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What's behind Pakistan's upswing?

Their results over the last year have been heartening, and Misbah-ul-Haq's captaincy, among other things, is to credit for it

Saad Shafqat

October 31, 2011

Comments: 84 | Text size: A | A

Junaid Khan sends Mahela Jayawardene on his way, Pakistan v Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Abu Dhabi, 1st day, October 18, 2011
Junaid Khan: filling the void left by Mohammad Amir © AFP
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They say there are no indispensable men, but evidence suggests that Muttiah Muralitharan just might be one. Of the 13 Tests Sri Lanka played immediately prior to his retirement, they won seven. Of the same number of Tests that they have played since, they have won zilch. It is usually the presence of a great player that marks the difference between a winning and a losing side. In this series in the UAE, the difference between Pakistan and Sri Lanka is turning out to be the absence of one.

Pakistan are not a side known for their batting. When they made over 500 in the opening Test in Abu Dhabi, it was for the first time in 24 Tests and 32 months. When Taufeeq Umar went past 200 in the same match, it was the first time a Pakistani opener had done so since 1992. Even in the second Test, in Dubai, which Pakistan won, several of their upper order fell to soft dismissals. It is hard to imagine this line-up could have resisted Murali's magic for long.

Test victory is all about availing the chances that come your way, and Pakistan's batsmen have certainly made the most of the opportunity created by the absence of history's greatest offspinner. They secured a first-innings lead of 314 in the first Test, and 164 in the second, and showed no panic in chasing their fourth-innings target in Dubai. Even the opening partnership, Pakistan's long-standing top-order ulcer, has been solid, with a century partnership in the first Test and a stand of 63 in the first innings of the second.

Bowling isn't Pakistan's weakness. Their lacklustre Test record over the last decade is explained by batting failures. They now find themselves one-up going into the final Test against a better-ranked side because their batting has come good.

The bowlers, meanwhile, have been fantastic, taking 38 Sri Lankan wickets (there were two run-outs in the first Test), compared with only 17 Pakistani wickets claimed by Sri Lankan bowlers. Although Saeed Ajmal's offspin was decisive in the second Test, the majority of Sri Lankan wickets (21 of 38, or 55%) have gone to Pakistan's seamers, who once again impressed with their ability to extract blood from a lifeless surface.

Most impressive of all has been Junaid Khan, who is keeping a bowler of Wahab Riaz's quality out of the team, and is even promising to fill the void left by the departure of Mohammad Amir. Junaid would surely have been Man of the Match and won Pakistan the first Test in Abu Dhabi had critical catches off his bowling not been put down. He runs in with unfailing effort and bowls with a great deal of heart, and has shown increasing command over seam and shape. His concentrated exposure to a fast-bowling legend like Waqar Younis, who was Junaid's coach until recently, could not have been better timed.

Misbah is calm and composed, tactically astute and, every now and then, willing to gamble. Not long ago, Pakistani observers were convinced he could not re-enter a middle order populated by talented newcomers. Now fans are ruing the fact that he is already 37 and won't be around for much longer

Since the infamous Lord's Test of last year, Pakistan have played nine Tests, winning four, losing one, and drawing four. This period includes away series wins in New Zealand and Zimbabwe, and drawn series against South Africa and West Indies. What accounts for this upswing? A good part of it must be Misbah-ul-Haq's captaincy. He is calm and composed, tactically astute and, every now and then, willing to gamble. He does not gesticulate or react. His career has followed one of Pakistan cricket's oddest trajectories - twice being given up for dead but making a forceful comeback each time. Not long ago, Pakistani observers were convinced he could not re-enter a middle order populated by talented newcomers like Umar Akmal, Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq. Now fans are ruing the fact that he is already 37 and won't be around for much longer.

Perhaps some part of Pakistan's improved performance can also be attributed to the plugging of the spot-fixing leak. The ICC has already concluded - based on hearings conducted in Doha earlier this year - that it existed. This indirectly suggests that Pakistan are finally playing to their potential. At least Pakistan supporters would like to believe so.

Barring injuries, Pakistan will play an unchanged side in the final Test in Sharjah. They are within reach of a Test series victory over a Sri Lanka team that includes three outstanding players - Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, and Tillakaratne Dilshan - who are feared and respected around the world, and at least two of whom will find room in any all-time Sri Lankan XI. Pakistan's main enemies now are complacency and the temptation to play for a draw. Misbah's captaincy will be sternly examined in guarding against both.

The arrival of a faint autumn chill this time of year triggers a conditioned reflex, alerting fans to the cricket extravaganza of the home season. Although terrorism fears have once again pushed Pakistan's home matches to the UAE, the large cricket audience in Pakistan is warming to the spectacle.

