March 1, 2011

Shoaib and Gul to the rescue

Only with Pakistan could it happen that they lose their two most exciting new fast bowlers, only for them to be replaced by Shoaib Akhtar and Umar Gul
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When Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in December 2007, an emotive rhyme was chanted by her many supporters, drawing on the tragedy of a family in which the sons and father died unnatural deaths. "Tum kitne Bhutto maaroge? Har ghar se Bhutto niklega!" or, "How many Bhuttos will you kill? From every home there will come a Bhutto!"

A similar sentiment, lighter on the morbidity, can be adapted for fast bowlers from Pakistan. No matter how many are lost, new ones keep appearing. Sometimes the same ones keep coming back. The only thing Pakistan knows better than fast bowlers is fast bowlers who didn't make it. So for them, during this tournament has lingered an absence. The two As, the Fox and the Kid - and they couldn't have come much more incisive - are not here and are not likely to be seen on a cricket field anywhere near anyone for some time.

But what an absence it is that brings Shoaib Akhtar and Umar Gul instead.

Many countries would kill for that kind of absence. In the many permutations of fast bowlers Pakistan have put together over the last decade to win them matches - and remember, Riaz Afridi and Rana Naved-ul-Hasan once opened the bowling in a Karachi Test win over Sri Lanka - Shoaib and Gul is an odd one. Though they've both been around for years, they've barely played together. Before this World Cup, they'd only bowled together in 22 ODIs and three Tests. In another reality, they could be Pakistan's premier new-ball pair.

And what a pair they make, the unlikeliest since peanut butter and jelly got together to have a party in people's mouths. Shoaib temporarily lost his flip flops on the field in Hambantota during practice and it nearly became a story, so involved did everyone become. Gul could lose himself and people might not notice until he didn't turn up to bowl. The pair slipped by for their first proper media interaction on Monday at the P Sara Oval in Colombo, where Shoaib bowled among the most thrilling spells of fast bowling of the last decade, in 2002 in a Test against Australia.

Shoaib arrived ready with a headline. "We are a hurt side and we are here to hurt others." Gul? He came to talk about fast bowling variations.

Pakistan will go as well as Shoaib and Gul go in this tournament. As ever Shoaib's fitness had been the issue until the Sri Lanka game. He is not, according, repeatedly, to the team management, fully fit but is apparently getting there. Shoaib sounds more fatalistic and confessional. "Actually I am only half fit. I have never been fit throughout my life, but you all know I have hypertension in my knees and joints. I always have niggles."

The knees are not gone, but are going. He has now a permanent limp on the field. The run-up, finally, is shorter, though it probably takes more time than his entire sprinted run-up did in the late 90s.

"I am planning to play another 15 years," he quips, to loud guffaws from his audience. "I am 36 now [35 actually]. I am still bowling as fast as anyone can imagine but I have cut down on my run-up and that's helping me save energy in a way that I can bowl 10 overs."

In his last 18 ODIs, he has bowled his full quota eight times and eight or more overs 14 times. On Saturday at the R Premadasa he bowled all 10 and was the standout quick of the day. Though Shoaib running in is not the spectacle it once was, more cerebral pleasures are to be derived from his bowling: the pulling back of lengths against Tillakaratne Dilshan, or attacking his pads. The castling of Mahela Jayawardene, the contest's bling moment, was built on cut and length as much as pace. It's one thing that big-name wickets still matter to him, but entirely another that he still takes them.

He says he doesn't care about pace anymore - "I have long ago left this race of bowling fast. I am 36 now and more mature, so I am focusing on wickets now" - but sounds as convincing as the case for Iraqi WMDs. The bluff is exposed in his next breath. "I still bowled 159kph the other night, so that is good enough for me," he says, referring to what may well have been an occasionally malfunctioning speed gun. If you're still hitting, for sustained periods, 145-150kph, you can afford to take the stance that, hey, pace isn't that important. The shoulder is still strong and the arm still fast.

What a pair they make - the unlikeliest since peanut butter and jelly got together. Shoaib temporarily lost his flip flops on the field during practice and it nearly became a story, so involved did everyone become. Gul could lose himself and people might not notice

But his latest, and surely final, return has come from spirit, the very spirit that he has so often been accused of lacking. For some months this World Cup and its possibilities have driven him, more than many other things have ever driven him. The time to leave is upon him, and this could be as good a stage as any.

