August 10, 2010

Mike Holmans

Haider and Ajmal the bright spots

Mike Holmans
That brilliant take from Zulqarnain Haider  © Getty Images
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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”.

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Posted by 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?

Posted by 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.

Posted by 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.

Posted by 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?

Posted by 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..

Posted by 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.

Posted by 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

Posted by Dinesh Nair on (August 12, 2010, 6:40 GMT)

Kamran Akhmal is the best...!!!

Posted by 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

Posted by 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!

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