Mike Holmans August 10, 2010

Haider and Ajmal the bright spots

Some players are reportedly not very happy with the UDRS
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That brilliant take from Zulqarnain Haider © Getty Images

Some players are reportedly not very happy with the UDRS. If he wasn't one of them before, I imagine Kamran Akmal will be joining their ranks any minute, when he realises that UDRS has probably killed his Test career.

Had Zulqarnain Haider not been reprieved by the UDRS in the second innings at Edgbaston, his king pair would have undermined any confidence in him as a batsman, and would have left him very nervous for the subsequent games even if the selectors continued to back him. Unless Haider did something important under those handicaps, Kamran could have seen his way open for a return to the national side.

As it was, Haider proceeded to play the classiest as well as the biggest innings by a Pakistani in the series so far. There were powerful drives, delicate strokes and sound defence. Given what else we've seen from Pakistan, Haider looks a perfectly credible No.4 or 5 in this team.

The runs he scored in partnership with the admirable Saeed Ajmal gave their team the ghost of a chance to win the game, a chance which Andrew Strauss and Jonathan Trott promptly sat on, but which also gave Haider another chance to show off his skills. A rank bad ball from Mohammad Asif flew high and wide over Trott's shoulder and though he was obviously unsighted, Haider leapt up and caught it, preventing four byes that it would have been grossly unfair for him to be debited with. It was a piece of high-class wicketkeeping to which Akmal could never even aspire, let alone achieve.

We know that nothing is beyond the PCB's selectors, but Haider's performances in the second innings should have sealed his spot for the next five years (unless it turns out that it was just a magic few hours which he never repeats).

Saeed Ajmal's performances will have also blighted Danish Kaneria's life without the help of the UDRS, although the legspinner at least has the consolation that there are occasions on which Pakistan will want to play two spinners and he ought to be first in the queue for such a spot given his previous record.

How good Ajmal is as a bowler is yet to truly emerge. He is clearly a pretty good offspinner and has a reasonable doosra (even if I'm deeply suspicious that the doosra can ever be a legal ball), and the England batsmen were clearly all at sea against him in the first innings. Before rushing to judgement, though, let us see what happens in the rest of the series when he is no longer a surprise novelty and England have a chance to work him out.

We can, though, make a judgement about his batting, which is extremely courageous. Not many tail-enders (oh, all right, lower-order batsmen) would have taken the short-pitched pummeling he received and made their maiden fifty into the bargain. It was a somewhat fortunate half-century, as Umar Gul's had been in the previous game, and it would almost certainly be a mistake to expect repeat performances on any regular basis, but it showed the kind of spirit which the top order sadly lacked. But it means that as a package, Ajmal offers much more than Danish Kaneria.

Without Haider and Ajmal, Pakistan would have been beaten out of sight, totally justifying my mishearing of Ramiz Raja talking (I thought) about Pakistan's “badding”. Because apart from some of the bowling of Mohammad Amir and Asif, none of what else Pakistan served up at Edgbaston could have been called “gooding”.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Anser Shah on August 25, 2010, 14:44 GMT

    guys, you will make a grave mistake by not giving some more chance to Shoeb? Malik to gain his form.........

    Is that you Mrs.Malik?

  • Omer Siddique on August 21, 2010, 4:35 GMT

    Almost everyone I have heard talking about the "doosra" says that it can not be bowled legally. While most of the bowlers who bowl this particular delivery have suspect actions but it frustrates me that no one every mentions that the action of the creator of the delivery that is called "doosra" the magician, Saqlain Mushtaq, was never called into question and one can easily see that from videos of his bowling action. His action was clean as a whistle. So, it might be said that it's hard to bowl a doosra with legitimate action but it's not impossible. I remember Bishan Bedi saying that as well but it seems that all the people have forgotten about Saqlain Mushtaq.

  • Cricpolitics on August 15, 2010, 19:51 GMT

    Doosra will only be legal once someone from Australia and England learn and utilize that skill. Once that happens it will become an ART. Wasn't tha the case with reverse swing?? Miky let's just accept the fact and give credit where it's due.

