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October 4, 2009

Champions Trophy

Final thrash fails to come

Kamran Abbasi
Umar Akmal lofts down the ground, New Zealand v Pakistan, ICC Champions Trophy, 2nd semi-final, Johannesburg, October 3, 2009
 © AFP
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Pakistan's defeat is a blow and a shock. A semi-final place would have been an acceptable result before the tournament started but the manner of Pakistan's progress, and a semi-final against New Zealand, promised a happier outcome for Younis Khan's team.

Pakistan fell at least 25 runs short on a good batting track, a performance that could be explained by ring rustiness. An alternative explanation, however, is that Pakistan's experienced batsmen failed to master two fundamental aspects of one-day cricket.

The first of these has dogged Pakistan for over a decade, as they have become too reliant on a rollicking final ten overs. Indeed, the middle order play as if there is no need to rush as it will all come good in the final thrash. But too often the final thrash lasts too few overs and is a major contributor to Pakistan's unpredictability.

The answer is more urgency in the middle to keep the scoreboard ticking and the run-rate up. Pakistan played this game perfectly against India but have disappointed since. It was a sobering sight watching Umar Akmal show his experienced colleagues how to nudge, pinch, and accelerate.

Umar's disappointment at being wrongly dismissed by Simon Taufel was understandable. He had played with passion, pride, and good sense to establish a platform for Pakistan's final thrash. The umpires' decision to report Umar to the match referee was regrettable and pedantic. Fortunately Javagal Srinath sensibly decided to dismiss the charge of dissent.

The second mistake was Pakistan's woeful use of the last Powerplay, which was needed around the 35th over. Again, Pakistan delayed until it was too late and wickets were no longer in hand. It's hard to understand what Pakistan and other teams hope to gain by using the last Powerplay in the final few overs? Clearly, whatever the critics of 50 overs cricket might say, most teams are still well short of mastering this form of the game.

Now Pakistan must regroup for a tough winter. They should depart South Africa with their heads held high and indications of further progress on the road to recovery. But while Younis Khan has created an exciting and successful formula in Twenty20 cricket, his 50 over recipe is a little stale in the batting department.

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

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Posted by abid on (October 11, 2009, 9:35 GMT)

Is there any point to have a cricketing relationship with India,I don't think so....

Posted by Sorcerer on (October 10, 2009, 3:38 GMT)

It is definitely infectious. Some of us should stop acting like how Indians have been known generally to react like after a defeat. Cannot blame umpiring for the semi-final loss. I'm glad not a single effigy of Taufel was torched or procession taken out to bemoan the umpiring standards. We still maintain our sanity. Only God knows what would have happened in Mumabai and Kolkata if it was an Indian loss in the Semi!

As it stands, there is still tremendous anger there buit rightfully directed at their hyped-up cricketers who purrhed like pussies when put under pressure.

On another count, Shahid Afridi is notorious for leaking out confidential dressing room info, team selection info (prematurely), and now regarding giving his views too often and starkly to anyone carrying a mike and flanked by a cameraman. This has come back to haunt him as he has been told by PCB Chairman in no uncertain terms this cannot go on and he should shoulder responsibility of being a senior player.

Posted by Abde-Ali Bohra on (October 9, 2009, 8:08 GMT)

Team is of eleven fit players. Let's count the fit players. 1. M. Amir only 17 with great accuracy 2. M.Yousuf 40 plus average in batting 3. Saeed Ajmal though 31 but excellent spinner 4. Umar Akmal technically the best batsman, only 20 5. Mohammad Asif the best right arm fast bowler 6. Shahid Afridi (only as a bowler) Now u need 5 more fit players. My choices are 7. Fawad Alam 8. Only a fit wicket keeper, dont need a batter, a drop catch is more costly than 25 odd runs, kamran average is just 25 runs. 9. Somebody fill position 4 10. Somebody fill position 5 11. Somebody fill position 6

My team would always play in this descending order 1. Fawad Alam 2. Umar Akmal (Openers have best techniques) 3. Mohammad Yousuf 4. 5. 6. 7. Wicket Keeper 8. Shahid Afridi 9. Mohammad Amir 10. Saeed Ajmal 11. Mohammad Asif

