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Is it Pakistan's year?

T20 is anyone's game, but statistically the odds are with Pakistan in the international version, and they could well go all the way in Sri Lanka

Saad Shafqat

September 29, 2012

Comments: 68 | Text size: A | A

Mohammad Hafeez and Shahid Afridi gave little away, Pakistan v South Africa, World Twenty 20 2012, Super Eights, Colombo, September 28, 2012
As captain Mohammad Hafeez has displayed boldness and a willingness to experiment © AFP
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Players/Officials: Mohammad Hafeez | Raza Hasan
Series/Tournaments: ICC World Twenty20
Teams: Pakistan

Every World Cup brings with it a certain flavour and feel. For Pakistan, this one in Sri Lanka is starting to feel like 1999. I know that's not the most accurate analogy, because 1999 was a 50-over tournament, and the ICC shies away from calling the current competition a World Cup, preferring the term "World Twenty20" instead. But a world tournament is still a world tournament. There are pre-tournament favorites, skirmishes in the qualifying stages, and fireworks in the knockouts. The entire cricket universe tunes in and pays attention. As each tournament evolves and plays out, it creates its unique fingerprint.

For Pakistan fans old enough to remember, the World Cup of 1987 had the feel of a celebration that ended in heartache. The one in 1992 had the feel of a heartache that ended in celebration. From 1996, the feeling is of a promise unfulfilled, while the World Cups of 2003 and 2007 smacked of premature death. Then we have the World Twenty20 of 2009, which was a surprise gift at a time when Pakistan had expected nothing but sticks and stones. Meanwhile, the World Cup of 2011 and the World Twenty20 tournaments of 2007 and 2010 are other cases of promise unfulfilled.

That leaves the 1999 World Cup, which has left the strangest aftertaste of all. It started out beautifully and ended bizarrely. Australia were outright favourites, and during the group stage, Pakistan overpowered them in a nail-biter. In this 2012 World Twenty20, South Africa started out favourites, and Pakistan have overcome them in the Super Eights. In South Africa and in Pakistan, few hands have nails left intact.

The 1999 group win over Australia was a loud advertisement for Wasim Akram's thinking captaincy and the versatility of his team's repertoire, instantly pushing Pakistan to the status of a hot favourite. Friday's win over South Africa has similarly announced Mohammad Hafeez's remarkably out-of-the-box leadership, and Pakistan's formidable variety and depth. On bookmakers' websites, Pakistan had thus far been languishing in the bottom half. After defeating South Africa, they have overnight become top title favourites.

The real significance of the match was Hafeez's display of boldness and comfort with experimentation. Umar Akmal may have anchored the batting, and Umar Gul may have been named Man of the Match, but it was Hafeez's brilliant opening gambit of bowling Raza Hasan that applied a chokehold from which South Africa, despite a hearty struggle, eventually failed to escape. Raza is a novice at the international game. He has yet to play ODIs or Tests, and the South African match was only his fourth T20 international. Despite a slew of effective bowlers at his disposal, Hafeez trusted him with an opening spell against the likes of Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, and JP Duminy.

Raza delivered the innings' first, third and fifth overs, sending down dot ball after dot ball. His second over, to Kallis, was a maiden. His stifling line and tight trajectory softened up South Africa's top order, making them easy prey from the other end. Raza's success has wider significance too. It underscores what is fast emerging as the great truth of T20 cricket: that accurate spin can be lethal. Traditionally spinners have not commanded much respect in limited-overs cricket, but when the game is compressed to a point that batsmen must take risks at every ball, skilful spin bowling suddenly acquires a sharp new set of fangs.

Pakistan may not be on top of the ICC rankings, and certainly their supporters tend to be famously skeptical about the side's winning abilities, but the statistical reality is that T20 is Pakistan's game. They have the second-best win-loss ratio in T20I cricket, and have pulled off more T20I victories than any other team. The three highest wicket-takers in T20Is are all Pakistanis. Pakistan is the only team to have made the semi-finals of each of the three previous World Twenty20 contests.