  • fahad on August 13, 2010, 8:28 GMT

    Kamran akmal has all the talents with him to play for pakistan only as a batsman.he has 6 test hundreds.he is only behind yousuf and younis in this pakistan side.he has all sorts of capabilities in ODI CRICKET.he is possibly the best batsman for pakistan in T20 cricket.how can you ignore such a talented batsman?

  • sania on August 12, 2010, 9:41 GMT

    guys, you will make a grave mistake by not giving some more chance to Shoeb Malik to gain his form. His match winning record for pakistan is better than all other current players. It is really pathetic that you guys are calling for his head when all others too bad performed...just grow up...don't loose a good batsman..yes..shoeb malik and salman but could make up a good opening pair..

  • Anonymous on August 12, 2010, 7:07 GMT

    I dont know what people are thinking. I was the first to admire Kamran for his rescue of us at Mohali, with Abdurrazzaq's wonderful contribution ofcourse. However, just because Zulqarnain did not reach 100 and could not save Pakistan (a draw was out of question here anyway), nobody can say this one-off innnings is not as good as Kamran's at Mohali. We can't think of past glory when there are only 11 spots to fill. Zulqarnain is a better keeper, true, but lets not forget that he is an even better batsman. In fact, Kamran can replace Zulqarnain on his day as a keeper but cannot surpass him as a batsman after the bravest set of 88 runs made on this tour by any team. Kamran is welcome back if he can mend his ways. In the meantime, its cruel on Yasir to keep him out. At worst he will get a golden duck and we have already achieved those.

  • saime R M shah on August 12, 2010, 7:00 GMT

    salman butt must be pick yaseer hameed for 3rd test to replace imran,, nd drop umer akmal pick yousif pakistan must b ply vid left nd right combination then they destroy england bowling attack bcoz andrewson nd broad hv a problem vid dis combnsn they cant bowl vel agnst right nd left combnsn

  • Dinesh Nair on August 12, 2010, 6:40 GMT

    Kamran Akhmal is the best...!!!

  • jassaon on August 12, 2010, 5:48 GMT

    The kind of negativity Malik and Farhat show at the pitch is a disgrace to the nation.............. I agree about playing akmal amd hamid as batsmann in place of akmal and malik

  • Tariq on August 12, 2010, 4:45 GMT

    israraja, I kind of agree with you. Pakistan should keep Kamran but away from test cricket any time this format is played outside the sub-continent. He is cluless against the moving ball although his past few innings in the sub-continent have been below par as well. As much as he needs a break we need a break from him too!

  • Anser Shah on August 25, 2010, 14:44 GMT

    guys, you will make a grave mistake by not giving some more chance to Shoeb? Malik to gain his form.........

    Is that you Mrs.Malik?

  • Omer Siddique on August 21, 2010, 4:35 GMT

    Almost everyone I have heard talking about the "doosra" says that it can not be bowled legally. While most of the bowlers who bowl this particular delivery have suspect actions but it frustrates me that no one every mentions that the action of the creator of the delivery that is called "doosra" the magician, Saqlain Mushtaq, was never called into question and one can easily see that from videos of his bowling action. His action was clean as a whistle. So, it might be said that it's hard to bowl a doosra with legitimate action but it's not impossible. I remember Bishan Bedi saying that as well but it seems that all the people have forgotten about Saqlain Mushtaq.

  • Cricpolitics on August 15, 2010, 19:51 GMT

    Doosra will only be legal once someone from Australia and England learn and utilize that skill. Once that happens it will become an ART. Wasn't tha the case with reverse swing?? Miky let's just accept the fact and give credit where it's due.

  • fahad on August 13, 2010, 8:28 GMT

    Kamran akmal has all the talents with him to play for pakistan only as a batsman.he has 6 test hundreds.he is only behind yousuf and younis in this pakistan side.he has all sorts of capabilities in ODI CRICKET.he is possibly the best batsman for pakistan in T20 cricket.how can you ignore such a talented batsman?

  • sania on August 12, 2010, 9:41 GMT

    guys, you will make a grave mistake by not giving some more chance to Shoeb Malik to gain his form. His match winning record for pakistan is better than all other current players. It is really pathetic that you guys are calling for his head when all others too bad performed...just grow up...don't loose a good batsman..yes..shoeb malik and salman but could make up a good opening pair..