The time difference is only one hour; the pitches are predictably flat, producing their share of soporific stretches of afternoon play; and there is the same incessant heat and sun. There is also the usual mix of Pakistani faces in the stands, including some with those irritating noise-emitting devices that are a staple of cricket watching in the subcontinent. It is a shame Pakistan cannot play international games on their own soil, but for now this is not a bad substitute.

Saad Shafqat is a writer based in Karachi

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Posted by   on (November 2, 2011, 11:43 GMT)

Misbah is behind Pakistan upswing. He is very calm and cool captain. It is just his badluck he deserve more fame in the world of cricket.

Posted by Desihungama on (November 1, 2011, 22:26 GMT)

Just when was this about India V Pakistan? C'mmon guys now. Pak exceeded everyone's expectations and are on rise. India is still among the top 1-2 teams. The challenge for Pakistan team to purse the ever eluded top spot and I am sure Misbah is just the guy to lead them.

Posted by   on (November 1, 2011, 22:05 GMT)

Good to see Pakistan back. Cricket is getting boring with Australia already in decline, and India and SL beginning to descend.

Wonder how Pakistan manages to produce and destroy bowling talent so quickly. Even some of the top talents (Saqlain, Akhtar, Asif, Razzaq) failed to do FULL justice to what they could have achieved.

Posted by mars2009 on (November 1, 2011, 20:03 GMT)

@Gadha Krishana Roo - Grapes are sour, atleast Pakistan beat England and Australia in recent past, Australia and England seamers are faaaar more superior then Indian spinners with long start....

Posted by crictime11 on (November 1, 2011, 19:48 GMT)

i do agree with the writer point here that misbah ul haq is an amazing captain ... now i am not quite sure that he's the same caliber batsman or not but then lets look at dhoni india's world cup champion captain. Now Dhoni's isn't exactly known for his batting or at least not in the sense dravid, sachin or gambhit are but what he brings to the table per say for that team is excellent people managing skills and an unshakable demeanor which is needed to lead any team .... and to go full circle, misbah ul haq does the same for pakistan. ... now on a side note .... GOOOOOOOO PAKISTAN. LONG LIVE PK

Posted by on (November 1, 2011, 18:57 GMT)

@Radhakrishna Rao

what are you doing here ?

no word about india , and u started stats ?

Posted by   on (November 1, 2011, 18:02 GMT)

@ passionate_cricket_follower but we have to wait for that day for months!!

Posted by bigdhonifan on (November 1, 2011, 16:53 GMT)

@Sufia Mariyah Zamir We already got replacement to Big Guns.. Out 1st , 2nd or 3rd string can beat Pakistan any time!!!

Posted by   on (November 1, 2011, 12:59 GMT)

@ Radhakrishna Rao i love how you want to talk about the past however you dont want to talk about right now. right now pakistan are winning if you want to go to the past and see how many series pakistan have won outsite the subcontinent? i think india have managed all of 3 series outside of subcontinent against top opposition.... not to mention pavistan vs india head to head it would tke you 10 years plus to catch up with the head to heads and that includes the baron period that you would nt play pakistan becuse you were rubbish....

Posted by   on (November 1, 2011, 12:10 GMT)

Improve performance is due to abscence of tainted cricketers.

Posted by dmqi on (November 1, 2011, 10:01 GMT)

Truly speaking, I am little disappointed to see so many pakistan supporters not asking for a long tenure for Misbah's captaincy. The captain can make the biggest difference. If the administration would keep Younus or Misbah the captain and back them strongly, Pakistan would have own the series against, Srilanka, and Australia for sure in foreign grounds and may be against England too. A good leader can unite a team and get result. You do not need cheap and crooked players in the team. They destroy the spirit of the players and supporters. I still hate to remember the matches played in Srilanka and Australia to see how in fight between players costed pak those matches from wining positions. People who are taking about Misbah's retirement should know the names of dozens of cricketers who produced results after 38 and 40. Misbah and Yonus should lead the team for two more years at least. By that time you will have a pool of 15/16 very good players to become number 1 team in the world.

Posted by   on (November 1, 2011, 9:55 GMT)

check your facts radhakrishna, the zimbabwe a team was what was playing NOW against pakistan. and even then, is your second string team so pathetic you cant manage to beat them? not one single ODI did india win against them. and what will you do when all your big guns are gone? and besides, we had half a team against south africa and in the world cup.

and btw, on seaming wickets even if we cant score 150, pakistan will make damn sure the other team doesnt score even that. if we can defend 184 and skittle aussie for 176 on flat wickets and take 20 sri lankan wickets (the bowling may be depleted, the batting certainly isnt) twice on flat UAE tracks, imagine the damage we can do with our bowling on a bouncy track. younis and misbah are aging, but we got enough backup lined up to tide us for a good while. unlike india we keep getting fresh blood coming in. you worry about india. we dont have to worry about pakistan.

