Pakistan in South Africa 2013 February 19, 2013

The power of a few good men

Nobody except Rambo - and I don't mean Pakistan's and ESPNcricinfo's linguistic champion Ramiz Raja - ever won a war in isolation
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Nobody except Rambo - and I don't mean Pakistan's and ESPNcricinfo's linguistic champion Ramiz Raja - ever won a war in isolation. We overestimate sport if we believe it is genuinely war minus the shooting, but on some occasions we don't overestimate it by much. Perhaps a televised rumble without switch-blades is closer to reality. For many reasons, Pakistan cricket is trapped in a perpetual rumble, its cricketers turning up their collars and striking a combative pose to take on the rest of the world--and just as often each other.

Adversity tends to prompt extreme reactions. Much of the world - and Pakistanis are no exception - expected Pakistan cricket to disintegrate after the calamity of the Lahore shootings in 2009 and the spot fixing scandal of 2010. The players might not have found love in a hopeless place but they seem to have discovered common purpose in an exiled space.

Instead of extinction, Pakistan cricket has adapted and emerged stronger after the cricketing equivalent of an asteroid strike or an ice age. In a variation on the theory of evolution, Pakistan's cricket is an example of survival of the least fit. Many Pakistanis, no doubt, will attribute this great escape to the power of prayer. By whatever mechanism, Pakistan cricket continues to engage, surprise, and fascinate, with no greater example than this year's tour of South Africa.

The upstrokes of these emotional variations can only occur because enough of Pakistan's cricketers, namely the bowlers, have a raw talent that defies environment. Ability, when all external issues are put to one side, isn't really a limiting factor in Pakistan's progress. The problem has generally been one of player development and leadership. Finding one leader has been difficult enough, finding several willing to pull in the same direction - the hallmark of successful sides of any era - is almost unprecedented.

When Pakistan's team has included several leaders, their main purpose has generally been to pursue their own agendas. Pakistan's fastest progress came in the 1980s under the partnership of Imran Khan and Javed Miandad. Imran's popular image is as a dictator but the greatest trick the skipper ever pulled was allowing the King of Karachi a leading role beside him. Pakistan began that decade nowhere and, by the end, challenged the mighty West Indies, a team packed with leaders, for supremacy in international cricket. Imran's Pakistan never managed to topple West Indies, the greatest team I have ever seen, but a world cup win did follow in 1992.

The Imran-Javed axis or Pakistan's teams of the 1990s, which had many leaders but rarely one purpose, are hard for today's aspirants to match for quality. The achievements of the last two years are less in terms of international rankings, but after adjusting for prevailing circumstances you might argue the progress of Team Misbah to be superior. What the current crop lack in technique, especially in batting--even at times in bowling--they more than compensate for in tenacity.

Misbah-ul Haq is the boss but Mohammad Hafeez, Younis Khan, and Saeed Ajmal also contribute to the leadership effort. For Pakistan cricket, which, like the country, has generally fluctuated between iron-fisted dictatorship and disorderly rule, the sight of elder statesmen putting any differences aside and working together for such a sustained period is unheard of. It might even be the magic ingredient for the progress of the last two years?

Novel idea, leaders striving for the same goal: perhaps civil society might learn something from the senior pros of Pakistan cricket? What Team Misbah - the leadership team, that is - has demonstrated is that there is a different way for Pakistan teams to do battle on the cricket field, less divisive, often frustrating, but no less enthralling. They make mistakes, soldier on, and win friends. It is a war of attrition, peppered with blasts of inspiration, and it is compulsive viewing - even in defeat.

Misbah may not have much time left at the helm. Hafeez invariably struggles away from Asian conditions. Younis's career often seems to hang in the balance. Ajmal, in his doosra way, just keeps getting better. Team Misbah, these few good men of Pakistan cricket, have reached the autumn of their miracle. Enjoy it while you can.

Collars up, strike a fighting pose. Who's ready to rumble?

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • akb on February 25, 2013, 14:15 GMT

    PCB should make it a policy that all 3 formats of cricket should have separate teams and even players.What I mean is that anybody selected for T20 should not be part of ODI,s or test cricket & anybody selected for tests should not be included in the ODI,s. This is the only way to address audience of all the formats. Its a general worry that T20 cricket by its huge following is going to destroy Test as well as ODI cricket. Watching T20 cricket seems very similar to base ball rather than cricket.

  • Javed Hasan on February 25, 2013, 6:25 GMT

    Kamran Almal is a far better at both wicket keeping and batting as compared to Kamran Akmal . He is also a great fighter . Why has he been dropped from ODIs and T 20s ?

