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ICC World Cup 2011

Misbah, Afridi in ODI captaincy race

Osman Samiuddin

January 29, 2011

Comments: 129 | Text size: A | A

Shahid Afridi signals the end of Scott Styris' innings, New Zealand v Pakistan, 3rd Twenty20, Christchurch, December 30, 2010
Will Shahid Afridi, Pakistan's current ODI captain, lead his team in the World Cup? © Associated Press

Pakistan are likely to announce a captain for the World Cup within the next few days, possibly even before the fourth ODI of the current series against New Zealand scheduled for February 1. Indications, for the moment, lean towards the Test captain Misbah-ul-Haq taking over from Shahid Afridi, the current ODI skipper, for cricket's showpiece event. But the situation remains fluid and Misbah's chances were far greater a few days ago; a comfortable win over New Zealand on Saturday, with a starring role from Afridi, will no doubt impact on the final decision.

The PCB announced a 15-man World Cup squad earlier this month, but much to the surprise of almost everyone, didn't name a skipper for the event. Afridi has been Pakistan's ODI captain over the last year but just before the New Zealand tour began, a number of key players and team management officials raised concerns with the board over his captaincy. The development placed the board in a quandary, between players and the captain, ultimately compelling them to delay the announcement.

Expectedly the decision has been slammed by a number of ex-players, most notably Inzamam-ul-Haq; the broad feeling of discontent doesn't revolve around the personalities as much as the instability inherent in such a situation. The board and the chairman Ijaz Butt, it is believed, have no real issue with Afridi remaining captain, but such are the nature of the concerns the players and team management have, that the board has found itself having to choose sides.

It is understood that players are mostly unhappy with Afridi's regular and very public assessments of his side's performances, mostly when they have been critical. In addition, Afridi's statements to the ICC with reference to the spot-fixing case involving three Pakistani players have also been felt by some players in the current squad to have been incendiary and unnecessary. Though local reports suggested that a group of senior players had thrown their support behind Afridi, players such as Kamran Akmal and Misbah still hold reservations.

The inability of Afridi and vital members of the team management to gel with each other has not helped matters; one important management official is thought to have pushed particularly forcefully for Misbah's elevation to the captaincy over the last few weeks in New Zealand.

The delay has allowed the board chairman to travel to New Zealand to hold discussions with Afridi, senior players and management officials before making a decision. In a meeting before the team departed Butt also advised Afridi to try and improve his interaction with players over the course of the series. These meetings will ultimately decide who is to be appointed.

On paper, Afridi's record as captain is not hugely impressive, with seven wins and 10 losses in 18 games (and one no-result). He averages nearly 36 with the bat in that time, including two hundreds in Sri Lanka, and well over his career numbers. And though the 25-ball 65 against New Zealand in Christchurch on Saturday was his first fifty in 12 ODIs, he has, on five occasions, made scores between 24-49, which given the way Afridi bats and the position he bats at, are often vital hands.

His bowling has not been as incisive, taking only 17 wickets in that span and generally going for runs. But in pushing ODI series against England and South Africa to the final game each time, in overseeing several fightbacks in tough circumstances Afridi would seem to have built up some credit.

Misbah's case for captaincy, on paper, is weaker. He has not been part of the ODI set-up for much of the last year; in fact, he only played two ODIs in 2010 and was dropped midway through the series against South Africa. His often poor strike-rate also works against him, and if Younis Khan is in the playing XI, robs Pakistan of some power in the middle. But he has built up momentum from his Test exploits, where he has been in exceptional form with the bat and has just led Pakistan to a drought-breaking Test series win.

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by Dummy4 on (February 1, 2011, 13:02 GMT)

It has to be Misbah.. If Pakistanis want to have any chances of winning the cup this time, they simply can't make someone a captain who takes everything out in the public, which has been the case ever since Inzi retired..