Posted by AjayVijayan on (November 1, 2011, 8:45 GMT)

Well done team Pakistan .. hope to see more of such victories... all the test playing nations should be competent against each other ... just like the scenario in the late 90s where even zimbabwe where expected to do miracles all the time they played.

Posted by Syed_Yasir_Shere on (November 1, 2011, 6:35 GMT)

People criticize unnecessarily on Misbah's every decision as they are criticizing ion very good notes but amazingly after the match they are dead right for the team. The first strange decision to have Junaid in the team instead of Riaz clearly astonished every one but finally Khan having high spirits uplifted his decision by tremendous bowling. In second test he gave a chance to Abdur Rehman, although some people are still not in favor of that but I think that was a wise decision as Saeed Ajmal took some pressure from that & bowled superbly in front of A.Rehman. While A.Rehman also bowled some good spells. So over Misbah has boosted the team moral & going very well under great pressure. The only thing to be worried is Pak's fielding which has been very poor at some occasions. Well on that issue I wish we'll have any Jonty in future who will bring the revolution in Pak's fielding...!!!

Posted by   on (November 1, 2011, 5:35 GMT)

@mars 2009: on seaming wickets, let us have a test match..pakistani batsman don't even have technique to handle pace and bounce..and you are wishing for a seaming pitch..pakistan will score 150 at the max..this is sure

Posted by   on (November 1, 2011, 5:29 GMT)

@harris hafeez: they drew against aus in england, in the conditions perfect for seam bowlers..june 2010..but before that lets have a look, 2010 in aus 2-0 test, now that fans of pakistan are including one day, so it is 5-0..then asia cup first round exit..england 3-1 test loss..3-2 in odi..then agianst rsa, i think test was drawn 0-0 and one day 3-2 though series was dead locked at 2-2...then only in nzl they did win all india, in 2010, travelled to zimbabwe and managed to beat a sri lankan team..strong at that cup eventual winner, drew a test series against sri lankan at their home conditions..drew against rsa in rsa but series was 1-1 not 0-0..and it wld have been 2-1 india anyways had kallis did not survive close shouts..thrice not once but thrice..and one day series,again 2-2 deadlock, but we know how final one day went.. jp duminhy plumb given not out

Posted by   on (November 1, 2011, 4:38 GMT)

@ Sufia Mariyah Zamir: zimbabwe had their A team. get your facts right and those were odis not tests, really India never played their full team the whole year 2010 in odis (Pakistan had their full team in aus in odis). India deserved that loss then vs zim , so stop bringing that up. current team has nothing to do with that squad toured zim except couple of players - @Aina Maria Waseem Pak did have their experienced batters and bowlers except gul there unlike India who even rested Nehra and PK. @Mohammad Shakeel NEXT YEAR PAK HAVE TO PLAY AUS (HOME) AND SA (AWAY) AND AUSTRALIA HASN'T DOMINATED INDIA IN ANY SERIES IN AGES. RANKINGS CAN ONLY BE SPECULATED AND REMEMBER PONTING , HUSSEY ARE OVER 36 , SA DEPENDS ON STEYN , FOR PAK MISBAH,YOUNIS ARE ALSO AGEING AND INDIA'S PROBLEMS ARE WELL KNOWN. SO FUTURE MAY BE COMPLETELY DIFFERENT TO WHAT YOU PREDICTED.

Posted by Vishal_07 on (November 1, 2011, 2:20 GMT)

I am an Indian and can't help but admire Pakistan's bowling riches. I think I am an okay follower of cricket and can't tell you 3 or more of Pakistan's bowlers for the life me in the last decade. This just goes to show that there is no one or two superstars but they have so many talented bowlers, esp. fast ones, that one goes and another equally talented one takes his place!

Posted by   on (November 1, 2011, 2:08 GMT)

I am happy for the Pak victory in the 2nd Test but I take it with a pinch of salt, 1st test should have been won by Pak but we saw how they have the tendency to self destruct when they are in position of strength, 2nd Test could have the same result only if Sri Lanka possesed a world class bowler. If Pak can beat England in UAE then I can say that they are improving, until then be careful what u say..

