Monday, June 9, 2008

Can Pakistan Challenge India?

Pakistan comprehensively beat Bangladesh last night.

Nothing big about that. They did the same the last 5 times the 2 teams met in Pakistan a few months ago.

Last night was also Pakistan's 12th consecutive ODI victory, equalling South Africa's run of 2005. Australia sits on top of the list with 21 consecutive victories.

Considering that 11 of Pakistan's 12 victories have come against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, the unbeaten run doesn't mean much really.

The 1st one of those victories came against India though, the same team that Pakistan will face tomorrow in the 2nd match of the Kitply Cup.

It will be Pakistan's first real test in ODIs since boasting about this winning run against the minnows.

India recently won the CB Series Title in Australia and each one of India's 15-man squad is coming of a successful IPL campaign.

The Pakis are going to find it tough against a team in form.

They would need to be at their best and all the players that have performed against the minnows will have to show that they can do the same against the best.

Salman Butt and Mohammad Yousuf have been in tremendous form against the Zimbos and the Bongs.

Both showed the same touch last night scoring 70 and 59 respectively in quick time, and they will have to be at their best tomorrow if Pakistan is to challenge the Indians.

Shahid Afridi has been super with the ball. Against the Zimbos and the Bongs in Pakistan he picked up wickets in all the games he played in and that too at very economical terms.

Last night he was unplayable while spinning the ball sharply, bowling his googlies and flippers, and puzzling the Bengali batsmen.

He will have to be just as good with the ball if not better against Yuvraj, Dhoni, and company. If he fires with the bat, it will be a bonus.

I found it really funny when Aamir Sohail continued to praise Afridi's bowling and then went on to interview him after the match and showered all sorts of praise on him.

Its funny how he never thought about Afridi the bowler before. During his days as Chief Selector, Aamir Sohail used to talk about how Afridi should never play for Pakistan again.

