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January 31, 2013

Pakistan in South Africa 2013

Batsmen in a fight for respect

Kamran Abbasi
Asad Shafiq and Azhar Ali shared a battling unbeaten stand of 71, Pakistan v England, 2nd Test, Abu Dhabi, 3rd Day, January 27, 2012
Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq will be playing Tests in South Africa for the first time  © AFP
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At the beginning of Misbah's reign, Pakistan drew a series against South Africa. Expectations were low, and the dead wickets of the Emirates helped, but Pakistan seemed ripe for humiliation. It was a quiet statement of intent to symbolise the silent revolution of Misbah-ul Haq. Now Pakistan begin another Test series against South Africa, on this occasion on the dreaded wickets of Johannesburg and Cape Town, and the greatest compliment to Pakistan's progress is that the world's No. 1 team is taking Pakistan seriously.

It is hard to champion great expectations for this series. Pakistan invariably struggle in South Africa, even when they bring the best fast bowlers in the world with them. Those fast men have sometimes humbled South Africa but Pakistan's batsmen have rarely failed to find a lower gear. The ball bounces. The ball moves. It doesn't even have to do so at speed as Shaun Pollock has shown often enough. Pakistan's best batsmen nibble. They prod and poke. Thank you and good night.

Still, I cannot remember as resolute a bunch as this venturing to South African shores? We can expect true grit from Misbah and Younis Khan. Azhar Ali is cut from diligent cloth. Asad Shafiq will battle. Nasir Jamshed has quickly adapted his one-day game to encourage longevity and must be capable of the same in Tests. Mohammad Hafeez will urge his mind to the correct method although the Professor's feet are less reliable. That's Pakistan's top order right there, a grinder to the last man.

Warriors old and new are about to face what might be their toughest ever batting challenge. South Africa's bowling bullies and dominates. The pitches spit and seam. The aggression of the fielding side is multiplied by the hostility of crowds. An Asian batsman may never feel so far from home or comfort zone.

Yet such adversity is made for heroes. There is nothing to lose. No Pakistan batsman has ever dominated in South Africa except Azhar Mahmood. He is now British. The highest average belongs to Taufeeq Umar. It will stay with him as he nurtures a leg injury. Saleem Malik's achievements are too sour to celebrate. Inzamam-ul Haq, Mohammad Yousuf, and Younis--the major Pakistan batsmen of the last decade--have never amounted to much. A situation is vacant for a Pakistani lion to tame South Africa.

Equally, fast bowling is one of Pakistan's strengths. Junaid Khan and Umar Gul will make Pakistan competitive on any pitch that helps South Africa. Mohammad Irfan, a man with stilts for legs, should be frightening and unplayable, provided Dav Whatmore can coax sufficient focus and fitness. A 90 mph ball leaping at your throat from a good length isn't anybody's idea of a pleasant afternoon.

Pakistan are superior in spin bowling. Saeed Ajmal, the world's No. 1 bowler by some definitions, is a threat on any wicket. Abdur Rehman's zippy left-arm deliveries are unlikely to be slowed down by the intoxication of recreational drugs. In return, Imran Tahir and Robin Peterson are a more ordinary challenge. Given a spinner's wicket, Pakistan will dominate. But who will be daft enough to give them that?

Pakistan's bowling deserves respect but the batsmen will need to quickly earn respect if Pakistan are to salvage anything from this series. In such circumstances, the resilience of the lower order can be decisive. A decent showing in the tour match is encouraging but Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, and Vernon Philander did not feature. This African examination, no doubt, has come too early in the development of Misbah's Pakistan team, and the hosts are strong favourites. Success for Pakistan will be that South Africa are still taking them seriously at the end of the Test series. The responsibility for this rests with Pakistan's batsmen. But when Imran Farhat's name appears on the team sheet we will know that Pakistan, forget South Africa, have finally stopped taking themselves seriously.

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

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Posted by Iftikhar Hussain on (February 24, 2013, 20:35 GMT)

Pakistan,s performance will notimroveas long as they keepon retaining nonerformers inthe Team such as : Afridi , Shoaib Malik, Youniskhan ,Misbah and the Akmal Brothers . Do the selectors have any explanation for their dropping Sarfaraz from the T20sTeam and the ODIs ? He is way superior as a wicketkeeper compared to Kamran Akmal and is one of the best batsman in the Pakistan test side . He is also one of the best batsman inthe Pakistan side .

Posted by farzoq ali on (February 21, 2013, 6:32 GMT)

finaly board realise that they shpuld have to select the afridi........he is still a match winner.........

Posted by Casper on (February 13, 2013, 21:20 GMT)

"The aggression of the fielding side is multiplied by the hostility of crowds."