  • Anonymous on August 12, 2010, 7:07 GMT

    I dont know what people are thinking. I was the first to admire Kamran for his rescue of us at Mohali, with Abdurrazzaq's wonderful contribution ofcourse. However, just because Zulqarnain did not reach 100 and could not save Pakistan (a draw was out of question here anyway), nobody can say this one-off innnings is not as good as Kamran's at Mohali. We can't think of past glory when there are only 11 spots to fill. Zulqarnain is a better keeper, true, but lets not forget that he is an even better batsman. In fact, Kamran can replace Zulqarnain on his day as a keeper but cannot surpass him as a batsman after the bravest set of 88 runs made on this tour by any team. Kamran is welcome back if he can mend his ways. In the meantime, its cruel on Yasir to keep him out. At worst he will get a golden duck and we have already achieved those.

  • saime R M shah on August 12, 2010, 7:00 GMT

    salman butt must be pick yaseer hameed for 3rd test to replace imran,, nd drop umer akmal pick yousif pakistan must b ply vid left nd right combination then they destroy england bowling attack bcoz andrewson nd broad hv a problem vid dis combnsn they cant bowl vel agnst right nd left combnsn

  • Dinesh Nair on August 12, 2010, 6:40 GMT

    Kamran Akhmal is the best...!!!

  • jassaon on August 12, 2010, 5:48 GMT

    The kind of negativity Malik and Farhat show at the pitch is a disgrace to the nation.............. I agree about playing akmal amd hamid as batsmann in place of akmal and malik

  • Tariq on August 12, 2010, 4:45 GMT

    israraja, I kind of agree with you. Pakistan should keep Kamran but away from test cricket any time this format is played outside the sub-continent. He is cluless against the moving ball although his past few innings in the sub-continent have been below par as well. As much as he needs a break we need a break from him too!

  • waterbuffalo on August 12, 2010, 4:02 GMT

    I usually dislike doing batting lineups,because it never happens in real life, but here goes, my apologies, Salman, Kamran to open, Azhar one down, Yousuf 4, Umar Akmal 5, Haider 6, Farhat 7, and then the 4 bowlers, 3 pace, 1 spin.

  • israraja on August 11, 2010, 23:39 GMT

    I think pakistan should keep Kamran Akhmal as batsman.

  • KiwiGav on August 11, 2010, 23:00 GMT

    UDRS = Umpire Decision Review System. What they often call 'referrals'

  • Mike on August 11, 2010, 21:24 GMT

    Apoorva, the expression is "spot on". "Bag on" is just as comical as "badding" but then again neither are you a native to the language.

  • Tariq on August 11, 2010, 21:10 GMT

    Based on Kamran Akmal's current performance, he can neither keep or bat. He should go back and work on his flaws in the domestic setup like most crickters without godfathers. He he performance well the comeback door should be open. For now though, he deserves a break.

  • Tariq on August 11, 2010, 21:01 GMT

    Pakis still need a specialist keeper and if he can bat that's a bonus. Zulqarnain was never the first pick as a wk so how he jumped the line is anybody's guess. However he did prove himself (and hats off to him) but behind the stumps. So baring the petty PCB politics I would include Sarfraz as the specialists wk and play Zulqarnain instead of Shoaib Malik.

  • M Akhlaq on August 11, 2010, 20:48 GMT

    3 formats- 3 different teams

  • CricFan on August 11, 2010, 18:57 GMT

    Sorry, but what is UDRS

  • QAYAMALI on August 11, 2010, 18:38 GMT

    Apoorva can you please pronounce "DOOSRA"

  • Imad K on August 11, 2010, 16:26 GMT

    Zulqarnain's selection was made in order to block the way for strong candidate Sarfraz Ahmed but Kamran Akmal's luck was so bad that even moderate guessed (in batting skills only)wicketkeeper Zulqarnain came out so strong that hardly Kamran Akmal stands with the chance of coming back as a keeper in series.

  • Mohammad Asad on August 11, 2010, 13:48 GMT

    Mohammad Asad from USA.....

    Mike - thanks for your article.......

    You know what !! before 2nd test I put a comments on Pak Spin Blog.....Requesting I. Butt (PCB) to do one more favour ....one more comedy !!!! " Please select 11 bowlers in the squad for 2nd test - atleast you have a Logic .... analyse Trent Bridge test ...you have nothing to lose - you can do anything ...If it works you will become Horo from Zero............".