This is still anyone's tournament, but you can see that Pakistan are starting to click well. There is a maturity and mellowness in the way they are going about their business. They are smiling and laughing easily. The body language is sharp, and their mutual eye contact conveys respect and regard. They are making mistakes but not wallowing in regret afterwards. Most importantly, they are winning, and in the process they are creating momentum and adding self-belief. Even against India, whom Pakistan have never beaten in World Cup competition, they would start as favourites.

Eventually, the 2012 World Twenty20 will generate its own unique feel and fingerprint, providing a reference point to which future tournaments will perhaps one day be compared. For now, the best we can do is to keep drawing comparisons with the past. After overcoming Australia at the group stage in 1999, Pakistan faced them again in the final, and crumbled to a depressing loss. If the analogy is extended, then Pakistan and South Africa would be expected to meet in the final here. Hopefully for Pakistan, this tournament's resemblance to 1999 will end right there.

Saad Shafqat is a writer based in Karachi

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Posted by batmannrobin on (October 1, 2012, 1:12 GMT)

This article misses a key fact. Australia were not the favorites for the 99 world cup. It was South Africa. Australia had been held to a 2-2 draw just before the world cup by a Brian Lara inspired WI in the tests and 3-3 in the ODIs. Shane Warne had been dropped for the first and only time in his career. Even before losing to Pakistan- Chris cairns and Roger Twose had enabled NZ outplay Australia.SA , on the other hand, had won the champions trophy the previous year and as was their routine in ICC events crushed everyone in the group stages except for a blip against Zim - this after they had convincingly qualified for the super sixes. Infact the 99 world cup was to set the trend in many ways. That drop by Gibbs and the unforgettable klusener/ Donald runout really strongly attached the chokers tag to SA for it was only a silly rain rule that threw them out in the 92 world cup and the genius of Lara in 96.The 99 world cup changed the stature of Oz from mighty to invincible !

Posted by timtom on (September 30, 2012, 18:11 GMT)

An article published too early...

Posted by Dannymania on (September 30, 2012, 17:15 GMT)

India had to win this match to proceed.they came through.extremely good performance from them after they were beaten heads down by the aussies.Pakistan played with such immense pressure that it was evident from their batting.it was not a bad performance,it was just a very disappointing one from the pakistanis.I,as a fan,was extremely disappointed in them after the match.but well,i might be a pakistani fan and want pakistan to win the world T20,i still have the guts to appreciate good cricket when there is any.India today were absolutely phenominal.My favorite player in the world is Kohli and he showed his class.But Balaji is such a good bowler!he showed today that he should always be in the indian team.Hats off india,you played superbly.Very good cricket.love you guys.

Posted by Hasnat-18 on (September 30, 2012, 15:52 GMT)

Pakistan team selection is crazy that's what leading to successive collapses in batting. They need some solid batsman with good technique like Asad Shafiq and Azhar Ali.The stupid team management don't see and they are wasting talent of Umer Akmal who should come at one down or two down position. Players like Yasir Arafat, Imran Nazir should go out. Come on Coach and Captain..,....do something for fragile batting line up.

Posted by Syed_imran_abbas on (September 30, 2012, 14:53 GMT)

Why are you playing more bowlers than batsman when you have big issues in batting? let me count for you guys: (1) Gul (2) Afrat (3) Ajmal (4) Afridi (5) Raza hassan (6) hafeez (7) Shoiab Malik.. How many you need to bowl 20 overs??? this is insane.

Posted by   on (September 30, 2012, 10:16 GMT)

I think pressure will be more on India due to losing last match and it will be do or die situation for them. For me, Pakistan will be favorite and they will be much relax after winning the last one.

Posted by rajaomair on (September 30, 2012, 9:54 GMT)

beautiful...excellent article...man....hats off 2 u......

Posted by   on (September 30, 2012, 9:05 GMT)

Lets us hope most of us will have our hearts working even after the match.....I just hope that its not a one sided match...It should go till last three bowls at least.

