Sunday, January 13, 2008

Pakistan's Bench.

What has been surprising about the current domestic season in Pakistan, has been the number of openers that have excelled. Majority of the leading batsmen this season has been openers or number 3s and all of them have been included in the squad for the 4-day game against Zimbabwe.

Khurram Manzoor
The only player to score over a 1,000 runs this season. 1,025 runs in 12 matches at an average of 54 with 3 centuries and 4 fifities. The 21 year old PIA opener was this season's most succesful batsman. He has been around the domestic scene for 4 years now and looks set to be tried out as opener against the Zimbos. He has been included in the patron's squad for the 4-day game.

Shoaib KhanThe 22 year old opener from Quetta amassed 884 runs in 10 matches at an average of 52 with 3 100s and as many 50s. He would feel harshly treated as he has not been included in the squad for the pratice match despite being the 3rd highest scorer of the domestic season. He should get a game against the Zimbos.

Umar Akmal
The 17 year old brother of national wicket keeper Kamran Akmal has been one of the most succesful batsmen this season. He notched up 855 runs in 10 matches at an average of 78. In his debut first class season, the boy posted a 248 and an unbeaten 186. In addition he scored 4 half centuries batting at number 3 for the domestic champions SNG. Umar has not been named in the squad for the 4-day match and he probably will not be granted a match in the ODI series as he was named in the u-19 squads for the tri-series in Sri Lanka and the World Cup in Malaysia. But one for the future. He's touted as the most talented batsmen out of the Akmal brothers and he showed his potential this season.

Nasir Jamshed
The 18 year old left handed batsman scored 800 runs while opening for National Bank of Pakistan in 10 matches at an average of 53. Knocked 3 centuries and 2 half centuries. He has been included in the squad for the 4-day practice match.

Afaq RaheemAnother opener, he scored 801 runs this season with the help of 2 centuries and a fifty at an average of 47. He has also been included in the squad for the 4-day match.

Khalid Latif
The 22 year old, former U-19 world cup winning captain, had his most succesful first class season where he scored 633 runs in 10 matches at an average of 37. There were more succesful batsmen than him on the domestic scene but he has impressed the selectors with his strokeplay during the 3 centuries he scored this season. Also an opener, he is expected to open in the ODIs against Zimbabwe. Also included in the squad for the 4-day practice match.

Considering that so many openers created an impression during the current domestic season, I wonder what happens to all of them after their international debuts.

There were a number of pace bowlers who caught the selectors' eye this season and leading the pack was none other than Sohail Khan. I have already done a post on him in detail and I'll say it again that its been a long time since a fast bowler has risen to fame so quickly in Pakistan. There were some other bowlers as well who did extremely well.

Wahab Riaz
The 22 year old right arm fast bowler was the 2nd highest wicket taker this season with 51 wickets in 10 matches at an average of 17. He had the best average during the season and picked up 4 five wicket hauls and 1 10 wicket haul. He will be sharing the new ball with Sohail Khan in the 4-day game.

Rauf Akbar
with 48 wickets he was the leading bowler behind Sohail and Wahab. At 30, it doesn't look like te right arm medium pacer will be granted a chance in the ODIs but he has the chance to impress the selectors further in the 4-day game.

I believe the selectors stopped there as the next 2 fast bowlers on the list with 46 wickets apiece, Samiullah Khan and Junaid Zia, have not been included in the squad for the 4-day game. They probably will not get a game in the ODIs either with Sohail Tanvir, Yasser Arafat, and Rao Iftikhar expected to share the new ball along with Sohail Khan.

The other players to make the Patron's XI squad are Naumanullah, Kamran Hussain, Rizwan Ahmed, and Yasir Shah. Naumanullah was the 2nd highest run scorer in the domestic competition and has duly earned his place in the practice game, however at 32 and having played first class cricket for the last 11 seasons, his best years are behind him. Or can he do a Misbah?

Kamran Hussain is a 30 year old allrounder who opens the batting and bowls medium pace. He has also been around for a long time and had a failry successful domestic season scoring 568 runs at 38 and picking up 35 wickets at 18. I oubt he would get an ODI as the allrounders are aplenty with skipper Malik, Afridi, and Fawad Alam in the ranks. Rizwan Ahmed and Yasir Shah are unknowns and are probably there to make up the 14 member Patrons XI squad. The former is a middle order batsman, while the other is a left arm spinner. Don't expect them to play much.

With hardly any middle order batsmen being tried out in the 4-day game, its quite apparent that Pakistan are set to try out new openers against Zimbabwe. Khurram Manzoor and Khalid Latif seem to be the favorites at the moment but performances in the 4-day game will probably count. Pakistan is expected to announce their squad on the 16th and I expect both these plyers along with one from Nasir Jamshed and Afaq Raheem making it. Shoaib Khan will feel hard done by but then how many openers can you fit in? I also don't expect two new opener playing each game with Salman Butt holding on to one position and other being rotated. Fawad Alam is expected to get more games so expect Younis and Yousuf to be rotated in the ODIs as well. Kamran Akmal is expected to sit out with Sarfraz Ahmed taking the duties behing the stumps.

I would see the following XI with rotation playing in the 5 ODIs against the Zimbos.

1. Salman Butt
2. Khurram Manzoor / Khalid Latif
3. Mohammad Yousuf / Younis Khan
4. Misbah ul Haq
5. Shoaib Malik
6. Fawad Alam
7. Shahid Afridi
8. Sarfraz Ahmed
9. Yasir Arafat
10. Sohail Tanvir / Rao Ifitikhar
11. Sohail Khan / Wahab Riaz

That should make up the 15 member ODI squad with either of Yasir Hameed, Nasir Jamshed, and Afaq Rahim coming in as the 16th member if the selectors go in with a 16 member one. Lets see how much the selectors agree with me.

Make your pitch on this post...

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3 Pitched:

  1. Soulberry said...

    I'll be on the lookout Q. Those thumbnail sketches look promising.

    I didn't know Akmal had a sibling who could be another firebrand Pakistan player like his older brother!

  2. Q said...

    Kamran Akmal actually has 2 younger brothers playing domestic cricket. The younger one Adnan Akmal is also a keeper and a better one than Kamran but he's not as good a batsman as Kamran. The youngest one Umar Akmal, I mentioned in the post.

    Both Adnan and Umar play for SNG who just won the domestic championship. Adnan's about 21 and Umar only 17. Umar's the best batsman out of the lot.

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