ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News

Kenya v Pakistan, World Cup 2011, Hambantota

Pakistan look for flexibility in batting order

Osman Samiuddin in Hambantota

February 22, 2011

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Umar Akmal produced an explosive cameo, New Zealand v Pakistan, 3rd ODI, Christchurch, January 29, 2011
Umar Akmal, potentially Pakistan's best batsman in the format, has often come in with too few overs left to have an impact © Getty Images
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The emergence of Ahmed Shehzad has settled down Pakistan's opening partnership for the near future, but it has complicated matters for the rest of the batting order. Shehzad partnered Mohammad Hafeez at the top in the ODI series win over New Zealand coming into the World Cup. Both players had successful series, notching up a maiden century each but didn't put on a significant partnership in any of the five games they batted together.

Shehzad's return has meant Kamran Akmal moving down one spot to No. 3 in the order. But Akmal and Hafeez formed a successful partnership in the ODI series against England last September and would, in all likelihood, have been the first-choice pair here had it not been for Akmal's brief exile from the side in between. That absence allowed Shehzad to return to the side for the first time since 2009, an opportunity he has fully utilised.

Hafeez has also been a stabilising influence since his own return to the ODI set-up last summer, averaging 35.73 in 16 ODIs since then, with a hundred and three fifties. He has also turned in useful spells of offspin, picking up 11 wickets. Hafeez and Shehzad will start as the opening pair but the pushing down of Akmal and the return of Misbah-ul-Haq in a middle order that also includes Younis Khan often resulted in Pakistan not gathering enough momentum in the middle overs of an innings.

Pakistan are keen on keeping both Younis and Misbah in the XI as insurance against collapses. But batting them at four and five as happened in New Zealand has meant that Umar Akmal, potentially Pakistan's best batsman in the format, has come in with too few overs left to have an impact. It is an issue that will require flexibility, said Pakistan's captain Shahid Afridi ahead of their tournament opener against Kenya.

"If we lose the first wicket early, then Kamran, who has been an attacking batsman and has opened, comes in so we will have advantage with him and fielders in the circle," Afridi said. "After that it will depend on how many overs we have so Umar can come after Younis. We don't want Misbah and Younis batting together so that we can keep momentum and the scoreboard ticking."

Pakistan also look set to include Shoaib Akhtar in the line-up for Wednesday, despite concerns over his match fitness; only yesterday coach Waqar Younis said Shoaib was improving but not fully fit just yet. That means Saeed Ajmal is likely to miss out as Pakistan open up with three fast bowlers. Junaid Khan, the late call-up who impressed in a warm-up game against England in Dhaka and has experience of Hambantota, will also probably sit out. Irrespective of the opponent, Afridi said, Pakistan will be at full strength.

"I don't think it's an easier game for us," he said. "The first game is always very important for us. There are a number of examples where big teams have lost so we want to be at full strength."

Pakistan chose not to train on Tuesday, having arrived in Hambantota on Monday and undergone a distinctly energetic and enthusiastic practice session soon after arriving. Afridi acknowledged there was more attention on off-field issues surrounding the side but maintained that a semi-final place was a realistic target. "I take that as challenge that no one is considering us for the semi-final. I want to see my team in the semi-finals."

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN EMEA Ltd.

Comments: 53 
Posted by   on (February 23, 2011, 18:28 GMT)

shoib akhtar nd younis khan shouldnt be part of our major games

Posted by   on (February 23, 2011, 16:52 GMT)

Next match with SriLanka very crucial. Pakistan should bring back Wahab Riaz, promote Kamran Akmal as an opener and drop Hafeez and Shoaib. We also need Saeed Jjmal in the SriLanka match

Posted by Tansah on (February 23, 2011, 8:45 GMT)

It's important to have a balanced team whilst considering the conditions.