Posted by saintsinister on (September 30, 2012, 8:45 GMT)

There is a saying, 'never forget the past'. I am astonished to see soo many positive statements.. Guys forget not, it is Pakistan.. High n dry go together.. Winning the cup is too far ahead.. i am worried about getting into the semifinals. Thats the beauty i guess with Pakistan team, they make their fans sit on the edge of their seats each n every match. India just had one bad match, they thrashed England before. I just think Kohli getting out early was the real cause. If he does that again tomorrow then result will be the same as last one otherwise watch out for one heck of a match. Best of Luck team Green.Get.. set..devastate..:)

Posted by ammar7may on (September 30, 2012, 7:05 GMT)

1 Hafeez, 2 Imran, 3 Nasir, 4 Kamran, 5 Shoaib, 6 U Akmal, 7 Afridi, 8 Gul, 9 Arafat, 10 Ajmal, 11 Raza/Abdul Razzaq. With 1, 5, 7, 10 & 11, u have plenty of spin options; 8, 9 & 11, u have plenty of fast options. Better to try Abdul Razzaq in place due to batting failure the evening before, as almost all the bowlers are underused. Nets will tell the captain what to do, as earlier stats never work in the actual tie. In T20 u need more batsmen than bowlers who can fire at 150+ strike rate. So focus must be on strike rate considering this bowling lineup. Of course, there is a lot except teams lineups in the dressing rooms and earlier planning. Let's hope a quality contest in the end. Go cricket.... Good luck all the teams..... Best of luck Pakistan.

Posted by scdkee on (September 30, 2012, 6:54 GMT)

lets not get ahead of ourselves. lets take one match at a time. we've got massive challenges in our group. we've got two giants to beat. australia is a tough tough opponent and india, already hurt by their heavy defeat against australia, would attack like a wounded tiger. with india we've also got that history factor going against us. to put it in short, lets just focus on every game rather than moving directly to the cup. best of luck pakistan. all our prayers and best wishes are with you.

Posted by   on (September 30, 2012, 6:08 GMT)

i am big fan of afridi plz bring him opening bat,when ever he gt out in recent matches it ll be te boundary line catches, he have power and talent to hit all te balls outside the circle, so he should bat open "1-6" over wh the field restriction on

Posted by   on (September 30, 2012, 5:59 GMT)

Not to play Afridi is a risk however to play Afridi is a bigger risk. This poor fellow has got such a bad timing that mostly he gets out caught, at near about 30 yards circle. In batting line up he hardly deserves to come at number 11. If at all he is to be included in the team, he should only be considered as a bowler, who can't bat.

Posted by Dimitri_SL on (September 30, 2012, 3:15 GMT)

Calling out to all Sri Lankans who is in & around Colombo. Please turn up in your masses today at RPS to support our Pakistani brothers, The only team/nation who has , who still is & who'll always stand by us Sri Lankans in our highs and our lows. Although they may not need any crowd support to run over the Indians ,it's nice in a way to show our support to them and boost the solidarity between the two countries. Good Luck to our Brothers in Green....from a Sri Lankan.

Posted by cricket_fan_1980 on (September 29, 2012, 23:59 GMT)

lol, i meant 1999 world cup. anyway best of luck to both teams. may the better ones win!

Posted by Saadcricketlover on (September 29, 2012, 22:46 GMT)

Inshallah pakistan will win the world cup once again and Mohammad Hafeez is a very good captain, he should be the captain in all formats.

Posted by   on (September 29, 2012, 22:14 GMT)

i think Pakistan should go with Razzaq in place of Raza Hasan.why waisting Razzaq?