Since, i could not really think of middle order players, i leave it to the room to think , please they should average 40 plus. Thanks

Posted by johnny on (October 9, 2009, 5:03 GMT)

Younis khan is a complete loser. He does not deserve to be in the team leave aside captaining it. Is there any way we can rid of this useless man? Our team ain't bad. We have quality players but our dumb captain is wasting one great unit. I bet that if Wasim or Imran were given such a diverse bowling attack, they would not let the semi-final to let off our hands. Our captain provided no support what so ever to bowlers, the field positions were defensive and the singles were scored easily. This man is brainless..I m telling you... believe me.. lastly, Congrats to Kiwi's and Aussie's

Posted by Noor on (October 8, 2009, 23:21 GMT)

Younis Khan should not have played. If he is injured then why was he playing. Intikhab Alarm should have stepped in and not allowed a injured player particape in an important match, not only in dropped a catch that may have altered the result against NZ but his batting was poor.

I am with Shaobib Malik about changing batting order, Malik did well at No.4.

I think Pak should get rid off Younis and Intikhab, I thought Younis resigned from one day matches after the 20/20 touranment.

Posted by OpeninBatsman on (October 8, 2009, 7:19 GMT)

@Ray ..if ur saying india wud hv lost even if raina wasnt given out..then i will say even if umar akmal wasnt given out still pakistan wud hv lost d match as last overs were in progress n he cud hv been out the next over trying to hit boudaries..ok double standards are nt good buddy....use some sense

Posted by Aizaz on (October 8, 2009, 4:06 GMT)

The simple thing is Pakistan had a bad day and NZ had an extraordinary day. After watching the Final one thing is for sure.The wrong team made the final. Pakistan wouldve definitely tested Aus more

Posted by Aquil Ahmed Siddiqui (Dubai) on (October 7, 2009, 19:20 GMT)

Pakistan's defeats against Australia and against Newzealand are the hot topics. Some irrelevant persons passed very harsh statments against Players, Umpires and Match fixing. I demand it should not happened. Players may perform low or make mistakes on a perticular day but we should not accuse them for match fixing or letting down their own country. Umpires can also make mistakes and sometime these decisions can go against us and loose the match. Bear this loss as a good sportsman. Our Team and Players are showing big improvement in their techniques. We should encourage them. Reaching to the Semi Final level was not expected in the beginning. The blame of loosing Australia match purposely, can not be proved. The Semi Final match was lost due to the Wonderar's bouncy wicket where Pakistani Batsmen historically are not capable of putting big score. This weakness our Batsmen have to remove. Our Bowlers and Fielders also have to adjust for such wickets.

Posted by Ray on (October 7, 2009, 18:14 GMT)

Overall the Pakistan team played well, victory and defeat are part of the game. They have been struggling over the past few years, and have been known to surrender in games, at least that wasn't seen. If the umpiring had been fair, I use the word fair because I feel that some of the decisions were unfair against the team, Umar Akmal's being one. But there were at least 2 LBW decisions that were very easily out and were not given, and 2 50/50's - I mean in such a low scoring game these things matter. As far as my Indian friends saying that had Gambhir stayed it would have been different. Gambhir was out due to his own fault sirs, not the umpires'. As for Suresh Raina, kindly re-watch the replays, it is very inconclusive, I see the ball hitting the leg before the bat. Even if that wasn't out, India lost by over 50 runs! They would've started to take more chances and then who knows what would've happened. Why Taufel was allowed to stand with Aus already in the finals is beyond me.

Posted by Sorcerer on (October 7, 2009, 15:38 GMT)

A typo in the last post - it's defection to banned "ICL" which was the acid-test of where the real priorities of players lay, not IPL, as playing in the former league had been explicitly warned against by PCB; meaning that the players who still went there did not really give two hoots about playing for the country. Yousuf's case was though seemingly different as he got visibly swayed by Inzamam whose career had anyway come to a spluttering halt in those days.

PCB should stick to its announced stand in such cases and this case of pardoning a group of players does not really make sense although in the larger scheme of things this aligns nicely with the national administrators' methods as a number of questionable politicians too got away scot free courtesy of NRO.

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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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