Monday, April 4, 2022

Babar and Imam are Unstoppable


After Pakistan's record chase in the second ODI against Australia, I was all praise for Babar Azam and Imam Ul Haq, who combined to create history for Pakistan and also achieved some individual accolades.

In the third ODI of the series, both Babar and Imam continued their march of top form. So naturally, I am going to continue their praise from where I left it the other day.

These two batsman have been operating at another level. The number of runs, their averages, their contributions to victories, their centuries, have all been at unprecedented levels.

Highest Batting Average in ODIs
Babar's and Imam's batting averages are among the highest 5 averages in the history of ODI cricket (among all batsmen with a minimum of 1,000 runs).


Babar now is ahead of Kohli by more than a whole run, while Imam has gone past ODI legends like Bevan, ABD, and Root.

If one considers batsmen with more than 2,000 ODI runs, then Babar sits at the top of the list of highest averages, with Imam at number 3.

Highest Batting Average in ODI Wins
Babar's and Imam's contributions in ODI wins are unprecedented. Both these batsmen raise their averages by at least 20 runs in ODI victories, as compared to their career averages.

Among all batsmen with at least 1,000 runs in ODI wins, Babar has the highest average in the history of ODIs, and Imam has the third highest ever.


This shows the importance of the runs these two score. They are the cornerstone of Pakistan's ODI batting line up and their contributions, more often than not, lead Pakistan to a win.

Highest Batting Average in ODIs and in ODI Wins as an Opener
Imam Ul Haq is one of the most consistent openers Pakistan has ever had in ODIs. In fact, one of the most consistent in the world.

He currently has the third best average among openers in ODIs.


He also has the third best average among openers in ODI wins.


Babar Azam as ODI Captain
When Babar was appointed ODI captain, a large section of the public, including former players and experts, felt that it was a mistake.

They felt that Pakistan's best batsman should not be burdened with the captaincy. They felt the added responsibility will hamper his batting. They felt he would not be able to cope with the pressure.

But nothing of that sort has happened.

Captaincy, in fact, has resulted in Babar elevating his game by a few notches.

This is evident from his ODI batting average as captain, which is currently 90.2 after 12 matches in charge.


Yes it is still early days and there is a long road ahead for Babar as ODI captain, but the way he has started this stint is an indication of what the future holds.

Babar has shone brightly as Pakistan's all format captain.

His ODI batting average and strike rate as captain are both significantly higher than his career's.

He recently played the test innings of his life to save a test for Pakistan.

His exploits as T20 captain are well documented.

Pakistan's two highest chases in T20Is, record chase in ODIs, and record save in Tests have all come under Babar's captaincy, and have all been possible due to Babar's batting!

Babar has taken the opportunity to lead Pakistan head on and he has enhanced his batting form significantly since taking charge.

He is the only batsman in the world at the moment who ranks among the Top 5 in all three formats of the game; and he ranks NUMBER ONE in both white ball formats.

There is no batsman like him.

Arguably, he is the best batsman ever produced by not only Pakistan, but the World!

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Friday, April 1, 2022

Babar & Imam - Pakistan's Best!

Pakistan registered their highest ever successful chase in ODIs last night. It was also the highest total ever chased in an ODI in Pakistan, the first time Pakistan chased a total of above 300 against Australia, the 6th highest chase against Australia, and the 10th highest chase ever in ODIs.


It was a record breaking spectacle at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore with two of Pakistan's best ODI batsmen at the forefront of this epic chase.

For too long now keyboard warriors in Pakistan, as well as, some renowned experts on TV and social media, have been labeling Babar Azam and Imam Ul Haq as selfish players. The kind who only care about personal glory rather than team victory.

These voices need to be laid to rest. These are the kind of people who are never satisfied with anything in life. There is no rational thought behind their statements, and absolutely zero critical thinking behind their judgments.

Despite Imam being at the center of this record chase, there were people complaining about how he did not finish the chase and blamed him for being selfish given he got out after scoring a century.

Seriously!? Were you even watching the chase?

For over 10 overs, Imam repeatedly attempted to hit a 6 or 4 off the first ball of the over. He did it successfully. He started taking these risks well before he got to his personal landmark. He did no different on the delivery on which he was caught at the boundary.

Imam played his part; the finishers had to play theirs. In the history of ODI cricket, have you ever seen an opener be there at the end in a chase of 350? Maybe you can count 2 instances out of a 1,000+ ODIs.

Imam, and Pakistan's captain Babar Azam, scripted Pakistan's win last night. These two are once in a generation type players and Pakistan needs to cherish them.

BABAR & IMAM - TWO BIG MATCH WINNERS

I just fail to understand how anyone can discount their match winning abilities.


Babar Azam has the highest batting average in ODIs among all batsmen in ODI wins. His average is a clear 13 runs per innings ahead of Virat Kohli's.

Imam is 6th on this list with a phenomenal average of 69.47.

Babar and Imam have contributed to wins with 11 and 6 centuries respectively; and 8 and 7 fifties respectively.

They are two of the biggest ODI match winners produced by Pakistan!