Posted by   on (November 1, 2011, 1:48 GMT)

@Faisal Mashood Depressed Afridi: Oye, Afridi is even greater than Don Bradman. He just found Test cricket too easy and boring for him and thus left :P /BoOm bOoM AfrIDi\

Posted by sayedhasan on (November 1, 2011, 0:09 GMT)

"It is a shame Pakistan cannot play international games on their own soil, but for now this is not a bad substitute." Does not matter.... as all test venues in Pakistan are totally empty and only populated by chai-wala, school boys & girls on free entry, and odd bodies who are trying to figure out the difference between bat-ball and gulli-danda.

Posted by hoodbu on (October 31, 2011, 21:15 GMT)

The author is myopic and not credible. Just two weeks ago, he wrote on this same site of the Pakistan team:

"The captain, Misbah-ul-Haq, is near retirement with no credible replacement in sight. The batting skills of Pakistani batsmen have disappeared. And of course player morale is abysmal."

Bring Osman Samiuddin back!

Posted by   on (October 31, 2011, 21:00 GMT)

@Antriksh Saal: Pakistan also sent a young squad to Zimbabwe... @Nikhil Puri: Yes, when InshaAllah Imran Khan is our leader, cricket will return to Pakistan. @haq33: Why do people keep forgetting its as difficult to WIN a match in the UAE as it is to lose? Let's appreciate the team as they deserve!

Posted by haq33 on (October 31, 2011, 20:13 GMT)

Stupid to put such an article up after ONE test victory against a major test team - and a substantially hamstrung one at that being in the immediate post-Murali shock/recovery period. Wait half a year, if Pak win this series, and at least draw the series against England, then feel free to speak of a Pakistani revival.

Posted by   on (October 31, 2011, 20:02 GMT)

Pakistan has definitely improved in the last year or so and will improve further. I can see PAK in the 3rd position within 1 year from now. New Test ranking should be like ENG - SA - 3rd PAK - AUS - SRI/INDIA.

Posted by   on (October 31, 2011, 20:00 GMT)

I feel for Pakistani cricket supporters - you guys definitely are missing out on a lot of cricket action at home. I wonder how long it will take for cricket to come back to Pakistan. Maybe Imran Khan's emergence as a political force might contribute to this happening sooner rather than later. Cricket needs Pakistan and Pakistan needs Cricket!

Posted by   on (October 31, 2011, 19:13 GMT)

@antriksh, u do remember zimbabwe was playing its c-team too last year, right? and you must be aware that zimbabwe doesnt qualify for a test ranking....and india couldnt beat that zimbabwe even once.

Posted by mars2009 on (October 31, 2011, 18:54 GMT)

@ Cric India - Pakistan would never escape from India , like India escaped from Pakistan during the golden era of Waqar & Wasim (1989~2003). Once India realized , there is no Waqar no Wasim, they started playing tests against Pakistan (2004)... I wish Indian current team plays against Pakistan on any seaming wicket. Then fans like you start giving justification, excuses...

Posted by   on (October 31, 2011, 18:32 GMT)

@Eliya: The term match-winner is tests is for a cricketer able to consistently perform in test matches in trying conditions, not a guy who can slog a quick 30 and take 2 wickets while keeping the economy rate down. Afridi is rubbish in tests.

Posted by   on (October 31, 2011, 18:26 GMT)

@Rao: Pakistan levelled a two test series against Australia in a neutral series in England which took place before the English series last year. No one is saying Pakistan is an awesome team, just that Pakistan is probably the fourth best test team in the world atm after England, South Africa and Australia, and even Australia is debatable.

Posted by   on (October 31, 2011, 18:07 GMT)

CricIndia208: First, it's hard to lose in the UAE, but even harder to WIN, bowling out a lineup that contains the likes of Sanga, Mahela and Dilshan (even their detractors would agree they CAN be bullies on UAE's tracks). Second, Pakistan won against England at the Oval in the middle of a tension-ridden tour. That is better than India managed. Third, when Pakistan gets to play Aus, India and SA at their backyards again, may Allah grant them success. @PiyushD: A bowler-less India isn't any more "complete" than a batsman-less Pakistan! @Radhakrishna Rao: Pakistan levelled 1-1 against Aus, winning at Headingley after skittling them for 88 runs. Remember now? It wasn't a FLAT UAE PITCH. @yorkshirematt: True but that has hardly hindered Pakistani bowlers yet! :) @1st_april: We are already excited about playing the best test side :)

Posted by junzzz on (October 31, 2011, 17:45 GMT)

ppl are saying good things about misbah and his leadership.....fine good i accept it but what hapens 12 months later when misbah will turn 40?should not pcb think of a new face new leader(younger one for long term)......reason for pakistan crickt down fall is thinking for short term only.....

Posted by poderdubdubdub on (October 31, 2011, 17:35 GMT)

@Eliya Abbas Syed, you can not be serious about Afridi, the gentleman who abandoned the team in the middle of a test series in England in 2010. Thanks God such people as Afridi are not part of this bunch of serious Test players.