  • akb on February 25, 2013, 4:41 GMT

    Farhat technically flawed but has the courage. Hafeez a mediocre sort of an all rounder, only fits in T20 & ODI,s. Jamshed shouldn,t have been dropped. Misbah & YK should retire from all sorts of cricket because they play for their survival. Gul no more is what he should be. Afridi on the decline. Rest in the team should play. Pick Harris & Umer Amin & bring a bowler or 2 right handed bowlers. We have to experiment before the next WC. If we do it late we will just ruin our cricket.

  • avmd on February 24, 2013, 23:42 GMT

    To be realistic, glory days of Pakistan cricket are long gone. That Pakistan has raw talent in fast bowling is just a myth . We all saw what kind of attack we played in 3rd test in SA. The skinny teenager is many years away from ienternational cricket and , is that was our bench strenth. We have no replacement for Kamran Akmal. Sarfaraz is miserbale. Misbah and Hafeez failed miseably in their fist real test, both as player and leader. Hafeez, I guess is dilusional, after a shameful perfomance, he insisted nothing was wrong with his technique, which produed only 40 runs in 6 innings. Is this our leader ? God mercy.

  • aftab from VB on February 23, 2013, 16:56 GMT

    Apparently, Misbah is playing according to the pitch conditions instead of playing according to his team strength. It feels like WI sitting out Clark in Faisalabad.

  • obaid on February 21, 2013, 18:49 GMT

    Rehman - I don’t understand why he has been sitting on the bench. Why we underestimate him?. He is way better than all our current fast bowlers. He gives 100% results - see his track record. For me, he should be the permanent member of the team in all 3 formats. PLEASE LET HIM PLAY THE 3RD TEST!!!

  • Shahzad Khan on February 21, 2013, 15:18 GMT

    one thing which this pakistani team is soarly missing, or for that matter all the teams of the world are devoid of( but pakistan used to have it always), is the pride to represent the country and perform no matter what you are faced with. Pakistan had this precious and seldom thought of treasure in its early days within the international arena entry of theirs, which with time, faded away, replaced by professionalism, money, glamour and fame. Now I'm not against all these things, but not at the cost of national pride, the very sense and feeling of representing your country and taking pride in it.they say that you can do miracles only if you keep your basics right.All the technical and professional terminologies come letter, you and your pride and dignity come first, and must always be on top of your agenda.No doubt, Pskistan has the talent to challange the world powers in cricket, but they seem to have lost that very important factor, which keeps the adrenaline pumping.

  • Usman on February 21, 2013, 10:35 GMT

    Saood, thanks for the comment, but i'd disagree with you on this to some extent. We have to keep in mind the crises that our team is going through. That is where you wouldn't get to hear players talking crap about their captain and at the very same time they'd surely wanna stick in the playing eleven. Misbah is very defensive in his approach, as per my opinion he doesn't deserve a place in the team rather is actually a liability at this point. It really is the time for him to step down.

    its been coming down to over two years now and there hasn't been a single time where Misbah has proven his ability to be a captain and also his place with in the team. Like its been said.. he is no less than a 'Parchi'.

    Regarding PCB, I agree with you completely. I just don't seem to understand their strategies, always made our team go down the drain.

  • JavedHasan on February 21, 2013, 4:08 GMT

    Why has Sarfaraz been dropped ? He is a far better wicket keeper and his batting is also far superior to Kamran Akmal s . Why Pakistan wants the dubious distinction of having the world,s worst wicket keeper for ODIs and T 20s is a big mystery.

  • farrukh on February 21, 2013, 1:29 GMT

    I think sarfaraz kept wicket well. If akmal borthers were keeping imagine how many chances Kallis, Amla and Smith would have been offered. Everybody batted poorly. Why blame sarfaraz. Before droping sarfaraz lets drop hafeez.janshed, azhar, misbah

  • akb on February 25, 2013, 14:15 GMT

    PCB should make it a policy that all 3 formats of cricket should have separate teams and even players.What I mean is that anybody selected for T20 should not be part of ODI,s or test cricket & anybody selected for tests should not be included in the ODI,s. This is the only way to address audience of all the formats. Its a general worry that T20 cricket by its huge following is going to destroy Test as well as ODI cricket. Watching T20 cricket seems very similar to base ball rather than cricket.

  • Javed Hasan on February 25, 2013, 6:25 GMT

    Kamran Almal is a far better at both wicket keeping and batting as compared to Kamran Akmal . He is also a great fighter . Why has he been dropped from ODIs and T 20s ?

  • akb on February 25, 2013, 4:41 GMT

    Farhat technically flawed but has the courage. Hafeez a mediocre sort of an all rounder, only fits in T20 & ODI,s. Jamshed shouldn,t have been dropped. Misbah & YK should retire from all sorts of cricket because they play for their survival. Gul no more is what he should be. Afridi on the decline. Rest in the team should play. Pick Harris & Umer Amin & bring a bowler or 2 right handed bowlers. We have to experiment before the next WC. If we do it late we will just ruin our cricket.