BABAR & IMAM - ODI SUPERSTARS

Both Babar and Imam are among the few batsmen in ODIs that average above 50 in the format. There are only 11 such batsmen, and these two Pakistanis are among this elite list.


Babar has the 4th highest average and Imam has the 7th highest average in the history of ODI cricket.

BABAR AZAM - KING OF ODIS

Babar is at another level altogether.

He is undoubtedly the best to ever play for Pakistan. Arguably the best ever in the world too. Among the current lot for sure; among all time players, we shall find out. He has a long way to go.

With his 15th ODI century yesterday, he got to the landmark faster than any other batsman in the world. And he reached 4,000 ODI runs faster than all other batsmen, barring Hashim Amla.


With 15 ODI centuries he now has the second most ODI centuries for Pakistan; level with Mohammad Yousuf and only behind Saeed Anwar. And he has not even played a 100 ODIs yet!


Look at that strike rate. Quite an eye opener who feel he plays too selfishly and slowly.

Imam Ul Haq is in the list too, just one behind his legendary uncle who is to blame for the unfair label given to him by critics.

Out of Babar's 15 ODI centuries, 11 have resulted in wins, placing him third on the list of Pakistani batsmen with most centuries in ODI wins.


Guess who else makes this list. Yep, Imam Ul Haq!

Selfish players?

Yesterday was Babar's only 11th ODI as captain of Pakistan, and he notched up a 4th ODI hundred as captain, which is the most by a Pakistan ODI captain ever.


Considering that this 27 year old is just in the initial part of his career. He has a long long way to go, and I am sure he will be breaking and creating a number of batting records as he goes along.

*      *      *

Babar and Imam are Pakistan's most consistent performers in ODIs. They have been for the past 5 years, which is why it shocks me no end that they keep receiving criticism from fans.

Failures of Pakistan's middle and lower orders have resulted in many a defeat for Pakistan in ODIs; yet the ones to cop the blame are the top three, who more often than not play their part perfectly.

Babar and Imam will continue to achieve new heights, and I am pretty sure their detractors will continue to find new ways to criticize them.

I really hope these critics can stay quiet now, especially after last night's victory, but I have my doubts.

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Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Why do Pakistanis love to hate Imam Ul Haq?

For the past couple of weeks, I have had several discussions over Whatsapp and Facebook on multiple groups regarding Imam Ul Haq.

All discussions have been the same. Majority of  the fans do not like Imam's presence in Pakistan's XI, and I fail to understand why.

Despite his twin hundreds in the first test against Australia at Rawal Pindi, Imam was heavily criticized after twin failures in the second test. That continued after the first innings of the third test.

It is not difficult to understand why Imam Ul Haq opened for Pakistan in the three tests against Australia.

He last played test cricket for Pakistan in 2019. He was dropped from the test team due to indifferent form. While he kept piling on the runs in ODIs, his test performance was not good enough for him to retain a place in the team.

Then, during this season's Quaid-e-Azam trophy, Pakistan's premier First Class competition, Imam was the best performing opener.

He scored 531 runs in 7 innings at an average of 106.20 with the help of 2 centuries and 2 fifties and a best score of 202*.

That domestic performance influenced the selectors to include him in the test squad for the first time in three years for the series against Bangladesh in November 2021.

He didn't play a test in that series as Pakistan preferred to open with Abid Ali and Abdullah Shafique.

Imam got his chance against Australia in place of the unfit Abid Ali. There should have been no question about the inclusion of a batsman who has averaged above 100 during the domestic first class season. Absolutely none!

Imam went on to justify his inclusion also when he became only the 10th Pakistani batsman to score centuries in both innings of a test match.

Yet, when he failed in the second test, the ever so critical fans were out for blood once again!

Do you really have no patience for someone who just scored hundreds in the first test? Or someone who had a stellar domestic season?

Why are you so fickle?

What bewildered me even more was the flak Imam received from these critics after Pakistan's loss in the first ODI against Australia.

I just do not understand the logic behind blaming the only batsman who performed in the match. 

Imam was the only batsman on Pakistan's side that played his part. Fakhar, Rizwan, Khushdil, Iftikhar, and even Babar, who failed to convert his start, failed.

Yet it was Imam who was called "Useless", "Why is he in the team", among other things.

On one end you have a batsman who scored 103 runs in 16 overs at a run rate of 6.44 in a match where the asking rate was 6.28. On the other end, you have 10 other batsmen who combined to score 122 runs in 29.2 overs at a run rate of 4.18.

And people do not understand why that batsman who scored 103 is in the team.

SHOCKING !!

I will never understand Pakistani fans I feel. Be passionate, we all are. Be critical too when the team loses. But don't blame the poor kid, the only kid, who gave his best.

What amuses me even more is that Imam has faced these critics throughout his career, despite performing consistently in ODI cricket.

Since making his debut in October 2017, Imam is among the leading run scorers in ODIs.


He is among the handful number of batsmen that average above 50 in the format, and no one from Pakistan has scored more ODI 100s in this period than Imam. Not even Babar!