Posted by cricket_fan_1980 on (September 29, 2012, 21:50 GMT)

Why illogical killer001? Its reasonable to draw analogies to see how the team has progressed, if not for any other reason. Somehow, at a crunch time, after such a great run in the tournament, the Pakistan team of 1999 put up a ridiculous show in the final. Why could they not hold it together in that really high profile gamel? They should've put up a fight. Now (2012), it is curious to see how the overall approach to Pakistan cricket has changed since the 2009 final. There seems to be some effort to really get professional. Its good to see some unassuming cricketers in the side. Guys who're delivering the goods but staying out of the limelight. That is just one of many things these comparisons can show us. So, I wasn't sure why you thought that idea presented by Mr Shafqat was illogical?

Posted by khankijaan on (September 29, 2012, 21:15 GMT)

So glad to have such loving and supporting comments for the Pak team from the majority of the indian fans here ....i wish the game wins tomorrow,no matter which side comes to the losing end....the time has changed and the new generation of both the countries r likely to burry the hatchet.......best of luck Pakistan and best of luck "team india".

Posted by killer001 on (September 29, 2012, 20:42 GMT)

illogical....Eventually, the 2012 World Twenty20 will generate its own unique feel and fingerprint, providing a reference point to which future tournaments will perhaps one day be compared. For now, the best we can do is to keep drawing comparisons with the past. After overcoming Australia at the group stage in 1999, Pakistan faced them again in the final, and crumbled to a depressing loss. If the analogy is extended, then Pakistan and South Africa would be expected to meet in the final here. Hopefully for Pakistan, this tournament's resemblance to 1999 will end right there.

Posted by   on (September 29, 2012, 20:24 GMT)

i strongly agree... well said @syed bilal

Posted by   on (September 29, 2012, 20:12 GMT)

All said and done, I'm staying away from everything tomorrow to focus only on Pakistan vs India. As one of the cricket-crazy Pakistani fans commonly found here, tomorrow is the Final for me. When Pakistan beats India tomorrow, I will be rejoicing on the streets of Lahore. If India wins, this World Twenty20 is over for me.

Posted by cricket_fan_1980 on (September 29, 2012, 19:39 GMT)

In the past, I remember quite distinctly that often Pakistan would find themselves in a rut (for example 80/7 while batting or 193/2 in the 35th while bowling) and the team wouldn't be able to draw any inspiration and just "crumble". They always had the talent and always won many games, but whenever a tricky situation came up, more times than not, they would implode, collapse, freak out. This is what caused several pundits to question their nerve at crunch times. Something in the past few years has brought a change to this and has really impressed me. Our boys are no longer playing selfish hands for personal glory. Instead they are stepping up to do their role. 3 innings of good 40's in a side are better than one ballistic 70. This strategizing and relying on solid teamwork is becoming a consistent feature of Pakistan cricket. Throughout Misbah's test resurgence, we saw it in virtually every single game, some one would step up, get a couple of wickets, fielding was sharper etc.

Posted by cricket_fan_1980 on (September 29, 2012, 19:34 GMT)

Mr Shafqat, an excellent contribution from you to cricinfo once again. Cheers. A lot of fans are criticizing Pakistan's close victories in this tournament and saying that despite the wins there are several problems that need to be addressed. I think this scenario can be looked at in a different way. Winning three games despite being in difficult situations shows a lot of character and some very clever captaincy. Twice the bowling struggled against NZ and Beng, but a number of batsmen stepped up. Next the batting stumbled (after a solid bowling performance) and Umar Akmal (and Gully) stepped up. My point is, when the chips are down, somebody or the other is consistently stepping up for the country. Nazir has done it, Jamshed has done it, Raza Hasan and Arafat with the ball against SA, Hafeez with a couple of good starts and stabilizing of the innings. Kamran has had a few good swings at No.4. The boys are fielding well too, it is good to see Shoaib Malik look confident and relaxed.

Posted by kc69 on (September 29, 2012, 19:22 GMT)

Being an Indian i will support my team tomorrow but being a cricket fan i feel Pakistan is most likely to win this one.I believe Pakistan is the only team that looked at its best in this tournament.