Posted by Dummy4 on (February 1, 2011, 10:54 GMT)

@ Aneel,what makes you think that Asad or ahmed are better then misbah n younis...they're just youngsters playin in the team.....misbah is far better then them....Afridi should be the captain because if they change a captain at this stage it'll be a complete confusion between team....though misbah is a very good captain and player but i guess this is the best decision to keep afridi the captain..!!

Posted by Dummy4 on (February 1, 2011, 5:30 GMT)

What I suggest is Asad Shafiq should replace misbah-ul-haq or younis Khan.. He is the man to go.. Another player who I recommend most is Ahmed Shahzad.. Shafiq and Ahmed, both have the class and they have had shown the glimpse of "THE GREAT SACHIN TENDULKAR" in their batting style.. They are the long race horses for Pakistan and no doubt they going to be greats in World Cricket.

Posted by FIDA on (January 31, 2011, 11:37 GMT)

First of all we all should prey in each namaz that we could win the World cup. secondly, i am hopeful about afridi capitaincy. and he has the ability to lead the team.we need unity in our team. if the team played as one unit we are the best side.Misbah is a good player, but he misses too many balls. he should at least go with the strike rate of 80 for the mega unit. we can replace him in w c with asad shafiq. i wish and i miss and all the cricket fans missing imran nazir, i dont know why he is not in the 15 players sqad. he is a man who can also change the game. and umar akmal please you utilize yourself. you are a good player you have the ability to pull things back in favour of pakistan, so, please yar try best. i request all the pak team to play for the country, and give the gift of world cup to the Pak Nation. best of luck by Fida Mohammd Jeddah K.s.a

Posted by ajay on (January 31, 2011, 10:36 GMT)

it would be mistake to select Afridi as the pak team captain...he should be free from the responsibilities of captaincy...he should concentrate on his devastating batting style..and part time spin bowling...another issue is pakistani team is devided on the captaincy issue...afridi has been indulged in some sort of politics as well...misbah is a grave player...he sounds to be cool...calm and when required confident as well...

Posted by Dummy4 on (January 31, 2011, 9:47 GMT)

Afidi should remain his capitancy...., other voice no chance for Pakistan to chase Supper8.

Posted by Dummy4 on (January 31, 2011, 9:17 GMT)

The debate should have been between Afridi and Younis. Atleast then it would have been a "debate". Right now its frankly ridiculous to even compare the two. IF the debate was between Afridi and Younis it would be a question of whether or not to risk instability by choosing an excellent captain, who has a t20 worlcup victory to show his credentials. Afridi was never a sensible choice for captain, given his temperament, but to replace him with a block of wood is sheer stupidity, if one even ignores the instability caused by the change. Why can't we happily keep different captains for tests and odis? What is so difficult about it, when even the teams are not exactly the same?

Posted by Suraj Prakash on (January 31, 2011, 8:03 GMT)

There is no point in changing the captain for Pakistani Team, as a newly recruited captain cannot hold the pressure of leading his team in the toughest competition of cricket. Furthermore, captaincy is not only individual batting or bowling performance, it is the ability to motivate your team, utilize your available resources in the best way, and make dynamic plans for your teams play as the game progresses on... Boom Boom is playing his natural batting, and doing a good job in bowling... and he utilizes himself too as a resource during the game, I think he is doing it quite well.. Even MS Dhoni who is the captain of Indian Team, also is not in his good batting form, but he is there due to his good captaincy..

Posted by Aalif on (January 31, 2011, 7:57 GMT)

i think Afridi should get the chance for captaincy....& it should be declared very quickly...if he or Misbah lead pakistan they should get an appropriate time for world cup planning...so i think Afridi should lead pakistan in world cup 2011...cause he is the current captain in ODI...Misbah is ok wid Test...i think Misbah will b the wrong choice for Pakistan cricket board for lead Pakistan in WORLD CUP 2011

Posted by Naiem on (January 31, 2011, 6:12 GMT)

It will the biggest mistake of Board if Afridi is sacked from Captaincy. I strongly believe that Misbah should not be even part of team, look at his strike rate. (Booring). they should play Asad Shafiq in place of Misbah. I think he will take years to even reach Afridi. Afridi is the Best.

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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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