Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Asia Cup 2008: Pakistan's Selections

Pakistan were the last of the 6 teams participating in the Asia Cup to announce their 15-man squad.

They did so a few days back after a 3-day training camp involving the 20 probables the selectors had announced last week.

Considering that Pakistan were coming off a victorious tri-series in Bangladesh that also involved India, it would have been common sense had Pakistan chosen their 15 from the 16 that travelled to Dhaka.

That may have been the case had it not been for an email sent by Dr. Nasim Ashraf to the team management following Pakistan's heaviest defeat to India in ODI history.

I even responded to that email by DNA, while the PCB selectors / team management decided to respon by fulfilling DNA's demands for a 2nd spinner and a new wicketkeeper.

Those demands resulted in the inclusion of two spinners - Saeed Ajmal and Mansoor Amjad, and a new wicketkeeper in Sarfraz Ahmed.

The victims of these selections were Naumanullah, Bazid Khan, and Kamran Akmal. While Sohail Khan didn't make the 15 due to malaria.

What worries me here is the inconsistency shown by the selectors and the hook they have around their necks which is tied to a rod held by DNA himself.

Firstly the selectors dropped 2 batsmen in Naumanullah and Bazid Khan and secondly they replaced them with 2 uncapped spinners - an offie Saeed Ajmal and a Leggie Mansoor Ahmad.

Remember when I said this about Naumanullah. And this about Mansoor Ajmad.

Mansoor Amjad is a talented cricketer but with Afridi in the team it would defy logic to include another leg spinner in the XI.

Saeed Ajmal, as Shoaib Malik pointed out, was chosen based on his good performance in domestic cricket and with the view that Pakistan needed a bowler to support Afridi in the middle overs.

I'm not too sure how good an idea it is to put an uncapped spinner at the deep end at home against the likes of India and Sri Lanka.

Actually I am quite sure. Bad idea.

Sure Saeed Ajmal has a good List A record - 91 matches, 130 wickets at an ave of 26.64. He also had a decent domestic season with 12 wickets in 9 one day matches at 25.58.

He had a better first class season, though that doesn't matter as this is an ODI competition.

So did Saeed Ajmal deserve the selector's nod?

Considering that there were spinners who did better than him on the domestic circuit, probably not.

Abdur Rehman, who has played ODIs and a few tests for Pakistan over the last 2 years, was the 3rd highest wicket taker in List A games this season - 25 wickets in 14 matches at 24.20.

Mohammad Aslam, Peshawar and Habib Bank's left arm spinner, picked up 17 wickets in 10 matches at 19.17.

Raheel Majeed, the leg spinner from Islamabad, picked up 12 wickets in only 5 matches at 17.41.

Nauman Alvi, PIA and Karachi's left arm spinner, picked up 12 wickets in only 6 matches at 20.25.

So then what led to Saeed Ajmal's inclusion over these players?

It wasn't his age, because at 30, he is the eldest of the lot mentioned above.

It wasn't his economy rate, because at 4.75, he is at par, with the lot mentioned above.

To be honest, I am baffled.

But as always, if he plays, I hope he proves me wrong and shows me that his selection was a mastermind and that he deserves to be there.

Kamran Akmal had been under pressure for quite some time and the selectors waited for the Chairman himself to run out of pateince before they dropped him.

U19 World Cup winning captain Sarfraz Ahmed will get his first full series. He is a better keeper than Akmal though doesn't bring the same depth in batting.

Akmal's exclusion also adds to Pakistan's opening problems as he had been doing the job along with Salman Butt, and his presence at the top allowed Malik and Lawson to field a 6th bowler.

With Akmal out, Pakistan will either have to go with Nasir Jamshed, the only specialist opener in the squad, or a make-shift option that allows that extra bowler in the XI.

Going with Nasir will be risky as banking on Malik to bowl his full quota of 10 overs will be disastrous. Thus a make-shift option will most probably be deployed.

There have been reports that have mentioned that Malik will open the batting himself, while others have also mentioned Afridi.

The latter is a strict no-no. Pakistan has tinkered with Afridi up the order way too much in the past and it almost resulted in finishing his career. Afridi is a bowler, and its high time he is treated as one.

Malik is Pakistan's best option. Not only has he done well at that position in the past, but it also provides him with the opportunity to lead from the front, something he is yet to do.

All of Malik's ODI centuries have come while opening or batting at number 3. Why he was pushed down the order is still a mystery.

I would still drop Younis Khan, open with Nasir, and bat Malik at 3, but Younis' 100 in the final of the Kitply Cup has given him another year's lease of life at the least.

Pakistan kicks off their Asia Cup campaign against Hong Kong today in Karachi. Their bigger test will be against India on Thurday.

Pakistan's likely XI: 1. Shoaib Malik, 2. Salman Butt, 3. Younis Khan, 4. Mohammad Yousuf, 5. Misbah Ul Haq, 6. Shahid Afridi, 7. Fawad Alam / Saeed Ajmal, 8. Sohail Tanvir, 9. Sarfraz Ahmed, 10. Umar Gul, 11. Rao Iftikhar.

Make your pitch on this post...

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9 Pitched:

  1. Anonymous said...

    on an all together different rant, i am surprised that there is no live telecast of the matches here in the UAE!

    Q, any information will be greatly appreciated...

    i checked with e-vision as well and they themselves dont have any information as of now!

  2. Q said...

    I am disgusted to be honest. I got a few calls from people asking me which channel is showing the matches and I said ARY because they had been advertising it since the start of the year! But everyone who called said they aren't.

    I'm still at work and just can't believe that i'll be going home to no cricket!

    I guess LIVE streaming on the net wll have to do.

  3. Anonymous said...

    This is not the first time that this has happened here, by tomorrow I am guessing the issue will be resolved and some channel will be showing the matches! atleast i hope they do! live streaming on the net just does not do it for me!

  4. Anonymous said...

    I saw the match on cricnfo they are showing the whole Asia cup free, so anybody who has a broadband connection can watch it.

    There was no reson to select two extra spinners,I can understand Mansoor Amjad's selection as Afridi is injured and his form with the bat we all know about it.
    I would have preferred a batsman in his place.
    It will take some time for Pakistan to adjust to this new combination, one thing is for sure Malik will quit opening as soon as possible.

    We might see Nasir Jamshed against India.

    YK knows when to perform.Nobody can drop him now.

    Pakistan will never get out of this trouble unless they get rid of Malik or Afridi.

  5. Q said...

    I watched the match on LIVE streaming on the net - some blogspot site had it on.

    Wasim - are u talking abt cricinfo TV / ESPN 60?

    I kept trying the link but couldn't get it working. I have a broadband connection.

    Can u give me the link pls.

  6. Q said...

    I agree Wasim, there wasn't a need for 2 more spinners with Afridi, Malik, and Alam in the squad but I think the selectors wanted to please DNA.

    I think Malik will continue to open. They can't use Nasir as that would disrupt the balance of the team. Malik opening allows for an extra bowler.

    I'm not too sure what the extent of Afridi's injury is - its difficult to bowl the way he does if ur wrist isn't 100%.

    Pleased to see Alam and Tanvir get some runs and bat with some responsibility.

  7. Anonymous said...

    Here's the link


    When you go on cricinfo's site you will see the banner on their home page.

    I think I was prompted to download some thing and then I could see it.

  8. Q said...

    Thanks Wasim.

  9. Anonymous said...


    the link you gave only works in USA.
    i live in france so how can i watch?

    why didnt you say before it only works in USA?

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