When compared with other ODI openers during this period, Imam is right up there among the best!


He is 6th on the runs tally, has the 3rd best average, and the 3rd most number of centuries among ODI openers over the past 5 years.

What more can you ask for from a consistent opener?

He may have been drafted into the team in 2017 due to his famous and influential uncle, but he has surely remained a part of Pakistan's ODI set up due to consistent performances.

You cannot, just cannot, criticize or replace someone who has been one of Pakistan's (and the world's) best performer in ODIs

How can you?

Imam, along with Babar, is Pakistan's most reliable batsman in ODIs. I have no doubts that he will become just as reliable and consistent in test cricket also. 

He is one the mainstays of the batting line up, and yet you guys want him out of the team?

Why do you all love to hate Imam Ul Haq?

For the first time in Pakistan's ODI cricket history, the team has an opening pair where both of them average above 40!

And one of them, averages over 50, but you want him out of the team!??? 

Wah re Pakistanio ...

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Monday, March 28, 2022

Who is the GOAT of T20 cricket?

The plethora of T20 leagues being played around the world, coupled with bilateral T20 internationals leading up to the T20 World Cup taking place every other year, have resulted in T20 cricket becoming the most popular format of the game.

T20 cricket has created a whole new lot of attacking batsmen and really smart bowlers that have elevated the game to another level.

Established international players have left their mark in T20 leagues around the world, and on the flip side T20 leagues have been feeders into the international stage with a long list of cricketers that have become household names due to their exploits in T20 leagues like the IPL, PSL, and the Big Bash.

With the 15th season of IPL kicking off recently, some legends of the game sat down to discuss who they think is greatest T20 player ever. 

Take a look at the video where Betway asks Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bishop, Akash Chopra, Rassie van der Dussen, and Lungi Ngidi about the GOAT of T20 cricket.

In the video, these legends of the game discuss the most destructive batsmen, the most lethal death bowlers, the smartest mystery spinners, and the most agile fielders.


Who in your opinion fits the bill in the above mentioned categories? Do your choices match those of Pietersen and the rest?

Rest assured, KP, Chopra, Bishop, VD Dussen, and Ngidi have taken the same names that we all have on our minds.

With the IPL underway, you will definitely catch some of these T20 legends in action.

Betway's IPL betting odds have Mumbai Indians as the favorites to win the title. No surprise there given the franchise has won more IPL titles than any other team in the league's history.

But I tell you what - any one of the names, mentioned in the video above, can take the match away from any team single handedly on their day.

And if that day is the Final, then we can all expect a new IPL champion this season!

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Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Pakistan's and Babar Azam's Monumental Effort in Karachi!

Pakistan have just done the unthinkable!

No one thought that the test match could be saved. No team in the history of 5-day test cricket has batted 172 overs to save a test match!

That is over a 1,000 deliveries on days 4 and 5 of a test match on a deteriorating subcontinent pitch.

The sheer epicness of this is just mind boggling. Especially when one considers the way Pakistan batted in their first innings.

It was a monumental effort led from the front by their supreme leader, Babar Azam, with magnificent support from Mohammad Rizwan and Abdullah Shafique.

Babar created a number of records during his match saving epic innings of 196, which I will get to in a minute.

Before that, let this sink in.

I believe that facing 172 overs, the most any team has faced to save a test match in the history of 5-day test cricket, is the proudest moment in Pakistan's test history!

Coming back to Babar's history making 196. 


This is what Babar achieved today:

1. The highest score by a Test Captain in the 4th innings of a test match.

2. The highest score by a Pakistan batsman in the 4th innings of a test match, and the 7th highest score in the 4th innings in the history of test cricket.

3. Babar faced 425 deliveries during his epic knock - the 4th most balls faced by a batsman in the 4th innings of a test. The highest is Micheal Atherton's 492. It is the first time any batsman has faced over 400 balls in the 4th innings since 1995!

4. Babar batted for 603 minutes (10 HOURS!) - the 2nd highest number of minutes spent at the crease in the 4th innings of a test match, behind only Atherton's 643 minutes.

Babar wasn't alone in this monumental knock. He was ably supported, first by Abdullah Shafique and then by Mohammad Rizwan.

Babar and Shafique put on 228 runs for the third wicket, which laid the platform for Pakistan's rearguard action.


This is what they achieved today:

1. Pakistan's 2nd highest partnership in the 4th innings of a test match.

2. The 8th highest partnership in the 4th innings of a test match.

3. They faced 520 deliveries, more than half of the 1,032 deliveries the entire team faced. This is the most number of deliveries ever faced by a pair in the 4th innings of a test match!

What Pakistan achieved today will go down in history as arguably the best effort ever to save a test match.

It will take a few days to sink in for all of us.

And we will surely remember it for a long time to come.

This Pakistan team under Babar Azam is truly special. They exceeded a lot of expectations during the T20 World Cup last year, and today they went above and beyond at a time when no one really thought it was possible.

Babar, the white ball batsman, is hands down the best batsman in the world. He has played memorable knocks in both ODIs and T20Is for us to remember him forever.