Gul is from a different world. On TV he can be a clunky sight, but first-hand he bounds through to the crease with some zip. He is a senior now and appears both proud and surprised at the promotion. "If you look at our strike bowlers in the team, there are three: me, Shahid [Afridi] bhai and Shoaib bhai. We always try - not everyone will perform every day and any bowler can have a bad spell - but we try that the wicket-takers get wickets," he says. Of all the Pakistani fast bowlers of recent years, none have had his humility.

His natural length is short of full, so on ungiving surfaces he can be carted. There is no reason why he doesn't bowl fuller - a length that brings him much more success - more consistently. It could just be rhythm, because when he does hit the right groove and length, he becomes impossible to hold back. But it hasn't happened often enough. Rashid Latif, his first international captain, can't work out why Gul hasn't developed in the same way as a contemporary, James Anderson, who made his international debut three months before Gul.

He isn't as shy as he was before, shedding it the way he has a once lanky, gawky frame, but there remains no off-field aspect to him. Meet Shoaib and a hundred different subjects could crop up in conversation; meet Gul and only cricket. Both are equally endearing.

He went for runs against Sri Lanka, but Pakistan will rely on him at the death. "You need variation, especially as a fast bowler," he reasons. "The faster you bowl the quicker it comes off the bat, especially in Sri Lanka.

"I bowl two spells always in practice, with a new ball and then with an old ball. When I learnt reverse swing, I learnt by watching videos of Wasim and Waqar and their techniques. You can't just have an old ball and reverse swing it, you have to know how to do it." The yorker outside off, from round the wicket, he is not sure about just yet, though he agrees it could be effective.

Both are asked about Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir. Both pay their respects: "assets," "lethal attack," "we're all very sad about it," and so on, but "we are not jokers either" appears to be the implication. It is a good time to move on.

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • var1234 on March 2, 2011, 21:26 GMT

    This article shows signs of over confidence. Do not count chickens until they are hatched. You have a long way to go. Agreed that pakistan has decent attack but it seems they have peaked already at the wrong time...and they are known for inconsistency..

  • Blaster_Razi on March 2, 2011, 19:09 GMT

    @nikhildevdesai Sri Lanka is no joke, they are still potential WC winners and india tied england who lost against Ireland, not saying that like india losing to Ireland, but the match has no been played so who knows it could happen. They already lost Bangladesh last year.

  • sunnymachoo on March 2, 2011, 18:40 GMT

    Very true! Only Pakistan can replace best of the world with best of the world! =)

  • fiqbal on March 2, 2011, 7:41 GMT

    Sami, Nice compliments to Pakistan's fast bowling bench strength. We are looking forward for Junaid's performance now.

  • lethal007 on March 2, 2011, 7:19 GMT

    i like to remind all of you that we are guessing how pakistan has a rich history in producing genuine fast bowlers so we must not forget our dead pitches at domestic circuit where boys have to work very hard to ball fast....... in my opinion flate pitches is one of the main source of producing pace bowlers and other is making ideals like imran wasim n waqar

  • BhaiJawad on March 2, 2011, 6:26 GMT

    Its really nice to see Shoaib bowling like he used to ball in his early carrier but with maturity and experience. He is the cocktail of pace, experience, and broken heart.... well he wants to say a clear and loud SHUT UP to all those who used to say that his cricket is over, and they use to say that 6 to 8 years before as well..... Gul could not manage to get his rhythm back but I'm dam sure he will do it against auses or some bigger team and will have a great come back. GOD BLESS PAKISTAN

  • xylo on March 2, 2011, 4:30 GMT

    Very true. I am guessing we are going to see more cricketers emigrate like Imran Tahir, and other cricketing countries will give anything to get them aboard. Such is the quality of bowlers coming out!

  • Deepkar on March 2, 2011, 1:49 GMT

    Think if partition didnt happned In 1947 and team hindusthan would have been sachin, sehwagh, gambhir, kohli, dhoni, pathan, afridi, razak, shoeb, gul. think pathan, afridi and razak at 6, 7, 8. 400 in every match and Opposition will be out under 200 every Match.

  • nikhildevdesai on March 2, 2011, 1:08 GMT

    Please let these bowlers play real teams, SA, INDIA, AUS, then we will see how they get dismantle, this article is a joke.

  • achandana on March 2, 2011, 1:08 GMT

    @aqua_omer

    Did you remembered the scene when shoiab akthar's delivery was launched by Sachin to six over 3rd man in WC 03? or shld I remember it again ? Stop saying such kind of childish and kiddo kind of words.If you can give one example I can give 10 examples which makes you to keep shut.This article is about pakistani pace attack so dont drag sachin into it.

