprise package. also we are forgettin the performance of misbah n malik in the warm up matches. misbah scored 82 against srilanka while malik scored 130 against SA warriors. its just that every day is not ur day. even the best players fail at times. young akmal was brilliant reminds me of michael bevan. rest assured he has a great future also aamir i think we hav another wasim akram. younis will come in place of nazir n no room for asif. his best chance was againt windies i dont think we would see him in the rest of the tournament. i would hav loved to see india in full strength with yuvraj sehwag n zaheer.

Posted by BROKEN HEART on (September 25, 2009, 9:12 GMT)

Dear Karthik September 25, 2009 6:03 AM india doesnt hav all the trophies in ther bag...they shared the champions trophy in 2002 they didnt win it...so it doesnt count...pls keep that in mind thanx

Posted by muhammad on (September 25, 2009, 9:07 GMT)

I think we must play asif against india in place of rana navid;rest of playing eleven shud stay unchanged n all players must focus on fielding.

Posted by Imran on (September 25, 2009, 8:59 GMT)

PCB should Drop Malik and Misbah permanently as they play pathetically, cheaply and without any confidence on themselves. Umar Akmal, Fawad Alam and Razzaq should be given chance. Akmal and Alam should be the opening pair for at least 10-15 ODIs so they can settle, where Akmal already is well set.

Posted by Moss on (September 25, 2009, 8:58 GMT)

Looking strong team deosnt mean will win the cup! its the way you show courage even a weak team e.g. Kenya in 2003 worldcup qualify for semis so keep it up Green shirts !!!!

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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 international editor of the British Medical Journal. @KamranAbbasi

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