Despite that, Babar the captain and Babar the test batsman, were still criticized.

After this Karachi Test, Babar has shunned all those critics away too. He is growing in stature as a captain with every match, and after today's 196, Babar the Test Batsman has well and truly arrived!

In my view, the sheer magnitude of this epic 196 is greater than all those white ball innings combined.

It will not be long before we all see Babar at the top of the batting charts in Test cricket too.

And it will not be long before we all see Pakistan dominate across all formats of cricket!

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Monday, March 14, 2022

Who can Challenge Mumbai and Chennai in IPL 2022?

The IPL this year will be bigger and better than previous editions with the addition of two new franchises - The Gujarat Titans and Lucknow Super Giants.

But can any team really challenge the Mumbai Indians or the Chennai Super Kings?

In the 14 editions of the IPL, these two franchises have won the title a collective 9 times!

Mumbai is leading the race with 5 IPL wins, while Chennai are the reigning champions.

Will these two teams dominate the proceedings once again?

Both these champion teams have a great rivalry too, which will be reignited once again when the 2022 edition of the Indian Premier League kicks off.

If you want a dig at an IPL prediction, you would definitely go with one of these two champion teams.

A team that can emerge as a strong contender in 2022, however, is Mumbai's traditional rivals the Delhi Capitals.

They beat Mumbai both times during the 2021 edition, and this year have a number of players among their ranks that can take away matches single handedly.

Starting with their captain Rishabh Pant to their foreign contingent of David Warner, Mitchell Marsh, and Tim Seifert.

The new franchise, Lucknow Super Giants, also look like a very strong team who can pose a threat to the Mumbai and Chennai.

Lucknow have installed KL Rahul as their captain. KL Rahul has been one of the leading run scorers in the last two editions of the IPL.

Even though it is Lucknow's first ever IPL this year, they are a strong outfit.

Players like Evin Lewis, Quinton de Kock, Jason Holder, Marcus Stoinis, and Krunal Pandya are T20 stalwarts and can take the game away from anyone on their day.

The other new franchise, Gujarat Titans, can also be a surprise package.

They surprised everyone when they announced Hardik Pandya as their captain. Hardik Panday has never led any side in any format ever before, and this IPL 2022 will be his first stint leading a team.

Pandya is one of the most confident cricketers around and he will surely instill the same in his team. I believe. they will be a force to reckon with in this IPL.

IPL is undoubtedly one of the most exciting T20 leagues around and we can anticipate some thrilling contests when it kicks off at the end of this month.

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Monday, February 21, 2022

Desmond Haynes Speaks About Life as a Selector

Desmond Haynes, the legendary West Indies opener who formed arguable the best opening partnership in the history of cricket with Gordon Greenidge, is wearing a new hat these days.

Haynes is the new Lead Selector for the West Indies cricket team, and he spoke to Betway about the challenges of the role in modern day cricket.

The role of a selector in cricket has never been harder than it is currently. With three different formats of the game in international and domestic cricket, coupled with franchise T20 and T10 leagues all around the world, a selector has to be on his toes throughout the year.

West Indies are two time World T20 Champions; however they are placed at 11:1 in the latest online cricket betting odds for winning the T20 World Cup, which will be played later this year in Australia.

In his exclusive interview with Betway, Haynes discusses these issues and more.


When did you decide that you would like to take on the role of selector for West Indies?

Well, I was selector for Barbados Cricket Association back in the ‘90s, so I'd already had some experience in selecting teams.

When I was approached to do the job I figured that if there's any time that I can give back to West Indies cricket, it’s now.

They needed a lead selector, they discussed the position with me, and that is when I started thinking very seriously about it.

What do you think are the keys to being a good selector?

Mainly, it’s knowledge of the game, but it’s also identifying talent, because sometimes you can look at stats, and stats don't really show the true picture. If you get the opportunity to see people play, you'll be able to judge their character.

Also just being a professional. As a selector, you never get your own way. Sometimes you want a player and you get outvoted. In the West Indies, it used to be five selectors, now there are only three. You’ve got the co-selector and also the coach.

As the lead selector, I will listen to the discussion from both parties, and then at the end I will look to go for who I think is the right person to do the job.

I always say that our aim is to select the best players. It doesn’t matter where they come from, it doesn’t matter what format they're playing. We just want to make sure that when we put a team out there, it's the best possible team to win that game.

What are the key pointers you're looking for when you're identifying international players?

You look at the character of the players, you look at the way they’re committed to training and cricket in general.

Obviously, knowledge of the game is very important for me as it allows me to make sure that the players understand the game and are students of the game.

Also talent, at the end of the day. If someone wants to play cricket at the highest level, their talent has got to be able to produce and do well for the West Indies.

How do you balance statistics with gut feel when selecting?

Statistics are important, but as I said to you before, it’s about identifying the talent and looking at the person. I always go back to the character to see if he can play a role for us in the team.

It's good to find out about their stats, though, because if they have struggled against spin or the swinging ball, or whatever the case may be, I obviously have to also take that into consideration.

We’re quite fortunate to have the analysts and the technology there to tell us those things.