  • avmd on February 24, 2013, 23:42 GMT

    To be realistic, glory days of Pakistan cricket are long gone. That Pakistan has raw talent in fast bowling is just a myth . We all saw what kind of attack we played in 3rd test in SA. The skinny teenager is many years away from ienternational cricket and , is that was our bench strenth. We have no replacement for Kamran Akmal. Sarfaraz is miserbale. Misbah and Hafeez failed miseably in their fist real test, both as player and leader. Hafeez, I guess is dilusional, after a shameful perfomance, he insisted nothing was wrong with his technique, which produed only 40 runs in 6 innings. Is this our leader ? God mercy.

  • aftab from VB on February 23, 2013, 16:56 GMT

    Apparently, Misbah is playing according to the pitch conditions instead of playing according to his team strength. It feels like WI sitting out Clark in Faisalabad.

  • obaid on February 21, 2013, 18:49 GMT

    Rehman - I don’t understand why he has been sitting on the bench. Why we underestimate him?. He is way better than all our current fast bowlers. He gives 100% results - see his track record. For me, he should be the permanent member of the team in all 3 formats. PLEASE LET HIM PLAY THE 3RD TEST!!!

  • Shahzad Khan on February 21, 2013, 15:18 GMT

    one thing which this pakistani team is soarly missing, or for that matter all the teams of the world are devoid of( but pakistan used to have it always), is the pride to represent the country and perform no matter what you are faced with. Pakistan had this precious and seldom thought of treasure in its early days within the international arena entry of theirs, which with time, faded away, replaced by professionalism, money, glamour and fame. Now I'm not against all these things, but not at the cost of national pride, the very sense and feeling of representing your country and taking pride in it.they say that you can do miracles only if you keep your basics right.All the technical and professional terminologies come letter, you and your pride and dignity come first, and must always be on top of your agenda.No doubt, Pskistan has the talent to challange the world powers in cricket, but they seem to have lost that very important factor, which keeps the adrenaline pumping.

  • Usman on February 21, 2013, 10:35 GMT

    Saood, thanks for the comment, but i'd disagree with you on this to some extent. We have to keep in mind the crises that our team is going through. That is where you wouldn't get to hear players talking crap about their captain and at the very same time they'd surely wanna stick in the playing eleven. Misbah is very defensive in his approach, as per my opinion he doesn't deserve a place in the team rather is actually a liability at this point. It really is the time for him to step down.

    its been coming down to over two years now and there hasn't been a single time where Misbah has proven his ability to be a captain and also his place with in the team. Like its been said.. he is no less than a 'Parchi'.

    Regarding PCB, I agree with you completely. I just don't seem to understand their strategies, always made our team go down the drain.

  • JavedHasan on February 21, 2013, 4:08 GMT

    Why has Sarfaraz been dropped ? He is a far better wicket keeper and his batting is also far superior to Kamran Akmal s . Why Pakistan wants the dubious distinction of having the world,s worst wicket keeper for ODIs and T 20s is a big mystery.

  • farrukh on February 21, 2013, 1:29 GMT

    I think sarfaraz kept wicket well. If akmal borthers were keeping imagine how many chances Kallis, Amla and Smith would have been offered. Everybody batted poorly. Why blame sarfaraz. Before droping sarfaraz lets drop hafeez.janshed, azhar, misbah

  • Vanchy on February 20, 2013, 18:21 GMT

    Hellooo Hellooo I Mean - Pakistan just stood the South Africans down in Cape Town and could have won if not for a brain fade by Misbah. I mean with a domestic structure not even commenting about - playing home games in England (against Autralia) and UAE this team is strong as nails. I mean even if they lose the series 3-0 against SA i guess there is no shame in that, considering the constraints. I think Mr Abbassi has a great point - yes there are many leaders in the team - and yes one captain. Fantastic effort by the pakistanis - simple and straight and I guess one could attribute it to the multiple leaders in the team. I watched the Cape Town test with intrest and I think it was quite close - win or lose. Just as an aside I am an Indian and I think the pakistani team stood up to be counted from the day they white washed England. More power to you guys - collars up and go for it. Just as an aside - I am Indian

  • Saood on February 20, 2013, 15:41 GMT

    Usman Afridi does not want to play Test cricket and makes controversial statements that puts the team in the news. Misbah is a natural leader who according to all the players has had a positive effect on the team. Even Afridi has admitted that about Misbah, Why is everyone forgetting who we are playing and where we are playing them?We are playing the best side in the world in their house with the best attack in the world. Wake up people, we have no green pitches in Pakistan, PCB refuses to build them, PCB doesnt select ppl who go play outside of the country b'c they demand that the player play domestically to be considered for selection, we cannot negotiate the new ball, we did not pick irfan in the first match, we did not pick Abdurehman in the 2nd test, THOSE are the main reasons why we lost. Its easy to blame Misbah for everything but his calm handle on things and playing strategically conservative style, was why we were even in it in the first place.

