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May 4, 2010

Twenty20 World Cup 2010

Compete now, experiment later

Kamran Abbasi


Choosing Mohammad Hafeez, a non-specialist spinner, to open the bowling against Australia was unwise, and it was worse to persist with him © Getty Images
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Pakistan’s immediate future hinges on Australia’s ruthlessness. Luckily for Shahid Afridi’s team ruthlessness is second nature to the Aussies. On the evidence of events in St Lucia and the relative merits of Pakistan’s opponents, Bangladesh require a near miracle to progress in this tournament. Miracles are least miraculous in cricket’s shortest format, especially if Messrs Duckworth and Lewis intervene, but Pakistan should be able to continue the defence of their title.

Pakistan have problems. The tour management are struggling to juggle a squad that they didn’t entirely wish for, and a couple of their early calls have been questionable. Choosing Mohammad Hafeez, a non-specialist spinner, to open the bowling against Australia was unwise, and it was worse to persist with him. It also exposed Pakistan’s lack of bowling depth and the extent of their previous reliance on Umar Gul.

West Indian wickets have thus far suited batsmen and Pakistan could add another specialist bowler to their starting XI. Pakistan’s excellence in T20 cricket has largely been thanks to attacking, specialist bowlers. Wicket taking has forced their opponents to lose momentum, and Gul has been the best practitioner of this strategy.

Of the current line up, only Mohammad Aamer and Saeed Ajmal have shown the form expected of them. In these circumstances, and considering the thrashing both Hafeez and Mohammad Sami received, it is hard to understand Mohammad Asif’s omission?

Afridi afterwards claimed that he had been experimenting in the field against Australia. A World T20 group match seems an odd time to try your luck. While flexibility is essential, Pakistan should have stuck to the game plan that has proved so successful in the last two World T20s. By the time Afridi’s experiment was over Australia had reached a match winning total that any batting line up would have struggled to overtake.

Of the three challenges that I set out in my last blog, Pakistan have done most to overcome the opening batting conundrum. Salman Butt is surprisingly hinting that he might be able to rise to the occasion. Whereas the middle order didn’t need to do much against Bangladesh, and the Australian target was always going to be unlikely to be reached. The jury is still out on both these matters.

But the loss of Gul is an urgent one to resolve for Pakistan. The answer isn’t to open with Hafeez but it might be to add another bowler on these friendly West Indian wickets. Either way, Asif may not have the best notion of law and order but his absence is almost criminal.

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Posted by Asad on (May 13, 2010, 16:14 GMT)

I am disappointed that I had to search hard to find any article on Pakistan's encounter tomorrow with Australia - as a matter of fact there is nothing on the main page of cricinfo about it..even bbc has something on it and cricinfo is a cricket site. Wonder what the reason might be? I'm also a bit tired of Chappel repeatedly dismissing Pakistan cricket as rubbish while he obsequiously praises India at every turn. Despite the problems the Pak team has had they made the highest score against AUS in this tournament by a big margin of 22 runs. If there is a team that can topple AUS it is PAK and despite all the tough talk Aussies will go into tomorrows match expecting a fight.

Posted by Imran Khan Lodhi on (May 13, 2010, 10:33 GMT)

I have to disagree with Kamran here. I understand his concerns but i feel that the seam bowlers availble on this tour are not firing and the loss of Gul has left us no other option but to rely heavily on spin. Sami is unreliable and Asif is out of form and seems as though he is lacking match fitness. Hafeez is a good option but should not be bowling his full quota unless he is bowling well but should merely be used for a couple of overs. He definetely shouldn't be batting so high but instead provide some support in the lower order incase we have a collapse or for a little cameo. He is taking balls away from Umar Akmal and the likes of Afridi and Razzaq. I could also be effecting Misbah's game who we should definetely not write off. He has magnificent hitting ability and he will come good at 6 for the final overs. Fawad Alam needs to bat at 5 and rotate the strike as we do struggle in doing that in the middle overs. He's a busy player and not a shot or block man like alot of our batters

Posted by Bharath on (May 7, 2010, 5:32 GMT)

I feel that Alam's place in the team is not justified. You need either a specialist bowler or a batsman at number 7. He is not a big hitter, nor is he a regular bowler. Looking at Hammad's performance in the U-19 world cup, I think he can surely be given a chance. There were many instances where he showed good temperamant n grit. Afridi has not been at his best both with the bat and ball. Gul's absence is being felt particularly at the death. Sami once again proved as to why he does not deserve a place in the team. The middle order lacks a sensible batsmen (like Yousuf). Shoaib malik's absence is felt particulary in the middle overs as he would rarely allow a spin bowler to settle in. And finally, THE FIELDING. They have again proved that they are one of the worst fielding units in the world. Salman Butt must be given a kick on his back. He is just 25, but his fielding is pathetic. They have do something to improve theri fielding.

