Abdul Razzaq June 20, 2009

How Razzaq's return made a difference

The Pakistan allrounder is happy to take the new ball and keen to work on his fitness as he joins the national side after two years away

Now that he is back on the international track, Abdul Razzaq can't stop talking cricket. Barely minutes after reaching London, following a two-hour bus ride from Nottingham, Razzaq is in the hotel lobby, picking the brains of Pakistan's bowling coach Aaqib Javed. Aaqib is weary and desperate to get into his room, which is taking rather long to get cleaned up. In contrast, Razzaq is fresh and eager, having left his wife, two young kids and the kitbag in the room.

"I was thinking I should work more with the old ball. I feel a little stiff, too," Razzaq points out to Aaqib in Punjabi. Aaqib thinks for a moment before nodding. Both agree things will pick pace with time. It is easy to sense at the moment that more than anything Razzaq is searching for motivation from his team, having left it two years ago.

Razzaq's game against New Zealand last week in the Super Eights was his first for Pakistan immediately after he had cut ties with the unauthorised ICL. He had joined the ICL having decided to retire in frustration as the Pakistan selectors dropped him from the inaugural World Twenty20 in 2007. Little did he imagine that he would bounce back, and play a crucial role in Pakistan's route to the final of the second edition of the tournament.

Razzaq replaced the injured Yasir Arafat and played New Zealand, barely 24 hours after flying into London. Obviously he was gripped by nerves. Luckily Wasim Akram, his former Pakistan captain and bowling legend, walked up to him minutes before the game to help him relax. "It was nice of him [Akram] to speak to me. He understood he didn't need to tell me about my bowling as I've played 250-odd ODIs [237] but the talk did motivate me," Razzaq said.

Between being asked to join the squad in England and playing New Zealand, Razzaq decided to keep an open mind about his role in the team. "When I left Pakistan [to join the team in England] I was willing to fit into any role."

Little did he know that Younis Khan would tell him to take the new ball. With Sohail Tanvir off colour in first three games, Pakistan desperately needed a senior strike bowler to complement the talented left-armer Mohammed Aamer. Younis admitted it was a brave move on his part to gamble with the experienced Razzaq. Still it was a well-thought out move.

When he ran in for that first ball, Razzaq had made sure he had kept his mind positive. "I was not nervous. I backed myself a lot and never allowed any negative thought to enter the mind like 'I'm coming back after two years and what would happen'." His impact was immediate: Pakistan managed to keep New Zealand tied down during the Powerplay overs, which Aaqib repeatedly mentions as the most pivotal period in a Twenty20 match. Before Razzaq replaced Tanvir, Pakistan were lagging behind in the first six overs: 63 for 2 v England, 37 for 1 v Netherlands and 65 for 0 v Sri Lanka. Once Razzaq came on board, Pakistan took control: 37 for 3 v New Zealand, 37 for 1 v Ireland and 40 for 1 v South Africa.

"We want a good start in the Powerplay from Aamer and Razzaq," Aaqib said. "He [Razzaq] has a big, big responsibility due to his experience."

Razzaq, who Shahid Afridi reckons is one of the best allrounders in the game, is not shying away. "I understand it is a challenge to start with the new ball, but it is the team's requirement so I have to bowl in the first six overs," Razzaq said. "The key is not to give runs. That is the most important thing to succeed for a bowler in Twenty20."

Going into Sunday's final, Aaqib's only concern about Razzaq is his lack of pace since he is feeling a little tired. But Aaqib is not after some quick-fix solution that will boost Razzaq's speed. If anything, Aaqib is confident about Razzaq's sharp bowling acumen. "He is an intelligent bowler," Aaqib said. According to him Razzaq can mix the deliveries along with his natural inswinger into the right-hander. "He also uses the slower ball cleverly, so that could be very crucial in the first six overs."

Another positive Razzaq brings to the team, Aaqib said, is his ability to hit the yorker-length balls. "He is one of the few batsmen who can hit big off yorker-length delivery. In Twenty20 cricket most bowlers cramp the batsman for space and Razzaq is so good to score big still."

After spending two years in the minor-league cricket witnessed in the ICL, Razzaq admits international cricket has become fast and fitness is the most important thing for a player now. Clearly, that's his priority. "My aim is to lift my fitness to the required level."

And if he can get fit he can gain the desired pace, too. "I'm not bothered about the speed. When the fitness is achieved, speed will increase simultaneously."

