ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / Features

Pakistan v West Indies, World Cup 2011, 1st quarter-final, Mirpur

Pakistan's bowling variety allows extra batsman

With the kind of choice he has, each bowling change Shahid Afridi makes has ensured that batsmen are unable to fall into the kind of rhythm they thrive on. On the pitches of the subcontinent, that is often a winning ploy

Osman Samiuddin in Mirpur

March 22, 2011

Comments: 67 | Text size: A | A

Umar Gul successfully appeals for the wicket of Jamie How, New Zealand v Pakistan, Group A, World Cup, Pallekele, March 8, 2011
Umar Gul is the form fast bowler in the world © Associated Press
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Through their unexpectedly smooth progress to the quarter-finals, the one question that has been asked of Pakistan repeatedly has been about the balance of the side. The Akmal brothers and Shoaib Akhtar hijacked matters temporarily, but the only on-field issue has been whether Pakistan have been playing a specialist bowler short to guard against the insecurities about its batting.

On the surface, much of the uneasiness about the combination is an instinctive, intangible one, a knee-jerk reaction to years of Pakistan sides geared around the bowling. No Pakistan team ever plays a bowler short, do they? It gives this combination initially a defensive feel, designed to make sure they can cover the weaknesses in their batting by taking from the strength of their bowling. And Pakistan play best when they are the aggressor, when they have specialists doing what specialists are meant to do.

In the loss to New Zealand, when Abdul Razzaq, Shoaib and Abdur Rehman bowled the last four, pivotal overs, the folly of this strategy came through. Chasing 300-plus subsequently, it wouldn't have made a difference whether they had six, seven or eleven batsmen in the side. Razzaq, who is a vital but underused component of this strategy, made a half-century at No 8, an effort lost on the game.

But after the win against Australia, a revision was in order and the true intent of what Pakistan have been trying to do seeped through. The comfort of Razzaq at eight was, after all, designed precisely for the kind of small innings he played against Australia, an unbeaten 20 that soothed frayed nerves. More tellingly, his two wickets earlier in the day meant Pakistan's attack looked just as Pakistan's attack is meant to look.

Though not conclusive either way, five wins in six games means the dilemma doesn't matter so much right now. And it matters even less because the attack they have played with, a bowler short or not, has actually done so well. "The way our boys have bowled in this competition has been amazing," Shahid Afridi said, with some justification ahead of Wednesday's quarter-final in Mirpur with West Indies. "All the credit [for our progress] goes to them for that. [Umar] Gul, Rehman, [Mohammad] Hafeez, Razzaq all have been bowling very well, Wahab [Riaz] as well."

They are joint-third on the list of team wicket-takers in the tournament, behind South Africa and India and equal with their quarter-final opponents. But for a rain-curtailed game against Zimbabwe, in which they bowled less than 40 overs, they would likely be higher. They also have the top wicket-taker and joint-fourth top wicket-taker of the competition in Afridi and Gul; the latter is the form paceman currently in the world.

But for variety, they are unmatched. In the first-choice XI they have played in the previous two games, they have every modern-day bowling option you can imagine. They have a right-arm fast bowler, a left-arm fast bowler (and both are fast, not fast-medium or some such dilution), a left-arm spinner, an offspinner, a legspinner, a right-arm medium-pacer; save for the chinaman, each and every angle is covered here. They have new ball wicket-takers, old ball reverse-swingers, death-over specialists, choking spinners through the middle, attacking ones through the same.

Just in case of injury or form, they have Shoaib's pace, Saeed Ajmal's off-spin and Junaid Khan's left-arm angle as back-up. So well-stocked have they been with options, they've even opened with spin, something they hadn't done in 13 years before this, and with some success.

And Razzaq apart, each and every one of them have done precisely what they have been asked to, and done it consistently. Hafeez has bowled nearly six overs a game and been miserly (only 4.08 runs per over conceded). He's picked up big wickets regularly, including Ricky Ponting and Upul Tharanga in the two biggest group games. Rehman has gone for only 4.42 an over, building a hurried and sustained pressure at one end.