Come on we are not that bad lol

Posted by Pakman on (February 10, 2013, 8:14 GMT)

Interesting to read the comments now after the first test has been lost. Some commenters were afraid the Pakistan will be bowled out under 200. Worst fears realized!

Irfan needs to be given a chance. We will never know about his test playing ability until he is blooded.

Posted by ahk on (February 10, 2013, 2:33 GMT)

T20 cricket is proving tough for the survival of cricket as a whole.The 2 best teams Aus & Ind will find it hard to have replacements for Tendulkar,Dravid & Ponting/clarke. SA will face the same after retirement of Kallis & Smith. Pak is already struggling partly due to non availability of playing cricket at home & rest popularity of T20 cricket that quality batsmen like Miandad, Inzimam has become a rarity.In last few years we have seen Pak scoring 49,its lowest test score. Aus out for 47 & NZ 45 apart from some unbelievable low scores from Eng,WI as well. Better save test cricket.

Posted by just responding on (February 6, 2013, 16:44 GMT)

@ "just browsing",

Yes Pakistan is down but not out yet. Their 2nd innings already showed some signs that it is possible to go against "bouncy-track bullies."

Yes, just like one South Asian cricket team is famous for being "Flat track bully", so is your team a Bouncy track bully. (a) They always prepare excessive bouncy pitches, (b) Then they resort to bouncers to harass the batsman and take the wickets.

What do you call this? .. sportsman like conduct!! No, sir, it's not. It's called victory by hook or by crook -- at any cost! Now that's definitely not a sportsman like conduct.

I think South Africa has taken a leaf out of Cricket Australia's cricket pitches and turned them on their faces as well as other teams -- Bravo!

There is nothing extra ordinary about your bowlers, these very same bowlers, just a season ago, couldn't do a thing against Pakistan in Dubai pitches, and didn't win the series!!

The great bowlers perform under all conditions and pitches, yours don't. - Q.E.D

Posted by aftab from VB on (February 6, 2013, 12:14 GMT)

I would not be alarmed by the batting collapse until it happens as a routine. Pakistan has the firepower to overcome the SA bowling attack. The 'surprise' promised by Misbah was real. OK, this time bring a better bowler. Personaly, I would go with Rehman and apply relentless pressure with Ajmal, Rehman and Hafeez after 12 overs from Gul and Junaid. Pakistan must use its strength and not try to let its weakness prevail.

Posted by just browsing on (February 4, 2013, 14:38 GMT)

the last comment before me was at 10:53 on the second day of the test.all of a sudden, all the comments stopped. (I'm betting that this was when the majority of commentators realized that the game was already lost.)even tho SA declared their second innings at 276/3 Pakistan still had a chance to get something out of the test (forcast was rain for day 5) the pakistan first innings were to serve 1 purpose only (and that is your bowlers cannot do what ours can) Smith didn't follow on for another reason (and that was to tell the pakistan players that even if we let you bowl on the same pitch we used 20 minutes ago, you cant bowl us out. (only 3 wickets fell) there were many people who were saying that pakistan is the only country left that can challenge SA for the #1 crown. in my opinion, i dont think any country comes close. the game is already over with SA winning by 211 runs. pakistan will come up, but i regret to say, i dont see them winning a single match in SA (T20 and ODI not incl)

Posted by 719 on (February 2, 2013, 10:53 GMT)

This article suddenly seems a very long time back, now.

Posted by akb on (February 2, 2013, 10:18 GMT)

This is double standard. ICC umpire should note it down. Rule for AB & Misbah is different ?

Posted by AnasAbbas on (February 2, 2013, 8:16 GMT)

Sir Jee Imran Farhat scored 300 in domestic cricket.Pakistan team should take him seriously..

Posted by akb on (February 2, 2013, 6:04 GMT)

Its disgusting that commentators are arguing the DRS decision against AB by Misbah. AB is not supposed to indicate to the opposite capt that the ball hit his pad & not the bat. Its meaningless.

Posted by Tauqir on (February 2, 2013, 3:05 GMT)

I agree with Andrew. SA batting is equally good against spin. But dont under estimate Pakinstan's fighting spirit. They will fight very hard. It is going to be more intetesting then people here are expecting

Posted by Nawed Khan on (February 1, 2013, 21:29 GMT)

Is Pakistan is safe zone in the 1st test? I do not think so but pak dominated SA 1st of play. 2nd day of this test will be quit intresting. Let wait and see tomorrow.

Posted by 719 on (February 1, 2013, 16:51 GMT)

Interesting how Imran Farhat made a triple hundred in domestic cricket after this article was written....

