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

Comments: 53 | Text size: A | A

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
Related Links

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

RSS Feeds: Osman Samiuddin


Comments: 53 
. Your ESPN name '' will be used to display your comments. Please click here to edit this.
Comments have now been closed for this article

Posted by Dummy4 on (February 23, 2011, 18:28 GMT)

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

Posted by Dummy4 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 Agnel 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 Saad 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 Jaleel 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 Dummy4 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 Dummy4 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 Abdul 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 Dummy4 on (February 23, 2011, 6:51 GMT)

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

Posted by Umair on (February 23, 2011, 5:59 GMT)

My Pakistan 11: 1) Mohammad Hafeez 2) Ahmed Shehzad 3) Younis Khan 4) Umar Akmal 5) Misbah-ul-Haq 6) Shahid Afridi 7) Kamran Akmal 8) Abdul Razzaq 9) Umar Gul 10) Junaid Khan (for matches against KEN, CAN & ZIM)/Shoaib Akhtar (for mathes against AUS, SL & NZ) 11) Saeed Ajmal. Go Green.

Posted by Umar on (February 23, 2011, 5:35 GMT)

If Pakistan wants to win this world-cup they have to go with atleast three spinners, Afridi & hafeez are there & Abdul Rehman will be a good choice, he can also bat well down the order on these flat pitches, also will be the only left hander in side. So either Youniz khan or Umer Akmal has to go, which will be sad but very important for a balanced team.

Posted by Dummy4 on (February 23, 2011, 5:15 GMT)

@domino007: in that case of-course younis and misbah should come together. We can never guess whats going on in afridi's mind though can we? If we could we would rewire some things so umar akmal the specialist batsman comes above kamran akmal the wicketkeeper. Younis and misbah together kill the momentum but lets not forget that this is the plan that has started working for us. Their job is consolidation and that is done best together. When two slow players set up a platform together they still serve a purpose but whats the point of a slow "wall" standing at one end and wasting balls with wickets falling at the other end? That will only attract criticism. Strike rotation requires two strike rotators, not one strike rotator and one hit-and-miss.

Posted by Dummy4 on (February 23, 2011, 4:48 GMT)

A fit shoaib akhtar is crucial for this cup. Thats why I wish he would be rested for such games so he can play the knockouts. For the knockouts, it is best to open the bowling with shoaib and junaid. Wahab is very good as third bowler but tends to leak many runs if he opens the bowling. Umar gul, ofcourse, is a reverse swing specialist. Shoaib and Junaid truly is the best new ball pair.

Posted by Dummy4 on (February 23, 2011, 4:39 GMT)

I believe pak need not to do anything silly here,they dont need to explode right away just get a look in may be like australian way

Posted by Dummy4 on (February 23, 2011, 4:06 GMT)

How about dropping u akmal and giving chance to asad. I can bet asad is a good player who can last longer then ugly umer.

Sending kamran at number 3 means pak will loose another wicket, because kamran and umer both can not give long stand.

Younis at number 3 and asad at number 4 can really help pak. Drop riaz and bring chance to either ajmal or Junaid.

Posted by Dummy4 on (February 23, 2011, 1:07 GMT)

Taufiq Umar-Opener(wicket Keeper). Shehzad-Opener younis yousuf Misbah U.Akmal Abdur Razzaq Afridi Ajmal Gul Shoaib Haeez does have problem with technique.You need Yousuf to win match against top spinners. Taufeeq Umar has better technique compared to Hafeej and Kamran Akmal who can does keeping job in ODIs. Thats my imagination never going to happen.What do you say?

Posted by Amit on (February 23, 2011, 0:58 GMT)

So if either one of Younis or Misbah is batting then Afridi will not send the other one till one of them out. HA HA HA ! I really want to see such a situation in which Pak is 20/3 or something (with openers and Kamral back in pavilion) ...

Posted by abdul on (February 22, 2011, 22:39 GMT)

pak should alterante between consolidators and hitters

Posted by Vishwanath on (February 22, 2011, 22:13 GMT)

i had written pakistan off earlier, but reading this, i realise their team is actually pretty good! with consistency they could take this cup.

Posted by Ahmad on (February 22, 2011, 21:47 GMT)

How about opening with Umar Akmal and Ahmed Shehzad? I believe Umar Akmal can take any team apart in the first ten overs.

Posted by ali on (February 22, 2011, 21:27 GMT)

@ arschak Why are you repeating exactly wht the article talks about? lol

Posted by Yousaf on (February 22, 2011, 20:51 GMT)

most of you are picking asad S in you top 11 for what reason? and without shoaib you guyz dont have a wicket taker, razaq, riaz, and afridi r not wicket taker and gul is death over specialist. So without shoaib Pakistan has no chances of taking a wicket. Even against newzeland, Shoaib broke the good partnerships. Without shoaib 0% chance of winning the worldcup. (And even pakistan selector are not stupid enought to pick Asad S over Shezad Ahmed, umar, kamran and mishbah). Asad can take younis khan place that the only person replaceable.