These are the sweats, not the glory-seekers.

With this kind of choice, each bowling change Afridi makes has ensured that batsmen are unable to fall into the kind of rhythm they thrive on. Each change has brought a change of pace, a change of angle, a change in the degrees of turn to account for; in short, a different challenge.

On the pitches of the subcontinent, that is often a winning ploy.

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of ESPNcricinfo

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Comments: 67 
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Posted by Dummy4 on (March 23, 2011, 14:16 GMT)

cric009, the "ordinary" teams that Pakistan beat, Australia & Sri-Lanka, will be the winners of their respective quarter finals games.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 23, 2011, 9:26 GMT)

Fantastic and honest article. This has become a tradition since I was a boy where Pakistan's bowling has always been strong and batting fickle. I believe India has the best batsmen and Pakistan the best bowling. I'm hoping for a tasty World Cup encounter between the 2.

I feel we can defeat anybody right now and the NZ loss was just a miscalculation considering how hard we had thumped them in the previous series.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 23, 2011, 8:11 GMT)

@jawabid Maznzoor, how can their be final of india vs australia? lol they are both facing each other on quarter final, u cant expect both teams to win to go through innit.

As Far as Pakistan goes inshAllah this is our year comon Pakistan bring the pride back to the country just play like tigers, and please do include shoaib akhtar inplace of waahaz riaz..

Posted by Murali on (March 23, 2011, 7:27 GMT)

Pak bowling is best in bussiness

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 23, 2011, 6:57 GMT)

The question of 'underused' Razzaq has been bothering me also. I think Razzaq has played much better at number 7 than at 8 historically. I was happy when the batting order was announced in the Colombo ground for the match against Australia; but Afridi came at 7 and what happened? That worked out ok at the end because the chasing total was not high. If Australian total would have been higher- around 250-this could have been disastrous. After all Vettori plays at No 9 so why can't Afridi play at No 8??

Posted by Akber on (March 23, 2011, 5:57 GMT)

Hafeez should be dropped ... A Razzaq seems to be in good enough form to get 10 overs through... saeed ajmal should be added... Pakistan should think about the semi/finals...

for a wicket which would help bowlers ... my team would be A Shafiq, K Akmal, Y Khan, Misbah H, U Akmal, A Razzaq, S Afridi, A Rehman, W Riaz, S Ajmal, U Gul

for a batting wicket ... my team would be M Hafeez, K Akmal, A Shafiq, Y Khan, Misbah H, U Akmal, A Razzaq, S Afridi, W Riaz, S Ajmal, U Gul

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 23, 2011, 5:47 GMT)

C'mon Pakistan..Lets Beat dis West Indies Team..We did it against Australia...and we can do it against West Indies......The current line up is really superb...

And Afridi bat like u batted in the Twenty20 world cup.....Go slow and steady and hit the bad balls in the gaps for SIX......U arnt gona lose ur fans if u go slow and steady...the fans are alwaz behind U. :)

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 23, 2011, 5:28 GMT)

Thanks Osman...being a Pakistan Team Fan, i didn't enjoy the initial part of your article but i'm glad i read the whole thing. I loved the part where you wrote "They have a right-arm fast bowler, a left-arm fast bowler (and both are fast, not fast-medium or some such dilution), a left-arm spinner, an offspinner, a legspinner, a right-arm medium-pacer; save for the chinaman, each and every angle is covered here. They have new ball wicket-takers, old ball reverse-swingers, death-over specialists, choking spinners through the middle, attacking ones through the same."

Boom Boom all the way!

