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March 10, 2011

World Cup 2011

A cringe at the death

Kamran Abbasi
Ross Taylor smashes one to the off side during his century, New Zealand v Pakistan, Group A, World Cup, Pallekele, March 8, 2011
Ross Taylor dismantled Pakistan in the slog overs  © Associated Press
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Pakistan's serene progress to the World Cup quarter finals suddenly became a shambles in the final ten overs of the New Zealand innings. The Kiwi batsmen were powerful and clinical but Pakistan's death bowling was dreadful, probably the worst I've ever seen from an attack renowned for excelling in this period of an innings. Waqar Younis, who was a master at the death, must have been cringing.

Despite Pakistan's control for the first 40 overs, there were signs of trouble. The fielding was sloppier than it has been in this tournament, and Kamran Akmal set the tone with a resounding return to dreadful form. By missing at least three chances, two of them sitters, he presented Ross Taylor with welcome birthday gifts and Pakistan fans with an unwelcome reminder of the bad old days.

Paradoxically, Taylor may have helped Pakistan by exposing the current weaknesses in their strategy, which have been happily glossed over by three early victories. Apart from focusing attention on Kamran Akmal's wicket keeping, Taylor strengthened arguments that Pakistan are a bowler light in their selection, and this is where the loss of Mohammad Aamer is being felt.

The next game against Zimbabwe is an ideal opportunity to try a new combination. Bringing in Wahab Riaz to replace one of the top three batsmen would give Afridi more options in the death overs and a better opening partner for Shoaib Akhtar. Saeed Ajmal is a wicket taker and a skilled operator in the final overs, a better option for me than Abdul Rehman.

Much of Pakistan's selection appears to be based on bolstering the batting but eight batsmen have rarely been able to achieve what seven batsmen couldn't. Pakistan must rely on their players to take responsibility. Gul is a more than capable number eight and Wahab a useful clubber at nine. Razzaq must be itching for a return to the top end of the batting order on these benign tracks.

Pakistan have the ingredients to mount a challenge for the trophy but they need to be positive in selection as well as in performance. Whoever Pakistan select, as long as they bowl as they did in the final ten overs of the New Zealand innings and Kamran Akmal continues his woeful form, they will venture no further than the quarter finals of this increasingly open tournament.

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

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Keywords: World Cup

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by kazi salman jalali on (March 17, 2011, 0:57 GMT)

Let Umer Ukmal Keep wickets against Australia, I am Positive he will Bat very well agaist Australia. Also let us drop younus for a change. Give last chance for young shehzad. Pakistan will have a chance to end the streak of Australia. With good fielding, Excellent opening stand will bring fruitful result in pakistans favour. Good luck

Posted by Saiful Ansari, Leesburg VA USA on (March 15, 2011, 22:50 GMT)

One must give credit to the boys for sailing and getting a berth in the Quarters. The loss to New Zealand was like a wake up call. The innings from Asad Shafiq showed maturity beyond his experience and is a good sign for Pakistan. Afridi has struggled with his batting. Runs are due from him and what better time to score than in the game against Australia. Kamran Akmal is under pressure. Kamran should put NZ game behind&concentrate to boost his confidence.Hafeez needs to play responsibly. They can drop Shehzad for the Aussie game and open with Kamran. Our pace attack has shown signs of weakness due to inaccuracy. Gul is the only bowler on target. Shoaib Akhtar has been erratic. Wahab needs to bowl wicket to wicket. Time to get in the younger pacer (Khan) & try him against the Aussies. Pakistan must bat well and field out of their skins to beat the Aussies. Waqar is right: a win against the Aussies will send the confidence of the team to another level.

Posted by Karim on (March 15, 2011, 20:45 GMT)

Good piece as always but have to disagree that Pak have the ingredients to mount a challenge. They still don't do the basic rudiments right such as feilding and running between the wickets and are profligate with extras (was it ever thus!). The bowling is weak and the batting weaker still (no batsman has managed to hit a 100 even against the 'minnows'). and as for tactics, team selection and so forth, they were pathetic in Pallekele and are still clueless in Karachi....