  • var1234 on March 2, 2011, 21:26 GMT

    This article shows signs of over confidence. Do not count chickens until they are hatched. You have a long way to go. Agreed that pakistan has decent attack but it seems they have peaked already at the wrong time...and they are known for inconsistency..

  • Blaster_Razi on March 2, 2011, 19:09 GMT

    @nikhildevdesai Sri Lanka is no joke, they are still potential WC winners and india tied england who lost against Ireland, not saying that like india losing to Ireland, but the match has no been played so who knows it could happen. They already lost Bangladesh last year.

  • sunnymachoo on March 2, 2011, 18:40 GMT

    Very true! Only Pakistan can replace best of the world with best of the world! =)

  • fiqbal on March 2, 2011, 7:41 GMT

    Sami, Nice compliments to Pakistan's fast bowling bench strength. We are looking forward for Junaid's performance now.

  • lethal007 on March 2, 2011, 7:19 GMT

    i like to remind all of you that we are guessing how pakistan has a rich history in producing genuine fast bowlers so we must not forget our dead pitches at domestic circuit where boys have to work very hard to ball fast....... in my opinion flate pitches is one of the main source of producing pace bowlers and other is making ideals like imran wasim n waqar

  • BhaiJawad on March 2, 2011, 6:26 GMT

    Its really nice to see Shoaib bowling like he used to ball in his early carrier but with maturity and experience. He is the cocktail of pace, experience, and broken heart.... well he wants to say a clear and loud SHUT UP to all those who used to say that his cricket is over, and they use to say that 6 to 8 years before as well..... Gul could not manage to get his rhythm back but I'm dam sure he will do it against auses or some bigger team and will have a great come back. GOD BLESS PAKISTAN

  • xylo on March 2, 2011, 4:30 GMT

    Very true. I am guessing we are going to see more cricketers emigrate like Imran Tahir, and other cricketing countries will give anything to get them aboard. Such is the quality of bowlers coming out!

  • Deepkar on March 2, 2011, 1:49 GMT

    Think if partition didnt happned In 1947 and team hindusthan would have been sachin, sehwagh, gambhir, kohli, dhoni, pathan, afridi, razak, shoeb, gul. think pathan, afridi and razak at 6, 7, 8. 400 in every match and Opposition will be out under 200 every Match.

  • nikhildevdesai on March 2, 2011, 1:08 GMT

    Please let these bowlers play real teams, SA, INDIA, AUS, then we will see how they get dismantle, this article is a joke.

  • achandana on March 2, 2011, 1:08 GMT

    @aqua_omer

    Did you remembered the scene when shoiab akthar's delivery was launched by Sachin to six over 3rd man in WC 03? or shld I remember it again ? Stop saying such kind of childish and kiddo kind of words.If you can give one example I can give 10 examples which makes you to keep shut.This article is about pakistani pace attack so dont drag sachin into it.

  • nlambda on March 1, 2011, 23:26 GMT

    Last comment from me - I was not looking to put anyone down. Read my comments again - I lament that all we (Indians) have are 80MPH trundlers. Our batsmen have to put up with preparation with these low medium pace guys. On the flip side, one must ask why the Pak batsmen are so weak when they get these guys to practice against in the nets all the time.

  • Chirs-Cry on March 1, 2011, 22:40 GMT

    Excellent article indeed. Great job. i think Wahab Riaz is as lethal as Gul is in-depth. Secondly, i dont understand why we are playing Razzaq over Wahab Riaz, when we know that we have enough batting but not the usual "Pakistani bowling". Yes, Razzaq is an excellent all-rounder and a great match-winner (usually with the bat). Razzaq is last two matches faced 10 balls , and bowled 10 overs. Wahab can do the same thing and will add a whole lot strength to bowling (specially in-depth). If we want to play Razzaq then we should utilize proplerly, not like a tail-ender. The way we are using Razzaq at the moment, we can surely use Wahab in a much better way. Junaid, Wahab , Asad and Saeed should be a given a go before quater finals. I am pretty sure they live up to our expectations and might as well exceed our expectations.

  • Emancipator007 on March 1, 2011, 21:54 GMT

    2. Plus, Akthar has made a return against all odds with almost everyone in Pak cricket ganged up against him (Anyone remember Ganguly in 2006?). In the noughties, Akthar is the only pace bowler to have hustled and troubled Australian batsmen regularly (notably in the winter ODI series in 2002 in OZ and also the Sharjah Tests ) whenever given an opportunity (Bond did that only in ODIs). This incandescent Pakistani team needs to be encouraged and patronized at all costs as they deliver sheer excitement, passion and boundless natural talent on the international stage. As a Test connoisseur, I want one last tilt by Akthar, Amir, Asif and Gul (as a quartet!) against Tendulkar, Sehwag, Laxman, Gambhir and Pujara in Tests. Still miss Wasim and Waqar - a YouTube compilation of Wasim and Waqar splattering wickets with pace, seam, yorkers, reverse swing set to the "Final Countdown" number gets one real nostalgic.