    Keep it up Mike !!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • KJ on August 11, 2010, 13:45 GMT

    I think that Kamran Akmal can bat but his wicketkeeping failures have undermined his confidence. I agree with some of the comments including the one which suggests he should be included in the team as a batsman only..in place of Malik. I have seen some talent in Azhar Ali and Umar Amin and they should be persevered with. Farhat is too loose with his shots and he should be replaced by Hameed. The opening batsmen for Pakistan should include left and right handed batsmen, which may disrupt Anderson's opening spell which has proved too dangerous and accurate for Pakistan. Although Kaneria is a better bowler, it is clear that Ajmal has a better cricketing brain. As for Haider, it was delightful to see someone with the temerity to stand up to England. Not his batting skill but his approach reminded me so much of Miandad. Someone without fear, with arrogance and confidence. It isn't all despair for Pakistan, nor all systems go for England. It was surprising to see England rattled so easily!

  • Ahmer on August 11, 2010, 13:33 GMT

    'Badding' Hahahaha

    That is all

  • awais on August 11, 2010, 13:31 GMT

    PCB kept K. Akmal in the team because of his batting not his keeping. We all know how good Farhat and the little Butt are (oh yes! Ijaz is the big Butt)Why not use Kamaran as an opener in all three formats and keep Header as a test keeper.

  • Hasib Baig on August 11, 2010, 12:51 GMT

    I agree.. Kamran should be played as a batsman rather than a keeper.. and that too in place of good for nothing Shoaib Malik.. and someone please somehow get rid of Imran Farhat.. DEFEAT is written on faces of these two players even before they start batting.. no fighting spirit at all.. sad.. this is not how we Pakistanis are..

  • MAHMOOD on August 11, 2010, 11:46 GMT

    Why not Kamran Akmal as a specialist batsman? After all he has six hundreds in test cricket for Pakistan. He is an awful wicket keeper but has huge batting potential. Why throw the baby out with the bath water

  • Usman Mughal on August 11, 2010, 11:41 GMT

    Dont imagine that pakistan wud defeat england with these current players despite of Mohammad Yousaf, what did mohammd yousaf from last year till now... nthng just appears on TV and expressing his comments agains pcb..ah nthng else... Pcb should include younis khan & misbah ul haque for test series, and drop bad performers like imran farhat, umar akmal & kamaran akmal..

  • Ahmed on August 11, 2010, 11:01 GMT

    Nice Article, Definitely Ajmal and Haider prevented innings defeat for Pakistan.However i still feel Pakistan should play Kamran Akmal as an opener and not as a WK. Theres no place for Shoaib Malik and look for a genuine allrounder in the middle order to stabilize bowling and batting.

  • Saqib on August 11, 2010, 10:23 GMT

    Well two akmal brohters and imran farhat, shoaib malik are disgrace for paki team, they are not test players(only T20 and ODI), all of them are with poor technique. butt supporting imran farhat for his place in team due to imran's father-in-law is a national selector. still back home our raw tallent need opportunity to show their tallent. Fast bowler Mohammad irfan we need you in the national team.

  • Suhaib on August 11, 2010, 9:04 GMT

    I think Kamran Akmal should be played as a middle order batsmen in place of Shoaib Malik. Kamran is much better than Shoaib as a batsmen.

  • Yassar on August 11, 2010, 9:01 GMT

    It's too early to make long judgements on any of these new players. Quite often new players come in and perform extremely well but then tail off leading to the same situation. Kamran Akmal was the same when he initially came on the scene, really good behiend the stumps and a real find with the bat. I remember his hundred against India on a seaming track when Pakistam were 39-6 on the first morning. That hundred won Pakistan the game. Currently he can't seem to buy a run.

    So the problem comes down to consistency. That will be the key. The top players are always more consistent.

  • Asad Haroon on August 11, 2010, 8:08 GMT

    Given the current circumstances, where our number 4 and 5 both average below 15 this season, he deserves that slot

  • Nadeem Kirmani on August 11, 2010, 7:47 GMT

    i agree with the comments in the above article, i suggest Haider shoul be given more chances to play, he proved him self as "skilled professional" which lacks in most of our players.if we want to see our team on top we should include players like Haider.