Misbah Ul Haq had an ordinary IPL, but he has been Pakistan's best batsman in all forms of the game since Big Inzi's retirement.
He played his role perfectly last night coming in near the end of the innings and scoring 39 in 20 odd deliveries with 2 huge 6s and a few 4s.
But why he came lower than Afridi and Malik is beyond me. He needs to bat at 5 with Malik and Afridi to follow.
Misbah has the ability to push for the 1s and 2s as well as to go for the big ones. Keeping him for the last few overs only to utilize his big hitting power is wasting his ability.
Misbah has to continue his fine form for Pakistan but Malik needs to use him better.
Sohail Tanvir went wicketless last night and was also on the expensive side. But he's coming off a very successful run in the IPL where he took wickets by the heap and he would have to display the same kind of form tomorrow.
Probably the sights of Sehwag and Gambhir would lift him up.
Wahab Riaz, the other left arm quick, made an impressive debut against the Zimbos in January this year. He played another couple of games against the Bongs in Pakistan, and he looked alright.
Last night though, Wahab looked extremely good. He provided Pakistan with the first breakthrough as soon as he came on. He bowled with good pace, swung the ball both ways, and bowled yorkers at will.
The delivery with which he cleaned up Dollar Mahmud from around the wicket had shades of Wasim Akram in it.
Not surprising since Wahab recently attended the fast bowlers camp that was held by Wasim Akram in Pakistan.
Tomorrow will be Wahab's first real test against quality opposition. So far he has impressed against the minnows, tomorrow he needs to do the same to be recognized as one of the good fast bowling finds from Pakistan.
Umar Gul has taken on the role of Pakistan's pace spearhead in the absence of the druggies.
He came back from injury against the Bongs in Pakistan and went on to the IPL and looked in fine touch whenever he got the chance to play.
Gul finished off the innings well last night, but along with Tanvir, he will have to give Pakistan early breakthroughs against a strong Indian batting line up.
Kamran Akmal gave Salman good support at the top of the order last night. Even though he perished just when he was starting to get going, he seemed to play with more maturity than I have seen before.
Akmal's keeping was also pretty good for his standards.
I believe Shane Warne has something to do with that. Has the Aussie master provided Pakistan with the new and improved Kamran Akmal?
With Salman in such good form, all Akmal has to do is support him and if Pakistan can get a good opening partnership, they have enough batting might to put up or chase down a good total.
Shoaib Malik didn't bowl last night, and he sent Afridi above him in the batting order and Misbah below him. I hope its not Lawson who is making him do this, because its outright stupid.
Malik had been in fine form during the ODI series against the Zimbos and the Bongs. Plus it was he who had led Pakistan to that win against India that started this victory run with an 80 odd and a 3 wicket haul.
Last night though, Malik didn't look confident at all. He didn't seem eager to bat or bowl. Maybe he's taken his IPL failure to heart.
The Pakistan skipper has to be at his best tomorrow. Malik has generally done well against India and he needs to remember that when he goes out and bats.
Younis Khan didn't face a single ball last night, and he only faced a handful in the IPL.
It doesn't really matter though cause Younis fails more often than not in ODIs. A brilliant test batsman but what he's doing in the ODI side, I still don't know.
It wouldn't make a difference whether he scores or not against India. It has hardly ever had a bearing on the result in the past.
The 5th and 6th bowling options is a problem for Pakistan. They played Fawad Alam last night who was on the expensive side. Malik also used Salman and Younis as he often does when the match has all been decided.
Malik should be the 6th bowler for Pakistan. That leaves the 5th bowling option open.
Even though Alam strengthens the batting to some extent, he will always be a weak link for the bowling and the opposition will look to target him.
Afridi and Malik should take care of the spin options thus the 5th bowler role should be taken up by a pacer.
In my view, Sohail Khan is the best option and its high time Pakistan utilized him more. He should have played all 10 ODIs against the Zimbos and the Bongs but my thoughts and those of the Pakistan team management don't always match.
Sohail has the pace to unsettle batsmen. Along with Tanvir, Gul, and Wahab he could form one of Pakistan's best pace attacks in recent times.
This is what the Pakistanis have to do if they are to beat the best.
On paper, they look like they can. But India is a fine ODI side.
The likes of Sehwag, Gambhir, Yuvraj, Sharma, Uthappa, Raina, Yusuf, and Dhoni all have the ability to rip any bowling attack apart. The Paki pacers along with Afridi will have to stamp their authority early on.
The Paki batsmen will have to rise to the challenge against the Indian pacers and Piyush Chawla. The initial threat from Pathan, Ishant, and RP will have to be seen off, while caution would need to be applied against Chawla whose variations can trouble the best.
The Indians should be confident, but they should also be wary of a side like Pakistan, who have the ability to beat the best on their day.
Plus they tend to play their best against India.
It should be a great game.

Make your pitch on this post...

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9 Pitched:

  1. Wasim said...

    Its funny that we both made a simultaneous post expressing similar views.

  2. Q said...

    What do they say about those who think alike Wasim? ;-)

  3. Anonymous said...

    well really no pun intended.

    i just watched only the presentation ceremony...and yes, Shoaib malik didn't seem to have any confidence at all when he was talking.

    Infact he made one statement that it was nice of salman and yousuf to score so many runs..
    i just burst into laughter and even now i am smiling when i think of his reply :)

  4. Q said...

    Where's the pun anonymous? :-)

  5. Wasim said...


    They say great minds think alike, but there is another saying fools seldom disagree.:)

  6. Samir Chopra said...

    Is it just me or is Afridi getting a paunch?

  7. Q said...

    It has to be you Samir, I see him as fit as ever :-)

  8. Anonymous said...

    best to avoid words like "paki", "zimbos" and "bongs". they not only sounds highly unprofessional and childish, they may be construed as (gasp!) racist.

    just my $0.02 worth. Good writing otherwise.

  9. Q said...

    Will keep that in mind next time anonymous..

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