Posted by Zeeshan on (February 22, 2011, 20:38 GMT)

Juniad Khan should be tested against Kenya tommorow. I hope we get another Mohammad Amir in Juniad Khan. I think Shoaib Aktar should play 1 or 2 games b4 quarter finals cuz we can not afford him playing in QF, semis or finals and giving away 50 runs in 4 overs. GOOD LUCK Shahid afridi and co. We will lift the world cup inshaALLAH.

Posted by Arslan on (February 22, 2011, 20:20 GMT)

We should give U.Akmal enough overs to play because he is a good batsman and also make sure that Younis ans Misbah don't come to crease at the same time because it makes the game boring.We need some momentum in order to stay in the tournament.

Posted by Abhimanyu on (February 22, 2011, 19:16 GMT)

I can see Pakistan making it to the quarter finals alongwith Australia, Sri Lanka and NewZealand. Then there is 50-50 chance to win or lose - we won't know the opponent for a while. Pakistan should try to get 1st or 2nd slot in the seedings for its group for now.

Posted by Dummy4 on (February 22, 2011, 18:52 GMT)

I am going to be surprised if Ajmal is not played. He is better then Afridi at times in taking wickets and maintaining pressure. If Umar Akmal can keep wickets then Kamran Akmal is not needed. And if not then Hafeez should be removed from the side and Ajmal needs to be added.

Posted by Humza on (February 22, 2011, 18:43 GMT)

My team is exactly like Omarrz. Just number 6,7 and 8 im not bothered what number those three come in because they are all explosive.

Some people are saying leave out Umar Akmal, I think thats ludicrous hes a match winner and has a good average over the last 18 months of ODI cricket. Also, his fielding really helps the team.

Posted by Dummy4 on (February 22, 2011, 18:41 GMT)

This is the time to try Junaid who bowled well in the practice match and seems to b a very good bowler. My 11 fro this 1st match is 1.Shahzad 2.Hafeez 3.Younus 4.Umer Akaml 5. Kamran Akmal 6. Misbah 7.Afridi 8.Razzaq 9.Wahab 10. Junaid 11.Ajaml 12th man Shoaib Akhtar. Junaid can bat a bit and then we will have the advantage of having a left arm fast bowler who can bowl at 140+ with some good swing.

Posted by Dummy4 on (February 22, 2011, 18:27 GMT)

Inshallah green machines will win

Posted by Dummy4 on (February 22, 2011, 17:59 GMT)

My 11 1. Ahmed 2. Hafeez 3.Kamran 4. Umar 5. Misbah 6. Afridi 7. Razzaq 8. Wahab 9. Ajmal 10. A Rehman 11. Junaid

This was written By Sadsa

Posted by Dummy4 on (February 22, 2011, 17:37 GMT)

My Team

1) Ahmed Shehzad 2) Mohammad Hafeez 3) Younis Khan 4) Asad Shafiq 5) Misbah-ul-Haq 6) Shahid Afridi 7) Abdul Razzaq 8) Kamran Akmal (wk) 9) Abdur Rehman 10) Umar Gul 11) Junaid Khan

Posted by Aamir on (February 22, 2011, 17:20 GMT)

I think Pakistan should drop Mohammad Hafeez open with Kamran Akmal and bring Saeed Ajmal in. We need Saeed Ajmal at a later stage of the tournament against big teams and he does need real match practice. Bowling is always Pakistan's strength so make it tougher. Umer Akmal oushed down the order is given very few overs to impress. You agree with me or not he is very much "Ricky Ponting" style of batsman. He should permote to number 4 then later number 3. Good Luck Pakistan

Posted by rasheed on (February 22, 2011, 17:11 GMT)

my team for 2morrow match.....1.ahmed shehzad,2.mohammad hafeez,3.younus khan,4.asad shafeeq,5.misbah ul haq,6.shahid afridi,7.umar akmal,8.abdul razzaq,9.abdul rehman,10.wahab riaz,11.junaid.........11 also bat...7can bowl.definetly this team can win world cup sure........think abt this pakistan afridi.

Posted by Dummy4 on (February 22, 2011, 17:10 GMT)

I agree with AndyZaltzmannsHair. They should look to set the team combination fixed from the word go and let it settle down, Pakistan's team combinations usually take time to adjust themselves anyway. Also curious to see who the specialist spinner in either Ajmal or Rehman will replace as I don't think playing no specialist spinner is the right way to go on these pitches.

Posted by Ramzi on (February 22, 2011, 17:02 GMT)

Everyone is talking about India, Sri Lanka, Australia & SA making semis. As in last two T20 tournaments no one expected Pakistan in semi final even. But 2009 T20 Pakistan were champions & 2010 Narrowly losing to Aussies in semis.... well this could happen this time too.... its only one game Quarter final....who knows?