  • shot274 on March 1, 2011, 21:53 GMT

    Guls length is a problem. Wahab riaz would also take the new ball and that would solve a big problem.No team can afford to take a frontline fast bowler who cant open the bowling! Razzaq is a real weak link in the bowling department and i would like Ajmal to play.

  • oblmir1 on March 1, 2011, 21:50 GMT

    I simply loved the ending punchline: "we are not jokers either"!!! Terrific job Osman! I wish one day I would grow up to be a cricket writer like you! Considering I am 20....it has to come soon! Cheers

  • Emancipator007 on March 1, 2011, 21:50 GMT

    1. No non-Pakistani understands the Pakistani team better than me (Indian here). I have seen the best of Imran, Miandad, Zaheer, Mudassar, Akram, Waqar and Saqlain (who I rate as the craftiest spinner ever in history). How I so wish that there had been just one great man manager in Pakistan to hand-hold Amir (he just does not deserve the ban as at 18 many of us have done far worse as unguided souls) and Asif and also Mohammed Zahid and one real understanding captain to manage Akthar's career. Akthar has a fantastic record in picking up top-order wickets in both Tests and ODIs. He should have been a Test legend by now. The media has totally overlooked the fact that Akthar at 35 has made the best ever comeback for an EXTREME pace bowler (Brett Lee's comeback is not bad but he is bowling within himself) in world cricket history. He is steaming in and still bowling at 145 kph consistently which believe me guys is very difficult.CONTD.

  • Hassan.Farooqi on March 1, 2011, 21:18 GMT

    @gladtobehere81 and @aarifmushtaq. Nah, I would prefer Sehwag the guy who has hit two triple centuries. If he can't come, I would settle for Dravid, the most unappreciate Indian. I am sure Dravid will perform better in Pakistan.

  • StatisticsRocks on March 1, 2011, 20:15 GMT

    Good article. Pakistan always produces top class fast bowlers and I as an Indian not only wonder how but can only hope to have one such top class bolwer in our team. Can you imagine how the team would look with a gsolid batting lineup and 2 quality fast bowlers. Wasim Akram is still my favorite. This Pakistan side is extremely dangerous and are among the top teams to win this WC. Their batting looks good with Younis and Misbah shouldering responsibilities. If only the openers can do their part, I don't see how anybody can beat them.

    I Hope for an India Pakistan finale.

  • ElectronSmoke on March 1, 2011, 20:03 GMT

    @nlambda- can we please leave ONE article free of Sachin fanaticism please. Also @aqua_omer - the retort was unnecessary. For all the thrill of that Calcutta test moment (I loved it! and yes I am an Indian), Shoaib never built on it's success and dominated Tendulkar like Donald or McGrath. The article is about Shoaib and Gul, and it's a marvel how PAK keep producing matchwinning quicks despite all the issues. Shoaib, ever the limelight hogger, with his pace and smarts is still a treat to watch. Gul has consistently delivered on that promise of youth who won that test against India on his own. Amazingly he hasn't needed brash statements, hairstyle or scandals to keep him in the news. Just hope PAK don't believe like West Indies of 70s and 80s that they can afford to lose 'em and top-class replacements would keep queuing up.

  • Umair_umair on March 1, 2011, 19:59 GMT

    I think Pakistan is the only team to have two sets of equally good bowlers (even better perhaps?). Take out trio of Shaoib, Gul and aburehman and draft in a new trio of Wahab Riaz, Junaid Khan, Saeed Ajmal. haha. I love that.

    However, if they bowl well or win matches? thats another case? but there is talent.

  • shakkw on March 1, 2011, 19:50 GMT

    No other country in the world cricket can match this never ending supply of quality and deadly fast bowlers. Back in 80's everyone wanted to bowl fast like Imran Khan and later youth wanted to copy Wasim and Waqar. Pakistani bowlers invented many things like deadly yorkers, reverse swing, dooras and teeras didn't happen by chance. Pakistan is unique in this sense and real crowd pullers and glamour boys where ever they go. I feel Wahab Riaz and that new lefty should play in the next game.