Posted by Abdullah1991 on (September 29, 2012, 19:20 GMT)

Mr. Shafqat I disagree with ur analysis. Its good that Pak is winning matches consistently but plz don't forget that all matches were very close wins and against SA we won only by chance. Acc to my analysis Pak were unbeaten in the last World Cup till India beat them in semis. In this World T20 Pak is uptill now unbeated. Now what do u say who will win? In the last World Cup Pak were favourites & in this also. Oh ya I forgot in this we don't have Misbah. HAhaha

Posted by   on (September 29, 2012, 19:02 GMT)

@ Syed Bilal.....Bowlers are batting(e.g. Irfan) and batters are God know doing what....also Pak has already broken that by defeating India in previous World T20....also that streak is only working in 50 overs cup....In T 20 almost all matches have been too close and expect no different tomorrow........This year might be of Pak but I feel that it might be either Aussy or SL....Pak is good but it will require luck also as does any other team. Shahid Afridi should do something about his brain attack though....Sehwag wastes his talent is a statement...Shahid wastes his batting talent is superrrrrrr under statement. Will be a good match but I am not sure of India's chances....I mean even if suppose India wins today....it stands no chance against SA.

Posted by Jawed_Saleem on (September 29, 2012, 18:57 GMT)

Confidence would have been "SKY HIGH", had Pakistan knocked those 133 ( against S.A. ) without the HEROICS OF UMAR GUL ! Agree with you, Hafeez & think tanks must be applauded for playing/opening with Raza Hasan + persist with spinners for 15 overs !!! It was a master stroke which completely baffled the S.A. batting. FYG, bookmakers have Sri Lanka and Australia as favorites (top of the board at 3/1 & 7/2, Pakistan is third @ 5/1).

Posted by Cric_info_pak on (September 29, 2012, 18:16 GMT)

after india yesterday match performance still believe that l it is india pakistan game so this will not be one sided , india will play good in this and as pakistan never beat india in world cup... this is going to be good

Posted by   on (September 29, 2012, 18:13 GMT)

Whatever happens in the Indo-Pak contest tomorrow, the result shouldn't really bother Pakistan, because they have it in them to make the semis and secondly this game is more of a pride for Pakistan because even otherwise I feel they can put it across the Aussies in their next outing when they could overhaul Proteas. I don't care whoever lifts the cup as long as it's not Aussies. After all, we belonged to one country before the partition. May Allah, inject plenty of nerves to Pakistan ahead of their match against India.

Posted by KarachiKid on (September 29, 2012, 18:09 GMT)

Common man, one bad match does not render the whole Indian cricketing war machine innocuous overnight. Tomorrow no team is favourite and I will be praying for Pakistan's success without any illussion.

Posted by   on (September 29, 2012, 18:00 GMT)

awesome .......................................................................................

Posted by   on (September 29, 2012, 16:48 GMT)

If TEAM PAKISTAN are to continue to progress in T20I World Cup than certain players have to start performing who so far have underperformed in one way or other. Malik and Afridi need to hit form with the bat. Whilst Umar Gul won the match against South Africa with the bat, he is in the side for his bowling and he needs to start performing. So far Umar Gul has been totally ineffective with the ball. Yasir Arafat also needs to improve with the ball, his run rate is too high and start making some contribution with the bat. As a fan of TEAM PAKISTAN I never know which TEAM PAKISTAN will turn up on the day and they are full of surprises. So far in this tournament they have had two victories when they seemed dead and buried, the victory against India in the practice match and the victory against South Africa. Conversely against England in the practice match after bowling so well the batting managed to collapse and they lost the match which they should have won.

Posted by Zahidsaltin on (September 29, 2012, 16:47 GMT)

I hope to see Razzaq in the playing 11 tomorrow replacing Raza Hassan as india won't be bothered much by Raza.

Posted by Zahidsaltin on (September 29, 2012, 16:44 GMT)

Pakistan must find a way to control Kohli, the best present batsman on subcontinental wickets. Anything above 145 will be a winning score in the pressure match.