  • waqas on February 20, 2013, 15:25 GMT

    @ khalid Awan

    Misbah's record as captain has been fantastic his win ratio is better then Imran, Wasim, Javed and Inzimam who all were captain of teams packed with stars what else u want.

    T20 played 8 won 6 lost 2

    ODIs Played 34 won 21 lost 12

    TEST Played 19 won 9 lost 3 draw 7

  • kamran on February 20, 2013, 14:59 GMT

    There is no comparison between Misbah and Afridi. Misbah is guru planner and produce results. That is why Pakistan is 4th in test rankings. Don’t forget that Pakistan skid through for 49 runs in the first test and so as Australia and NZ for 47 and 45 early this year. SA bowlers avg. 16 and 22 runs per wicket (mind boggling). We all know our batting is weak. Batting in SA against world top bowlers needs planing and some luck. Pakistan should have scored more in the 2nd innings but it was Pak bowling that could not bowl SA out for under 250 in the first innings. We needed support from Veteran like Gul, and that was the biggest disappointment in 2nd test.

  • asad on February 20, 2013, 14:07 GMT

    Poor performance of wicket keeper is another factor of Pakistan’s defeat in 2nd test. Sarafarz Ahmed (who is not new anymore) was provided a great opportunity (preferred over Adnan Akmal) in the test series to prove his skills and cement his place in the team. It was disappointing to see his poor performance -- first with the bat and then as a wicketkeeper (drop catch giving byes against Ajmal -- not acceptable). Imagine had he scored 20 runs apiece and availed a catch (no bye), this would have a gain of 50+ runs to Pakistan total which means SA had to chase 230 runs in the 2nd inning.

  • Hassaan Yasin on February 20, 2013, 13:28 GMT

    Pakistan were never prepared to challenge the no.1 team in their own backyard...People like Mohsin Khan are more interested in taking credit for the England whitewash rather than plan for the future...Ever since Waqar Younis quit as coach, nobody has bothered to groom fast bowlers for tours such as this one...Fast bowling has always been our strength and the sole reason why our overseas record is better than both India's and Sri Lanka's...Going into a big tour with 3 fast bowlers who had no test match experience clearly shows lack of planning on part of the selectors, captain and the coach...Also didnt understand why anyone would replace Adnan Akmal for such an important tour...he had been part of the team for the past 2 years and did a decent job both with the ball and the bat

  • Jiyaan Ul-Haq on February 20, 2013, 12:35 GMT

    Well-written piece once again by Mr. Abbasi (barring the first statement on Rameez Raja. It is a PAIN to hear him commentate). And I am pained to agree with the fact that Pakistan cricket is currently at its autumn. After Misbah, Younis and Ajmal-this team is in serious danger of imploding. These 3 pillars are the reason for Pakistan's success in the past few months. While I do agree with the statement that this team has done very well for itself, comparing them to Imran's great team MAY be a lil superfluous. And I am worried that till the PCB doesnt revive the domestic structure producing cricketers of this calibre may be difficult. Irrespective I wish this team all the luck in the world!

  • akhter786 on February 20, 2013, 11:42 GMT

    it was a fantastic resurgeance from pakistan after the first test but like we were utterly bewildered with this marvelous comeback during first two days Pakistani players themselves were also confused what was happening, how was it happening they had come to africa just to show the world they can fight, they were not to fully committed to wining,,

    Misbah has been a leader pakistan needed then but now, absolutely not. he showed everyone why he isn't a shrewd captain.

    however, all is not bad, they made tactical errors not something like a scandal this time,

    come on guys, they just made SoutH Africa stretch to their limits, how many teams have been able to do the same in recent times???

    Good days ahead for Pakistan, all is not lost

  • Usman on February 20, 2013, 11:16 GMT

    What I fear is, what if pakistan ends up like west indies. Honestly speaking, we need more spirited player in our team, I see less passion and commitment. Talking about Misbah, I believe its time for him to now leave for the sake of Pakistan's cricket. Shahid Afridi not only is a player but also gels the team together and creates an atmosphere where everyone wants to perform. This can be proved with the results of the world cup where Afridi was captaining the team. I see Misbah no differently than how selectors/public see afridi (the ones against him).

    My suggestion would be - Bring afridi back, let go of Misbah and dig in and let room for some new talented players/youngsters who actually deserve a chance.

    Thanks.