Posted by venkataramana rao on (March 23, 2011, 4:30 GMT)

Given the fickle batting line up, Pakistan is capable of losing to anyone and likewise they are a dangerous side who can upset any team though personally I cant see them go all the way. The fickleness is bound to give way at some stage. Windies in some ways mirror pakistan in bowling. They are bowling beautifully. Roach, Rampaul, Russell, Bishoo, Gayle and Pollard can be a handful for any side ( assuming Benn does not play). However Windies batting looks more fickle than Pakistan and this may ensure a windies win. But you write windies off at your own peril. A Gayle or a Bravo or a Pollard may all choose to come good on a single day.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 23, 2011, 4:17 GMT)

This article is about the bowling options for Afridi.In my opinion Saeed Ajmal should be the first choice as speciallist spinner against WI.There are four left hander in top 5 for WI. The off break of Ajmal will left outside and chance for caught behind or catch in slip.A Rehman is best against right handed batsman like Australia or India.Now the experience of Shoaib and even the commitment he is showing in this world cup deserve to play the QF against WI.Wahab riaz is lacking line o length. So many times he wasted his two good deliveries by delivering wide or No ball. he lack of consistency in his length.That's Y shoaib is good choice for Afridi to make his bowling unit more strong. Good luck Afridi and his team

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 23, 2011, 4:02 GMT)

watch out the real heros from now .....

Posted by Muhammad Kazim on (March 23, 2011, 2:22 GMT)

All is Well, but again there is still a BIG uncertainty about our so called underperformed batting line up :( .....

Posted by m on (March 23, 2011, 2:00 GMT)

Pak has 2 of all time best allrounder (Legends ) razzaq and one $ only afridi if they even fire half salender .... watch out Pak will get very close to winnign the WC .. and if they fire full throttel for next three game ....... then it will be a histy making event for Pak cricket and nation .. no one get closer to QF or Simis on ONE LEG that what Pak has done so far ..... imagen if Asif and AAmir were here

Posted by kalyan on (March 23, 2011, 0:41 GMT)

I guess everyone is over-rating shoaib akhtar here .. he is not a great bowler .. he is just good enough .. he is not a soldier .. remember wht sehwag and sachin did to him in 2003 world cup :)

Posted by V.L on (March 23, 2011, 0:32 GMT)

India 2nd highest wicket taker eh! Thats weird! So they are not doing too bad!

Posted by Tahir on (March 23, 2011, 0:15 GMT)

Wonderful analysis. It is playing only the away cricket that has made Pakistan a fearless side and despite that we could produce Asad, Umar, Amir, Junaid. It shows that there is real passion for the game in youth.

Posted by Simran on (March 22, 2011, 23:25 GMT)


So Pak has beaten most of the ordinary teams in the 1st round? Like Australia and Srilanka?? Pakistan is not a consistent team..agreed but I wish people would give them credit where they deserve. PAK won 5 out of 6 games convincingly and people don't stop coming down on this team and it's players.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 22, 2011, 21:28 GMT)

GUL,AFRIDI,AJMAL,SHOEB make d most dangerous bowling attack n can even defend 200 against best batting lineup team but, brainless afridi n waqar will pick,bits n pieces ,ave abdur rehaman instead of ajmal best spinner in d world, n wayward wahab instead of shoeb who bowls at 150 kmph even half fit

Posted by Alam on (March 22, 2011, 21:27 GMT)

Despite talent and variety mentioned in the article, the NZ loss exposed a key element nonetheless, i.e., when to effectively employ the bowlers. For example Razzaq in my opinion has only been effective with the new ball, or changed ball at the ball change. And other then Afradi, Rehman, or even Hafeez are not effective spinners at the finish, or the death-overs.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 22, 2011, 20:53 GMT)

Can it (unmatched variety in the bowling) be considered as a factor leading to higher difficulty level when it comes to wicketkeeping, and thus allowing one to consider being a little more lenient on Kamran Akmal. I would have dropped him still... preferably from the plane to Dhaka.

Shade some light Mr. Samiuddin, if you will.

Posted by Idrees on (March 22, 2011, 20:35 GMT)

To missionbegins2011. No doubt India have a really good batting line up. However do not be mistaken that they have batted mainly first on flat pitches and not against the likes on Gul and Afridi. First they must overcome Austarlia before you start thinking on Pakistan or any other opposition, and India's bowling is really weak so they will get hit around the park!