Posted by poderdubdubdub on (October 31, 2011, 17:30 GMT)

Pakistan still has a lot more to do to climb up to the 4th position in the ICC ranking which Misbah talked about recently. The opening stand is crucial but Taufiq Umer has a lot to prove before he can justify his place, this win and his unimpressive 200 have definitely masked his flawed technique, and lack of confidence.

Posted by   on (October 31, 2011, 17:23 GMT)

I take Afridi only as a bowler; his success rate in batting is very low. Time and again he has disappointed us in batting; fifteen plus years of cricket and he has failed to learn the basic common sense of batting.

Posted by Vilander on (October 31, 2011, 16:57 GMT)

pakistan is forced to play away series all the time, this is good for them in the long run. If i was pakistan board i would try to get matches organized in england so that pak batsmen of the next generation would become good in swining conditions.

Posted by fkbill on (October 31, 2011, 16:22 GMT)

@Radhakrishna Rao yes this has happened. last year when pakistan was touring england they played their home series against australia in england which included 2test matches and 2t20s. pakistan won the t20s and drew the test series 1-1 in english conditions and not in sub continent conditions! and india has also played with the same oponents as pakistan did. rsa,sri,nz,eng,wi and aus ( india didnt play aus pakistan did) pakistan just lost to eng 3-1 in tests and 3-2 in ODIs.

Posted by   on (October 31, 2011, 16:15 GMT)

@umar_amir_fawad : u are of course absolutely right. India were thoroughly hammered in England. A true test of a team's ability is proved in 'away' series like in SA, Oz and England. And, it is nice to be able to appreciate your own team's good performances. But when you say distasteful things about other teams, it does not make you or your team better !!

Posted by   on (October 31, 2011, 16:12 GMT)

mr rao if u have a lost memorey sorry 4 that when pak play against eng they lost series by 3/1 b4 that they draw with aus 1/1 what about yur india lost to eng 5/0 ha !!

Posted by   on (October 31, 2011, 15:49 GMT)

Unfortunately none of the above could be said about our team and our captain, Murali is gone and being felt ever since, if Dilshan,s thought process can change he can make a few things happen on the field although the SL bowler have taken only 18 wickets for the series so far there is some good talent, i hope things will change in the Third test

Posted by Asadpk on (October 31, 2011, 15:44 GMT)

@India fans, I'm afraid that after Zaheer & Bhajji, India will be like what SL is now, only good enough on dead wickets at home in ODI & T20s. @Faisal Asghar, Taufiq Umer was earmarked for greatness by Saeed Anwar in 2002. It's a pity that unfair and inconsistent selection policies as well as his falling out with Woolmer & Inzi prevented him from holding his place in the side during 2005-2009. He still averages nearly 40 and far better than Imran Farhat, Hafeez or Salman Butt and has a better technique than all of them.

Posted by TaylorSwift on (October 31, 2011, 15:43 GMT)

Misbah's calming influence has been a key factor in our Test success recently. But as some of you have pointed out, since the two Tests against SA last November, we have had a relatively easy schedule. Wins against NZ, WI, Zim and SL don't mean a lot these days but this Pakistan team is a work-in-progress at the moment. Misbah's captaincy has been too defensive at times but I saw some encouraging signs in the 2nd Test against SL. We have the talent in place to dominate Test cricket, and with appropriate management, coaching and leadership, we can ensure that this recent success turns into long-term prosperity. Great Test teams must dominate their opposition consistently and we can attain this through positive and aggressive cricket. I hope Misbah and the boys don't get too caught up in the win and keep their focus on cricket. A 2-0 series win against SL will send a strong message to the rest of the teams.

Posted by   on (October 31, 2011, 15:42 GMT)

@radharishna rao pakistan drew the series to ausssies before the last years series against england and pakistan were the hosts but on england soil

Posted by northumbriannomad on (October 31, 2011, 15:29 GMT)

Is it because they aren't trying to lose any more?

Posted by   on (October 31, 2011, 15:13 GMT)

out of india, thts why winning at least one test on abroad tour barring one 2011 england..thats it..they have been winning 1 test a piece on each tour since 2006,windies 1-0 test series victory rsa 1 test, then came england 2007 series victory..then australia perth 2-1 result though series lost, pakistan is yet to register a single test victory post 96 if am not wrong....then indian teams more outside india victory 2008 srilanka 2-1 loss..nzl 1-0, though pakistan also won the series in new zealand..then direct sri lanka in 2010 - 1-1 , then rsa 1-1..