Posted by andrew schulz on (February 1, 2013, 9:22 GMT)

You can not come out and flatly say: 'Given a spinner's wicket, Pakistan will dominate.' This SA side would be capable of beating Pakistan on a raging turner. So would Australia. Their fast bowlers would still be effective. Such a statement leaves room for believing at the end of the series that South Africa won only because of the tracks that were presented. That is irresponsible and misleading.

Posted by Imtiaz Ahmed on (February 1, 2013, 8:46 GMT)

What wasvthe basis for selecting Imran Farhat? He has been tried again and again for the last four years . Each time he has failed . Why not try the dozen or so much better batsmen available for consideration .

Posted by saad on (February 1, 2013, 8:04 GMT)

Interesting thoughts guys. I would just like to add one more thing. Looking at Pakistan's history, they have produced best results when under pressure and this current SA team would definitely put them under great amount of pressure. I would say, today being the first day of the three match series is most crucial for Pakistan. If Pakistani players put up a decent show today, we do have got a great series in our hands.

Posted by Zubair on (February 1, 2013, 7:56 GMT)

The Imran Farhat line- Respect to Kamran for a point well made, and is certainly not funny as a Pak supporter- this is no mickey mouse level. Are you reading Pakistan Cricket board and selectors? Shame on you for allowing this.

Posted by Ishrat on (February 1, 2013, 7:26 GMT)

I am worried about our batters. The moving and bouncing ball against the glued to the crease openers will create the chasm that the middle order will not be able to paper over.

Posted by Shahwaiz on (February 1, 2013, 6:19 GMT)

Lets not forget that brilliant 90-odd Inzi scored last time went to SA. That was the best exhibition of batting with the tail I've seen as Inzi just had Asif for company for most of his innings. If im not miskaten, Pakistan went on to win that match.

Posted by Srini on (February 1, 2013, 6:07 GMT)

I find it rather strange that the headlines for Pakistani articles always have some whinging tone to them like respect, for respect, for recognition, sincerity, honesty so on and so forth. There seems to be lot of identity crisis going around in your country because of the spot fixing scandal with players landing in jails. You don't have to feel so lost and always crave for some 'respectful' attention. It'll come your way, if you do deserving things. Anyways, my prediction for this series - SA will route Pakistan team. Pakistan batting and fielding are woeful. Almost non-existent. Bowlers are not as bad as the other two departments.

Posted by Srikanthan on (February 1, 2013, 5:30 GMT)

Junaid Khan and Umar Gul have to bowl full to Kallis , either yorkers or fuller on middle and leg and to Amla sharp bouncers on middle and leg ( may be by Irfan) That is the only chance. NZ met with limitecd success when they did that. Of course their batting put paid to any aspirations for respectability

I just hope Pakistan fares well. Batting could have serious problems against Steyn , Morkel and Philander.

Law of averages has to catcj up with SA ,Kirsten as well Kallis and Amla. Of course one has to admit that the last two are not your average cricketers especially Kallis. Law of averages has very rarely caught up with him in the past

Posted by Junaid on (February 1, 2013, 5:11 GMT)

Great Article! Imran Farhat bit is hilarious

Posted by Asjad on (February 1, 2013, 5:10 GMT)

"Imran Farhat’s name appears on the team sheet we will know that Pakistan, forget South Africa, have finally stopped taking themselves seriously"

True that

Posted by shadman on (February 1, 2013, 4:59 GMT)

nice feature .. i love ur writings .. hope pakistan can play a better part of the test match

Posted by Nigah on (February 1, 2013, 4:47 GMT)

"But when Imran Farhat’s name appears on the team sheet we will know that Pakistan, forget South Africa, have finally stopped taking themselves seriously" I love these last words and these things put Pakistan cricket in lots of troubles.

Posted by Shahid Akbar on (February 1, 2013, 4:32 GMT)

Luck seems to favor Imran Farhat again. Hope he uses this opportunity to prove himself.

Posted by sj on (February 1, 2013, 3:22 GMT)

The batsmen have to fight hard, stay at the wicket for longer times, leave the away going deliveries and score some runs. The other important factor would be the fielding; they will have to hold their catches. But the disappointing thing is adding Imran Farhat as an extra operner. He has been tested for 13 years now, so no point sending him. The selectors could have given chance to a younger batsman. Just a waste of space of a batsman. I hope he wont get a chance to bat. wish them all the best as the match will start in 5 hours time...

Posted by Pervez Akhtar on (February 1, 2013, 2:32 GMT)

6 hours to go can't wait for match to begin

Posted by aftab from VB on (February 1, 2013, 1:58 GMT)

Nice article. Pak should play Rehman ahead of Irfan in my opinion. Ajmal, Rehman, Gul and Junaid are equal for SA attack.

Posted by asad shaikh on (February 1, 2013, 1:28 GMT)

couldnt have said this better myself about imran farhat being in the squad. Ill be gutted to see his name in the playing eleven.

