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Sri Lanka v Pakistan, Group A, World Cup 2011, Colombo

Pakistan mull three specialist bowlers

Osman Samiuddin in Colombo

February 25, 2011

Comments: 70 | Text size: A | A

If indications from Waqar Younis are anything to go by, Pakistan are unlikely to pick a fourth specialist bowler for Saturday's crunch game against co-hosts Sri Lanka at the R Premadasa. Pakistan comprehensively beat Kenya in their tournament opener on Wednesday, but played, in Umar Gul, Shoaib Akhtar and Abdur Rehman, with just three specialist bowlers. Shahid Afridi is as good as a specialist bowler but the caution to fill the line-up with batsmen and batsmen who can bowl, has led to an under-utilisation of Abdul Razzaq.

Razzaq batted at No. 8 in the last game, as he has done in 14 of 18 ODIs in the last year. He has played a few significant innings but more than his performances, the question has been whether he is being allowed, in the current line-up, to have the fullest impact on a game. Pakistan have compensated by using him as an opening bowler, but even there he remains under-used: in those 18 ODIs, he has bowled 91.4 overs or, on average, roughly five overs a game. Never once has he bowled the whole quota and he has picked up eight wickets.

Instead, Pakistan have combined him and Mohammad Hafeez to provide a fifth bowler and have also been making Ahmed Shehzad bowl in practice, with a view to using him if needed. Though Waqar admitted that Razzaq didn't "really fit" in the current line-up, he maintained that they were happy with his bowling contribution.

"I think Razzaq has done really well with the ball," Waqar said, ahead of the Sri Lanka game. "He hasn't delivered the goods with the bat apart from one game in Abu Dhabi [the hundred against South Africa]. He is no doubt our striker in both batting and bowling. He bowls with the new ball and we've got to push him a little more in that.

"You're right he comes at eight, but we have five batsmen, the keeper is more a batsman and then there is Afridi, so he doesn't really fit in at the moment. But if we need to send him up the order if quick runs are required we might push him."

Pakistan's batting, in actual fact, has performed well over that period, crossing 250 13 times in their last 20 ODIs. But clearly the management remains concerned. The inclusion of Abdur Rehman ahead of Saeed Ajmal - circumstantial to an extent after a personal tragedy forced Ajmal to return to Pakistan during the New Zealand tour and allowed Rehman to take his place - against Kenya surprised some. But it has been done to shore the batting up further still.

"It is unfortunate Ajmal is not playing right now," Waqar said. "He has won matches for us over the last 4-5 years. But right now Rehman is a utility player. He bats a little, he is a very good fielder and the way he is bowling, from what I've seen, he is the best spinner here."

For the moment, Waqar said, the final XI had not been decided and hints from the camp suggest it is likely to remain unchanged. But the nature of the surface, re-laid recently, might compel a re-jig. "We don't really know at the moment," Waqar said. "These pitches are brand new, so we're not really sure how it has played. We're just going to go with the best combination, what we probably had in the last match but we haven't had a meeting yet. Until we come back in the morning and see something different, but at the moment I don't think there will be changes."

Though Waqar played down the threat Muttiah Muralitharan might pose, he acknowledged Sri Lanka will be a stern test. "It's an important game. For this tournament, for momentum it is important and to get to the quarter-final, and in which position you get there, in that sense very important. If you want to go ahead, you have to build momentum so you treat all the teams as one. Sri Lanka at home is very difficult to beat. But the way we've played and trained, I am hopeful we can beat them."

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by Dummy4 on (February 26, 2011, 18:45 GMT)

i think Razzaq have ability to bolw in asia grouds... Ahmad Shehzad is a very tellinted and confident batsman he should play the rest of game, i just add my opinion tht we need chage in the openner batsman, Umar akmal and Hafeez Or Kamran Akmal and Hafeez should be better.............One thing more in the bowling side that Saeed Ajmal is the best option instead Rehman.......... i hope u ppl comments abt my opinion... thank you

Posted by khurram on (February 26, 2011, 15:00 GMT)

well 8 bats man not working. pakistan just scored 300 against kenya with 8 batsman. & they never reached 300 with 8 bats,an in recent past & this is making bowling weak. they should rest shehzad & bring 1 bowler in .

Posted by khurram on (February 26, 2011, 14:55 GMT)

wel i think raak should play & about batting order yes he should play up when required. for 1 more bowler / seamer i think only 1 person doesnt fit & tht is shezad. coz kamran is at 3 & playing wel so kamran should open. shezad is good but he is the only 1 who could give way to any bowler.coz kamran at 3 push every 1 else down the order. today 1 thing confirmed u need to get decent benifit from 1st 15 overs as well. coz depth bowling is becomeing good now & to pak only scored 68 runs in last 10overs with wickets in hand. pak need to be decent rate throughout.

Posted by Dummy4 on (February 26, 2011, 9:14 GMT)

@Afridi shud open....as he did with Saeed Anwar...drop Hafeez, bring in Riaz/ Ajmal depending upon the conditions of the pitch..At premadasa , it shud hv been Ajmal... Let Akhtar nd Gul open bowling... Play Razzaq as a 'floater'..He is an ASSET...nt a liability..nd he shud be brought as the first change in bowling.... Also Younis Khan cn keep wickets... So Kamran...well I guess.. he shud be replacd by sumbdy else...

Posted by usman on (February 26, 2011, 8:21 GMT)

I believe Pakistan has as much potential to earn this cup as India, Imran Khan advised Afridi not to act like a jackal and i would suggest him to be a Fox and take bold and well planned decisions. Pakistan should go with following combination;  3 specialist fast bowlers  2 specialist spinners  5 specialist batsman  1 keeper In this regard, team should be as bellow; 1. Hafeez (Bat) 2. Kamran akmal (k) 3. Youniskhan (Bat) 4. Umar akmal (Bat) 5. Razaak (Bat) 6. Misbah ul haq (Bat) 7. Afridi (spin) 8. Adur rehman (spin) 9. Wahab Riaz (fast) 10. Umar Gul (fast) 11. JunaidKhan (fast)

Posted by Owais on (February 26, 2011, 8:13 GMT)

I agree 100% with Uzair Asif. Drop Kamran and make Umar keep the wicket. This way you can utilize Razzaq the batsman a lot better. Also making room for one from amonng Saeed Ajmal, Wahab Riaz and Junaid Khan !!! How about that ? the point is Kamran is a pathetic keeper, we saw that again in Kenya match. If you dont open with Kamran, his remaining utility is also lost - so if you wanna persist with Hafeez/Shehzad opening pair than might as well drop Kamran and get added benefit vis a vis Razaaq and one extra specialist bowling option !!!

Posted by Dummy4 on (February 26, 2011, 6:33 GMT)

i think as pakistani fan younis khan is doing nice job in the presant time andalso misbha and with out this 2 player our team will uncomplet all our player is good they need only confedance and saport of his captin and coch and need to play every player without tention . we will pray and they will struggle then ishalla we will win

Posted by Saud on (February 26, 2011, 6:22 GMT)

Play Wahab Riaz for Abdul Razzaq. He is a much better bowler and can also belt a few big ones if the need arises. We already have a looong batting line up.

Posted by Waka on (February 26, 2011, 5:41 GMT)

Whats up with the people! winning for country... And if the team is winning there should be no worries about who's playing at which place!! It's good to see pak has a strong line up... I'm sure Razzaq would have no problem with that...

Posted by zaheer on (February 26, 2011, 5:39 GMT)

Abdul Razaq is the talented all rounder. But talent is nothing without the opportunity. Give him the opportunity and utilize him properly in batting as well as in bowling

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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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