Posted by Saif on (March 22, 2011, 20:30 GMT)

PAK will easily beat WI. WI batting is weak, collapsing in the last overs. PAK bowling is awesome. Interesting game to watch.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 22, 2011, 20:29 GMT)


Posted by Andrew on (March 22, 2011, 20:08 GMT)

Before the world cup, the cricket pundits had predicted Aus, SA, India, & Sri Lanka as favourites, however the Pakistani team being the underdog, has shut their big mouths with their outstanding performances by winning matches against Aus and Sri Lanka. I think this Pakistani team is the most dangerous team in this world cup. Pls don't forget what this team has gone through in the past 2-3 years. Rebouncing from such lows takes a lot of effort. No wonder if the 3rd title also goes to yet another KHAN. Wish you all the best, Pakistan!!!

Posted by asim on (March 22, 2011, 19:29 GMT)

@Jawaid Manzoor. How can it be Australia Vs India Final Genius when one of them will be eliminated in QF?. This is elimination round.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 22, 2011, 19:21 GMT)

Some folks who commented here has no idea about how who the winners will play next. Winner of PAK/WI vs AUS/IND ...if India won they semi final will be in India otherwise Bangladesh.

Pakistan has second best side in the tournament after SA. They have complete bowling attack but their captain is as stupid as SA...lol "my personal opinion"

Pakistan lost only one game due to 24 bad deliveries and due to wrong use of bowlers by Afridi....He used Razzaq, Gul, and Hafiz wrong and caused that craziness (93 of 24 balls) Pakistan was winning the game until 46 overs. They got brain freezed after that....

Nehow, Still Shoaib Akhtar is a lot better option than useless Wahab Riaz. Don't understand what is his role. He concede runs at an average of 7 per over but somehow find his place in the team. Shoaib was the key figure against Sri Lankan win and had only one bad over against NZ. Dropping Shoaib is senseless. Look how Ponting is using Lee......

Posted by Mohsin on (March 22, 2011, 18:42 GMT)

Thats how we won in 1992 and this is how we gonna win in 2011 .

Posted by khurram on (March 22, 2011, 18:20 GMT)

well i think rehman should have been replaced with ajmal coz rehman is not taking wickets & also 4 left arm in Wi make ajmal a choice. 2nd if pakistan bowling under light with dew then they should chose third pacer instead of spiner. & riaz didnt look impresive so akhter should have a go.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 22, 2011, 18:08 GMT)

there are 2 points I wanna make, Firstly Its gonna be a tough game! Tough to predict! Pakistan looks in good shape by my money is on Westindies, simply because they always had the potential to beat a top team in their grp but they just cudnt and bear in mind the fact the way they thrash the lesser teams of their grp. BAN ALL OUT FOR 58!! They are lethal. Tomorrow could just be their day! My advise to Pak team would be not to take WI lightly at all after their win against the australians! Rest coming from an indian perspective of myn...I want WI to win, coz I knw Ind wud thrash the aussies at home..but a semifinal against Pakistan wud be huge pressure on india. So in this sense if pak wins tomorrow, they are more THAN likely to play the final in Mumbai..Killing india's chances..I can only curse the ICC-BCCI for not having the pre planned fixtures in place..in tht sense india would have been out of india for the quaters and semis..no pressure tht wud have been. GUDLUCK TO BOTH PAK N WI

Posted by Saeed on (March 22, 2011, 18:05 GMT)

Seeing as how bowling is Pakistan's strength, I think they need to focus on that & pick their best bowling attack. Forget about the batting, because at the end of the day, whether you have a batsman at #7 or #8 ..... it's the bowling that's going to win you the match. So it doesn't make sense to play an extra batsman just to cover up a a batting weakness ........ at the expense of a matchwinning bowler. Pakistan have many outstanding bowlers, but only 2 batsmen that can potentially win you a match ....... Umar Akmal & Abdul Razzak. They need someone to bowl at the death with Gul, .... & none of the other bowlers seem able to do that ....... so, that leaves only one other option ..... Saeed Ajmal. Now, if Ajmal plays, unfortunately Hafeez will have to sit out. & if Ajmal plays, that means that Akhtar will get to play ahead of Wahab. 1-Afridi, 2-Kamran, 3-Asad Shafiq, 4-Younis, 5-Misbah, 6-Razzak, 7-Umar Akmal, 8-Rehman, 9-Umar Gul, 10-Akhtar, 11-Ajmal.

