Sunday, June 15, 2008

Pakistan's New Mr. Reliable

Is Salman Butt Pakistan' new Mr. Reliable?

After almost a decade of shuffling between openers, Pakistan has finally decided to settle on Salman Butt.

No one since Saeed Anwar and Aamir Sohail has been able to call the opening slot their own.

Imran Nazir, Taufeeq Umar, Imran Farhat, Yasir Hameed, Saleem Elahi, Ali Naqvi, Naved Latif and many others couldn't do it.

No Pakistani opener since Saeed Anwar has averaged over 40 for Pakistan in ODIs.

Salman Butt though has done both - made an opening slot his own and pushed his average above 40.

He got the player of the tournament award in the just concluded Kitply Cup and pushed his average to 40.54 following his match winning unbeaten innings of 129 in the final against India last night.

This was Salman's 5th 100 against India and 7th overall. His other 2 have come against Bangladesh.

Apart from 1 of those 100s, all of them have come in matches that Pakistan has won.

Out of the 52 ODIs that Salman has played, Pakistan has won 33 and he averages a remarkable 50.35 in those victories.

Critics may argue that he's done well only against India and the minnows, but I argue that he hasn't played enough against other opposition.

Salman has played 18 of his 52 ODIs against India as compared to only 4 against Australia, 5 against England, 6 against the Windies, 8 against Sri Lanka, and none against South Africa.

Time will tell if he can manage the same success against other stronger opposition, but in the meantime I believe Pakisan has atleast found 1 half of the solution to their opening problem.

He's only 23 and has a long way to go.

Pakistan though, need to stick with him. He has shown more than once that he has the ability to fight it out under pressure.

That he showed very early in his career in his 6th ODI and also in his 4th test match.

As for being Pakistan's Mr. Reliable - in recent times, more often than not, he has given Pakistan a good start.

When he scores, Pakistan usually gets a good total, and Pakistan usually wins.

So yes, I would say that he's well on his way to become one of the mainstays of Pakistan's batting line up.

Make your pitch on this post...

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16 Pitched:

  1. scorpicity said...

    Q... A question... who is the other opener for Pakistan? Do they still use a make-shift in Kamran.

    And whatever happened to yasir hameed... has he hung up his boots.

  2. Q said...

    They used Kamran for this series. They're doing that to fit in the extra bowler.

    The only way another opener can play is if one of Younis, Yousuf, and Misbah is dropped and I have been calling for Younis to be dropped but his 100 last night means he's in for another year now, at the least.

    Yasir Hameed has been given too many chances, and he has failed.

  3. Friendly Stranger said...

    Hi There,

    You guys have a nice blog...
    I feel that Pakistan's position is somewhat like India's during 99-2001. India didn't have a form opening player then and tried many combinations only to look for other!
    Salman played a fabulous knock which took away the victory from us!

    Like Sharjah days, I'm not enjoying Indo-pak matches these days. The reason might be loads of cricket and stuff like IPL...

    Hope Salman would permanently solve opening problem for pakistan(I wish that the next would cup should remain in indian sub-continent!)

    Happy blogging!

  4. Q said...

    Thank u freindly stranger. Hope you keep coming back.

    Salman has had a tremendous year, hopefully he can continue the good run.

    Australia has denied each of the 3 subcontinent teams a World Cup the last 3 times...

  5. Saqib said...

    i say bring mohd. hafeez in... he provides us that 6th bowling option that we need and does a decent enough job at the top

  6. Q said...

    I have always liked Hafeez the bowler... he has the ablity to stop the runs and also pick up a wicket or 2...

    His run with the bat for Pakistan hasn't been that good though.. he seems to get starts but then gets out..

    But I would also prefer him to others like Nasir Jamshed, etc.

    But the question here Saqib is, who would you drop?

  7. Som said...

    I guess being stripped off vice captaincy did a world of good to Butt, after which he looked altogether a different batsman. What impressed me most in the final against India is that he did nto get swayed and was content playing second fiddle to Younis Khan. Butt showed maturity beyond his age and he only needs to retain that.

