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January 3, 2013

Pakistan in India 2012-13

New bowlers' game is made for Pakistan

Kamran Abbasi
Junaid Khan took four wickets in his first spell, India v Pakistan, 1st ODI, Chennai, December 30, 2012
Junaid Khan turned up routine top-class performances that leave you baffled how easily he has been overlooked by Pakistan's selectors  © BCCI
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India's Eden Gardens is becoming a Pakistani paradise. A motorised parade of great heroes of India's past, including Wasim Akram, failed to inspire heroes of India's present and future to overcome Pakistan's competitive, albeit faltering, total of 250 runs. As much as Pakistan backed themselves in the one-day series, the ease of victory, culminating in MS Dhoni's futile rehearsal of a Test innings, was a surprise. The new regulations have wrenched one-day cricket from the grip of batsmen, and Pakistan's bowlers seized the moment in Calcutta.

Junaid Khan and Mohammad Irfan sparkled in Pakistan's opening overs in a manner unseen since the dread days of 2010. Junaid did little more in this series than perform to the standard expected; a routine top-class performance that leaves you baffled how easily he has been overlooked by Pakistan's selectors. Irfan, by contrast, was a revelation compared with his uncertain debut. He remains ungainly, the roughest of diamonds, but added pace and control produced frightening bounce even on these Indian wickets.

India's strength is in batting, their players some of the best in the world and rajas in home conditions, but even such genuine talents struggled to find a composed response to Irfan's mighty deliveries. His figures were nothing extraordinary but the psychology of putting India's batsmen on the back foot was worth every wide, full toss, and four overthrows. Meanwhile, Nasir Jamshed was faced with the tamer challenge of India's opening bowlers, establishing himself as the rarest of commodities, a Pakistani batsman with a temperament to match his skill.

But the difference in this series is in the bowling, aided by ICC's new rules. Fewer boundary riders allow better bowlers to prosper. Two bouncers per over restore the value of high-quality fast bowling. In combination, these changes reward superior bowling attacks and will lead to a readjustment in achievable one-day totals. The gulf between Pakistan's and India's bowling is no secret but it was horribly exposed here. India face a worrying challenge to assemble a threatening pace attack, a prerequisite for future success in one-day cricket.

These rule changes help the game, not just Pakistan. Cricket has to be an even contest between bat and ball. The supremacy of batsmen has been dull and tedious, even mediocre international cricketers have plundered great bowlers. It is rare that the ICC earns credit but it should for these tweaks to the one-day format. One day cricket might just have been rescued.

Dav Whatmore and his backroom staff are helping with an even more hazardous mission - the preservation and revival of Pakistan cricket. Success is important to win people over to your ideas and buy time, especially when that success is supported by improved performance. Pakistan's fielding on this tour has begun, perhaps for the first time, to resemble international class. Fielding is the finest indicator of the commitment of players and coaching staff to preparing for a contest. Maturity and good sense in executing cricket's other disciplines have been evident too. Professionalism is traditionally in short supply in Pakistan cricket but Dav Whatmore, in consort with Misbah-ul-Haq and Mohammad Hafeez, has begun to show how a touch of discipline might transform results.

In the end though it is the players who are the harbingers of hope. Junaid Khan, Mohammad Irfan, and Nasir Jamshed have added fresh fascination to Pakistan's cricket story. And for the bowlers, at least, the new one-day game is made for them and Pakistan.

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

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Posted by akb on (January 31, 2013, 5:36 GMT)

Great worry. Batsmen of same technique and not having a batsman at 6 to turn the game on its head. I mean a batting all rounder. Left hand bats have been a success vs SA as per history. Try as many left hander as available.

Posted by Javed Hasan on (January 29, 2013, 14:00 GMT)

Pakistan,s batting is OK . The real problem is our batting. The golden oldies , Younis and Misbah are not performing in any version of the game . Misbah performs in one inning out of five and Younis one in eight . They are both long overdue for retirement . Another point Pakistan,s performance is not because of Misbah,s captaincy . It is inspire of it.

Posted by ScarboroughSpin on (January 20, 2013, 17:05 GMT)

Junaid is the real deal. I saw him play for Lancs 2 years ago.