    Usman

  • Mohammed Moizullah on February 20, 2013, 10:53 GMT

    Well the article is fine piece from Mr. Kamran as always.. I suggest PCB should hire a good SCOUT, May be a former player so that the young players from domestic cricket are picked and groomed according to the needs of the team. Fingers crossed but I expect pak to perfrom better if this kind of approach is taken into consideration but dont know whether the same old politicians of pak will let this happen.. Luv from India..

  • Aamir on February 20, 2013, 10:04 GMT

    Very rightly said by Kamran as usual, core of our team is at its twilight. From here on we must start grooming new faces in our team. Azhar is contineously disappointing all, specially when he and rest of his mates are faced with swinging or bouncy conditions abroad. Even playing a good spinner becomes tough at times for our batsmen, so it is hard to understand what kind of bowling is easy or suits our batsmen....

    Out of current lot, only Asad Shafiq in batting & Junaid / Irfan in bowling has proved to be an asset for future. Rest are all hopeless material atleast on hostile conditions.

    We need a crop of batsmen who can produce 350 + on regular basis in test matches which would help our fast & spin bowlers any chance to attack the opposition. Gone are those days when we could eliminate any batting side in 15 - 20 overs with our furious reverse swing thru Wasim, Waqar, & Shoaib.

    Our low scores on regular basis gives the opposition bowlers enough confidence to bowl em out at w

  • Mohammed Baluch on February 20, 2013, 9:17 GMT

    Kamran's philosophical article dwelling on the positive aspects of the Misbah era cannot detract from the fact that the performance of the Pakistani team is suffering because of lack of strategic planning. The selections of Rahat Ali in the First Test and then of Tanwir for the Second played important roles in our defeats. The non-selection of Umar Akmal and Wahab Riaz in the original squad is beyond comprehension. It is as if we are still reacting to the tragic saga of Amir and Asif - and we are selecting players not so much for their talent, but for their dour personality traits that would guarantee a non-repeat of the Amir/Asif scenario. Geniuses are by nature flamboyant and lot more difficult to control - it seems as if Misbah is not comfortable dealing with the highly talented who express themselves overtly on the cricket field! For Misbah to be exceptional as a captain, he has to welcome those that freely express themselves, are highly talented, and not as easy to control!

  • Kaushik Ganguli on February 20, 2013, 8:47 GMT

    Why is Abdur Rahman not being played more? Also one of the reasons for the teams better show is Kamran Akmals sidelining. Both he and Umar are show ponies. As is Afridi who Pak have not utilised well.

  • Ali on February 20, 2013, 8:31 GMT

    Ajmal, younis and Asad r only fighter left in the team, Plz plz plz Misbah you should go retired.. you are not capable of anything. your capataincy is allover the place when time was to attack proteas u introduced the old nd 120 kph bowler btw wot is the secret of selecting Tanvir Ahmed? he is very old he should try umpiring or can be a good pitch roler runner. Umar Gul come on u r very experienced have u bolwed a single deadly yorker in whole match?

  • hasan on February 20, 2013, 7:54 GMT

    i think the downfall of our cricket is misbah,bcoz if he was so good he would have played for pakistan when he was 20 ,hez like hompepathic medicne or u can call him khusra , u wont get anything bad or good from him which is not good , we can afford to loose but we want improvment as long misbah is around pakistan batting wont improve

  • Anwar Gul Mohd Zai on February 20, 2013, 5:38 GMT

    Yes indeed its show zeal of Pakistan cricket and their credibility in International Cricket,no team can survive except Pakistan and they show it to the whole cricking nations. it is Proud moment to be Pakistani. Pakistan Zindabad. Anwar Gul Mohammad Zai Kohat Pakistan.

  • AFTAB AHMAD on February 20, 2013, 5:25 GMT

    Very well said Mr Kamran Abbasi. It was really team effort but leaders played their roles and leaders were Kings of criicket like Javed Minadad and Imran Khan and i believe it was the sharp instructions of Miandad which gave us world cup in 1992 and the man of crisis like him we need today too in both fields and dressing room to boost the youngsters. Here I request PCB to hire Mr. Waseem Akram for polishing our pacers otherwise we may loose them if they are not well equipped with tricks using swing with speed.

  • A Hakim on February 20, 2013, 5:16 GMT

    I wish Kamran Abbasi talked more about the mechanics of the game and the missing elements in the Pakistani team instead of personalities. I mean pointing out the mistakes they keep making and how to put them right.Geof Boycott for instance advised Pakistan to include a left-arm spinner like A Rehman in their last match but I dont suppose the Pakistani management ever bothers to read expert advice and take any notice.

  • Junaid Asghar on February 20, 2013, 4:28 GMT

    Great analysis as always Karman Bhai.

  • Mohammed Fazrul - Sril Lanka on February 20, 2013, 3:31 GMT

    I am still wonder about the wicket keeper's selection for the tour of South Africa why not Kamran Akmal? He is the only best wicket keeper batsman with good average (30.79) with 12 fifties & 6 centuries. Please include him for the rest of the tours.