  • coxwaffle on August 11, 2010, 7:18 GMT

    2 innings and you're already calling him a 'number 4 or 5 batsman'? I don't understand the point of this article at all.

  • Meerz Khan on August 11, 2010, 4:48 GMT

    The decision of inclusion of Ajmal and Haider now proved good. But I think there is yet a lot left for Haider to prove. Wicket Keeping is the major business which yet to be proved. Despite some brilliant takes behind the stumps (specially when he was standing up for Asif and gather ball high at his left), he also dropped some catches. But it is true that he looks a lot better then Akmal. We wish him that he prove himself and cement his place in the team because we need a good wicket keeper and a courageous batsman.

  • Dr. Syed Erfan Asif on August 11, 2010, 4:32 GMT

    Mike, it seems every cricket lover, no matter from which country, is interested in giving positive suggestions, comments and recommendations to save Pakistan cricket; except for PCB itself. How sad, and how true whatever you wrote.

  • Saq on August 11, 2010, 2:34 GMT

    A good amount of wishful thinking there Mike - one good performance warranting 5 years of selection under the PCB?

  • mwd on August 11, 2010, 0:51 GMT

    Kamran Akmal should not be picked in the test team anymore. I know he has given a lot to Pakistan Cricket with the bat, but if I think about it I can't recall a single time he helped Pakistan win a match with his glove work. His keeping is ordinary at best and he may have a future in T20 or ODI cricket but Haider should be given an extended run in test matches.

  • fahad khan on August 11, 2010, 0:24 GMT

    Just a slight correction to your comments about the doosra. I dont think anyone, other than the original inventor saqlain mushtaq, could ever bowl a legal doosra :-)

  • Vidhya on August 10, 2010, 22:50 GMT

    I second the above comment :)

  • Apoorva on August 10, 2010, 21:45 GMT

    Nice article. Ramiz Raja's "badding", you caught his pronunciation bang on :-)

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  • Apoorva on August 10, 2010, 21:45 GMT

    Nice article. Ramiz Raja's "badding", you caught his pronunciation bang on :-)

  • Vidhya on August 10, 2010, 22:50 GMT

    I second the above comment :)

  • fahad khan on August 11, 2010, 0:24 GMT

    Just a slight correction to your comments about the doosra. I dont think anyone, other than the original inventor saqlain mushtaq, could ever bowl a legal doosra :-)

  • mwd on August 11, 2010, 0:51 GMT

    Kamran Akmal should not be picked in the test team anymore. I know he has given a lot to Pakistan Cricket with the bat, but if I think about it I can't recall a single time he helped Pakistan win a match with his glove work. His keeping is ordinary at best and he may have a future in T20 or ODI cricket but Haider should be given an extended run in test matches.

  • Saq on August 11, 2010, 2:34 GMT

    A good amount of wishful thinking there Mike - one good performance warranting 5 years of selection under the PCB?

  • Dr. Syed Erfan Asif on August 11, 2010, 4:32 GMT

    Mike, it seems every cricket lover, no matter from which country, is interested in giving positive suggestions, comments and recommendations to save Pakistan cricket; except for PCB itself. How sad, and how true whatever you wrote.

  • Meerz Khan on August 11, 2010, 4:48 GMT

    The decision of inclusion of Ajmal and Haider now proved good. But I think there is yet a lot left for Haider to prove. Wicket Keeping is the major business which yet to be proved. Despite some brilliant takes behind the stumps (specially when he was standing up for Asif and gather ball high at his left), he also dropped some catches. But it is true that he looks a lot better then Akmal. We wish him that he prove himself and cement his place in the team because we need a good wicket keeper and a courageous batsman.

  • coxwaffle on August 11, 2010, 7:18 GMT

    2 innings and you're already calling him a 'number 4 or 5 batsman'? I don't understand the point of this article at all.

  • Nadeem Kirmani on August 11, 2010, 7:47 GMT

    i agree with the comments in the above article, i suggest Haider shoul be given more chances to play, he proved him self as "skilled professional" which lacks in most of our players.if we want to see our team on top we should include players like Haider.

  • Asad Haroon on August 11, 2010, 8:08 GMT

    Given the current circumstances, where our number 4 and 5 both average below 15 this season, he deserves that slot