Twenty20 World Cup 2010 May 1, 2010

Wounded champions in group of death


Shahid Afridi's team face a make or break weekend © Getty Images

A defence so soon is unfortunate for Pakistan's wounded champions and finds them in another difficult moment. Last year, Pakistan rose out of adversity to conquer. It was an uplifting experience but the joy has been short lived.

Now Shahid Afridi's team face a make or break weekend. They could be out of the tournament by tomorrow evening, such is the danger in this group of death. Australia have spent all winter pummelling Pakistan, and Bangladesh are more than capable of pulling off a smash and grab raid.

Pakistan have terrible memories of playing a World Cup in the West Indies. But they must use that experience, and the hurt of 2007, to inspire them to put up a spirited defence of their title. And spirit is the key. There are no certainties in T20 cricket and all Pakistan fans can wish for is that their embattled team plays with pride and passion.

This team is perfectly capable of challenging for the title again, provided it can overcome three major selection dilemmas. First, the batting line up lacks an explosive opener to accompany Kamran Akmal. Shazaib Hassan must be wondering what he must do earn selection ahead of the ill-suited Salman Butt. Mohammad Hafeez has an outstanding T20 record, and he or Khalid Latif will have to rise to the occasion.

Pakistan's middle order also looks light of a cool head, a part well played by Shoaib Malik in last year's tournament. The burden is now great on Misbah-ul Haq and Afridi.

Finally, and perhaps most decisively, the loss of Umar Gul is a bitter blow. Despite misfiring in other forms of cricket, Gul's missiles are laser guided in T20. More than any player, even Afridi, Gul has been the difference between Pakistan and other teams, choking the life out of the end of an innings. Here, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Sami must combine to cover for Gul's absence.

Another tournament brings another rush of hope to Pakistan fans. A successful defence is hard to imagine at this stage but it is not beyond Afridi's Pakistan. The first hurdle, and perhaps the biggest is this weekend of Russian Roulette in St Lucia.

Follow me on Twitter:

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • testli5504537 on May 8, 2010, 15:10 GMT

    farhan plz don't lose hope on Pakistan they can change the game so u cant just say pak will lose pak will bring the cup inshallah u will lose the bet

  • testli5504537 on May 6, 2010, 10:27 GMT

    how iS poSsible in thZ world Dt pAkistan is plAyin EnglanD coZ d fixture is A1 vS D2........!!! n A1 is australia n D2 is ENgland dEn how cAn theRE is a match bEtwEen pakistan n Englan........???

  • testli5504537 on May 5, 2010, 7:52 GMT

    Pakistan may lose due to one reason that is IMRAN NAZIR Ignored by Captain Shahid Afridi and the captaincy of Shahid Afridi which doesnt seems like showin interests on talented players like Imran nazir and bowling like Abdul Razak ..

  • testli5504537 on May 4, 2010, 6:40 GMT

    I could not understand the reason why you applied Hafiz though he was going very must be flexible as the game needs. If you wanted or want to apply spin early then why you chose part time spinner why didn't you tossed the ball to best like you and Ajmal. had you or Ajmal bowled the second over Ausies wouldn't have got the confidence they would have got out somehow but you chose part time and they got confidence. you did very bad captaincy in this match you should have open the bowling with Aamir and Sami...solution are these 1.Open with yourself (Butt is not made for T20, try to evaluate the opening of other team with you, only 6 over to utilize and your opener play like playing one day or test) 2. exit Hafiz or Fawad bring Asif 3.Razzaq at no. 5(you can promote him if you gets out early) 4.your team handed you very bad position in every match and you can not win every time in very bad situation so go for open and do best what you can do rather late and out in pressure.

  • testli5504537 on May 4, 2010, 6:30 GMT

    Afridi: Please bringback Im Nazir S.Akhtar if you can now or open inning yourself, you can have Razzaq in late. Opening is very much precious in T20 format then any other format you have only 6 over to utilize. In both matches your opener were playing like they have another 40 over to go and you can recover the game. Only two player are out side the circle and you can utilize these over. Imran Nazir, Shahid Afridi and Abdul Razzaq can only utilize these power play option. Please try to understand that Salman Butt is not aggresive player and you can not inject aggression of like these player it is very natural cann't change the mind ans mentality of person to a great extent. You did a very bad captaincy since you come to the international arena as a captain. Soulution is that open the inning with yourself you would become great player of the history if you get out early then send Razzaq as one down...Hafiz and Alam are good for domestic only Nazir has the intenational tale

  • testli5504537 on May 4, 2010, 3:44 GMT

    The team is not up to playing at this level. Bowling was below par. Fielding was poor. The batsmen were in a hurry to go back to huddle. Their shot selection was poor and pre-meditated. If the team does not bring their A GAME, they will be staring at elimination. I wonder why Waqar or Afridi did not tell the batsmen to hang on to the crease for a while, pace the innings before hitting the big shots at the half way mark. Sami was very expensive and should be replaced with ASIF in the next game (if Pakistan makes the 2nd round). Australia is a compelete team, with abundant of talent at every position, and the fire power to win this tournament.

  • testli5504537 on May 3, 2010, 23:14 GMT

    So far in the tournament,Pakistan's batting has come good.Its the bowling,fielding and strange captaincy which let us down in the last game. Why isn't M.Asif playing-he is our leading fast bowler? Bowling changes need to be more proactive.

  • testli5504537 on May 3, 2010, 21:32 GMT

    Australia roller coasted over Pakistan. It has been much of the same this summer. It is not about losing or winning. The lack of patience on the part of batsmen chasing a big total was concerning. Wickets feel from the go. Kamran, Butt, Hafeez, Umar gave away their wickets in a hurry and found the fielders instead of gaps. It was like giving the Aussies catching practice. There was some hope when Afridi & Misbah were in the centre. Afridi looked less composed. He got out to a straight delivery, which could be defended. Razzak was out of sorts and was sent back to the pavillion quickly. Pakistan clearly looked like a team without a game plan. Even a power house like Australia loaded with talent needs a game plan to perform competitively at this level. Lets hope Pakistan took home a lesson in this defeat. The stamp of unpredictability needs to go. Pakistan should not take for granted their fate will change in the next stage of the tournament, unless they make the necessary improvement.

  • testli5504537 on May 3, 2010, 17:49 GMT

    Lets see what Afridi does. @ Rizzy : Good joke man. Pakistan to give India back for arrogance? Well we are No 1 and No 2 in Tests and ODIs. Can you ever dream of ur side for such a glory with a useless board and comedy cricketers? Even in T20 we ll rock! We are the backbone of cricket and everyone wants to be in our good books. Comeon can u think of one team including BDs to travel to ur place? First grow up. U need us and not other way round for Cricket. By the way all the best to Afridi and his boys.

  • testli5504537 on May 3, 2010, 15:31 GMT

    Afridi doesnt seems like intelligent captain and i dont no y he picked Fawad Alam and Misbah who are just bad luck ...Afridi dropped Imran Nazir from squad i dont no wat made him to soo.He lost completely by doin that IMRAN nazir is bigger Afridi in agression and hitting sixes...AFRIDI Bad luck u wanted to b a captain u became but u cannot win///////becoz the atitude u have shown towards IMRAN NAZIR and picked Fawad Alam ,Misbah, and Salman Butt very sad i was your fan now i dont feel u can b a able leader

  • No featured comments at the moment.