Posted by Zahidsaltin on (September 29, 2012, 16:40 GMT)

@Rahulcricket007. There is a very thin line between success and failure in T20. Just consider, if Umar Gul's one of the two catches were held by SA, pakistan could have lost the match. Now only if Kohli had not played that shot, he could have single handedly won it for India. India is one of the strongest teams in the formate and so is pakistan. Let's just hope for an exciting match tomorrow. I know, you may change your views about Dhoni if india wins tomorrow.

Posted by   on (September 29, 2012, 16:38 GMT)

pakistan will win india will loose

Posted by Naresh28 on (September 29, 2012, 15:58 GMT)

May the best team on the day win. You win some and you lose some. Indias bowling has been pathetic. I hope to see a SL v Pak final. Comeon Asian teams lets thrash the others. My hope is that the new selectors can address our pace bowling problems by searching India for at least two fast bowlers to back up Aaron and Yadav. Ishant should take over from Zaks who is now going downhill. Might be worth it to checkout ATUL SHARMA as well (reduce his pace and make him accurate)

Posted by umair1970 on (September 29, 2012, 15:49 GMT)

I was just thinking how this campaign reminds me of 1999- betting the favorites, Moin and Razzak leading late order charges, etc., and then I read your article

Completely agree about how this world "cup" feels for Pakistani fans. Also loved your classification of the previous world cups : 75 and 79 would certainly go in the promise unfulfilled categories

Hopefully the resemblance with 99 does not include the final or the pathetic run chase against India in the super sixes!

Great article.

Posted by SyedHamzaShakil on (September 29, 2012, 15:28 GMT)

what fantastic young talent we got in Pakistan... ! only if we utilize the resources effectively.. i really run out of words whenever i see Sohail Tanvir in the playing 11.. i mean come on seriously? Pakistan is famous of producing some fantastic talents like the double 'w's shoaib Akhtar Aquib javed in bowling department... lol look at the level of them, and have a look at a joker Tanvir! seriously, we should play Razzaq against India, he is a fabulous player..

Posted by Aamer345 on (September 29, 2012, 13:50 GMT)

My concern at the moment is not the batting but outright 'FLAT' performance of our fast T20 bowler - Umar gul. He has clicked with bat - fine- but he must keep his real focus on his main job. Hope M Akram, the bowling coach, will find some courage to 'teach' few bowling tips to much experienced gul out of his miniaturized unconvincing career as a fast bowler. Gul regaining his lost form will be a boon for pakistan who at the moment are looking as potential finalists.

Posted by   on (September 29, 2012, 13:50 GMT)

Pakistan is flowing in a Rythm but I am shocked to see India's performance, escpecially from their Bowlers. From the population of over 1 Billion why on earth they can't produce a quality Fast bowler like Omar Gul or a well trimmed Spinner like Saeed Ajmal. ???? Where is BCCI Selection Squad??? What on earth they have gained from INDIAN PREMIER LEAGUE ???? Huh Nothing !!!! Their bowling side is even weaker than WestIndian side On Sunday 30th September Pakistan Will Defeat the Historical Trend of not winning from India in Worldcups.

Posted by   on (September 29, 2012, 13:43 GMT)

awsome

awsome mr.shafqatawsome mr.shafqatawsome mr.shafqatawsome mr.shafqatawsome mr.shafqatawsome mr.shafqatawsome mr.shafqatawsome mr.shafqatawsome mr.shafqatawsome mr.shafqat

Posted by slumdogcool on (September 29, 2012, 13:32 GMT)

I love the way this article ends.

Posted by   on (September 29, 2012, 13:30 GMT)

well this nice team .... but plz dont pray so much against India match ... otherwise Pakistan never win... if Pakistani Paly natural game .... they can win

Posted by rahulcricket007 on (September 29, 2012, 13:20 GMT)

YES IT IS PAKISTAN 'S YEAR . PLEASE PAKISTAN THRASH OUR INDIAN TEAM TOMMOROW & ENSURE YOUR PLACE IN SEMIFINAL . BEST OF LUCK FROM INDIAN FAN . OUR CAPTAIN HAS BECOME ARROGANT , IRRESPONSIBLE , EXCUSE MAKER THESE DAYS .