  • getsetgopk on February 20, 2013, 2:14 GMT

    Lovely article, compulsive viewing even in defeat, indeed! Most fans often get stuck with winning or loosing and miss the bigger picture. 49 all out in the first innings and still SA didn't force the follow on speaks volume of the respect Pak still commands, and in the second match, SA was starring down the barrel and one could see it in the kind of effort Steyn was putting in his bowling, constantly touching the 150 kmph mark that they had no other way out, stretching them to their limits, in their backyard is an achievement every Pakistani should be proud of.

  • Sefal Khan on February 20, 2013, 0:49 GMT

    Team Misbah, these few good men of Pakistan cricket, have reached the autumn of their miracle. Enjoy it while you can. SO TRUE

  • asad on February 19, 2013, 23:33 GMT

    Yes mr abassi after your article"the power of a few good men"the fact remains that pakistan lost a match that they should of won.And of course it was no other captain marvel misbah, who was responsible with his careless sweep shot that started the rot.His propensity to do stupid things on the pitch is well documented.The final of the 20/20 world cup 2007,the semi final of the 50 overs world cup in mohali,the third odi against india in january this year and now this test match.

  • Khalid awan on February 19, 2013, 21:06 GMT

    Abbasi Sahib, No stats to support your arm chair opinions. Just a decades too old reference to a Holywood movie, the connection tenous best. Can you get off your drawing room sofa and please do some research to back your opinions. Any numbers of win loss ratio of Misbah to Imran? Any number of centuries scored by Pakistani players? Any other tour you remeber beside the 25 year old West Indian tour? Come on man ..earn your column!!

    Khalid

  • Faizan on February 19, 2013, 20:36 GMT

    Indeed. Misbah and the team has achieved unity which was always a rare commodity in the 90's and 00's. Sometimes one might feel that he is too defensive but he has his own way of doing things...besides this defensive mindset from Pakistan is not new. Since 90's I remember captains putting defensive fields. But my real fear today is the collapse of the team after Misbah retires just as we witnessed after Inziman. Let's see. Also: I would like Misbah to be more articulate in his team selection...Had AbdurRehman played in the 2nd test...

  • T.Aftab on February 19, 2013, 19:01 GMT

    Under the "leadership" of Misbah and Hafeez, the Pakistan is about to get embarrassed 3-0. We should ignore the fact that neither of them is good enough to play international cricket. (Hafeez's performance has been predictably hideous.) After such a shellacking, any veteran Australian or S.Afrian would have step aside for the betterment of the team. Not so in Pakistan. We have come to accept losing and no one is held accountable. Unfortunately, the PCB selectors, who lack vision or understanding regarding how to build a team, will continue to pick these guys. I thought, after the world cup debacle in which Pakistan lost to an Indian team that we would have destroyed in the past, changes would be forthcoming. I was wrong. So, we are stuck wathcing these over the hill mediocre cricketers. It is a mystery how Pakistan produced and found all those great crickers in the 80s and 90s. Definitely miss those days. The present team is boring and unwatchable. ENJOY THE LOSING!!!

  • fhs on February 19, 2013, 18:51 GMT

    Good article, Mr. Abbasi! Pakistan will bounce back! All they need is to deploy spinners - they need to include Rehman in every game and use of Hafeez. I think Pakistan focused more on 3 fast bowlers just bc SA pitches are bouncy which is Ok but it is not going to work if you dont have quality fast bowlers (which is the case). If we want to see the results, use the spinners (in which we have the best).

  • Aman on February 19, 2013, 18:42 GMT

    I think I speak for all Pakistan Cricket fans when I say, "Boys, just play the Pakistani way...We don't care if you win or lose, just let the opposition know who they are dealing with!"

    That being said, I do want them to win every game, but I much rather have them play with the passion and tenacity that Pakistan Teams are known for...whether in victory or defeat.

  • Shahid on February 19, 2013, 18:07 GMT

    Except that first innings of the first game, we pretty much matched South Africa in every aspect. The only difference was that we coulnd't score 70 more runs to win the second game and that proved to be the difference. I think every Pakistani should feel proud of the way our team has challenged the South Africans.

  • asad on February 19, 2013, 17:42 GMT

    You yourself are the "Pakistan’s and ESPNcricinfo’s linguistic champion" !! I like what you write, and very often agree with you. I would love to read the book "Zindabad.."- any online versiion available?

  • AUK on February 19, 2013, 17:34 GMT

    I wouldnt be so pessimistic about it. Fact remains, Pakistan were underdogs entering the series and a 49 all-out wasnt the most unexpected first innings total, considering our batting lineup and the way South African bowlers have dealt with other touring teams recently. Whats interesting and heartening to see is the fightback in the 2nd test. All is not lost yet and if the situation is managed well (read: no heads rolling please!), we can look to see Pakistan emerging as a vastly better team after this series.