Posted by   on (October 31, 2011, 14:36 GMT)

@Anas - and who exactly are our matchwinners?? C'mon, you got to admit that the side misses that brilliance, that unpredictability, that entertainment when Afridi is missing. PS; The man being a crowd puller brings in a great atmosphere in the stadium - something we badly need in these times where empty stands are a common sight! BoOm bOoM AfRidI :)

Posted by pradeep_dealwis on (October 31, 2011, 14:29 GMT)

Several things have to be noted, first the amazing abundance of talent in Pakistan, specially in the fast/swing bowling department. They are far from the the great teams of the 80's and 90's that they had , but they do have a lot of potential. As for SL, the loss of Vaas, Murali, Malinga is definitely affecting them. But we definitely have to stop living in the past, and get on with it and find new bowlers. Admittedly the talent pool is not comparable to IND and PAK ( because of sheer population differences), but the authorities have oi get their act together soon and put a good system in place.

Posted by   on (October 31, 2011, 14:04 GMT)

Junaid is really impressive and getting better day by doubt pakistan has talent at every time but the managment is always had to work very hard to improve pakistan performance,we don,t to be champs like india who white washed in england.really shamfull for all the asia. thats the reason that the world champs 0f 2011 is beaten by england very mercilessly. test series 4-------0 white wash oneday 3-------0 white wash t20 2------0 white wash shame on u that india is the world champs of 2011.i think it is the 1st time that a world champ is white washed in all formats of the game.

Posted by 1st_april on (October 31, 2011, 13:54 GMT)

Pakistan do look the best Asian test side at the moment....and were certainly more challenging than IND/SL/BAN against us....ENG vs. PAK will be interesting because........1.Challenge for ENG bowlers in very unhelpful conditions....2.Challenge for Pakistan bowlers to perform against the best batting line-up in test cricket,which is England's batting order

Posted by Rakim on (October 31, 2011, 13:44 GMT)

@passionate_cricket_follower: No, Afridi is a T20 and ODI player. Test cricket isn't for him (his bowling and fielding is top level). But he rarely performs with bat.

Posted by Rakim on (October 31, 2011, 13:42 GMT)

@Cricindia208: But we also lost players like Salman Butt, Asif and Amir. All three are match winners. So team was shattered and broken. Imagine we take out 3 players of any top class team (India, Aus, SA or England), they will loose everything

Posted by Z.Saleem on (October 31, 2011, 13:40 GMT)

Nice article, Pakistan can actually win everything if they take all the catches and improve on their fielding. The team has a good mix for now, the trouble makers like Malik and Wahab are still there, but its good that Misbah is keeping them out. Junaid has really bowled his heart out, and Azhar Ali has proved to be a solid no.3 for the test side as well. Good Luck Pakistan, win this one and then the next challenge is ENGLAND!

Posted by Rakim on (October 31, 2011, 13:39 GMT)

Kudos to write, magnificent article Saad!! that said, Misbah is the man, he has been a blessing for Pak cricket. Junaid is pure class and a promising bowler for any format and surface. We need to improve our fielding and keep finding young batsmen who may fill void left by (greats) Misbah and Younis someday

Posted by   on (October 31, 2011, 13:30 GMT)

Pakistan beat aussies IN England not IN AUSTRALIA while India has the best record of any team in Aus (Even South africa have lost more games). Pakistan had a horror tour in 2009-10 with their strongest bowling attack while India won games without Zaheer in 2008-09 against a stronger batting line-up having hayden and gilchrist. The drawn series was a commendable effort and I don't deny that, but stop using the whitewash to demean India's good record in last decade overseas. Zim tour was an B-team tour, India hardly had any frontline players there unlike srilanka.

Posted by yorkshirematt on (October 31, 2011, 12:45 GMT)

Hi Pak fans. Very interesting article and interesting to see how your team is getting on. They seem to have stabilised somewhat after last years shenanigans although this being Pakistan cricket it would not surprise me if something suddenly blew up out of nothing. I am very much looking forward to england's series in UAE. How are the pitches playing in this series against SL? It seems there's not much assistance for any bowler in the UAE.

Posted by   on (October 31, 2011, 12:45 GMT)

@radhakrishna rao, the same thing i said to cricindia, your whitewash in england has wiped out your memory :) summer 2010, we had a series against aussie right before our series against england, 2 test matches and 2 ODIs....we whitewashed aussie in the t20 series and won 1 test....and stop comparing our tour of england to yours ;) out of india, india cant even beat a third rate zimbabwe team.

Posted by   on (October 31, 2011, 12:43 GMT)

@ Radhakrishna Rao go and check your facts we levelled the series in england against australia before we played England in 2010.