Posted by amirali on (February 1, 2013, 0:13 GMT)

Isn't it strange that Imran Farhat somehow ends up making in to the team every time. Well pointed Mr. Abbasi. If pakistan's batting sticks, this series can be interesting. Good luck team green.

Posted by Abdul R. Siddiqui on (January 31, 2013, 23:43 GMT)

An engaging piece, as always, Kamran. While I do agree that the current batting line-up is filled with fighters, I'm still quite anxious.

Azhar is the definition of grit but his mixed bag of results on the seamer friendly pitches in that ill-fated England series, combined with poor form, doesn't inspire much confidence.

Younis is a champ but doesn't exactly scream consistency; his beautiful century in Dubai against England came after several disappointing outings.

Misbah also seems to be struggling lately, at least in limited overs, while Hafeez and Jamshed need to make their form count.

Pakistani bowling is rarely a genuine cause for concern but I hope that the inexperienced quartet (Junaid, Irfan, Rahat and maybe even Tanvir) doesn't crumble under the pressure.

I also hope Gul, Ajmal and Abdur Rehman don't fall victim to complacency simply because these are bowler-friendly conditions.

Posted by Nadeem Mirza on (January 31, 2013, 22:55 GMT)

One thing for sure Pakistani Batsmen will really struggle on these fast seaming tracks. Lot depends on Nasir and Hafeez. Not much expected from Yonis Khan. Misbah and he should start thinking about the retirement plan. Junaid will lead the fast bowling department. Pakistan will have to score 300 plus run to have a chance in this series. My prediction on test series is 1-0 SA.

Posted by Omer on (January 31, 2013, 22:54 GMT)

Love the last line, not sure why Imran Farhat is again in the line up ( apart from his father in law). If an opener gets injured, better to play Azhar Ali as an opener and give Harris Sohail a debut.

Posted by cricketlover on (January 31, 2013, 22:53 GMT)

Looks like the author is not giving much credit to the Pakistanis, and, it is not a bad idea anyway. However, it would be worthwhile to know if the Pakistanis are listening (or reading, actually) about this state of affairs. Well, knowing the potential, we are not totally despondent of the outcome of this Test series. We know that the Proteas too have their own problems to sort out, both in batting and bowling. Except for a couple of p;ayers, viz. Amla, Plessis and Morkel, most of the saffers remain unreliable generally. So, keeping the spirits high and building an atmosphere of self-believe will surely go a long way in producing an interesting series after all.

Posted by Abrar on (January 31, 2013, 22:50 GMT)

Good article, every one is talking about South Africa being dominant in the series which has not quite started, yet. As South Africans they would be under a lot of pressure. It is a lot easier to enter into a series as an underdog, SA must be thinnking what if these Pakis stand up and start putting up a good show, what if we loose......... So freinds I believe it will be good series don't forget the bettle between Pakistani spinners and SA batsmen..........

Posted by Sammy K on (January 31, 2013, 22:48 GMT)

Pakistan's batting is too weak. They are one of the weakest among all the test sides. SA will collapse in the first innings; regroup in the second. Pakistan will collapse in both and lose every test. The bowlers will do a great job. The batsmen will fail every time.

Posted by pannu on (January 31, 2013, 22:46 GMT)

I hope we dont get murdered by saffers...like new zealand. proteas take it easy...

Posted by dr khan on (January 31, 2013, 22:44 GMT)

absolutely agree with the last bit........the repeated selection of Imran farhat continues to boggle the mind and numb the senses!

Posted by kamran on (January 31, 2013, 22:39 GMT)

yeh u r right only uncle alyas infulence can do such wonders umer amin could be much better choice i wish pakistan well though my head says sa 3 - 0 my heart say pak 2-1

Posted by Immad Azim on (January 31, 2013, 21:45 GMT)

The best comment comes in the end which says, " But when Imran Farhat’s name appears on the team sheet we will know that Pakistan, have finally stopped taking themselves seriously." So true, i dont know what else selectors want to unearth from a failed player of so many years. Please Imran Farhat and Mohammad Ilyas , Forgive Pakistan Cricket.

Posted by Abdullah Chatha on (January 31, 2013, 21:44 GMT)

"Success for Pakistan will be that South Africa are still taking them seriously at the end of the Test series. The responsibility for this rests with Pakistan’s batsmen. But when Imran Farhat’s name appears on the team sheet we will know that Pakistan, forget South Africa, have finally stopped taking themselves seriously." The sarcasm used at the end is hilarious. I can't stop laughing. Why did the selectors decide to replace Taufeeq Umar with Imran Fart. The only way Imran Fart will make the playing XI is if Pakistan gets hammered in the first two tests and with the openers picking up ducks instead of runs.