  • K-amps on March 1, 2011, 19:33 GMT

    @acqua and nlambda... please kepp your Pak vs ind hate comments to yourselves please... Cricinfo is for lovers of cricket... I get up 4am to watch India vs Eng and the same for Pak vs SL... once you rise to the level above petty nationalistic notions, you can better appreciate the game....and all it's proponents from tendu to Shoaib... they are both great!

    Umar Gul is a bit over rated not because of ability, but because of judgement and self belief. In the Pak vs. SL match, yorkers were needed and the king of Yorkers was bowling mid pitch short balls that were flying over the keeper's head... Very strange indeed.

    India... Take 50% of our fast bowler's and give us 50% of your batsmen... both teams will be better off :)

  • TiredUKCoach on March 1, 2011, 18:53 GMT

    I only wish that India and Pakistan were together, as they were before the partition. We would have ruled the world and not just in Cricket but also in Hockey but sadly that is not the case. Can you just imagine what a team it would have been with Batsmen from India and the Bowlers from Pakistan! However, you can't blame me for dreaming. Can you?

  • gladtobehere81 on March 1, 2011, 18:28 GMT

    @aqua_omerand @nlambda - This discussion was more about bowlers from Pakistan. So lets praise them, because they are worthy and do not include India in this discussion. Makes no sense. Anyways, as I said earlier....Pakistan has the best of the attack in world and they have better talent on bowling side than any other country and the same is true for Indian Batting. So no fighting, move on.

  • harshthakor on March 1, 2011, 17:04 GMT

    Hats of to pakistan for this great resilience after losing major weapons.Pakistan simply champion a cause in the dark hours like tigers coming out of the woods.Bar West Indies no team posessed such fast bowling talent from Imran -Sarafraz to Wasim Waqar to the current bunch.Mohammas Asif and Mohammad Amir bolwed like all-time greats and it is sad that cricket has lost two geniuses.

  • nlambda on March 1, 2011, 16:40 GMT

    @aqua_omer: I was primarily poking fun at our (Indian) bowlers, not Shoaib. And yes, your example DOES show adaptation. Sachin was bowled off the 1st ball he faced from Shoaib as he was not anticipating something so quick. Then he prepared for the extra speed by having guys like Srinath bowl at 16 yards. You could see the result in the 2003 match and subsequent games - don't think Shoaib has ever bowled Tendulkar again, certainly not yorked him.

  • AhmadNaeem on March 1, 2011, 16:33 GMT

    With due apology to Mr.Osman,your analysis is more a cosmetic than a ground fact.Pakistan Cricket has been hurt in the last decade with a compulsion to play with Shoab,Sami & Gul inspite of their horrible performances.This has wasted the chances of many emerging fast bowlers who have performed exceptionally well in the domestic.Rao Iftikhar& Arafat have performed and were sidelined to accommodate these liabilities.Plaese analyze the stats relating them to match to match and find it yourself that Shoab & Gul have only performed when we already have posted big scores.On the contrary they have number of times helped the opposition to achieve big scores when we have been favorites after scoring 260 + e.g.vs Ind in Asia Cup in 2009.When they were sit out ,we have won- 3rd T20 vs NZ after being smashed due to their bowling in the first two T20s.Even here,the pure fast bowling talent in the shape of Junaid and Wahab have to sit outside to make these liabilities play.

  • zaidch on March 1, 2011, 15:48 GMT

    Good job Mr Samiuddin. I really like the artical. Shoaib is no doubt still one of the best fast bowler in the world. I am anxiously waiting to see Junaid Khan bowling fast left arm. Good luck Shoaib & Pakistan

  • krishna_cricketfan on March 1, 2011, 14:53 GMT

    @@aqua_omer Bro, you seem to take a dig at Sachin in that Shoaib bowled Sachin first ball. Such cheap digs apart, Shoaib is there to bowl fast and take wicket. All it takes is one micro mistake to lose wickets to such great fast bowlers. It is also a fact that Sachin has done well against Pakistani bowling lineup. Ask you own great bowlers of which there are plenty. Bowlers can keep trying to take a wicket, but for the batsmen it is just one mistake to cost the wicket. Is it easy to face an Imran or W's or Shoaib or Gull or Thomson or Lillie and others? All Great Batsmen had gone through what Sachin has gone through. i.e. Bowled or dismissed in other fashion firstball.

  • sskris1 on March 1, 2011, 14:48 GMT

    No question about this. Pakistan has always produced great fast bowlers and will continue to do so. Wasim Akram is my favorite nd what a sight it was to see him castle the stumps, his toe breaking yorlers. As an Indian I can only wish to get one or two of them. In this WC Pakisatn to me are the most dangerous side that can beat anyone. They only need the openers to get going, that would make them unbeatable with Younis and Misbah doing a great job in the middle order.

