Thursday, March 27, 2008

Pakistan's Triple Threats

Australia's withdrawal from touring Pakistan have left them with a series against the lowest ranked team rather than the highest ranked team. Maybe thats a good thing - this way Pakistan can start from the bottom and work their way up. They conquered Zimbabwe this January and now its only apt that they go on and do the same with their Bengali brothers.

I reckon the PCB should organize a series against the Windies next followed by one with England and New Zealand. They can play the top 4 after that.

As it happens in Pakistan, every series is preceded by selectorial problems. This time is no different.

Triple Threat (Wrestlemania Potential) - Lawson vs Afridi vs Yousuf
Last week there were some news reports regarding Geoff Lawson not wanting Mohammad Yousuf and Shahid Afridi in the ODI team. The reasons apparently given by Lawson were lack of fitness / poor fielding and inconsistent performer respectively for the 2 senior players.

How true is that? Partly. Lawson has argued for Afridi's and Yousuf's exclusion from the team but the reasons given are very different from the actual ones.

It is no secret in Pakistan that Afridi has been lobbying for the captaincy of the ODI team. Thus his dominating presence in the dressing room and the field has made Shoaib Malik very insecure and uncomfortable.

While Yousuf is still sour over his exclusion from the 20-20 squad, and since Inzamam's retirement, has become a reclusive figure in the dressing room distancing himself from the rest of the team. Again it is a commonly known fact in Pakistan that these days Yousuf plays for himself rather than the team.

So is Lawson / Malik justified in requesting the selectors and the board to exclude these 2 cricketers from the ODI team? Lets have a look.

This season, starting from the series against South Africa in October under Shoaib Malik and Geoff Lawson, Yousuf has played 14 ODIs, scored 792 runs, and averaged 88.00. This includes 2 100s and 6 50s including an unbeaten 99. His string of scores reads 53, 117, 58*, 5, 53, 82*, 12, 16, 99*, 74, 72, 38*, 5, 108*.

More than anything else, Inzamam's absence seems to have had a positive effect on Yousuf's ODI performance probably due to addedd responsibilities. On the back of the above performances I really don't think Lawson or Malik are justified. Nor is the Paki public, which feels that Yousuf has batted selfishly in recent times.

During the same period, Afridi has played 13 ODIs, scored 297 runs, while averaging 33.00. At the same time he has picked up 13 wickets. My views about Afridi are known to whoever reads my posts regularly. A Pakistan team without him is incomplete.

Triple Threat (Survivor Series) - Akhtar vs Asif vs Gul
Its inriguing that this combination has never played an international match together. The reasons for that are known to all so I am not going to dwell on those.

Sallu, the Chief Selector, said a few days back that he was waiting to hear about them before finalizing the squad. While Mohammad Asif an Umar Gul were waiting fo fitness assessments, Shoaib Akhtar is waiting for the verdict on his disciplinary issues.

Gul has been passed fit. Asif declared himself fit yesterday only for the PCB to come out today and say that Asif is not ready for the series against Bangladesh. Did Asif announce his return to fitness so that he doesn't miss out on the IPL? Maybe. Reports today also mentioned that the PCB will not allow him to play the IPL so that he can get some rest. They have already stopped him from appearing for a county side.

Whether Akhtar will face disciplinary charges or not will not be known for some time as the committee is yet to give its verdict and it will not do so anytime soon. Akhtar might as well consider his international career over. Whats he got to lose when he's got the King Shahrukh Khan backing him in cricket as well as bollywood. Akhtar should just play for the Kolkata Knigt Riders, do some movies, party hard, and live life King size! After all one should do what he's best at.

Such stories are the norm in Pakistan. I wouldn't expect any surprises in the Pakistan squad. Salman Butt, Nasir Jamshed, and Khurram Manzoor will be announced as openers. Malik, Yousuf, Younis, and Misbah will make up the middle order. Afridi and Fawad Alam will be the allrounders along with keeper Kamran Akmal. And the bowling will be comprised of Umar Gul, Sohail Tanvir, Sohail Khan, Wahab Riaz, and Yasir Arafat. Plus Sarfraz Ahmed, Yasir Hameed, Khalid Latif, Anwar Ali will get a look in during the course of the 5 ODIs.

I'm not sure what kind of boost would a series against the Bengalis will provide Pakistan cricket. Apart from a few passionate followers of the game like me, the majority would be watching Kolkata Knight Riders taking on the Bangalore Royal Challenders rather than a Pakistan vs Bangladesh ODI.

Even I would be flipping between the 2!

Make your pitch on this post...

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5 Pitched:

  1. Viswanathan said...

    Lawson's reasoning has merit.

  2. Unknown said...

    actually South Africa are the top ranked side now.

    You could be forgiven for thinking that it's Australia considering we've beaten the Saffas pretty much every time we've played them, won the Champions Trophy (undefeated) and the World Cup (undefeated), and have pretty much dominated every other team.

    Sure we lost two ODI's to India at home, but won about 8 against them so you think that'd even out. Apparently not.

  3. straight point said...

    i wont go for the often-repeated-lost-meaning-phrases like no player is bigger than team...

    i think lawson is right in his assessment...even in last odi series against india-pak i think yosf was higest scorer and yet pak lost the series...coz his innings were even paced he did not showed any urgency to up the tempo and thus put enormous pressure on guys to follow...

    if being highest scorer you cant help win matches than i am afraid time has come for pcb to take tough decision mch like india when we left our dravid and sg...

    its high time that if they have put their faith on malik (and lawson) to do the tough job...than give him the team he wants and see the results...they may or may not succeed but pak will definitely unravel new talent and pool of players to chose from...

    i dont even think akhtar can be considered a 'threat' now...the guy has dropped enough hints that he is well passed his use by all it worth etc...etc..

    its high time pcb should look ahead and move on...its no point thinking going ahead but looking back...

  4. straight point said...


    i think you are in living another world...check your facts mate...before...(lets not even go there...)

  5. Q said...

    Moses - in my books the Aussies r still number 1..who gives a crap abt what the ICC says.

    Ottayan and SP - I see where ur coming from, but at this time I believe we need yousuf in thje middle order cos otherwise the wholle batting is quite brittle..

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