Posted by farooq on (March 22, 2011, 18:01 GMT)

No doubt our bowling dept. is amazing at the moment but pak made a mistake by not trying Junaid khan against any minow team. Wahab most probably will play tomorrow but he is not that promising as gul and others. I m sure Junaid would have been a better option if pak had tried him in a group game but now this is not the time to test him. making Akhtar play is like a taking risk which can go any side but I personally feel shoaib should play ahead of wahab. I.A. We will win (Aamin). all the best Pakistan Team and all fans.

Posted by Surmed on (March 22, 2011, 18:00 GMT)

Lovely Article, @cric009, Which ordinary teams you are talking about in first round? Australia and Sri Lanka who Pakistan have defeated? @HRehman, Pakistan bowled so well against New Zealand, other than last 6/7 overs which cost us alot of runs, they were around 188 till 44th over, it was just Ross Taylor's day, courtesy Kamran Akmal. No doubt, West indies got some match winners, like Gayle and Pollard, if they don't work, they are like any other cricket team. Pakistan team looks very united and in full flow after Beating Australia, Moral is high, If Pakistan bated first, they will surely gonna win it :)

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 22, 2011, 17:57 GMT)

Wonderful article, however, you are helping the opposition dude. Don't be a scout to them by writing such articles. Let them figure out how to solve this Pakistani Rubik's Cube themselves. :) Love reading your posts though. Keep up the good work. Really PROUD of you.

Posted by Vipul on (March 22, 2011, 17:50 GMT)

Suddenly Pakistan looks so good that it might take a Rest of the World XI to defeat them. Fielding looks energetic, leaving India alone at the bottom of the rankings in that department and batting is good at least on paper. Difficult to see WI beating Pakistan, unless Pakistan do an England!

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 22, 2011, 17:38 GMT)

Go Green Go.........beest of luck fr Pakistan

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 22, 2011, 17:26 GMT)

i abdolutely love your articles!

Posted by Roger on (March 22, 2011, 17:25 GMT)

Windies should drop Benn and keep Rampaul in the team along with Roach, Russel & Bishoo. Gayle will have to bowl as well and hopefully Sammy wins a toss and bats first. Pakistan are due for a bad game and windies due a good one. I think it's Windies through to the next round!

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 22, 2011, 17:03 GMT)

Shoaib should take Riaz's place. Azmal will do better than abdur rahman would do in this condition.

Posted by Montasim on (March 22, 2011, 16:49 GMT)

good luck PAKISTAN. crowd at Dhaka will back the PAK team in huge number. Pak will feel it like home. go PAK go.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 22, 2011, 16:40 GMT)

with gayle n roach back, windies have more than a chance... however, polly and sammy need to stand up and play maturely rather than just trying to hit every ball for a six. batting first will give us a better chance... go gayle.. go windies!

Posted by avinash on (March 22, 2011, 16:24 GMT)

these trivial stats have been attained on lankan pitches which have been favoring bowlers. even afridi took wickets like he never has..they will be tested on a good batting wicket...

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 22, 2011, 16:18 GMT)

Very well written Osman Samiuddin. I thought I was the only one who was thinking that this Pakistan team has all kinds of variety. But the way Osman has sketched the map of Pakistan bowling is pretty accurate and with facts. I am impressed. Especially after inclusion of Wahab Riaz they have a left arm fast bowler as well and on this pitch of Dhaka with the grass on I am sure he will be lethal.

Posted by Shahid on (March 22, 2011, 16:15 GMT)

As much as i would like to see Shoaib Akhtar, i won't suggest who be included and who should be left out as it is the job of the expert on the ground. What i would like to see is a fielding effort as intense as the last game or maybe even better. If that happens, this game is Pakistan's.