Posted by Dummy4 on (February 22, 2011, 16:59 GMT)

My 11 for tomorrow: Ahmed, Hafeez, Younis, Umar ,Asad , Misbah, Afridi, Razzaq, Akhtar,Wahab, Gul.select this team and win world cup.

Posted by Ryo on (February 22, 2011, 16:52 GMT)

Flexible batting line-ups sound great on paper, but they're horrendous in reality. They don't work. Players are at their best when they're safe and secure in their own positions and know exactly what is required of them. When you use a flexible system, players become nervous over where they're going to bat and exactly what they need to do for the team when they do go out to bat.

Posted by Dummy4 on (February 22, 2011, 16:01 GMT)

My 11 for tomorrow:

Ahmed, Hafeez, Younis, Umar / Kamran, Misbah, Afridi, Razzaq, ARehman, Wahab, Gul, Junaid.

Posted by Ejaz on (February 22, 2011, 15:30 GMT)

I think it is a best time to try Junaid, otherwise it would more riskier to have him debut against a strong team.

Posted by Dummy4 on (February 22, 2011, 15:24 GMT)

give Ajmal some match practice and let him gain some form, he can even be the tournaments highest wicket taker

Posted by Omarr on (February 22, 2011, 15:13 GMT)

1. Hafeez 2. Ahmed 3. Yonis 4. Umar 5. Misbah 6. Razzaq 7. Afridi 8. Kamran 9. Rehman 10. Wahab 11. Umar

Posted by muhammad on (February 22, 2011, 14:42 GMT)

My playing 11 for tomorrow.. Hafeez,shehzad,younus,misbah,kamran,afridi,a.razzaq,a.rehman,wahab,junaid,ajmal

i.e. batting till no. 8 & 7 bowlers

Posted by usman on (February 22, 2011, 14:03 GMT)

g0 PAK g0 u will win inshallah make history 1 again g000d luck long live PAKISTAN

Posted by Dummy4 on (February 22, 2011, 13:48 GMT)

If Shoaib Akhtar gets fully fit and is firing he will be an asset to Pakistan in the final XI, otherwise he will have to be discarded. However, his inclusion may weaken spinning option as it seems Saeed Ajmal will have to sit it out and there will be more emphasis on Afridi and Hafeez. Its good to see that Pakistan have decided not to have both Yunus and Misbah batting together and splitting them with Umar Akmal. This World Cup is an opportunity for two young batsmen, Shehzad and Umar Akmal to make a name for themselves and I wish them lot of luck. I also wish lot of luck to other upcoming players in the Pakistan team such as Wahab, Shafiq and Junaid. In fact my prayers and that of 180 million Pakistanis are with the whole squad and I am confident whatever the result they will ALL give their 100%.

Posted by Dummy4 on (February 22, 2011, 13:47 GMT)

best of luck green shirts

Posted by Hasan on (February 22, 2011, 13:22 GMT)

It would be better for pakistan if kamran akmal opens and shezad come in at three it would be better because then shezad can bat with anyone in the middle order. And that would give better opportuniioes for umar akmal and miusbah and younis.

Posted by Asanka on (February 22, 2011, 13:15 GMT)

Pakistan will be one of my tournament favorites... but it's something I won't say out loud at a party. All the best from Sri Lanka!

Posted by syed on (February 22, 2011, 13:02 GMT)

pakistan have a very good chance to qualify for the semis, but they need to play very competitive cricket and need to score high and take wickets regularly because it will have an impact on their NRR..net run rate. paksiatn needs to start with atleast 7 or 7.5 NRR.

Posted by Usman on (February 22, 2011, 12:59 GMT)

Where Umer Akmal is potentially the best batsman in this format, he has failed to impress in the past couple of series...hopefully he should hit form during the tournament and be our Inzi of the 1992 world cup!!!

Posted by Mohsin on (February 22, 2011, 12:52 GMT)

GO Pak gO . u have been cornered once again like 1992 . repeat the hsitory and let the world know that they cannot put pakistan out of context . play like u played in 2009 T20 worldcup and won the final . Amir was the discovery then , let Junaid be another one this time. Good Luck Team in Green . Gud luk PAKISTAN.

Posted by hassan on (February 22, 2011, 12:34 GMT)

Although first game is always important but I think Afridi should try Junaid and see how he performs at these wickets. We've seen the Kenya batsmen fumbling against NZ, so it shouldn't be much bother for Pakistan to test their options before crunch game against SL.

Posted by Dummy4 on (February 22, 2011, 12:01 GMT)

One day more till "Cornered Tigers" roar.

Email Feedback Print
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.
News | Features Last 3 days
  • No stories yet
News | Features Last 3 days
  • No stories yet

World Cup Videos