    I hope to see India vs. PAK hopefully in the final, but with India's weak bowling (which to me is the weakest among the test playing nations), I am not sure if india will reach the finals relying only on batting.

    Good Luck and hope to have a great WC

  • LeftBrain on March 1, 2011, 14:36 GMT

    Dont have words t appreciate tis brilliant article, Plain wonderful. Osman your passion and your ability to look at the big picture is just beyond any other writer on Cricinfo. You not only gave a much due appreciation to Pakistan pace battery and its resources, also made a strong case for yourself to be declared a "world champion" as far as writers go here at cricnfo. Is there any such contest out there?

  • ILaughAtThee on March 1, 2011, 14:32 GMT

    Offer to Pakistan from, of course, India - Take Parthiv Patel and Dinesh Karthik, give us couple of Club Level Fast Bowlers! That way both of us can meet in the Finals :P

  • saqib2005 on March 1, 2011, 13:24 GMT

    @Fayss. I think tape ball is a late 80s, early 90s phenomena. I don't think the likes of Imran, Fazal or even Wasim grew up with tape ball. I still remember in part of Karachi tennis balls were dunked in a water bucket (kept at the non-striker wicket) to make them heavier before each ball.

  • cricmypassion on March 1, 2011, 13:16 GMT

    @Kiwirocker, I finally thought you had a comment with India not mentioned.. and I was fooled.. India's pathetic bowling is proving that even 300 is not safe.. Man, the chip on your shoulder is getting really larger by the day.. My My, stick to commenting about Shoaib and Gul, which is clearly what the article is about!

  • Hooves on March 1, 2011, 12:52 GMT

    I've got a fiver on PAK for the tournament. If the three amigo's weren't banned it would be a tenner. And I'm not a gambling man!

  • HashmiMA on March 1, 2011, 12:51 GMT

    If I were to select the Pak team, I would have dropped Kamran Akmal & get Wahab Riaz in the team as he brings a variety in bowling and provides more options.

    To replace Kamran I would have given the gloves to Umar Akmal as he has done relatively good work in New Zealand already.

    The wickets in SL & India are such a batting paradise that we dont need to have batsmen until number 7 - 8. 5 regular battsmen + Afridi, Abdurrazzak, & Wahab Riaz are good enough to go for any score around 325 to chase.

    Keeping more batters under such circusstances seems very defensive to me, more bowlers are always a positive factor for us.

  • sonofchennai on March 1, 2011, 12:38 GMT

    Its a shame that Asif and Amir are not playing in WC...what a sight it wud have been for Amir to bowl to Sachin in WC final at Wankhede!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • SamRoy on March 1, 2011, 12:20 GMT

    I normally like your articles but I can't quite fathom what you are talking about here Osman. No bowler is an ABLE replacement for Mohammad Amir. He is the most talented fast bowler in the world. As for Asif, he is cannon fodder on dead pitches in limited over matches no better than say Praveen Kumar (He is infinitely better than Praveen will ever be in tests). Gul version 2 (post 2007) (Version 1 was a better test bowler but worse limited overs bowler) has been Pakistan's most steady limited overs' seamer in the last 5 years. Shoaib Akhtar normally blows hot and cold. Great one match rubbish the next match. But one thing is for certain there are a lot of talented fast bowlers on the domestic scene in Pakistan unlike in India.

  • Seether1 on March 1, 2011, 11:24 GMT

    @Fayss: Actually in SA in a lot of communities we also start playing cricket by taping up a tennis ball. Suppose thats why SA also has lots of fast bowlers :)

  • Riz-Khan on March 1, 2011, 10:45 GMT

    Shoaib Akhtar - man famously known as 'Rawalpindi Express' is nearly on the end of his career but still manages to bowl around 150 kilometers per hour, Good Newz for Pakistanis.You are still Rawalpindi Express and we are proud you still bowling in the world cup when our good bowlers Aamir,Asif not there.we pray for the wining of world cup and your come back on in this situation of Pakistan team.

  • aqua_omer on March 1, 2011, 10:43 GMT

    @nlambda, have u forgotton the famous calcutta test 1999 when Sachin's adoptation silent 100,000 spectators when he was bowled first ball by Shoaib?? or shall I remind u some more useful adoptation??:P

  • ROLAYH on March 1, 2011, 10:03 GMT

    good article just one flaw... Gul is not a new ball bowler...