Confident (bordering on cocky) but with a lethal armoury.

This guy will more than fill the vod left my Amir & Asif.

Posted by Shezad on (January 8, 2013, 17:46 GMT)

Great to see Junaid and Irfan perform so well, finally some support for Umar Gul. However why wasn't Anwar Ali given a chance? The way Kumar was swinging the ball for India, it reminded me of Ali vs India in the U19 World Cup in 2006. 18 years of age and bowling banana's, I thought he'd have been fast tracked into a team famous for blooding players young, especially fast bowlers. 7 years on and we still wait. The annoying thing was he was taken and sitting on the bench. Granted the other bowlers were performing, but having won the series after the 2nd ODI, why not rest Gul and give Ali a chance. Ali can also bat, he has one century and four 50's in first class cricket. Finally, the last ODI was evidence that Misbah is past it for ODI's, too old and too slow. He's also not going to feature in the next World Cup, so why play him. Misbah can continue in Tests, but Hafeez take over the ODI's as well.

Posted by Nwaibzaeed Chisti Jam on (January 8, 2013, 11:41 GMT)

Always interesting to read but i think championing Irfan as the latest 30 something bought in too late is a little premature. I would prefer to see Aizaz Cheema in the side consistently he has that rare commodity in world cricket these days raw pace even at 32/33. Junaid is a good prospect but he has a very long way to go and perhaps he shouldnt be so open mouthed about telling how he saw a ""weakness" in some of the indian batsmen and than explaining in detail his method as next time he may be crushed by them. The best Pak test team attack right now is cheema,Junaid,Gul,Ajmal and Haffezz with the very capable Rahman on standby with wahab riaz. Aaamer and asif are still very badly missed especially with the decline of gul

Posted by basophil on (January 7, 2013, 23:20 GMT)

I advise all the Pak fans not to be carried away by a win against an India going through a transition worsened by senior players going out of form while much of the bowling attack was new. However, I'm curious to know whether this same Pak unit can survive in South Africa. Would any of the Pak batsmen score against steyn, morkel, and philander? these guys embarrassed the english and aussie batsmen in their own backyards; the only batsmen who did reasonable well were KP and Clarke. Are there any batsmen of that calibre in this Pak team? Also remember that the Proteas had knocked out an aussie batting unit made of Clarke, Ponting, and Hussey for 47 in Cape Town. Also, Could the Pak bowling attack really take down the South African batting powerhouse with batsmen with 45+ averages?

Posted by Abdul Rahmann on (January 6, 2013, 13:12 GMT)

Pakistan,s real problem for a long time now has been it's very poor batting . Our Bowlershave won thematchesforus when we have won . In batting while in Nasir Jamshed and Hafeez we may have finally got a good opening pair , the middle order,s performance remains very poor . It is high time we got rid of the nonperformingmiddle order - Shoaib Malik , Misbah and Younus Khan .

Posted by Sardar Aslam Khan on (January 6, 2013, 11:34 GMT)

In the last three years Pakistan,s bowling has been steadily improving and is nowa world class one. The fielding was very poor and has shown some improvement .the real weakness had been batting both atopening level and middle order . In recent month the opening batting has shown very good improvement . However , the middle order consisting of Younis Khan , Misbah and Shoaib Malik has remained veryweak and inconsistent ,. Misbah , Younis and Shoaib Malik find scoring such a challenge and mostly can only score in singles . Their averages and their run rates are verylow. Itishightimethey are retired . Misbahin addition is a very poor fielder .Pakistan cricket ,s improvement in recent years is not because of Misbah itisinspite of him . All three of these oldies should now be retired .

Posted by Sajjad on (January 6, 2013, 8:08 GMT)

The way Wasim Akram has been commentating lately, he seems more an Indian than a Pakistani. :P

Posted by Shahid Jamil on (January 6, 2013, 6:45 GMT)

Pakistan biggest weakness was and continues to be its middle order batting - Younis Khan , Misbah and Shoaib Malik . I'f you look at their performance in the last two years the record is dismal and specially in ODIs they appear no longer able to score and more importantly score fast when needed . They have been overdue for retirement for a long time now .

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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 international editor of the British Medical Journal. @KamranAbbasi

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