  • Khan on February 19, 2013, 17:31 GMT

    Hafeez is not an ideal choice for Pakistan's test captaincy, as his own place is often in doubt in difficult conditions. I think PCB should announce Azhar Ali as the next captain for test team & give him some time under Misbah to develop & learn some leadership qualities. Same thing can be said about Asad Shafiq. These two are the future of Pakistan. They should take the responsibilty of guiding the team to victories.

  • Khan on February 19, 2013, 17:31 GMT

    Hafeez is not an ideal choice for Pakistan's test captaincy, as his own place is often in doubt in difficult conditions. I think PCB should announce Azhar Ali as the next captain for test team & give him some time under Misbah to develop & learn some leadership qualities. Same thing can be said about Asad Shafiq. These two are the future of Pakistan. They should take the responsibilty of guiding the team to victories.

  • kos on February 19, 2013, 16:40 GMT

    Totally agree with the authors comments.A great writing which sums up the co-operation between Misbah/Younus/hafeez and Ajmal.

  • usman on February 19, 2013, 16:15 GMT

    dont lose hope kamran, spring follows the dimineshing autumn for those who are ready to withstand the cold winter. There are many good batters and bowlers in the domestic who if polished can challenge the very best and can come out victorious. Check out Shan Masood who has a compact technique and a cool head. He is well educated, intelligent and witty man. I shall mark him out as the next Misbah, only he can take pakistan far ahead than Misbah.

  • GoPak on February 19, 2013, 16:11 GMT

    I like this article and mostly agree with the sentiments. But it seems to be written as if Pakistan just won the second test and squared the series. Did you perchance write it before the game finished, expecting Pakistan to win (which they very well might have if they had pushed the lead to 250)?

  • AJ on February 19, 2013, 16:07 GMT

    Which success are we talking about Sir? And which leadership? Leadership is about making choices, some good ones, and that's what this team lacks. Some times you start feeling that a common fan who has only played a gali cricket is much more informed and critical as he asks for the choices which afterwards are proved to be the right ones. Inclusion of Rahat in the first test and exclusion of Rehman in the second where the wicket looked to be more like an import from Dubai, are a few of the examples which went against fan's call. Under utilisation of Hafiz in the second innings where the other end only needed to control the flow of runs, is an other example of poor leadership choices. A good leader turns a defeat to a win with his magical leadership but in our case a strong possibility of a win was given away due to the wrong choices.

  • kamran j on February 19, 2013, 15:13 GMT

    Very right. When was the last time after losing a test match captain blamed the result on himself. I hope critics don't take it as if Misbah is bowing down from his responsibilities. Pakistan batting collapses were expected, but in 2nd test match team needed more bowling support especially from veteran GUL.

  • muhammad mehmood on February 19, 2013, 15:05 GMT

    good but pakistani team good efort second test and good luck for 3rd test

  • Saood on February 19, 2013, 15:00 GMT

    Thank you Kamran, this article was needed, people often forget what a fine job these guys have done, specially people like Rashif Latif, people who are quick to point fingers the minute something goes wrong.

  • muhamimed on February 19, 2013, 14:22 GMT

    lovely article as always, we have to question the selectors choices no doubt, how can tanvir and rahat be picked in these conditions instead of wahab??? also heard that umar gul is going home and wont be picked for odi??gul is more effective in odis then test, selectors choices are bad, hafeez aint a good leader cozz he doesnt pick himself as a batsmen, he fails in conditions away from the subcontinent, sa gave grame smith the captaincy when he was 22 and look how far he has progressed, asad or azhar should be groomed for captaincy aided by seniors no doubt

  • Azim on February 19, 2013, 14:22 GMT

    Few facts about Pakistan cricket: 1- Vast majority of bowlers comes from Lahore and its vicinities e.g. Imran, Akram, Waqar, Mushtaqs.... 2- Vast majority of batsmen comes from Karachi e.g. Hanif, Zaheer, Miandad, Anwar… 3- Pakistan has produced world-class cricketers due to healthy rivalry between Karachi and Lahore. 4- President's power to assign PCB chief is the largest factor that has gradually eliminated the healthy rivalry between these to cities. ICC should be paying its due attention to restore the relationship between Karachi and Lahore that will enable Pakistan to produce world-class batsmen. In short Pakistan cricket is pleading ICC to take initiative to have a sustainable check on PCB chief’s monopoly.

  • aftab from VB on February 19, 2013, 14:17 GMT

    Good article.