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • ateeq on June 21, 2009, 13:33 GMT

    he is my favorite too like Geoffry Boycott evry has great expectations from Abdul Razzaq in the final. But it depends upon captain too how he is going to be used in batting order. keeping in view he is the only player in the world who has batted at each number starting from 1 to 11. Good luck to Pakistan he is back.

  • Nasir on June 21, 2009, 10:25 GMT

    As on afghan I would like to Congratulate Pakistan cricket team and the nation for getting in the 2nd successive world 20 final, Abdul Razzaq is really a key weapon to be used against strong oppositions though are Omar Gul and Shahid Khan while only those players are not enough to win the match! Is a "saying never you can't make clap with one hand" or it's easy to break a single stick and difficult to break a bundle of sticks it is refer to be combine like a group to play the cricket team wise, Inshallah Pakistan will win the match, Please I request paki crickets to eradicate the difference which they think in their race and lingual and the poverty well done for supporting Afghan cricket in all aspects

  • Murtaza on June 21, 2009, 10:10 GMT

    I just want to say that the whole Pakistani Nation is with You, Green Shirts. Just play your heart out. Even if loose, loose it with dignity and fighting. Although I hope Pakistan would win against Lankans. Hope so

  • my on June 21, 2009, 7:34 GMT

    Right decision for right time.

    PCB has made right choice to select A>Razzaq for the team, Good luck to razzaq and pakistan team for their final match. All prayers are for the team to win t20 worldcup for the nation. good luck and pray to god before you entered ground. Inshallah Pakistan will win trophy and pakistan falg will be hoisted in the Lord groung.

  • Shankar on June 21, 2009, 1:23 GMT

    So many delights in this T20 - Afridi, Razzaq and Pakistan doing well is always good news for cricket. I am an Indian supporter but anyone who loves cricket must love these guys. I think Pakistan coming back into the fold (hopefully Tests in England etc or whatever it takes!) will make the rest of the world pull up their socks too. Every captain in the world will be the first to admit that Pakistan are the most dangerous team in the world. Looking forward to a terrific final between the brilliant Pakistanis and the multi-faceted Lankans.

  • atif on June 21, 2009, 0:29 GMT

    Pakistan have always had the players to compete,especially for 20 overs and 50 overs game, but the selection has not always been a great help. Players like Razzak,Azhar Mahmood,Rana Naved and Imran Nazir should have been in this team from the start of the tournament. This cricket is made forthem and together, given the experience they have they could murder the opposition. At this present time the team have finally got together and put in some very good performances, and inshallah they need to carry on the good work. I think that they should take a chance with someone in the no 2 position,maybe Younus himself or Fawad. I still think that they are falling short of putting some serious total on the board, Finally inshallah lets hope they win the toss and bat and Younis should play the long innings and come open at no 2 and Afridi should stay at three,Malik at 4 and Misbah at 5 and then Razzak at 6. Malik and Misbah play spin very well. Anyway All the Best to Pakistan for the Final!!

  • Ramakrishna on June 20, 2009, 14:29 GMT

    Best wishes to Razzaq. I am a Hyderabadi resident (Deccan) and got to know Razzaq when he played for Hyderabad Heroes on the ICL. Class act, great all rounder, hope he contributes with the bat as well in the Finals. We have seen him decimate the bowling on a regular basis. Good luck Razzaq and good luck Pakistan.

  • Shahan on June 20, 2009, 14:04 GMT

    Its great to have him back, and we can all see the impact on the team, it was unjustified 2 years ago but hey have to move forward. I guess it was better for Razzak to make some cash on the side(ICL) as Pak never played any credible cricket. Llooking forward to new deserving Champs- Inshallah.

  • Faisal on June 20, 2009, 13:39 GMT

    Abdur Razzaq....!!!! What a cricketer he is, talented and committed player who can win match for his country all alone. He alongwith Imran Nazir should have been picked earlier for T20 w.c. Any good come back. He is a dashing and a proper T20 player alongwith Shahid Afridi. If both guns strike 90/100 it is enough for their team.

  • Mohammad on June 20, 2009, 12:03 GMT

    Welcome Razzaq in your team after couple of years away. You are more experienced than what you were two years ago though you say your speed is little rusted but that is only because of your travel and change of climate nothing will bother a player like you. You have a determination and love Pakistan. The entire Pakistani nation is behind you to support you and wish you well and succeed in your career. Good luck and keep positive.

  • No featured comments at the moment.