Posted by Sarmad on (January 31, 2013, 21:31 GMT)

Agree. From here on it's Pakistan vs. Imran Farhat.

Posted by Casper on (January 31, 2013, 21:29 GMT)

Well frankly I must admit that when SA were touring England the reporters wrote (to my amusement later even when the SA team were clearly winning they stick to their guns to the opposite) that it will be a 3-0 win to England at least here is some respect to both teams stating that either can win on any given situation ... a well thought out article with both sides considered. Wish all reporters do it this way but alas we are all biased towards the teams of our choosing :p

Posted by Shahriar Hoque on (January 31, 2013, 21:20 GMT)

Solid article Mr. Kamran. The trend of Asian batsmen struggling in SA is a known fact. However, I feel that under the Dave Whatmore and with the focus that Misbah brings in, PAK batsmen will perform well. The only issue I have is why don't they schedule more warm up matches. That would really help. If PAK batsmen play half of what they are capable of then the series will be tied. The reason I say that is because PAK spin will spun SA batmen. Hafeez-Ajmal-Rehman - will be handful for SA and they have tackled this quality of spin before. If the track doesn't support spin at all then that will be an issue. Basically, PAK batsmen will determine the result- draw/win/loss.

Posted by omair on (January 31, 2013, 21:17 GMT)

that last line was soooo mean, but sooo right!!!

Posted by omar mir on (January 31, 2013, 21:13 GMT)

what a fantastic piece of writing sir. Always a pleasure to read your work. Can not wait for this Test series to get underway and see what they boys have to show for themselves..! Pakistan Zindabad..!

Posted by Nomi on (January 31, 2013, 21:02 GMT)

Nice dig at Imran Farhat at the end. I totally agree, though. I wish you'd written "but IF Imran Farhat's name..." instead of "when". "When" sounds ominous. Hope you weren't speaking from inside information. Though you could be speaking from hindsight, which means our batting is doomed.

Posted by imran on (January 31, 2013, 20:34 GMT)

loved your last line "when Imran Farhat’s name appears on the team sheet we will know that Pakistan, forget South Africa, have finally stopped taking themselves seriously." Super right!

Posted by hafiz on (January 31, 2013, 20:26 GMT)

what a sentence which need more attention, ''But when Imran Farhat’s name appears on the team sheet we will know that Pakistan, forget South Africa, have finally stopped taking themselves seriously''. even i am from afghanistan but supporting pak very strong which i dont wana see farhat in team

Posted by kallis my boy on (January 31, 2013, 20:21 GMT)

southafrica will straighaway attack pakis from ball one. They never bother about windies,nz,sl,and pakis. They prepare only against eng,aussie and Indians. kallis and amla will collect as many records as they can .so nothing special as hyped.misbah will be humiliated but not that much of dhoni in the hands of the english

Posted by dmqi on (January 31, 2013, 20:02 GMT)

"A 90 mph ball leaping at your throat from a good length isn't anybody's idea of pleasant afternoon". Very true, but it will go both way and Pak batsmen will be in more trouble in such situations.

Posted by Ejaz on (January 31, 2013, 20:02 GMT)

Ha ha ha. Your last comment was hilarious. Beautifully written.

Posted by fezz on (January 31, 2013, 19:54 GMT)

Nice article! The writer has pointed a very important thing - the resilience of lower order Pakistan batsmen might be a very important factor in the series. A few things going against Pakistn - lack of practice in tests recently, not given proper warm up opportunites by SA board, an experienced opener already out of the series, but one thing is for sure - they are a resilient bunch, and will put up a fight no matter what.

Posted by Usamah Khan on (January 31, 2013, 19:33 GMT)

HAHA @ Imran Farhat. Always throwing his wicket away and still getting chances. But seriously, why even put his name on squad for tests at that. Should be an easy series for Sought Africa. As a Pak fan - i hope the fight hard to the end.

Posted by SayedJee on (January 31, 2013, 19:24 GMT)

"But when Imran Farhat’s name appears on the team sheet we will know that Pakistan, forget South Africa, have finally stopped taking themselves seriously." Hahahaha.... very nice professor abassi.

Posted by Muhammad Rameez Javed on (January 31, 2013, 19:18 GMT)

Another brilliant piece. I am a big fan.

Posted by San Anto on (January 31, 2013, 19:11 GMT)

Imran Farhat was the last name Pakistani fans wanted to see. I just don't get it how such a sick-- incapable player keeps on getting selected even after such disastrous showing in the past decade. I bet Krispy kreme on a dollar that if selectors select a guy 15 year old guy from playing galis of Karachi he will perform better this guy known as a batsman.