Posted by dmqi on (September 29, 2012, 11:27 GMT)

Yes, good decision to start with Raza Hasan but not a good idea to not let him complete his 4th over when he had 12 runs in 3 over. Knowing the fact that Gul is not effective in bowling theses days, I would have used Raza for his 4th over. Same poor decision by SA captain that costed him the game.

Posted by   on (September 29, 2012, 11:14 GMT)

I'm from india and despite me supporting india, I really believe that this Pakistan team is the most capable team in this tournament to win it. Perfect balance of all rounders plus some in form genuine batsman and bowlers too. Saeed Ajmal is way above other spinners.

Posted by Budhaiya on (September 29, 2012, 11:13 GMT)

The mother of all ckt matches will be played 2morrow. Be prepared to watch the electrifying show.

Posted by   on (September 29, 2012, 11:11 GMT)

Saad bhai! nicely written, I was waiting since yesterday about good article after Pakistan narrowly escaped from Jaws of defeat... Last match was a good wake up call for Nasir Jamshaid and Kamran Akmal and thankfully Umar Akmal is back in good form... Pakistan won all three matches so far but there is clearly a room to improve in all three... I hope Umar Gull, now high on confidence, will find he famous yorker line and bowl well in remaining tournament. A great chance to beat India which is low on confidence after what Australia did to them

Posted by Asif_Iqbal on (September 29, 2012, 10:21 GMT)

I hope,wish and Pray they win the tournament and also the suday match against India IN SHA ALLAH

Posted by yasserrizwan on (September 29, 2012, 10:17 GMT)

Summer of '99 brings fond memories of quality cricket we watched for few weeks. Allan Donald, Wasim Akram, Glenn McGrath, Shaun Pollock bowling in overcast seaming English conditions - That is exactly how cricket should be played. An even contest between bat & ball. Every run should be earned. Unlike games played in India/SL where someone like Harbhajan Singh too ends up scoring a century. Great point eloquently made Saad.

Posted by   on (September 29, 2012, 10:02 GMT)

You reminded me of the 1999 WC. What a team that was which crushed everyone to reach the finals!!! and how did the final end!!!

Posted by   on (September 29, 2012, 9:22 GMT)

Excellent analysis Mr. Shafqat. It's indeed a Pakistan's year in terms of cricket. Right from smashing England 3-0 in tests through beating SL and Aus, to a very strong start in the world t20. One could see great improvision being displayed by Muhammad Hafeez. One must acknowledge that this is the very different Pakistan team as compared to past. It doesn't have flashing players rather there are hard-working, down-to-earth cricketers, those who try to perform. I hope and pray that Pakistan would end up winning this cup. That would be a perfect end to already a glamorous year of cricket for Pakistan

Posted by JANZ55 on (September 29, 2012, 8:48 GMT)

Can anyone comment on UTILITY of Kamran Akmal (the greatest keeper of all time) in this Pakistan team? Keeper has the MAIN job of KEEPING but he is always dropping the catches. If, at all, 2 catches per match is acceptable then y not try Dav Whatmore as a keeper and he will bat much better than senior KHATMAL.

Posted by getsetgopk on (September 29, 2012, 8:40 GMT)

Nicely put there Saad, im very impressed, you have some eye I must say, they are smiling and laughing easily is what I liked about this bunch, seems a very small thing and most wont recognize (except you and few others) but back in the day Pak fielded teams that had Akram and Younus and they weren't even talking to each other at one stage still they delivered but could have been far better. Pak in my opinion is never short on talent no matter what team they field, they just need to feel comfortable around each other, thats the only thing they have lacked over the years. The comparison with the 99 WC is so good so far but there's still some way to go but boy they are a force to recon with having beaten Auss in the UAE series, IND in the warmup and now SA. Great going keep it up!

