Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Of Third Nipples

I saw my first game of cricket in almost 3 months and was greeted by the sight of messrs Sohail Tanvir and Kamran Hussein opening the attack for the boys representing the Land of the Pure. Niether, mind you, managed to break the 130kph barrier. Meanwhile,on the other side of the border, our neighbours have a bowling attack that, for the very first time, i am somewhat jealous of. While they have a 19 year old tearing it up with the big boys and giving the Aussies a serious working over, we have Samiullah Niazi, Iftikhar Rao (Why oh Why oh Why??!) and Kamran Hussein struggling to bowl out the Zimbos and putting us to sleep. It makes me want to weep. Not to mention hide my face at work.

Let's dwell a bit on Kamran Hussein. His stats suggest that he is nothing more than an average all rounder. He has almost identical first class batting and bowling averages (23 and 25 respectively), and only made it into the team based on his strong performance in the current first class season and the PCB's ostracization of Abdul Razzaq. However, it is only after seeing him bowl that i despair at the lack of depth in Pakistan's bowling resources. After his first couple of overs where he was getting gentle inswing into the right handers, he was about as useful as a third nipple. The Zimbabwean batsmen repeatedly walked down the pitch to him and attempted to 'Hayden' him, with some success too. Not what you want to see happening to your opening bowlers against a team like Zimbabwe.

On the brighter side, i noticed considerable improvement in Sohail Tanvir. I remember having a conversation with Q sometime back that the only way this bloke would ever be worthy of a place in the Pakistani side on a long term basis was if he started to bring the ball back into the right handers. Lo and behold, not only was he bringing it back in quite considerably, but he was also actually setting up the batsmen for that particular delivery. This ofcourse means that he is suddenly transformed into a much more potent threat given the fact that he does already get prodigious away swing from the right handers. The combination of natural away swing and the surprise indipper means that the best batsmen will struggle to cope with him.

One player i was really looking forward to seeing in action was Sohail Khan. Today he ended up with 1 for 38 off 7 overs. Not a earth shattering debut by any means. But Sohail Pathan, as he is known on the domestic circuit, is one for the future and looks to be worthy claimant to a place in the Pakistani pace attack. But the powers that be will need to make sure he gets the proper attention and help him fine tune his bowling. One of the things i noticed straight away was that his run-up is not brisk enough - he almost ambles to the crease and then gathers himself to hurl the ball with a last minute effort which must no doubt out tremendous pressure on his upper body. Not the best way to go about things if you want a relatively injury free career. Given that we have Geoff Lawson as coach, i think the prospects are good that he will be well taken care of and his technique honed for him to emerge the finished article. What he has going for him good pace (around the 140 kph mark) and the willingness to pitch it up on the stumps. Waqar Younis was ofcourse a great exponent of those two qualities and Sohail Pathan bowled a 'waqaresque' scorching reverse swinging yorker to claim his first international wicket, a sight which we had almost started to take for granted when Wasim and Waqar were in their heyday.

Moving on to the batsmen. This is the first time i have seen Nasir Jamshed play and, unfortunately, i have a feeling his success against Zimbabwe may indeed end up being the last success he tastes for a while. He has a bit of Saeed Anwar about him - the Saeed Anwar of the pre-95 era. A more experience and talented bowling attack will quickly expose his rooted-to-the-crease-and-swish-at-anything-outside-offstump technique. I hope i am proven wrong but from what i've seen i dont see him making the openers slot his own. Khalid Latif actually looked much more solid than his opening partner and played some nice shots. But he too ultimately fell to an ugly slog after consuming more than 40 balls for his 19 against what is a pedestrian bowling attack. debut nerves maybe, but in my opinion infinitely more solid looking than Mr. Jamshed.

As i type this, Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Yousuf are slwoly but surely taking Pakistan towards the finish line. its good to see Malik coming up the order where he has had most if his success in ODIs. It would be good to see him actually taking it one step further and cementing atleast one opener slot. This would not only bring SOME stability at the top of the order, but would also allow more flexibility lower down and allow us to play another batting/bolwing allrounder.

Anyway, its good to be back blogging after a 2 month hiatus. In those two months alot has changed - while filling out forms i now tick the 'Married' box! But with the series against the Aussies coming up i cannot help but be excited and have my fingers crossed for a exciting and competitive series. One big step towards that would be to have the following bowling lineup: M. Asif and Gul to share the new ball, Sohal Khan and Sohail Tanvir to bowl first change with Kaneria fulfilling the legspinning duties. Only if we can put those 5 bowlers out on the field consistently will we have a chance of pushing the Aussies.

Your thoughts!

Make your pitch on this post...


2 Pitched:

  1. Q said...

    Welcome back to wellpitched O2. Im sure your month comprising of wedding functions, honeymooning, and dinners was quite exciting :-)

    Apart from having u back, i am also pleased to note that your thoughts on Pakistan's back up pace attack have gone from extremely negative in your previous post to somewhat positive.

    Tanvir has definitely come a long way since making his debut. He is a genuine allrounder and a very promising cricketer. I hope he can stay injury free.

    I fail to understand why a 30 yr old allrounder in Kamran Hussain is being tried by Pak. A younger bowler like Anwar Ali or Abdur Rauf could have been tried instead.

    Sohail Khan looked good but ur right abt his action. This lad has a future and ive been waiting to see him for a long time and finally got the chance today.

    Malik batted where i like to see him bat - up the order. He's most useful to Pakistan batting there. Pakistan played with their most balanced XI today as I think they were a bowler short in the previous 3 ODIs, however it was only possible with Younis Khan being rested. How Pak will be able to manage that otherwise, Im not too sure but the only option seems to be to use Malik as opener. He needs to have the confidence to do it.

    Nasir is a flashy player but he showed that he can be patient in the 3rd ODI. He was unlucky to get out the way he did today.

    Happy blogging O2

  2. obaid said...

    Hey O2, welcome back and congratulations. I hope you are all padded up to play a long innings ;)

    Other than that seeing is believing... I havent seen any of these new youngsters. I remain very pessimistic but as Q says its important to try new faces out. My new criteria is that new cricketers should be good sledgers in the english language because one mans mother is another mans monkey.

    Jokes aside, good post that I read to get an update on who the new performers are and where they stand

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