Monday, November 17, 2008

What does the 3-0 win over the West Indies mean for Pakistan?

Pakistan have beaten the West Indies 3-0 in the just concluded ODI series in Abu Dhabi.

What does this victory mean for Pakistan?

Everyone seems to be asking that question.

Rameez asked Shoaib Malik; Ian Bishop asked Waqar Younis; Jemima asked Imran Khan; Aqib Javed asked Intikhab Alam; Rameez asked Younis Khan; Zardari asked Ijaz Butt; Dawood Ibrahim asked his bookies; Afridi asked Shoaib Akhtar; Faisal Iqbal asked Javed Miandad; and Tom, Dick, Harry, Larry, Laurel and Hardy asked me.

It means exactly what the 5-0 wins over Zimbabwe and Bangladesh earlier in the year meant.

Or so the ICC ODI Rankings would indicate.

Oh and what's this - Pakistan is ranked 4th on the table? How did they manage that?

They haven't been playing good cricket lately so how in the world are they among the top 4 ODI teams?

Isn't that what just went through your mind after looking at the rankings?

Over at BCC! fellow bored member Raja Baradwaj initiated a discussion around Pakistan cricket - it is a discussion carried out over three different posts and must be read in entirety including its comments to be understood completely.

He first asked who was responsible for a turnaround in Pakistan's fortunes, he then showed us some stats to back his statements, and then followed that up with some more stats.

After all that, Raja B's conclusion was that Pakistan has not played good cricket in the last 1 year.

I beg to differ as you would have seen in my comments on the above 3 posts.

Now what follows here, is not a response to any of those posts, but it can be read in context of the discussion that started on BCC! a few days ago.

What I initially wanted to do was analyze the performances of the Pakistan players in the 3 ODIs against the West Indies.

But then I stretched that back a bit to assess how these players have performed since Shoaib Malik took over as captain, i.e. since after the ODI World Cup in 2007.

That would serve three purposes:

1. Indicate whether the players have played good cricket or bad, hence implying whether the team has played good cricket or bad.

2. Highlight how Shoaib Malik has performed as a captain.

3. Assess whether the key players have performed better under Malik or not.

In order to keep it in perspective, I am not going to count the matches Pakistan played against Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, and Hong Kong during this time. This leaves us with 21 ODIs that Pakistan has played against India, South Africa, Sri Lanka, and the West Indies over the last year and a half since Shoaib Malik took charge. Pakistan won 11 of those matches.

Thats better than a 50% success rate, which in my opinion is hardly bad cricket. Its inconsistent yes but then that Pakistan has been since I set foot on this planet.

On to the players then - the key players that form the core of Pakistan.

Lets start with the skipper.

Shoaib Malik - In 33 ODIs as captain, Malik is averaging 43.88. Thats well above his career average of 35.61. In the 21 ODIs mentioned above, Malik has played 20 and scored 790 runs at an average of 46.47.

Thats definitely not bad cricket and those who think that he has not performed as captain need to think again, for he has surely improved as a batsman since he took charge.

Those 790 runs include several match winning knocks, including an unbeaten century against India in a losing cause.

Misbah Ul Haq - He walked into the team during the 20-20 world cup last year and didn't have much of a record before that so there's not much to compare to.

However, an average of 43.71 during this period is hardly bad.

In the above mentioned ODIs, Misbah averages 46.00 in 18 matches. Moreover, his last 5 ODIs against India, Sri Lanka, and the West Indies have produced scores of 79*, 52, 7, 70*, and 76.

He has been a consistent performer and has definitely played good cricket. The accusation of not finishing matches hovers over his head, but then he's been in the team for only a year. Give him time, 18 ODIs is nothing to judge a player over. Inzamam gained his reputation over 300 ODIs.

Younis Khan - Following Inzamam's departure, Younis became the senior most batsman in the Pakistan team. Though the other half of the Yo-Yos is more senior in terms of age, Younis is the more senior in terms of years played for Pakistan.

With Inzamam gone, Younis had to step up and step up big time, especially in ODIs. And now with Yousuf also gone, the pressure on Younis doubled.

Despite this, Younis performed. And boy did he perform!

17 ODIs, 953 runs at an average of 59.56. Those runs include 4 match winning centuries.

Compare that to a career average of 34.49 and it tells you the difference in Younis Khan's performance under Malik and before him.