In terms of the practicalities of your role, how closely aligned are you with the coaching staff?

I keep my distance really, because I think that my role is to produce the players, select the players, and then let the coaches deal with the coaching.

When it comes to performance, how much responsibility do you as a selector take for the results?

When you're a selector, you’re part and parcel of it. We all want the same goals, we all want to do what is right for West Indies cricket, and it's not about any individual.

As a selector, you obviously want to know that the team that you've selected have done well out on the field. We all feel that we have selected the best side to perform. If they don't perform, then obviously we take some of the blame as well.

How much do you let every result affect your thinking when it comes to selection?

It’s more of a long-term process. It’s important to give players chances. If someone fails, you have to look at the circumstances: how he failed, how he got out, and so forth.

But there does come a time when you can only give a person a certain number of chances, and then you have to try somebody else. It’s very important that if you want the best from the player, they realise that there's competition. They have to do well – if not, somebody has to take their place.

In the modern game the cricket calendar is busier than it's ever been. How do you approach rest and rotation as a selector?

I think rotation is very important, especially for fast bowlers. The international calendar is so hectic. The tour against England that’s coming up features back-to-back-to-back Test matches.

If you've got four fast bowlers, it's going to be very hard for all of them to play 15 days of cricket straight up. It also allows you to give another guy a game.

How do you ensure you are looking after the mental well being of players when selecting, particularly in the era of bubbles?

I played the game, but I never had to play in these circumstances, so I can’t imagine how tough it is for the players. It's got to be a mental strain for them, being in the hotel, locked down.

But I also believe that when you're a professional, you learn to adapt to the situation, and the players now are doing well. The policies are now relaxing a bit, so the guys are getting a little bit more freedom to move around, and it's getting a lot easier for them.

How do you feel about franchise competitions complicating selection for the West Indies national team?

Well, the IPL has a window, so the players are allowed to go and play in it then.

But where you get the problem is with all the other other franchises around the world. Then you’ve got to start looking at how the players are going to balance the commitment to the West Indies and also their hectic schedule.

That’s why we want more players vying for every position, so that when guys are not available for the West Indies, we're not scrambling for people to replace them.

How are you finding that young players are striking the balance between franchise and international cricket?

From my experience, everybody wants to play where there's big money. At the end of the day, everybody's wanting to improve their standard of living.

But I always say to them, it is good to realise that you've got aspirations to get into the big leagues, but it's also a very important for you to work on becoming a good cricketer. If you do that, the financial side will look after itself.

It is important to focus more on your ability, to keep working and also to look at self-development. You should always try to be knowledgeable about the game, try to seek information, try to pick the brains of some of the legends and some of the senior players.

I guarantee that if you do that – do the right things, really look after yourself, and make sure that you're fit – you will make a lot of money from the game.

Do you believe that multi-format cricketers are the future, or will players be pigeon-holed more in future?

I believe players should be multi-format cricketers. If you're a good player, you can play any form of the game.

The players are the ones who make the decision on what format they want to play, but India and New Zealand are showing that if you’re a very good Test cricketer, you can play any form of the game.

It feels as though West Indies are in a good place at the moment. How do you assess the current crop of players?

We’re always going to have talent in the West Indies, we are just a little unfortunate that we don't have the numbers. We can't really compare to places like Australia and India because they've got loads of players playing cricket, with the various academies around those countries.

I do think it’s important for the ICC to look at finding ways that they can assist countries like West Indies, Sri Lanka and Pakistan, those places with limited numbers, to try to find ways to make sure that when they split the pie, some of the smaller countries get a bit more money to help with cricket development.

I think that's something that is vital if you really want to have competitive cricket worldwide.

This interview was originally conducted by Betway.

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Monday, November 22, 2021

Kevin Pietersen's Team of the T20 World Cup 2021

Kevin Pietersen, the Betway Ambassador has selected his World XI comprising the best performers from the T20 World Cup 2021, that recently concluded in the UAE.

The Openers

MOHAMMAD RIZWAN, 281 Runs at an average of 70.25, with 3 fifties
Rizwan was the third highest run scorer in the T20 World Cup and had the second best average among all batsmen. He was a consistent run scorer at the top of Pakistan's line up and did brilliantly through the group stages and in the Semi Final, where he battled illness to score 67 against Australia.

JOS BUTTLER, 269 runs at an average of 89.66, with 1 century and 1 fifty
Buttler as the 4th highest run scorer of the T20 World Cup and had the best average among all batsmen. He was the only batsman to score a hundred in the tournament, when he lit up Sharjah, with a magnificent unbeaten knock of 101 off 67 deliveries, against Sri Lanka.

The Middle Order

BABAR AZAM, 303 runs at an average of 60.60, with 4 fifties
Babar was the leading run scorer of the T20 World Cup and showed the world why he is best and number 1 ranked T20 batsman in the world. He scored fifties in 4 out of his 6 innings, and was a model of consistency for Pakistan at the top of the order.