  • zain-gee on March 1, 2011, 9:46 GMT

    Frankly speeking I was very disappointed the bowling LINE of Umer Gul, his successful tool is reverse swing & he utilize his abilities during 20-20-WC (england) but now he try to bounce the ball and never succeeded in his carrear. I don't know COACH has convey this or not but it is my humble request to GUL, please use your powerful tool instead of weak tool in sub-continent tracks.

  • Fayss on March 1, 2011, 9:39 GMT

    Many of my srilankans and indian friends wonders why Pakistan cricket always emerges with high class fast bowlers. I never seen anyone mentioning that but the secret is not the guts, pitches or enthusiasm. All of our fast bowlers from Fazal Mehmood to Imran Khan, from Wasim to Aaamir, whenever they started playing cricket the ball they were holding wasn't a kookaburra nor a duke ball. It was a tennis ball covered with an plastic glue tape (electric glue tape). The covering makes the bounce and grip stronger and the swinging options are almost like a duke ball...!!! You never hear this from any part of cricket playing nation that the fast bowlers emerged by playing cricket from a tennis ball

  • lethal007 on March 1, 2011, 9:33 GMT

    Junaid and wahab also waiting in the wing to show off their skills............ Pak is very fertile in producing best fast bowler.................! em suggesting that junaid will be used by afridi as a secret weapon

  • aarifmushtaq on March 1, 2011, 9:32 GMT

    @gladtobehere81 O lovely comment dear and we reciprocate the same but one thing for sure in return for a pakistani bowler we want THE SACHIN from india :)

  • HAROON-from-PAKISTAN on March 1, 2011, 9:24 GMT

    Interesting thing is I want Wahab Riaz to take place of Umer Gul. His length is set for bouncy tracks. he fails in sub continent conditions. Anyways, he is a fighter. he wins a match for Pakistan after 4 or 6 matches. I would keep him.

  • SaudSami on March 1, 2011, 8:51 GMT

    two of the worlds best lost, two playing in the team and two waiting to be counted amongst the worlds best on the bench lots more in the domestic circuit...

  • gladtobehere81 on March 1, 2011, 8:10 GMT

    Strange....no comments yet. Agreed, Pakistan has always produced pace attack not comparable by any other countries. Swing, Speed, Accuracy sab milega. sahi kaha ek Aamir, Asif jayega...to anekh aayega.......love from India.... On another note can you please send some good bowlers for India

  • vaqarmalik on March 1, 2011, 8:08 GMT

    Hats of Osman bhai, an excellent article and my spine could feel the current while reading through and I could feel my heart pumping up :)

  • shahji99 on March 1, 2011, 7:53 GMT

    Osman Samiuddin.... Man very well said.....loved reading this, you send a good message and a good silent slap.

  • SelectionCommittee on March 1, 2011, 7:47 GMT

    well written..hope these two make Pakistan proud.. Go Green Machine!

  • Seether1 on March 1, 2011, 7:35 GMT

    Even as a South African I have always admired Pakistan's ability to produce top class pace bowlers who are genuinely fast. World cricket needs Pakistan just as badly as Pakistan needs cricket. They have always been a really exciting team to watch. Lets hope they do well at this WC.

  • nlambda on March 1, 2011, 6:58 GMT

    Sachin Tendulkar practices against Munaf Patel, Sreesanth, Praveen Kumar, RP Singh. Then he goes out and hits Shoaib Akhtar. Now THAT is adaptation!!

  • shahji99 on March 1, 2011, 6:27 GMT

    Osman Samiuddin...YOU HAVE REALLY IMPRESSED WITH THIS ARTICLE, THE WAY YOU HAVE SEND THE MESSAGE IS AL TIME CLASSICAL, WISHING YOU ALL THE BEST. PAKISTAN ZINDABAD.

  • drsaif313 on March 1, 2011, 6:13 GMT

    Is there any FAST bowling Factory in Pakistan..?..i say no,i think most of the boys of them have tried once in life to be a FAST bowlers and thats the answer.

  • lethal007 on March 1, 2011, 5:41 GMT

    iIts a high time for shoaib to show the world by his fire works ................. boy he can bowl fastest then alot even at his mid thirty ............ Shoaibi we love you bring the world cup for us......

  • analyseabhishek on March 1, 2011, 5:38 GMT

    Barring the inexperienced openers, Pakistan has a very good side. Solid middle order, explosive lower order, penetrative pace and foxy spin attack.

  • hoodbu on March 1, 2011, 5:29 GMT

    "Shoaib temporarily lost his flip flops on the field in Hambantota during practice and it nearly became a story, so involved did everyone become. Gul could lose himself and people might not notice until he didn't turn up to bowl."

    "sounds as convincing as the case for Iraqi WMDs."