Posted by Faraz on (January 31, 2013, 18:44 GMT)

"But when Imran Farhat’s name appears on the team sheet we will know that Pakistan, forget South Africa, have finally stopped taking themselves seriously"

That sums up Pakistan's seriousness.. Brilliant Article KA on the eve of the match.. lets hope our batsmen can face the hostile bowling attack of the number 1 test team.

Posted by Ammar on (January 31, 2013, 18:34 GMT)

Like your last sentence regarding Farhat.. I am not sure whether they dont have any other choice...Is he a real test player.His technique not even suitable for club cricket. I think they should have take Asim kamal or any player of his caliber.

Posted by Imran on (January 31, 2013, 18:20 GMT)

He can always snake in his place, this Imran Farhat. Lasted different selection committees, but would never last long on Wickets! Long Live, Son in Law!!

Posted by Ejaz Khokhar on (January 31, 2013, 18:11 GMT)

This tour of SA will be probably be a game changer in pakistan team future. if team can shows grit & put a good fight no matter they lose. Then it will be good news for team Pakistan. but at same time when you see name like Imran Farahat showing up in team sheet. your mind say What.... When PCB is going to stop this nonstop joke. Can't they find A batsman who is capable enough or performed good in 1st class season. This time pakistan along with Akmal brothers and put end to all these players who have failed time and again.

I don't know why and how these players keep on appearing time and again Imran Farhat has been on the scene for 10 years and has never cemented his place in team. Why PCB feels the need to give him another chance & what purpose it is going to serve. He old useless as we know and has no place in this team moving forward. Come on PCB Please Stop selecting players like Imran Farhat. Thank

PS. He might prove to the draging chain if allowed to play I HOPE NOT AT ALL.

Posted by cricketwala on (January 31, 2013, 18:03 GMT)

"But when Imran Farhat’s name appears on the team sheet we will know that Pakistan, forget South Africa, have finally stopped taking themselves seriously." Bang on target!!!

Posted by qasim on (January 31, 2013, 17:53 GMT)

nice column, pakistanis are praying for our boys to play well , i still don't understand why we keep on recalling and recalling imran farhat and imran nazir, imho they have nothing to offer for pakistan, they are too old to get their technique mended. i don't expect pak to win first test, may b second

Posted by Hasan on (January 31, 2013, 17:51 GMT)

Kamran- you are absolutely correct - it's the batting that is under scrutiny. I would hope Pakistani batsmen are mentally prepared. If they indulge in "prod and poke", it would curtains, no doubt. Hope they practised how to handle the bounce that they are sure to encounter. But more than the bounce, the swing and seam movement will be hard to cope with. All of this boils down to mental preparation, what ball to leave, which bouncers to duck. As far the team lineup is concerned, it may be a toss up between Irfan and Rahman for a slot in the eleven.

Posted by ALi Qamar on (January 31, 2013, 17:35 GMT)

Great article!! I always like your analysis!! I have high hopes from this team because it seems to be the most united unit in Pakistan Cricket History. Apart from Batting (which is a slight concern) its a top class bowling and good fielding side. Insha Allah they will do some major upsets in this series.

Posted by Ahmad Ali on (January 31, 2013, 17:32 GMT)

The last line sums it all up, see Imran Farhat's name in the lineup and don't even bother tuning in..

Posted by Ehsan on (January 31, 2013, 17:25 GMT)

the last sentence says it all. totally agree.

Posted by T.Aftab on (January 31, 2013, 17:19 GMT)

I have written to you before about the miserable pakistani selectors. Their cluelessness is a bottomless pit. Unfortunately, over the years, none of the pakistani journalists, you included, have criticized the Pakistani's selectors for their incompetence. Somehow I. Farhat, Misbah, M. Hafeez and S. Malik continue to get chance after chance while more talented younger batsmen continue to be ignored. The Pakistan has been lucky upto now in that they have not had to face a truely great pace attack on fast/bouncy wickets. That will not be the case here. I can guarantee you that batsment like M. Hafeez, Misbah and I. Farhat are about to get exposed as frauds that they are, and get embarrassed by the S. Africans. The magnitude of Pakistan's continuing failure to develop young batsmen will become obvious after this series. Hopefully, at that point, some journalist will show some guts and call the Pakistani selectors what they actually are, clowns.