  8. Wasim said...

    As I said before Malik will have to come out of his shell and open,either he has to improve his bowling and bowl full 10 overs regularly or he will have to open otherwise he is a burden on the team.

    The reason Pakistan is encountering these problems is because of Afridi's batting and Malik's bowling, I know Afridi will regain his batting form but Malik if he wants somebody else to play as a sixth bowler then in the absence of Kamran Akmal he himself will have to bat the other option is Afridi, I will not prefer him as an opener with his current form with the bat.

    Hafeez is a garbage player, I think depending on the wicket Pakistan should persist with Fawad or Yasir Arafat.

    Pakistan should also develop Tanvir as an All rounder in future he has the potential he should work more seriously on his batting.

    The best scenario is to have two regular openers but Pakistan can't Play two regular openers right now.

  9. Q said...

    Som I agree with your sentiments on Butt. I think the PCB rushed him into the VC role.. he has captained domestic teams as well as the U19 side and Bob Woolmer identified him as a future captain. Maybe he is but he's still too young and too raw and the PCB should let the batsman in him to develop before giving him a responsiility role too big for him.

  10. Q said...

    Wasim, Pakistan can still play 2 regular openers if they drop Younis Khan.

    I prefer Malik at 3.

    Tanvir hasnt yet transformed his domestic batting form to the international scene but with time he might. We need that for the depth in batting.

  11. wasim said...

    Q, Younis after that century as you said "he is in for another year", I like both Khurram and Nasir Jamshed,but under present circumstances if Younis doesn't get axed then Pakistan has no choice but to open with Malik.

  12. Q said...

    Malik will never open.

  13. Wasim said...

    Looking at his recent behaviour of hiding behind other players, you are right he will not open but I think we should continue to write about it. My guess is either he will send Afridi or Younis Khan to open.

    I think Afridi should not be put under more pressure he is having a bad patch with the bat, he should be given time to recover from this bad patch, this is the first time that I saw him struggling to hit the ball he has always been a clean hitter of the ball in the past he used to get out because of his shot selection(which is a separtate issue) and not because of his unability to play properly.

    We cannot afford to lose Afridi as a bowler given the fragility of our bowling especially when there will be no Asif and no Shoaib in the team,IMO, only Malik can pull his team out of this dilemma if he changes his attitude, otherwise he has no place in the team.

    What is your take on Younis Khan's sporadic performances?
    Now that he saved himself do you think that the selectors will find the courage to axe him?

  14. Q said...

    Wasim, I am glad that your stance on Afridi is getting more lenient. You are finally starting to see the bowler in him.

    I agree that this phase is probably his worst batting form ever but he'll come out of it soon.

    As for Younis - there are 2 issues really. He's an integral part of the test batting line up so he can't be dropped from there. I do believe he is an amazing test bat. The Pakis selectors do not like to have different batting line ups for tests and ODIs which is why they have never dropped Younis from ODIs.

    Plus now with the 100, the selectors can't drop him.

    Younis has been sporadic only in ODIs. He's been very consistent in tests.

    I guess ODI's is just not for him. Anyone who plays that long (170 ODIs) will have his days. But 4 100s for a number 3... not doing it for me..

  15. Wasim said...

    Q, I never denied Afridi is not a bowler, what you are not admitting is that because of Malik's bowling and Afridi's batting we are facing this combination problem, and my criticism of Afridi and Malik is only because of that, yes at certain times because of Afridi's headless display of batting I have criticized him heavily in the past, but anyways they both eventually will have to fullfill their roles as All-rounders otherwise we will continue to be a mediocre team because of poor combination and lack of depth in both bowling and batting and they both deserve the blame and criticism for it.

  16. Q said...

    I see your point Wasim. Only that sometimes I feel, us Pakistanis expect too much of the bat from Afridi. Even the team management does.

    I feel he is more of a number 7-8 than a number 5-6 batsman.

    We need someone like Razzak - a fast medium bowler and hard hitting batsman for number 7 with Afridi to follow..

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