Posted by rob on (March 22, 2011, 16:04 GMT)

Good luck Pakistan from an England fan. Your team is (usually) a joy to watch. I used to love the old West Indies teams, but over the last 15 years they've been truly awful aside from a few good players. Roach is dangerous, and once every 8 innings Gayle produces something special. With the great Chanderpaul struggling badly, Dwayne Bravo injured, and Pakistan's excellent bowling, I can only see Pakistan winning this. However, Gayle can win ODI's in 30 minutes if he bats like he can.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 22, 2011, 15:54 GMT)

great article ! if pakistan's batting order fires, they're most likely to win the world cup. no team has such a talented and efficient bowling attack as pak. they should more focus on middle order batting, that's their weak point.

Posted by Ayzaz on (March 22, 2011, 15:42 GMT)

hate to say this but IF amir had been available this WC would've been in the bag....

fact of the day: tendulkar 227 wins in 450 games .... 51% success rate ... team player or personal stats?

Posted by Atul on (March 22, 2011, 15:09 GMT)

This is the time when over-confident pak team normally goes down. Pak has beaten most of the ordinary teams in 1st round. And unfortunately it doesn't take much time for them to get crumbled under pressure these days. Even though they are talented, I dont think they wil survive the QF match. I still think, Side A teams are less tested because they mainly faced minnows. You will only see most of the Side B teams in Semi's.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 22, 2011, 14:52 GMT)

We need to have Shoaib Akhter in next round!

Posted by A on (March 22, 2011, 14:50 GMT)

agreed, pakistan's bowling approach has been very strategic, highly intelligent, and immensely incisive.

Posted by Powderdubdub on (March 22, 2011, 14:32 GMT)

Okay, all this might be right but it all depends how we perform on the day. Dont forget what happened to Pakistan bowlers against New Zealand. If Gayle got going all these variable lengths of Pakistan bowlers will go hay wire. West Indies look very confident against Pakistan, according to Michael Holding Pakistan is the team he would prefer to play against in the QF! Good Luck to Pakistan.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 22, 2011, 14:16 GMT)

West indies is quite capable of creating an upset if their stars perform well.

Posted by Azhar on (March 22, 2011, 14:05 GMT)

I would like to watch Shoib Akhtar in action, specially after announcing his retirement from international arena. I like Rehman as he is controlling the run-rate but i am afraid that he is lacking in wicket taking ability as Ajmal possesses. Pakistan bowling attack is one of the most balanced and with a few youngsters in their batting line up makes this team a dangerous. I can see the bright chance of Pakistan winning in this world cup and repeating the history of 1992 heroics.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 22, 2011, 14:00 GMT)

great article... Certainly raised my hopes even higher for pakistan's success in the finals. Certainly, choosing Abdur Rehman would be the right choice against west indies as their batsmen are not conventional players of spin and adding a left armer to the variety pool would only further confuse them.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 22, 2011, 13:45 GMT)

Pakistan willl remain a problem team through Pakistan's own cricket watch dogs. As of now, the combined return of West Indies, Gail/Chanpaul/Roach may well see the ouster of Pakistan - no wonder the Australian coach has already predicted the Indo/Aust. final - Ironic! For pakistan lurking in depleted resources,they may have still to go further. But regardless be praised come that far. And if come to that, be spared the typical media trial upon their return. For some time team had turned a salaried foot soldiers to deliver to those sitting comfortably calling the shots. But there is a will now, and regardless, all praise to the team/captain/coach and unity, without the need of badmouthing and catcalls on some players agony. Spare them, or bring worthy replacement !!!

Posted by Ahmed on (March 22, 2011, 13:45 GMT)

I think Shoaib should be given a chance in the remaining matches - in place of wahab may be. Not because i like him but because i believe on the verge of retirement, he's like a wounded soldier who would be eager to put in whatever has left in him- and that could benefit Pakistan. Let the world see him in action for the last time. Give him a warrior's farewell. :) We'll miss him...World will miss him ! Good Luck Pakistan !!!