Posted by Umair Muzaffar on (March 15, 2011, 9:20 GMT)

Both Younis Khan and Umar Akmal can keep better that Kamran. If we can get either Younis or Umar to Keep then we can open a slot for a bowler - either Ajmal, Junaid or Wahab can take Kamran's place. Shehzad should be rested also and Shafeeq should open with Hafeez.

best possible XI:-

Hafeez, Shafeeq, Younis, Misbah, Razzaq, Umar, Afridi, Gul, Wahab/Ajmal, Rahman/Ajmal, Akhtar

Posted by 27march pak in dubai on (March 14, 2011, 21:59 GMT)

PAK ARRIVES IN DUBAI ON 27TH MARCH,today march 15 assuming aussy defeat canada n pak they will haf 11 points, n between sri lanka n NZ,if lanka looses will haf 7 or if NZ looses 8,just as pak,but NZ haf too better runrate then pak,hence pak will end either A3 or A4, if pak doesnt defeat aussys or on 25th march q/f in mirpur n 26th march in colombo,pak will loose against INDIA OR SOUTH AFRICA if pak doesnt defeat aussys in last match without saeed ajmal d debatable best spinner in d world, or wayward wahab riaz,instead of SHOEB AKHTAR whose name itself still fears batsman pak will arrive in dubai on 27th march either from colombo or bangladesh n hide in dubai for atleast a month

Posted by mohidin gundroo on (March 13, 2011, 18:33 GMT)

Pakistan has problems in all areas, batting,bowling,fielding, wicket keeping and rock bottom confidance with inability to score more than 240 runs.With such a low confidance i doubt if they will be able to chase more than 210.Pakistan has always done well if they get a good opening stand which is not expected with openers in poor form and lack of confidance.Dont be surprised to see them lose against Zim and beat Aussies. isnt that typical of Pakistan?Kenya has shown today, ausie attack is not invincible nor is Australia.Pakistan will still qualify for 4th place to face tough SA in QF-Not bad, always some hope there. Better than facing mighty Indian batting line up in QF and be ousted. I would rather face them in finals-anybodies game.

Posted by Mohammad Aslam Kuwait. on (March 13, 2011, 8:36 GMT)

This shameful defeat is not only because of wicket keeper.See what strong bowers have done at the end.Let Afridi open with Hafeez and one down A.razzak and then Younis.and Omar akmal then Misbah and keep on according to situation. Bring Asad in place of shezad and Riaz to replace Akhtar who must be given rest to come back in Quarter final.You must change the combination for GOD sake.We upto to the end praying for victory but of no use. Any how again best luck pakistan team and PAKISTAN ZINDABAD.

Posted by aftab on (March 13, 2011, 0:46 GMT)

Is Afridi trying to become a cornered tiger? With 8 batsmen, it's cornered mouse. Won't help much.

Posted by farrukh on (March 12, 2011, 19:55 GMT)

I think Umar Akmal is faking injury so that the team can have his brother Kamran selected again as wicket keeper and at the last moment Umar would become fit. Fit to catch, fit to bat, fit to run but not fit to be wicket keeper so that brother can be selected. Umar did something like this in Australia

Posted by Shouldas- Wouldas- Couldas on (March 11, 2011, 23:25 GMT)

Awfull Akmal puts Pakis. Under the COSH !

Mr. Abbasi, Agree with you – WE NEED TO BOLSTER/BEEF-UP THE BOWLING !

Kamran Akmal was dreadfull behind the wickets and presumably will be replaced by Umar onwards. Kamran Akmal’s affected the whole Team’s performance & morale. To sort out the bowling, Junaid MUST be allowed to strut his stuff against Zimgabwe and Ajmal is far more experienced than Rehman. Heat, Humudity & Age has taken a heavy toll on Akthar and Wahab Riaz should be entrusted. Ahmad Shahzad should also be replaced with Asad Shafeeq, and YES open with either AFRIDI or RAZZACK.

Jawed, Karachi

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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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