CHARITH ASALANKA, 231 runs at an average of 46.20 and a strike rate if 147.13, with 2 fifties
More than the number of runs scored, it was the way he scored them that caught the eye of everyone at the T20 World Cup. He was one of the finds of the tournament and has a very bright future for Sri Lanka. He was the 5th highest run scorer at the tournament, and only Buttler had a higher strike rate than him among all batsmen who scored at least 175 runs.

AIDEN MARKRAM, 162 runs at an average of 54.00, with 2 fifties
Markram played a solid role for South Africa in the middle order and was the mainstay of their batting. He bowled some useful overs as well, at times with the new ball.


The Allrounders

MOEEN ALI, 92 runs at an average of 46.00 and strike rate of 131.42; 7 wickets at an average of 11.00 and economy of 5.50
Moeen Ali impressed with the bat when he was sent higher up the order, and was brilliant with the ball for England. He remains an important member of England's white ball teams.

WANINDU HASARANGA, 119 runs at a strike rate of 148.75; 16 wickets at an average of 9.75 and economy of 5.20
Hasaranga was the leading wicket taker of the tournament, and showed immense potential with the bat too. His wickets included a hatrick and he was THE find of the T20 World Cup. He is a future superstar in the making.

The Bowlers

ADAM ZAMPA, 13 wickets at an average of 12.07 and economy of 5.81
Zampa was the second highest wicket taker of the T20 World Cup; and the highest if you consider only the Super 12s stage. His wicket taking ability in the middle overs, coupled with keeping the run flow in check, was one of the key reasons why Australia won the tournament.

TRENT BOULT, 13 wickets at an average of 13.30 and economy of 6.25
Boult was the leading wicket taker among pacers in the T20 World Cup and proved his worth to New Zealand with a string of timely and important wickets in every match.

ANRICH NORTJE, 9 wickets at an average of 11.55 and economy of 5.37
The only pacers to take more wickets than him were Hazlewood and Boult. Nortje impressed with his pace and his economy was better than all pacers in the T20 World Cup, barring Bumrah.

SHAHEEN AFRIDI, 7 wickets at an average of 24.14 and economy of 7.04
Shaheen single handedly derailed India's campaign and set the tone for Pakistan's with two of the best deliveries of the T20 World Cup. No one swung the new ball like he did in the entire tournament.

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Monday, November 15, 2021

Babar Azam - The Real Player of the T20 World Cup 2021

Yes I know that David Warner played crucial knocks in the Semi Final and the Final of the T20 World Cup, leading Australia to a first time T20 title.

But so did Shahid Afridi in 2009. 

Do you know who was the Player of the Tournament in 2009? 

Tilakaratne Dilshan.

Because he was the leading run scorer of the tournament.

Sri Lanka did not win the T20 World Cup in 2009; Pakistan did.

Similarly, in 2007, India won the T20 World Cup, but the Player of the Tournament was Shahid Afridi. He was the second highest wicket taker and scored his runs at a strike rate of 200!

In 2010, England won the T20 World Cup, and Kevin Pietersen was Player of the Tournament. He was the second highest run scorer and had a better average than the highest run scorer.

In 2012, West Indies won the T20 World Cup, but the Player of the Tournament was Shane Watson. Australia did not even play the Final! But Watson was the leading run scorer of the tournament. Please note that Watson scored 6 more runs than Jayawardene and 19 more runs than Samuels - two batsmen who played in the final.

In 2014 and 2016, Sri Lanka and the West Indies won the T20 World Cup respectively; however Virat Kohli was the Player of the Tournament both times. In 2014, Kohli played the final and was the leading run scorer; however in 2016, Kohli did not play the final and he was the second highest run scorer; however he had the best average.

Then why did Babar Azam not get the Player of the Tournament award in 2021?

Babar was the leading run scorer of the T20 World Cup 2021; he had the most number of fifty plus scores among all batsmen; and he had a better average than David Warner - 12 runs better than Warner's!


Babar was the best performing captain in the T20 World Cup, both in terms of runs scored, as well as, matches won. He was by far the finest captain on show.

For me, Babar Azam was the Player of the Tournament of the T20 World Cup 2021.

Don't really care what the ICC says.

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Saturday, November 13, 2021

The Beginning of something special for Pakistan Cricket

It is not the morning after, two days have passed, and it still doesn't feel right that Pakistan's T20 World Cup campaign is over.

This World Cup seemed like it was ours, and that is why it hurts even more.

One could have been angry had the team played badly, had the batting collapsed, had Pakistan just not turned up. But they did, and they did everything right for the most part. The match seemed to be in the bag; till some brilliance from the other side that just took it away, leaving us in shock and disbelief.

While the disappointment remains, the past two days have allowed us to heal and reflect. There are plenty of positives, both for the team and its future, as well as, the fans of Pakistan Cricket.


THE TEAM
Pakistan played this T20 World Cup like champions and were the only team that remained unbeaten in the group stages. Overall, they played 6 matches and won 5 of them - the same number as the two finalists; unfortunately the game we lost was the Semi Final.

The team looked united, played very spirited cricket, and were at the top of their game. This is surely not the end, but the beginning of something very special from this set of truly exceptional cricketers.

