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July 7, 2010

2010: Summer of Pakistan

Gul lasers Aussies

Kamran Abbasi

2 Umar Gul is difference between this Pakistan and the one that relinquished its T20 crown in the Caribbean © Getty Images

Geoff Boycott described T20 as a game of luck - and it might be the luckiest of cricket's formats - but Pakistan, Australia, and England would beg to differ. Australia and England have both applied a new approach to their T20 thinking that has delivered success in recent months.

Australia have opted for a pace blitz, turning a batsman's thrash into a test of reflexes, while England have added aggression and top-order blasters to their cricket. Pakistan, meanwhile, have enjoyed continuous success by relying on their wicket-taking bowlers to pull them out of any situation. These are not strokes of fortune, they are deliberate strategies.

Pakistan's escape from Australian dominance is a welcome start to a crucial summer. Ecstatic, packed crowds at Edgbaston demonstrated the potential of England as a temporary home venue for Pakistan cricket. Even pindrop silence at every Aussie triumph--though Pakistan fans might learn some generosity from their English hosts--and a couple of dodgy umpiring decisions were a reminder of home comforts.

Australia had both matches within their grasp but the difference between this Pakistan and the one that relinquished its T20 crown in the Caribbean was simply one man. Umar Gul has become the supreme T20 bowler, his effectiveness enhanced the shorter the cricket contest.

What is it that elevates Gul in T20 cricket? Yes he has pace, though less than Shaun Tait and several others. Yes he can reverse swing the ball late, though he isn't alone in mastering this once mysterious art. The difference between Gul and other pacemen is his unerring discipline and accuracy in a four-over spell. Yorker after laser-guided yorker, Gul loads the percentages in his favour crippling any run chase. This isn't luck, it is pure skill.

The conundrum for Pakistan is that outside T20 cricket he struggles to find the right game plan or the discipline to stick to it, confused by choice. And perhaps that is the secret of Gul in T20 cricket? Simplicity is king. He knows exactly what to do every ball. Introduce uncertainty and Gul becomes mortal. Interestingly, he now has a captain, the manic enthusiast Shahid Afridi, who will also keep it simple.

Gul's laser finished Australia in the T20 series, but the real Test of Gul's development will be at Lord's next week. For now, Pakistan fans will savour a rare whitewash of Australia. It might only be two T20 matches but after the last year of hell for Pakistan cricket, believe me, we'll take it.

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Posted by AMIR on (July 13, 2010, 4:13 GMT)

YES, GUL IS MAIN DIFFERENCE b/w this team and the team in the st.lucia. if Gul was there in carribian hussy would has not such a ability to snatch pakistan win.

Posted by jani on (July 12, 2010, 0:36 GMT)

Pakistan is playing like a well lead unit under Afridi and that probably is the biggest threat Aussies will face. Sure Yousef and Younis arn't there and thats a big disadvantage but if Pakistan beat Aussies that would be a big bonus for us.

Posted by Irfan on (July 11, 2010, 9:50 GMT)

There have been some comments made by some posters about Pakistan team not having enough talent to win against Aus in tests..I would like to remind that test cricket is not just a test of talent, its also a test of temperament and skill..Any Pakistani cricketer who makes it to international cricket is, unlike Aussie, raw talent with limited skills. He polishes his skills by playing in different conditions and oppositions and since we don't play too many tests our players don't have good temperament. On top of that we are the worst fielding side in the world. Combine all these negatives together and you still see Pak competing well against Aus in tests then you have to admit that its the amazing talent that we have which can still compete even after having so many problems.

My argument is also strengthened by the fact that Pak has the best T20 record and we all know T20 is not the test of temperament. Its the special talent that makes Pak win consistently in T20.

Posted by Haroon on (July 11, 2010, 0:47 GMT)

Kamran, you are doing a great job and are probably one of the very few Pakistani editors who give our team the support they need, please keep up with your wonderful work!

Now,I have seldom seen anyone put their own team down and become "neutral", its just perplexing. No one will ever mention decisions going in favour for their team, but I see Pakistani's questioning that as well. Its very unfortunate but majority of the Pakistani's lack diplomacy, sometimes you see fans criticizing and on the other hand we have certain journalists who write articles that have nothing to do with the current situation. I have never witnessed anyone questioning their athletes just because they weren't given an IPL contract and labeling them as "easy targets" for bookies, TOTALLY ridiculous!! Sometimes "Pakistani" journalists don't even post my comments because I tell them like it is, and instead pass those remarks onto their blog who tell them they are "great".

I hope Pakistani's become one in cricket!

Posted by Faizan on (July 10, 2010, 21:03 GMT)

Yup absolutely agree with "Mr.Moody", Pakistan have been facing many challenges in recent years n have recieaved hardly any support frm others, n yet they tend to gel together n perform like tigers. Its just abt the matter of time ALL THE BEST TO TEAM PAKISTAN, AND I M SURE THEY WILL PULL IT OFF THIS TIME INSHALLAH!!!!!

Posted by saiful ansari, Leesburg, VA, USA on (July 10, 2010, 18:17 GMT)

Many fans are rightly sceptic&Pak will go in the tests as under dogs against the best test side in the world. The Aussies have proven record, while Pak has no test match wins in almost a decade. But times can change. A single big innings from the new comers:Umer Akmal, Umer Amin or Azher Ali can definitely put the Aussies on the back foot. It sounds like a far cry, but the youngsters can prove us pessimists to be wrong. Besides they are the future of Pak cricket & will have everything to gain, if they play some winning knocks. Afridi has not played tests for many years. It will be awesome if he can quickly adapt to test cricket, stay at the crease & score some decent runs in the middle of the innings. This tour will be a learning curve for our young & upcoming test debutantes like Umer Amin, Azher Ali, etc. It will also be a real test for Afridi's leadership qualities & individual performance. Test cricket demands performance in every session, & is not so much about passion.

Posted by Moody on (July 10, 2010, 15:44 GMT)

kindly dont say that pakistan is not a good test and ODI team. although pakistan has been facing many problems yet they managed their team somehow[unlike west indies]. even in sri lanka, new zealand and australia, pakistan dominated most part of the tests but it was the last moments where pakistan were unable to convert their good performance into victory. they are fighters so one has to appreciate GREEN SHIRTS for their fight. i hope they start converting their good starts into victory!

Posted by Moody on (July 10, 2010, 12:22 GMT)

oh come on! people must remember that in the recent concluded series, australia is only team who were bowled out twice within 20 overs!!!!. it is A strong statement for those who keep questioning pakistani players ability to play for 5 days. look aussies even didn't last for 20 overs in both matches so how will they stay for 5 days infront of GREEN QUICKIES????? i enjoy ponting's shivering legs against amir bouncers

Posted by Alay on (July 9, 2010, 19:49 GMT)

Yes I aggreed with adnan @ Mr. sajjad_logic..Pakistan has got telant specially there pacemen..they have produced astonishing swing and pace bowlers..just throw of the spactacle of Critisism and think positively..critique is good to some certain extent..as we are playing well so just appreciate the boys rather kneel them down man.. thanks.. Alay

Posted by amer on (July 9, 2010, 18:01 GMT)

Just to reinforce the observation made here about the Pakistani supporters. I agree, it would be nice if they had the grace to appreciate the opposition too with applause. That is in the spirit of the game. I believe though that Pak fans at home do show appropriate appreciation for the guests.

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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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