    Osman Samiuddin is far more hilarious than Imran Yusuf without even trying. Another fantastic writeup.

  • imirfan on March 1, 2011, 5:14 GMT

    I dont understand why they are not trying Unaid khan. I so much want to see him in action. are they saving him for the big match. i mean matches with this not so tough teams are perfact for him to begin his international career. init?

  • KiwiRocker- on March 1, 2011, 4:51 GMT

    As usual good writing from Osman. Thats right, it is time to move on. Remember, big names do not win world cups and it is the spirit that wins world cup. Pakistan won 1992 world cup because of Inzemam, Mushtaq among others. This Pakistani team is young, seems united and seems to have no off field dramas. I think the low key build up is helping them. Shoib Akhtar has been impressiveand letting the ball talk. Quite often people forget that Shoib along with Razzaq has a career that dates back to late 90's and until this day he had no issues with match fixing. Surely, he had his issues with off field stuff.Bowling is going to win this world cup. As India's pathetic bowling is proving that even 300 is not safe. Pakistan along with SA, Australia and SL are clear Semi finalists. Osman did not mention but Pakistan has also got Wahab Riaz who bowls around 145K and is quite a good bowler. Pakistani bowling unit is doing so well that Wahab can not even find a place in team and same goes for Ajmal

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • KiwiRocker- on March 1, 2011, 4:51 GMT

    As usual good writing from Osman. Thats right, it is time to move on. Remember, big names do not win world cups and it is the spirit that wins world cup. Pakistan won 1992 world cup because of Inzemam, Mushtaq among others. This Pakistani team is young, seems united and seems to have no off field dramas. I think the low key build up is helping them. Shoib Akhtar has been impressiveand letting the ball talk. Quite often people forget that Shoib along with Razzaq has a career that dates back to late 90's and until this day he had no issues with match fixing. Surely, he had his issues with off field stuff.Bowling is going to win this world cup. As India's pathetic bowling is proving that even 300 is not safe. Pakistan along with SA, Australia and SL are clear Semi finalists. Osman did not mention but Pakistan has also got Wahab Riaz who bowls around 145K and is quite a good bowler. Pakistani bowling unit is doing so well that Wahab can not even find a place in team and same goes for Ajmal

  • imirfan on March 1, 2011, 5:14 GMT

    I dont understand why they are not trying Unaid khan. I so much want to see him in action. are they saving him for the big match. i mean matches with this not so tough teams are perfact for him to begin his international career. init?

  • hoodbu on March 1, 2011, 5:29 GMT

    "Shoaib temporarily lost his flip flops on the field in Hambantota during practice and it nearly became a story, so involved did everyone become. Gul could lose himself and people might not notice until he didn't turn up to bowl."

    "sounds as convincing as the case for Iraqi WMDs."

    Osman Samiuddin is far more hilarious than Imran Yusuf without even trying. Another fantastic writeup.

  • analyseabhishek on March 1, 2011, 5:38 GMT

    Barring the inexperienced openers, Pakistan has a very good side. Solid middle order, explosive lower order, penetrative pace and foxy spin attack.

  • lethal007 on March 1, 2011, 5:41 GMT

    iIts a high time for shoaib to show the world by his fire works ................. boy he can bowl fastest then alot even at his mid thirty ............ Shoaibi we love you bring the world cup for us......

  • drsaif313 on March 1, 2011, 6:13 GMT

    Is there any FAST bowling Factory in Pakistan..?..i say no,i think most of the boys of them have tried once in life to be a FAST bowlers and thats the answer.

  • shahji99 on March 1, 2011, 6:27 GMT

    Osman Samiuddin...YOU HAVE REALLY IMPRESSED WITH THIS ARTICLE, THE WAY YOU HAVE SEND THE MESSAGE IS AL TIME CLASSICAL, WISHING YOU ALL THE BEST. PAKISTAN ZINDABAD.

  • nlambda on March 1, 2011, 6:58 GMT

    Sachin Tendulkar practices against Munaf Patel, Sreesanth, Praveen Kumar, RP Singh. Then he goes out and hits Shoaib Akhtar. Now THAT is adaptation!!

  • Seether1 on March 1, 2011, 7:35 GMT

    Even as a South African I have always admired Pakistan's ability to produce top class pace bowlers who are genuinely fast. World cricket needs Pakistan just as badly as Pakistan needs cricket. They have always been a really exciting team to watch. Lets hope they do well at this WC.

  • SelectionCommittee on March 1, 2011, 7:47 GMT

    well written..hope these two make Pakistan proud.. Go Green Machine!