The cricket these boys played reminded me of the 90s. The difference; however is that this time the sum seems to be greater than the parts.

I have no doubt in my mind that this lot of players, under the leadership of Babar Azam, have a very bright future, and there is an ICC trophy waiting for them just around the corner. 

THE PLAYERS

SHAHEEN AFRIDI single handedly ended India's campaign in two deliveries. India never really recovered from those two bolts. His deliveries to Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, and then Aaron Finch were by far the best balls delivered in this T20 World Cup. As this team's pace spearhead, he will win Pakistan many more matches in the future.

ASIF ALI & HARIS RAUF were the two most criticized players of the squad. Their lack of performance leading up to the T20 World Cup was a worry for everyone. Credit must be given to the captain and the management team who kept their faith in them. Both Asif and Haris completely repaid this faith with some exceptional performances.

Asif could not have chosen a better time to display his firepower, which we have all seen in the PSL, than at the grandest stage of T20 cricket. He will finish many more games for Pakistan in the future, like he did against New Zealand and Afghanistan.

Haris bowled some fiery spells against India and New Zealand, and he maintained his strong form throughout the tournament. 

Similarly, FAKHAR ZAMAN and HASAN ALI, also had their fair share of critics. Both continued to fail in the group stages but Babar Azam maintained his faith in their abilities.

Fakhar was not even part of the initial squad of 15 that was announced and was included later at the insistence of Babar. Throughout the group stages, Babar kept saying that Fakhar is a big match player and he will deliver. He truly did by tearing apart Australia's pace spearhead in the semi final!

Hasan, however, failed to perform as per expectations, but one can't blame anyone for persisting with him considering his performance over the past 12 months. All sportsmen go through tough times, and Hasan will surely bounce back!

All those who believe that T20 is a young man's format need to rethink their stance. The experience brought by the presence of MOHAMMAD HAFEEZ and SHOAIB  MALIK was invaluable. Hafeez was superb in the field and with the ball when required. His positive intent with the bat was a reminder to everyone of how this game must be played.

Malik's calm presence in the middle against New Zealand helped finish the game and his ruthless attack on Scotland got him the record of the fastest 50 in T20Is for Pakistan.

I don't know what they have decided for the future, but with the next T20 World Cup just a year away, maybe they will still be around.

SHADAB KHAN was not in the best of forms leading up to the T20 World Cup, but he is a proven match winner and he showed all of us why Babar had so much faith in him. He was fabulous with the ball in all the matches, picking up wickets regularly, and keeping the runs in check as well. With Shadab back at his best, Pakistan truly has the best bowling line up in T20Is.

IMAD WASIM is invaluable for Pakistan with the new ball. He was one of the most economical bowlers in the entire T20 World Cup with an economy rate of 5.7. He completes Pakistan's all round bowling attack, which has more variety than any other bowling line up in T20 cricket.

MOHAMMAD RIZWAN is the Superman of Pakistan cricket, a true man of steel. I am still quite shaken by the fact that Rizwan spent 30 odd hours in the ICU before being declared fit on the day of the semi final. What a champion!

Since his transformation into Pakistan's T20 opener, he has been simply sublime. During the T20 World Cup he became the first batsman to score 1,000 T20I runs in a calendar year.


He also surpassed Chris Gayle's tally of 1,665 runs in all T20 cricket in a calendar year, and now has 1,743 runs in 2021. With still some T20Is left for Pakistan this year, Rizwan will take his lead at the top even further, and will likely remain there for a long time.

BABAR AZAM has been the best batsman in white ball cricket for some time now. In this tournament, he also grew in stature as a captain. The way he marshaled his troops, the way he united the team, the way he ensured everyone remains united even after defeat, are all traits of a great leader. He has a bright future ahead as captain and I for sure think that this team under him will reach even greater heights.

Babar ended his T20 World Cup campaign as the leading run scorer of the tournament.


Babar's tally of 303 runs in this T20 World Cup is the highest number of runs by a batsman in his first T20 World Cup. It is also the most runs scored by a captain in any T20 World Cup and it is the third highest tally by a batsman in any T20 World Cup, behind Kohli's 319 in 2014 and Dilshan's 317 in 2009.

I believe he is well on his way to becoming one of Pakistan's and the world's finest cricket captains.

Pakistan has never had a better opening pair in cricket than Babar and Rizwan. Together, they have scripted so many Pakistan victories in T20Is, and I am sure they will continue to do so. They are now 6th in the list of most partnership runs in T20Is, but their average of 62 and 5 century partnerships are unparalleled. We can look forward to many more T20I wins scripted by these two.

Pakistan's performance in the group stages was truly fabulous and exceeded all our expectations. Yes, the semifinal loss was disappointing, moreso because we all felt this was Pakistan's World Cup. They were the best team on show and the triumphant run was just glorious. This is definitely just the beginning for this special lot of cricketers.

PAKISTAN CRICKET FANS
For us, the World Cup came home to the UAE, which made it all the more special.

