ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News

Kenya v Pakistan, World Cup 2011, Hambantota

Pakistan make a statement

Osman Samiuddin in Hambantota

February 23, 2011

Comments: 60 | Text size: A | A

An entirely different proposition awaits Pakistan on Saturday but given how poorly they often start big tournaments, the comprehensive thumping of Kenya is likely to have pleased the team management more than they will let on.

The only slip was the stilted start to their innings, on a pitch which did a little more than expected. But four middle-order fifties, a successful implementation of their trademark ODI batting plan (build first, blast later), the captain's five-fer and some lively fielding made for an unexpectedly smooth start. The selection of Abdur Rehman over Saeed Ajmal, or even Wahab Riaz seemed puzzlingly defensive - Ajmal and Riaz are wicket-takers and they will need them in this campaign - but Pakistan maintained the intensity in the field they had shown in a quite electric practice session on Monday.

Then the younger men in particular had thrown themselves into fielding practice, yapping away, diving and leaping around, hitting stumps, taking good catches. Keeping things at that pitch was Waqar Younis, the coach himself, screaming for catches to be taken as if they were off his own bowling, throwing gloves down in disgust at misfields, not putting up with slackers, taking time out for fresh faces and generally making sure things ran precisely to plan.

It is what Pakistan's demanding followers say they always want, even if in defeat: spirit, fight, passion and energy. "The way we practiced, we were very focused and positive and what we do there, we deliver in the games as well," Shahid Afridi said. "We try to focus on practice sessions and don't waste our time. The coaches are doing a great job with the fast bowlers and the senior players are helping the young batsmen."

So, despite having 300-plus to defend, Afridi insisted the team go out and defend much less. "We wanted to make a big total and when we went in, I told the team that we are defending 120, we need to fight like we are defending 120, because tough matches lie ahead."

In those tough matches the middle order will not be allowed to rebuild as freely as they did here if the start is squandered. The concern over Ahmed Shehzad and Mohammad Hafeez's contributions were not so much with the score as the tentative manner in which they came: the former made a single from 18 balls.

The pair has been in good form recently, scoring fluently so the sudden, sharp dip and the nature of it concerned Afridi as well. "Whether in batting or bowling you need a positive start always," he said. "The ball was sticking to the pitch a little, so it wasn't so easy but we need to stick to our strengths and play positively. The start is always important and I'm confident our openers will not repeat these mistakes. Shehzad and Hafeez are positive players so hopefully they will change their style in the next game."

Good starts guarantee nothing of course and nobody forgets that Pakistan's two world titles have come when campaigns have stuttered at the beginning. Nevertheless in a week in which several big sides have made statements against associate nations, Pakistan have put in their own. "Definitely it emphasises that we are a dangerous team. It's a good start but we shouldn't be 100% satisfied because there is a lot of work ahead of us still."

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN EMEA Ltd.

Comments: 60 
Posted by   on (February 26, 2011, 20:42 GMT)

@INDIA_WC2011_CHAMPS: Today Pakistan have posted their message again: "Don't take Pakistan easy!"

Posted by Angad11 on (February 24, 2011, 14:00 GMT)

good that pak defeated kenya with a huge margin this might help them in qualifying for QF. cause they will be trashed by all other teams.

Posted by   on (February 24, 2011, 12:20 GMT)

@nasshhh: You're right. Group B is difficult. But don't worry. If we enter the quarters we are bound to come up against a group B side, who, as you say, can knock us over. Imran Khan said that the advantage of four fifties as compared to one of these four scoring 150, is that this way they all got back in form. That will be crucial for the difficult opponents. Ian Bishop had an interesting observation about afridi: "his bowling shows he CAN use his grey matter. Why doesnt he use it in batting?" First it was horrid batting. Now that his batting attitude has improved, he has lost all confidence in his batting prowess. That is sad because, now if he REALLY bats, he can be what Imran Khan calls a "genuine allrounder", and what the great man himself was.

Posted by   on (February 24, 2011, 10:57 GMT)

I reckon, it's a really positive gesture that Pakistani team's middle order clicked, and especially Umar Akmal, who hasn't been able to perform well. In these early World Cup matches, Pakistani management should try Junaid Khan (debut), who seems quite impressive and took 3 wickets in the world cup warm-up match! God Bless Pakistani Cricket Team!!!

Posted by aurko on (February 24, 2011, 8:18 GMT)

If Shahid bhai is bowling like this, I'd want him to open. He's already a match winning bowler so y not open? It dsnt matter if it comes off bcuz all da middle order batsmen are in form! and razzaq is der. also gul and riaz can hit a ball. its a win win situation. if u tak him as a bowler, y care where he plays? if u tak him as a batter, den y hav him at 6 or 7? dsnt mak sense to me. wit SL he myt stay at 6 as he'll get 15 ovs anyways. but wit oder teams he shud blast da 1st 10 for 100 and den not even younis khan's silly shot making can lose us da game or misbah's attempts to reverse sweep every round thing on da face of da planet. also, hafeez over shehzad. any day. as 1. hafeez is experienced 2. can giv handy breakthrus at da middle 3. EXCEPTIONAL FIELDER. 2nd best in da pak side after afridi. line up - afridi hafeez kamran younis umar misbah razzaq gul riaz ajmal akhtar.i dream afridi opening. in da words of john lennon- ' u myt say dat im a dreamer, but im not the only one' lol

Posted by   on (February 24, 2011, 7:06 GMT)

My prediction for some time now has been a Pakistan/ Sri Lanka final, and I think Pakistan will win because they are hungrier.

Posted by   on (February 24, 2011, 7:05 GMT)

Welldone Pakistan, Don't be excited on this win against the weakest team of this tournament. Ofcourse Pakistan has a good team. lets see how they will play against the BIGGER opponents!

Posted by   on (February 24, 2011, 7:00 GMT)

Pakistan had only about 18 runs in first 8 overs out of which 3 overs were maiden. If openers clicked, Pakistan could have scored arround 370~380 (and 400 was not far) and won by 260~270 runs that could be the largest victory in world cups. This is the point that is not discussed up to now. So, if Pakistan want more comprehensive wins, they will have to ensure their openers clicked! Remember, there will not be Kenya or any other minnows against Pakistan ever in next games. And big teams will not allow them to build such a big pillar after a per opening and just 18 runs in first 8~10 overs.

Will anybody tell this to Pakistani skipper???????????????

Posted by   on (February 24, 2011, 6:43 GMT)

Long Live Pakistan! Pakistan job well done

Posted by ThisaraP on (February 24, 2011, 6:38 GMT)

They will learn a good lesson when meet Srilankans on Saturday.

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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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