Posted by shafique on (January 31, 2013, 17:19 GMT)

Last line truly expresses my sentiments :) and yes for me if pakistan are able to win atleast one test it would be a job well done

Posted by mansoor khan on (January 31, 2013, 17:16 GMT)

"When Imran Farhat’s name appears on the team sheet we will know that, forget South Africa, Pakistan have finally stopped taking themselves seriously."................level!!!!! :D

Posted by Riaz on (January 31, 2013, 17:11 GMT)

If pakistan had treated this seriously as the Siuth Africans have done by resting key players and choosing the venues carefully. Pakistan should have asked for 3 games to acclimatise and played at one of the venues @ bull ring and centurion. By not doing so PCB have made Pakistanis job very difficult and batsmen impossible! Most countries do get 2 3 games to warm up. If this is not possible then at least spend 2-3 weeks in the country training. This is called planning. It is matter of taking things seriously and prioritising. This specially important for country which hardly plays any test cricket......and yet supported have high expectation. Look at the Indians they get to play IPL against top players have warm games come to country much earlier....spend billions and yet they fail! I hope pakistan win toss and make best use of it I.e bowl first. Riaz

Posted by Ziggaman on (January 31, 2013, 17:09 GMT)

Quality article as per usual by Mr. Abbasi, especially the last line about Imran Farhat. I am cautiously optimistic about Pakistan's chances in the series. I feel the key lies with Hafeez at the top of the order! Camon' bouys!

Posted by Saad on (January 31, 2013, 17:09 GMT)

seriously luvd the last line of the article the most.. :P its so displeasing to see imran farhat again & again in the name sheet of team.. :/ :( are the all other batsmen dead in pakistan or they can't travel.. :/ pathetic imran farhat inclusion decision.. :@

Posted by Hamxa on (January 31, 2013, 17:00 GMT)

Loved this article.

Posted by Khan007 on (January 31, 2013, 16:48 GMT)

the last sentence will do for me! I wonder sometime, does Pakistan really lack an opening batsman in the country that they had to pick FARThead

Posted by Jawad on (January 31, 2013, 16:46 GMT)

ASSALAMULAYKUM

I know Pakistan batting is week but i am getting a feeling they will Come Good and IN SHA ALLAH Pakistan will win the Series

Posted by Risalat on (January 31, 2013, 16:44 GMT)

Totally agree with the Imran Farhat remark - Why create pointless selection dilemma by including another opener when they could've had Umar Akmal back? A rearguard counter attack in a tricky coondition could've only bolstered his Test career. A big trick was missed there by PCB. On these pitches, too much grit can often be the downfall - Azhar, Younis and Misbah should have been enough to hold down the fort in coming adversity but somewhere in the middle PAK required that much needed counter attack and I just do not see that happening from Shafiq batting down the order. Grooming a seam bowling all rounder by now could've helped the case as well. Sending Hammad Azam instead of Farhat would've made more sense. Anyway, I still do not see this series becoming a one sided affair. Younis Khan's role will be instrumental. And maybe Umar Akmal should concentrate on keeping wickets, the only way he could bat for PAK in a Test match again, me thinks. Not clever at all from PCB.

Posted by Abbas on (January 31, 2013, 16:39 GMT)

SA has an edge with home conditions but our guys are known to cause upsets and shake the rankings. We have the ability and now more so the confidence and the history of dislodging # 1 sides.

I like Smith and his men. A bunhc of talented decent folks. Have to get up at 3:30 in the morning to watch this on east coast - that sucks!

Posted by abid on (January 31, 2013, 16:36 GMT)

The last sentence says it all. great article.

Posted by AHMian on (January 31, 2013, 16:35 GMT)

No doubt, it is batting which will have to perform for Pakistan. Bowling has always caused trouble for SA.A real test of talented but unpredictable team, this way or that.

Posted by Saood on (January 31, 2013, 16:32 GMT)

'....Abdur Rehman’s zippy left-arm deliveries are unlikely to be slowed down by the intoxication of recreational drugs'and '...When Imran Farhat’s name appears on the team sheet we will know that, forget South Africa, Pakistan have finally stopped taking themselves seriously'that was pretty funny. Agreed on all fronts. I just hope we dont make any changes to the team that played in the warm up game and let them persevere a little, this group is resolute and they play with a chip on their shoulder, let them fight, atleast the first 2 tests unless their is a chance for spinners on the 2nd pitch.

Posted by Ahsan on (January 31, 2013, 16:29 GMT)

Bloody well said sir.i think there is no place for farhat and faisal iqbal. spin will play and important role in 4th and 5th day but what happen if test finish in just 3 days :D

Posted by Ameen on (January 31, 2013, 16:28 GMT)

Absolutely love your final sentence of this amazing article.. Pakistan will have to show perseverance and focus if they are to take anything from this series

Posted by Atif Bilwal on (January 31, 2013, 16:27 GMT)

....i think pakistan will find it tough but never the less we have potential to beat anyone at evrywhere...pakistans bating is thier big problem to be improve on..if thier bating clics then we will see proties loosing in test at home since long timee......

Posted by mullz on (January 31, 2013, 16:26 GMT)

Love the farhat comment!