Posted by satish619chandar on (October 31, 2011, 12:19 GMT)

Pakistan would be a good force if all the things are in right place.. They do have players to do it.. Especially bowlers.. Always attacking irrespective of the conditions.. If they can have proper good guys at the management, they can be more consistent..

Posted by FaisalAsghar on (October 31, 2011, 12:08 GMT)

Taufiq Umer has a lot to prove before he can justify his spot, this win and his 200 have definitely masked his flawed technique none the less a Great win for Pakistan, still growing and some way to go before we can claim to be a 'complete team'. Having said that i think this team is on the right track unlike some other teams that claim to be 'complete' but ahem on away tours can't manage a single win in any format! was it Indonesia or Tunisia I'm forgetting :P there was some tour recently in which one side got thrashed real bad; 'complete team' humiliation is what i think it was ;)

Posted by   on (October 31, 2011, 11:58 GMT)

@cricindia2008: i concur with you..someone here said that pakistan levelled series against aus, i don't remember that has happened yet..and againt england it was 3-1 they lost..last year..levelled with west indies 1-1..this year..won only against BD,ZIM, sri india, before 4-0, it was 1-0 windies, 1-1 RSA..oz 2-0 at india..nzl 1-0 here..sri lanka flat placid tracks 1-1..drew the second test..against rsa bad seires and people are labelling india as a worst team..

Posted by   on (October 31, 2011, 11:30 GMT)

Its a fact now; Misbah is the best. Averaging in his career of 40+ in Tests and ODIs with very good strike rates is very good. Afridi is a flop, and we all realize that now.

Misbah is the king.

Posted by   on (October 31, 2011, 11:25 GMT)

I am a pure Pakistani fan, But I am agree with cricindia's point that Pakistan play against relative weaker teams, But win is always a win, we take it

after the the retirement of Sachin n Dravid india will go behind pak an SL in ICC test rankings

and its not too far away, We will rise soon

Posted by aksmaslekar on (October 31, 2011, 10:46 GMT)

It is mind boggling to see the abilities that new pakistani fast bowlers possess.It looks like even England will find it difficult to contain this team especially looking at england's sub-continent record

Posted by ysfcapricorn on (October 31, 2011, 10:40 GMT)

@kasyapm.. Thanks a lot... Nice to see positive gestures coming from Indian fans... Love you all and best of luck.

Posted by PiyushD on (October 31, 2011, 10:40 GMT)

I think the only reason why India lost in England was Indian bowling and Pakistan has much much better pace attack than India and that explains their better show in England than India but I feel Pakistan is way behind as a complete team to India, if a series is played today between them I think India will emerge winners.Sri Lanka is I guess just missing Vaas and Murali and also MJ and Dilshan are in a very bad form.

Posted by   on (October 31, 2011, 10:10 GMT)

lol... We always have to start an India-Pak fight, don't we? How hard is it to appreciate the Indian batsmen and the Pakistani bowlers??

Posted by   on (October 31, 2011, 9:56 GMT)

A well written article and for all those who are taunting the current Pakistani side, just wait and watch. InshaAllah we will rise again.

Posted by   on (October 31, 2011, 9:32 GMT) im sure you missed the fact that we leveled a test series against australia 1-1 last summer, or won 1 test against england in the same season? has indias plight on the same soil wiped out your memory?

Posted by   on (October 31, 2011, 9:29 GMT)

even i feel bad for amir by now he could ve been giving dale steyna tought competition for no 1 pacer in the world i can only imagine how pakistani fans would be feeling.. but good thing is u guys give chances to young pacers.. again n again..and now i think maybe 2 decades late we learnt form our neighbours and gave chance to 2 young pacers in one test series sorry of topic best of luck to pakistan for 3rd test and hope u guys do well in england

Posted by   on (October 31, 2011, 9:05 GMT)

@cricindia208:keep in mind india team performnce before quoting any rubbish thing for pak team.Poor performnce in Englnad ,not poor shameful..Ur so called hereo's get injured in England one by one after seeing fast bowling of Harmisen,Finn,Anderson and Broad,what was the reason ball waz soooo Fast? they lose intrest for their national team? or they can play only in india? Because just after one week every one was playing CLT20...England and Austrlia Both Teams Defeated Against Pak in last summer In England...Pak Bowled out England and Ausstrlia under 80 Runs..Can Indain Do that? How they can do,Literly whenever i seen ur fast Bowling it look like my school time team attack is going on...More Than 5 Millions Bowlers are avilble in Pak Thoes are far Better then ur recent National Indain Team Attack...