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 22, 2011, 13:44 GMT)

Osman .. your work this world cup has been brilliant. Thanks for the regular and wonderful reporting on Pakistan cricket.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 22, 2011, 13:33 GMT)

Great. We need Sachin Tendulker, I am assuring you that He he had played for Pakistan it means 48 centuries coming in 48 win for Pakistan

Posted by Syed on (March 22, 2011, 13:31 GMT)

Thought of including Saeed Ajmal is correct, but it should be in place of Wahab. WI is weak against spin and Saeed Ajmal, Afridi and Abdul Rehman are all wicket taking bowlers with Umal Gul and support from Hafeez and Razzak would cause a lot problems to WI. Pakistan should also use this time to prep Shoaib for the possible semi final at Mohali which may be more suited for fast bowlers

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 22, 2011, 13:12 GMT)

We do need Shoaib back for QF and onwards.

Posted by Iman on (March 22, 2011, 13:05 GMT)

The team management must give Akhtar a chance in knockouts, as he may be playing his last three matches. The bowling attack is balanced and there is a need of openers to getup. If, it works then there is no question about Pakistan to be called as "World Champions" again. .....

Posted by Zain on (March 22, 2011, 13:01 GMT)

Although Pak is very strong head to head with WI however unpredicted as usual. If WI bat first & made 250-runs Pak guys will face tough chance. I suggest Pak should bring Saeed Ajmal instead of Abdul Rehaman because of his ability to spin the ball sharply & WI having long list of left handers thus Ajmal is more effect moreover I suggest Wahab should open the ball with Gul to counter WI's TOP order. If WI lost top 2/3 wickets in 10-overs it may trouble the rest.

Posted by Mohan on (March 22, 2011, 12:50 GMT)

If Pakistan squad is observed cleanly,we can observe that only five are taken as specialist batsmen (Ajmal Shahzad,Younis Khan,Misbah-ul-Haq,Umar Akmal,Asad Shafiq).The others are either allrounders or bits and pieces players or bowlers.So you have more options to select the bowling attack and restrict or bowl out a team below 250 other-wise their batsmen are going to struggle.They are comfortable setting a score as most of the teams have but not in chasing.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 22, 2011, 12:47 GMT)

Agreed on the bowling strength but i still fees that Afridi has to be more attacking with his field placings

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 22, 2011, 12:35 GMT)

I think PAKISTAN is the best team in worldcup

Posted by saumitra on (March 22, 2011, 12:29 GMT)

PAK real test is the SF, possibly which will be with IND, looking at the PAK team i would say the odds in favor of IND winning is 90 - 10, PAK batting looks wafer thin, IND batting is the mightiest of the 8 QF teams, looking at what sachin and co. did to the SA bowling line up which is undoubtedly the best in the world they would certainly toy with the PAK bowlers

Posted by Simon on (March 22, 2011, 12:21 GMT)

The only thing I'd say that's wrong about this article is that, Shoaib aside, the Pakistan seamers are fast-medium rather than fast. Doesn't really matter though as Pakistan have one hell of an attack. Gul is probably the best death bowler in the world and Afridi is the form spinner in the championships.

Lets face it, with Younus and Misbah in the middle order their batting is looking fairly strong too (bar the odd spectacular collapse).

I wouldn't want to get in their way.

Posted by mosan on (March 22, 2011, 12:14 GMT)

team line up should be hafeez, k akmal, shafiq, younis, afridi, misbah, u amkal, razzaq, rehman, gul, akhtar

this way afridi can attack between middle overs. he and razzq only get a couple of overs at the end when batting first. or when chasing, they arrive to the crease with the game almost over.

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Osman SamiuddinClose
Osman Samiuddin Osman spent the first half of his life pretending he discovered reverse swing with a tennis ball half-covered with electrical tape. The second half of his life was spent trying, and failing, to find spiritual fulfillment in the world of Pakistani advertising and marketing. The third half of his life will be devoted to convincing people that he did discover reverse swing. And occasionally writing about cricket. And learning mathematics.

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Is it possible for a Pakistani to be a fan of Ian Botham?

Imran Yusuf ponders an age-old question
The Cricket Monthly

    Nottingham's the charm

On tour in the UK, Firdose Moonda witnesses a fine comeback, visits the country's oldest pub, and squeezes in some yoga lessons

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