Posted by   on (September 29, 2012, 8:29 GMT)

A good optimistic article in favor of Pakistan Cricket!

Posted by   on (September 29, 2012, 8:18 GMT)

I dont know if any one has noticed or not, but in the last couple of years Pakistan has started to chase down totals with some success. Had it been the Pakistan of the past with 80/7 Pakistan would never had made it but this NEW Pakistan is giving its best as a team and taking its chances. They may be still giving it away easily but they are not giving it up anymore like the past. This is a good sign for the future of Pakistan cricket. Hopefully it will improve with time

Posted by Surajdon9 on (September 29, 2012, 8:15 GMT)

One and only Pakistan can lift the trophy of winners...............

Posted by khurramsch on (September 29, 2012, 8:13 GMT)

nice article no doubt. But honestly pakistans each win is full of errors and the danger is that when these errors came up in 1 game altogether then it might be over. Fast bowlers are not doing any great. Spinners are doing something but not perfect, Afridi & ajmal are not into many wickets.In batting, sometinmes they are star & sometimes they are just poor like yesterday. Umar guls inings cant come regularly. pak is totally unprrdictable.

Posted by   on (September 29, 2012, 8:02 GMT)

Every day is not Friday. The wins Pakistan got in the current tournament so far are not authentic. The team has to sort out some of its problem, especially its inconsistency in batting and fielding. The constant impulsive failure of Shahid Afridi is also a big worry as fans eagerly look upon him to bail out the team in difficult stages.

Posted by   on (September 29, 2012, 7:26 GMT)

Pakistan has lost more fan in 1999 than in any other world event that ended in heartbreak for Pakistan. I wish Pakistan may not repeat the mistakes from the past. Hoping this is parallel to hoping Afridi uses his brain while batting. LoL. What i dont like from Pakistan point of view is the field placings..Cow Corner, Wide long off are usually kept empty whereas we all know in death overs all players hit there...Use brain Pakistan will win..

Posted by Syed_imran_abbas on (September 29, 2012, 7:14 GMT)

Umar gul needs to click in bowling and boom boom in batting now onwards. Lets hope they win next game. Hafeez and Nasir jamshed must be ashamed of their way of getting out.

Posted by withwateen on (September 29, 2012, 6:53 GMT)

Saad Shafqat sir, its really pleasing to read such a wonderfully positive article about the TEAM PAKISTAN, thanks for writing such a wonderful stuff. I like to mention one more thing...kindly check Afridi's left foot and the words written right under it.

Posted by   on (September 29, 2012, 5:57 GMT)

nice one Shafqat sb, good comparison

Posted by sifter132 on (September 29, 2012, 5:00 GMT)

I think the move to open the bowling with Raza wasn't particularly inspired - ended up being good, but lets not pretend it was brilliant intuition. It's just a matter of juggling resources. A) Pakistan only had 2 fast bowlers, so if he opened with Gul and Arafat for a couple of overs each, then that would leave only 4 overs of pace for the last 16 of the innings - risky. B) After that it's just a matter of picking WHICH spinner to open with. Hafeez and Ajmal are both off-spinners, less useful against a right handed opening pair, so it was really between Afridi and Raza. And since Afridi has never opened the bowling in T20Is, despite countless opportunities in his long career, so Raza seems the logical choice. Praise Hafeez for thinking logically!!

Posted by Farhan140 on (September 29, 2012, 4:58 GMT)

Nice one.... T20 is the kindof format that suite Pakistan the most (along with W.Indies). But before calling them favourite, they have to break the bad juju of not beating India (yet) in World cups (may be that's the reason they change the name of the tournament :)

Besides your article, really surprise with the progress of Australia (but still feel it is the matter of one (or 2) match against top quality bowling and their middle order exposed (hopefully Australians does not get week bowling attacks in their semis)

Posted by   on (September 29, 2012, 4:48 GMT)

nice article hope all goes well like you said in the article

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