For the past decade we have traveled the world supporting the boys in green. From ODI World Cups in Australia and England, to T20 World Cups in Sri Lanka, to ICC Champions Trophies in the UK, we were everywhere.

This time, we were with the team from the start till the end, from Dubai to Abu Dhabi to Sharjah, from defeating India for the first time in a World Cup to coming so close to reaching the final.

It was a really memorable World Cup for all of us.

The best part was that Pakistan's campaign reignited the passion for cricket among the youth in Pakistan. All the Pakistani kids were connected to the team and cheered them on throughout the World Cup. What this will do for cricket in Pakistan is immeasurable.


The cameramen in Dubai and Sharjah ensured that we will cherish memories of this World Cup forever. These cameramen are responsible for creating the Hulk Glove Guy and the Hulk Glove Crew. Thank you for that!

Even for this crew, this is definitely not the end. The Hulk Gloves will be back again.

The road to Australia 2022 begins now. Rest assured, we will be there, in all our greens, cheering on this champion team once again!

The Beginning ...


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Monday, November 8, 2021

A Rant for the Cynics & Pessimists

WARNING: This is purely a rant.

I just wanted to document everything that I had been saying on whatsapp over the past week to all the cycnical conspiracy theorists and pessimists.

A week ago, India's T20 World Cup was done and dusted, despite an outside chance. A chance so outside that in my view it did not exist in this world.

Some people however thought otherwise.

Firstly there were the cynical conspiracy theorists. 

Those who believed that the BCCI would flex its muscles and buy out players, teams, and the entire T20 World Cup. Those who believed that BCCI paid off Afghanistan. Those who believed that BCCI incentivized the Kiwis with more lucrative IPL contracts.

The way Afghanistan played against India further fueled such cynical theories. What I don't get is how else was Afghanistan expected to play?

There was one misfield in particular that did the rounds on social media.

The most laughable one was the video of the toss with cynics saying Kohli asked Nabi to bowl first.

If this had been the first match of the tournament, no one would have raised any sort of concern.

On the other side of these cynics were the pessimists who actually believed that Afghanistan stood a chance against New Zealand.

I fail to understand how.

And I am talking about educated, knowledgeable people who know a thing or two about cricket. They felt Afghanistan had a genuine chance.

I felt like banging my head somewhere.

There really was no basis for such confidence in Afghanistan's abilities.

That too against a side that had played the last two ODI World Cup finals, had recently won the Test Championship Final, and is currently considered the best all format team in cricket (not by me, but by the likes of Mike Atherton and Nasser Hussain).

What is a tad bit disturbing is that both these cynics and pessimists were Pakistanis. 

None of the Indians I interacted with believed any of it. They were sure their campaign was over and were selling their tickets. Many left Dubai earlier than planned also. They made their decision based on cricketing logic.

Which was missing from the Pakistanis' thoughts.

Maybe it was the fact that Afghanistan always puts up a brave fight against Pakistan. However, despite that fight, they have never beaten Pakistan in a T20I.

Like they have never beaten any of the top ranked teams.

Sure, they have a great T20I record, but they are minnow bashers. 

Not a single T20I win over England, Australia, India, Pakistan, South Africa, New Zealand, or Sri Lanka.

They beat the lower ranked teams, including West Indies and Bangladesh, regularly, but not the top 8 ranked teams.

Sure Afghanistan is a strong emerging cricketing nation. Yes, they have two world class spinners. But that is about it. The rest of their bowling is average; their batting is unreliable; and their fielding is atrocious.

Their star performers like Rashid, Mujeeb, Nabi, Zazai have tremendous records against associate nations. Against the top teams, their records pale in comparison.

So what made all these Pakistanis think that Afghanistan were capable of beating New Zealand?

Beats me really.

When the fixing logic was defied, these pessimists were under some sort of spell thinking Afghanistan would beat New Zealand.

The sadder part was that instead of being fixated with Pakistan's triumphant run in the T20 World Cup and wondering who Pakistan may face in the semifinal, these Pakistanis were fixated on India and how they may qualify.

Javed Miandad's six in Sharjah in the mid 80s scarred an entire generation of Indians who believed they could never beat Pakistan, especially in Sharjah, and especially on a Friday. That Indian generation was psychologically scarred by Pakistan.

It took a whole new generation of Indian cricketers to emerge and start beating Pakistan regularly.

Similarly, I feel, an entire generation of Pakistanis has been scarred by India's stronghold on Pakistan in World Cup matches.

Thankfully, that jinx was broken by Pakistan two weeks ago.

The scars, however, remain.

I know it is easy to say all this in hindsight, after New Zealand has brushed aside Afghanistan, and India has been sent packing.

But all this is what I was saying in those endless arguments with the cynics and pessimists over the past week.

I was called an idealist. Someone living in a fantasy world. Someone who was so naive who didn't understand how this murky dark world of cricket operates.

Ha!

This rant is for all of you.

I hope you are all at peace now; and with all sincerity, I hope that you all now believe, to a certain extent, that not everything is a conspiracy, not every cricket tournament is bought by India, and not everything that happens is to screw you over.

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