  • Talha on February 19, 2013, 14:08 GMT

    Wow! what an article. Although many overhyped Pakistani fans will disagree on the facts put forward for Misbah's leadership, everything mentioned here is absolutely correct. I foresee a horrible situation for team Pakistan by the time Misbah, Younis, and Ajmal will retire. Professor Hafeez just has a brain (its nothing especial because every fan has the brain to understand this game) but what he lacks is the calibre to lead by example, except on flat tracks where everyone is good. I do miss the team of the 90s which was full of stars and captains but it harmed the progress more, and the 96/99/03 WCs were an evidence of that. Nevertheless, collars will always stay up and spirits will be kept high. Because after dark, sun does rise again. Pakistan zindabad!

  • Absar Ahamd on February 19, 2013, 14:02 GMT

    A very great article by Kamran Abbasi sir as usual. I agree with him that the current Pakistan team may not be having great talented players but they are fighting for the cause and that is to survive in the international arena.

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  • Absar Ahamd on February 19, 2013, 14:02 GMT

    A very great article by Kamran Abbasi sir as usual. I agree with him that the current Pakistan team may not be having great talented players but they are fighting for the cause and that is to survive in the international arena.

  • Talha on February 19, 2013, 14:08 GMT

    Wow! what an article. Although many overhyped Pakistani fans will disagree on the facts put forward for Misbah's leadership, everything mentioned here is absolutely correct. I foresee a horrible situation for team Pakistan by the time Misbah, Younis, and Ajmal will retire. Professor Hafeez just has a brain (its nothing especial because every fan has the brain to understand this game) but what he lacks is the calibre to lead by example, except on flat tracks where everyone is good. I do miss the team of the 90s which was full of stars and captains but it harmed the progress more, and the 96/99/03 WCs were an evidence of that. Nevertheless, collars will always stay up and spirits will be kept high. Because after dark, sun does rise again. Pakistan zindabad!

  • aftab from VB on February 19, 2013, 14:17 GMT

    Good article.

  • Azim on February 19, 2013, 14:22 GMT

    Few facts about Pakistan cricket: 1- Vast majority of bowlers comes from Lahore and its vicinities e.g. Imran, Akram, Waqar, Mushtaqs.... 2- Vast majority of batsmen comes from Karachi e.g. Hanif, Zaheer, Miandad, Anwar… 3- Pakistan has produced world-class cricketers due to healthy rivalry between Karachi and Lahore. 4- President's power to assign PCB chief is the largest factor that has gradually eliminated the healthy rivalry between these to cities. ICC should be paying its due attention to restore the relationship between Karachi and Lahore that will enable Pakistan to produce world-class batsmen. In short Pakistan cricket is pleading ICC to take initiative to have a sustainable check on PCB chief’s monopoly.

  • muhamimed on February 19, 2013, 14:22 GMT

    lovely article as always, we have to question the selectors choices no doubt, how can tanvir and rahat be picked in these conditions instead of wahab??? also heard that umar gul is going home and wont be picked for odi??gul is more effective in odis then test, selectors choices are bad, hafeez aint a good leader cozz he doesnt pick himself as a batsmen, he fails in conditions away from the subcontinent, sa gave grame smith the captaincy when he was 22 and look how far he has progressed, asad or azhar should be groomed for captaincy aided by seniors no doubt

  • Saood on February 19, 2013, 15:00 GMT

    Thank you Kamran, this article was needed, people often forget what a fine job these guys have done, specially people like Rashif Latif, people who are quick to point fingers the minute something goes wrong.

  • muhammad mehmood on February 19, 2013, 15:05 GMT

    good but pakistani team good efort second test and good luck for 3rd test

  • kamran j on February 19, 2013, 15:13 GMT

    Very right. When was the last time after losing a test match captain blamed the result on himself. I hope critics don't take it as if Misbah is bowing down from his responsibilities. Pakistan batting collapses were expected, but in 2nd test match team needed more bowling support especially from veteran GUL.

  • AJ on February 19, 2013, 16:07 GMT

    Which success are we talking about Sir? And which leadership? Leadership is about making choices, some good ones, and that's what this team lacks. Some times you start feeling that a common fan who has only played a gali cricket is much more informed and critical as he asks for the choices which afterwards are proved to be the right ones. Inclusion of Rahat in the first test and exclusion of Rehman in the second where the wicket looked to be more like an import from Dubai, are a few of the examples which went against fan's call. Under utilisation of Hafiz in the second innings where the other end only needed to control the flow of runs, is an other example of poor leadership choices. A good leader turns a defeat to a win with his magical leadership but in our case a strong possibility of a win was given away due to the wrong choices.

  • GoPak on February 19, 2013, 16:11 GMT

    I like this article and mostly agree with the sentiments. But it seems to be written as if Pakistan just won the second test and squared the series. Did you perchance write it before the game finished, expecting Pakistan to win (which they very well might have if they had pushed the lead to 250)?