Posted by Raja Altaf on (May 6, 2010, 19:42 GMT)

The team of 2007 was better but lost to India who were even better that particular year. The team of 2009 was not so good as 2007 but won WC partly because two good teams were knocked out early and we had less competition on our way to WC plus England pitches suited our bowlers and our normally pathetic batters somehow managed to perform in semifinal and final. That’s why we won WC in 2009.Our blind patriotism and joy of winning the cup made us loot other way and ignore our shortcomings. We fooled ourselves into thinking we are the best. YK and Malik were our silent consistent performers whom we failed to appreciate and gave demigod status to Afridi instead who played a lucky innings once in a blue moon. Our deficiencies had to catch up with us sooner and this WC shows us how low in world ranking we actually exist even in T20. In our blind patriotism we coaxed ourselves to beleive what we wanted to beleive rather than accept what should have been accepted. Loss to SA & NZ is sure.

Posted by illi on (May 6, 2010, 6:30 GMT)

Salman butt is a sifarshi, simple is that.. No matter he drops billion catches he won't be kicked out. Had it been any other player in any team, especially in Australia, England or S. Africa he would have been thrown out, no matter how many runs he scored for this crap in the fielding... & that too in a T20. At least I am ashamed as a Pakistani in watching fielding like that

Posted by Owais on (May 5, 2010, 21:20 GMT)

Agreed about Hafeez - his bowling is not up there and batting wise he is a big under performer. However I am surprised at some of the comments like: 1) Razzaq is a good bowler ???? Common guys he is only good when the other team is already under pressure or when pitch is favorable. Otherwise I have seen him being hit all over the park. His good days in field (bowling-wise) are few and far apart. 2) Fawad Alam - guys I guess he has to be one of the most unlukiestest of crickers. Eternal 12th man because of exceptional fielding. But he never gave up, reinvented himself to be a dependable batsmen. Please send him up the order. He is better than Akmal and Hafeez. 3) Why is Akmal on the team - he always starts his innings at -25 - meaning he has already dropped two catches. And then most of the times he only gets his score to 0 and gets himself out. His 74 against BD was an anamoly. 4) Finally what hell is wrong with Butt's catching (still same butter finger as 5 years ago)

Posted by Jay on (May 5, 2010, 20:07 GMT)

What's the big deal? Pakistan always loses to Australia. Some of their big names like Inzy, Afridi, Yousuf and all have pretty ordinary records against the Aussies. Now India on the other hand..

Posted by WAZIM on (May 5, 2010, 19:53 GMT)

they need to get Asif in the team

1.Salman 2.Kamran 3.Afridi 4.Umar 5.Misbah 6.Razzaq 7.Fawad/Sami 8.Aamer 9.Aasif 10.Ajmal

Razzaq is not at his best, so wouldn't mind swapping Fawad/Sami for Razzaq !!

whatever said and done, Butt has the potential to deliver, if he doesn't then would be nice to see Razzaq being tried as an opener...he can surely hit the new ball, and he needs a bit of time to get into the game

Posted by Javed Akhter on (May 5, 2010, 17:09 GMT)

Afridi, What is the role of fawad alam in your team,is he bowler or batsman ?

Posted by Mohammad Asad on (May 5, 2010, 16:12 GMT)

Mohammad Asad from USA.

Inclusion of Hafeez in the squad is still a mystery to me.......You guys (management, coach, captain) are NOT missing Asif ??? My dear Captain...please utilize Razzak propoerly. He can bowl well.. After so hard camping/practice...still catch drop. In this format..any mistake....is very very tough to recover.. Anyway keep your (Pak team) morale high..You CAN make it..You CAN do it..YOU are capable.....Good Luck.....guys

Mohammad Asad from USA.

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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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