Posted by   on (October 31, 2011, 9:00 GMT)

Please... NO to Afridi,.,,,,, We need Players who can bring calm and composure to the side.. We have enough match winners... Sorry but big NO to Afridi and Kamran Akmal..... We can have Razzaq and Umar akmal for ODI's and T20's.

Posted by khurramsch on (October 31, 2011, 8:58 GMT)

@cricindia208: mate pakistan last vistied england & won 1 test, 2 odis, & also won 1 from AUs in england. and if u compare teams of pakistan which visited & india which visited in terms of runs & 100s in test cricket paksitan was no way near india. that thing slightly improved in 3rd when yousaf came otherwise umar amin,azahr, hafez, imran farhat, umar akmal, salman butt thts wht they took & won 2 tests there. & 2nd when india win 5-0 odis in indian pitches thts performance & when pak win test in uae then u r saying its dead pitch.

Posted by khurramsch on (October 31, 2011, 8:54 GMT)

what has murli had to do with batting?SL lost this & were in bad position coz of batting. yes murli might have an impact but batting is the real problem. jaywardna & dilshn clearly out of form only sanga is playing well. also why is there already talks about drawing last test even its not started. pakistan should try to win it by playing positive & if they are in bad position then they can go for draw but start positive. they shoul score a bit more , i dont mean score 4/5/6 run per over but little bit up like 3.2 or 3.3 runs per over could have given them 50-60 more runs in 1st test. about team i think if pakistan going to ball 1st they need 3rd seamer.& if pakistan bat 1st & bowl 4th then they can go 2 seamer & 2 spiners.

Posted by nauman421 on (October 31, 2011, 8:02 GMT)

@CricIndia208: You are right, but should we assume real worth of India was exposed by the 'zilch' result of India in England? Pakistan atleast won one est match and 2 ODIs when they last toured England.

Posted by hmsbh2004 on (October 31, 2011, 7:58 GMT)

I think presence of Azhar Ali can not be ignored for test success, that boy always plays long innings.......... 2nd most imprortant point is absence of Kamran Akmal......

Posted by   on (October 31, 2011, 6:55 GMT)

@ CricIndia208: India were white washed in lively conditions of England and white washed England in dead home conditions, which makes them a rubbish team, They are unable to win a single match including tests, ODIs and T20s. First look into your backyard then speak about others.

Posted by   on (October 31, 2011, 6:29 GMT)

Inaha Allah bright days will come again in Pakistani Cricket very soon....

Posted by CricIndia208 on (October 31, 2011, 6:25 GMT)

The reasons for pakistan's 'good showing' is playing opponents such as the mighty Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka without Murali (SL have not won since Murali retired), WI (they actually lost a test in WI) and NZ. pakistan's real worth will be known when they play England, SA (in SA not on the dead tracks of UAE), Australia and India. Let's wait, shall we.

Posted by hypocrite on (October 31, 2011, 6:10 GMT)

Pakistan is a great nation!producing relentless talent one after the other... but i think we don't nee to be too candid at this point as Sri Lanka is an utter rubbish team!! our real tests come in the england series which defeated our sorry neighbours black and blue...soon we are going to emerge side,,!!!true no.1 unlike sorry indians,,loll

Posted by kasyapm on (October 31, 2011, 5:13 GMT)

Fascinated by the fact that Pak keeps producing superb pacers. The combination of Aamir & Asif was a great one. Sad that a bowler of Aamir's talent could not continue for long. But it is good to see another promising left arm seamer in Junaid. I sincerely hope one of these young guns from Pak live up to their promise and have a 10-year career (like a wasim or waqar). Wishes, from an Indian fan.

Posted by Just_Love_Cricket on (October 31, 2011, 5:11 GMT)

Very well written article. This Test Team shouldnt be changed - except maybe get Umar Akmal back once he's found his form again. But for ODIs & T20s we would need specialists in that format. Toufeeq Umar, Azhar Ali dont qualify in the shortar format. Razzaq, Afridi & Umar Akmal should be back. Australia used to play a specialist Test & a specialist ODI team during its dominance in the 90s. Pakistan should do the same.

Posted by   on (October 31, 2011, 4:39 GMT)

very true article. now i only hope that pakistan gets to play test matches with india.

Posted by passionate_cricket_follower on (October 31, 2011, 3:37 GMT)

Afridi should consider a test return. With a dangerous player like him, this team can beat any side any day!

Posted by   on (October 31, 2011, 3:21 GMT)

Aizaz Cheema is also an inspirational bowler, who bowls with great effort and always looking to take wickets. I like the passion with which Junaid, Aizaz, Saeed, Rehman, Hafeez play. Their presence makes the dull periods of cricket exciting. Pakistan has three major weaknesses, Fielding, Fielding and Fielding.

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