Posted by ABP235 on (February 23, 2011, 8:25 GMT)

Its a bit strange that they are saying Kamran will come in if a wicket goes early. Actually, it should be Younis or Misbah coming in to consolidate and bring Kamran in only if the other opener also gets out. This way, they can probably avoid Younis and Misbah batting together and at the same time, top order strength is established as well as, quick run getters are in at the other end. If the going gets slow with Younis or Misbah around, then Afridi should promote himself to try and throw the bowlers out of gear. With Umer, Razaq, Rehman to come in later, why should Afridi stay back with such ability to increase the scoring rate? Leave the last 10 overs to Razaq & co to plunder 80+. All of these strategies may not be needed against Kenya, but will be vital later on. I am not a Pakistani, just a cricketer plus an avid cricket fan who thinks this team can do wonders with small bits of strategies implemented at the right time.

Posted by MCSD on (February 23, 2011, 8:05 GMT)

Pakistan better win the toss and bat first..Otherwise we will see another match over before it even started! Pakistan should look to solidify their batting order and post a total between 270-280. Afridi should get some batting done in this type of pitch before the big game against Sri Lanka, I expect a powerful innings from him. Same goes to Umar Akmal we should expect him to bat before Misbah and provide a good platform. Also Younis Khan and Abdul Razzaq need to put some solid innings together for their confidence. As far as the bowling is concerned they should stick with their speedsters Shoaib, Gul & Wahab. Akhtar still has pace and will cause a lot of trouble to the Kenyans, and expect good bowling from Wahab as he would want to solidify his spot in the Pakistan XI. Just be aware of the Kenyan spinners, especially the Ngoche brothers they could be a threat.

Posted by Sherazi11 on (February 23, 2011, 7:38 GMT)

My Team Ahmed Shahzad, Hafeez, Younis,Umar Akmal, Misbah,Shahid Afridi,Kamran Akmal, Abdul Razzaq, Umar Gul, Junaid Khan, Saeed Ajmal

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

What ever team has to be announced my humble request is that please REMOVE "YOUNIS KHAN" from playing eleven. He is a waste of one pakistani player, he never perform in ODIs he is OK for Test matches but in ODIs some youngster should play in place of Younis Khan. When he is playing you have to belive that Pakistan is Playing with 10 Players because He don't know how to BAT, BOWL and FIELD he is such a waste. He is a big PARCHI (have some good relation with somebody in PCB). He Never Perform you'll see He cannot score more than 20 against Kenya and he'll play not less than 40 balls for that 20. You all will see.

Posted by   on (February 23, 2011, 7:10 GMT)

Why not Send Umar at no 3 and leave Kamran for final few overs along with Afridi and Razaq? I think its best to test and see Shoaib's match fitness against Kenya and if he is in good shape we can see him playing in other important group games too. We not only need to qualify for Quater finals we also need to get a good rank in this group otherwise we have to face the top team from the other group in QF. So we need Shoaib akhtar in group stages as well.

Posted by Scorrer on (February 23, 2011, 6:58 GMT)

Interesting stats for Pakistan team, supports the fact that Pakistan need a real team effort to win the world cup.

All of the Pakistani batting line up has their batting average below 40. Only one player who has his average above 40 is Yusuf but bless selectors he was not selected.

Average economic rate of fast bowlers is above 5 and strike rate is above 30. Spinners have better average ranging between 4-5 and high strike rates ranging from 40-60.

Now, looking at the economic rate of bowlers, Pakistan is destined to concede 250+ and that generally is a competitive score and especially for a team whose batsmen average is below 40, it is a huge task.

But we have a faith in Allah and inshAllah we will win. No Afridi or any one player can help us win the world cup. I have huge respect for Imran khan but we all know how Pakistan team came out of a bad run and miraculously won the 1992 world cup. I believe Allah will help us again to win the much needed world cup.

Posted by   on (February 23, 2011, 6:51 GMT)

My Team.. ahmed .hafiz.kamran.younis.mishba.umer.afridi.razaq.rehman.gul.juniad...u can see ;)

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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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