Posted by PakiFan on (January 31, 2013, 16:25 GMT)

Well written Kamran! Thanks especially for that last line, you speak for many.

Posted by Riaz on (January 31, 2013, 16:21 GMT)

Pakistan should have demanded at least 3 warm up games or at least come 3 weeks earlier to acclimatise . South African are taking pakistan seriously they have rested key players and have chosen their venues carefully and have avoided Durban! Where as Pakistan have done same by asking for more warm games. Should have played t 20 and odds before test matches. England came here and played warm up games. The Indians flew in one month before but played no warm up games. PCB have led the team down particularly the batters who need more time in the middle. This particularly important to Pakistan as they do not play many test matches. The supporters have high expectations, one must be realistic. Hope they win toss and make the best use of it that is to bowl first.

Posted by Changaiz on (January 31, 2013, 16:15 GMT)

Excellent article. Please can we get rid of Imran Farhat. I think you forgot to mention Hafeez as a very good bowling option. Go Pakistan .

Posted by Ahmad on (January 31, 2013, 16:13 GMT)

It is such an irony that players who do everything to be selected remains in domestic circuit like zulfiqar Babar while player who makes all possible actions of not being selected gets another go. Albie Morkel and Imran Farhat are the defining players that reflect on seriousness of selectors. Got to say that PCB makes sure they have enough laughing stock with them while saf remains with boring professional tactics.

Posted by sky123 on (January 31, 2013, 16:06 GMT)

RSA will win the series 3-0

Posted by Ataullah on (January 31, 2013, 16:05 GMT)

imran farhat, the worst thing that could have happened to Pakistan.

Posted by Abdullah Shaikh on (January 31, 2013, 15:58 GMT)

Absolutely agreed with you. Especially your last comment that ". When Imran Farhat’s name appears on the team sheet we will know that, forget South Africa, Pakistan have finally stopped taking themselves seriously."

Posted by Tariq Butt on (January 31, 2013, 15:55 GMT)

Good analysis Kami bhai, I think If they can muster around 250-300 in each innings,,they will be very close on fight wtih SA. I still not sure about about Irfan's ability to play a test match and remains fit to bowl a third spell in the day,,but if he could, then he will be an asset. As for the batters,,I think this batting unit has more tanacity then its predessors and they should knit together small partnerships to get to a reasonable score but there will be a collaps or 2 as well, so keep the fingures cross,,overall, I think this will be more close series then most people think. Regards

Posted by umair on (January 31, 2013, 15:55 GMT)

KA, I like your analysis, but the comment about Imran Frahat is top of the shelf. But just a question, dont you think Pakistan batting needs lefthanders, to change the theme of the batting. Azhar, Asad, Yunus and Misbha all have same batting strategies, at time for bowling team they dont have to plan too much for them. I am not saying they are ordinary. They are the best we got, but one lefthander in the middle will change the monotone of our middle order. Like Nasir. What do you think?

Posted by I.Aziz on (January 31, 2013, 15:49 GMT)

Excellent description of current scenario. My opinion is SA will not go for fast pitches but supporting ones void of grass. They will try put runs on board and put pressure on Pakistan batting, they will never let Pakistan pace attack have any kind of chance of testing their own batting which dose not have a very good record against Pakistan as they might have against some others, and if by any chance they did make pace supporting pitches they will regret it

Posted by rankk on (January 31, 2013, 15:46 GMT)

What an article luv it.

Posted by fzl pk on (January 31, 2013, 15:40 GMT)

very nice article,and true saying that there is only imran farhat in the whole country to replace ,...it clearly shows favoritism,,and we can only adopt the hope that our batting will click...

Posted by MUHAMMAD TAHIR on (January 31, 2013, 15:36 GMT)

"When Imran Farhat’s name appears on the team sheet we will know that, forget South Africa, Pakistan have finally stopped taking themselves seriously."

WELL SAID

Posted by Shiraaz on (January 31, 2013, 15:32 GMT)

humorous indeed. The lines about Azhar and Rahman are funny. One about Farhat, ironic. Don't know a single person who can explain why someone would think Farhat can be a part of a test team, that too in the pace friendly conditions of South Africa.

Posted by Muneeb on (January 31, 2013, 15:28 GMT)

Ha, the comment about Farhat is marvelous.

Posted by zahid shah on (January 31, 2013, 15:28 GMT)

I will say to all Pakistanis if pak lose 2-0. Don,t b shocked. This tour will show who is a MAN among this pakistani team. I am afraid in one of these three test matches pakistan will be bowled out under 200 Runs.

Posted by Ali Mohsin Shahab on (January 31, 2013, 15:14 GMT)

good article and @Imran farhant wala part, hahahahaha

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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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