He can safely be called Pakistan's most dependable batsman these days.

Salman Butt - During this time, he has made one opening slot his own. Despite a quiet series against the West Indies, out of the 21 ODIs mentioned above, he played 16 scoring 602 runs at an average of 40.13.

He has been a consistent performer for Pakistan and in him they have found atleast one half of an opening pair they have been looking for, for almost a decade now.

7 centuries in 60 ODIs - that's almost the same conversion rate that Saeed Anwar had at the start of his career.

Shahid Afridi - There have been a number of reports indicating his difference with Malik and his captaincy aspirations.

Despite this, Afridi has been a champion on the field, supporting Malik and egging the players on. Malik, on more than one occassion, has pointed out how good Afridi is on the field.

19 ODIs, 19 wickets, 321 runs, 9 catches - you really can't ask more from a bowling allrounder. He has been Pakistan's best bowler during this time.

Those who may argue that he has failed with the bat, I will only point to the 73* against Sri Lanka, 47 against South Africa, 29* against India, and 28 against the West Indies - all match winning knocks in the last 18 months. 4 match winning knocks in 19 ODIs - what more are you looking for?

Kamran Akmal - 17 ODIs, 350 runs at an average of 26.92. That is not much different from his career average. He has been criminal in the past behind the stumps, but in front of them, Pakistan probably does not have a better choice.

In the recent series against the West Indies, he was probably the difference between a 3-0 Pakistan win and a 3-0 West Indies win.

In the 1st ODI he smashd 17 runs of the final over the take Pakistan to victory, in the 2nd he played a valuable knock of 45 that took Pakistan to a respectable total, and in the 3rd his 20 odd proved the difference between a chaseable score of 250 and the 270 odd that Pakistan got.

The Pace Attack

The fast bowlers have been a problem for Pakistan for almost 3 years now. Or have they?

Due to various reasons Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammad Asif, and Umar Gul have been in and out of the team during this time. This problem for Pakistan is so grave that not even once have they managed to field all three in the same XI. Not once.

In the absence of Shoaib and Asif, Gul has risen to lead the pace attack and he has done that outstandingly. Along with him, the likes of Sohail Tanvir and Rao Iftikhar have emerged and have carried Pakistan's pace attack with aplomb.

Umar Gul - 17 ODIs, 31 wickets at an average of 25.70 including 3 or more wickets in a match as many as 7 times with at least one against each of the Lankans, Indians, Safrikaans, and the Windies.

Sohail Tanvir - 16 ODIs, 27 wickets at an average of 28.40 including a 4 wicket haul against India and a 5 wicket haul against Sri Lanka.

Rao Iftikhar - 17 ODIs, 30 wickets at an average of 28.36 including 3 wickets or more on 6 occassions, and atleast 1 each against the 4 opponents.

Now with all the above highlighting good individual performances over the last 18 months and in most cases improved performances as compared to the period before Malik took charge, I really do not see how anyone can claim that Pakistan has played bad cricket or that the team is going through a decline.

So then why the complains and voices against a "mediocre" Pakistan?

I can agree to the fact that the team does not have the same flair and aggression that it did in the 90s, or that the team does not play the attacking cricket it has always been famous for, but I cannot agree to the fact that the team has not played good cricket over the last year and a half.

A number of factors have resulted in tarnishing the image of Pakistan, both the country and the cricket team, however, despite all that the Pakistan cricketers have turned up to play cricket, and good cricket they have played.

To achieve those results for a team that has gone through what the Pakistan players have gone through (read death of a coach in the middle of a tournament, read doped players, read player bans, read cancelled tours, read disturbed nation, read lack of support for captain, read trouble at the board level, read ICL defections) is quite an achievement in my opinion.

Any team that was less strong mentally, would have crumbled. Pakistan didn't.

They beat all the teams they played against. Lost to them as well but they were never thrashed comprehensively as far as series results are concerned.

There was a small achievement in reaching the 20-20 World Cup final as well during this period, in addition to beating India in the final of a triangular tournament in Dhaka.

As Jrod mentioned "you can only beat the bowlers you face", I would just take it a bit forward and say "you can only beat the players you face".

The lack or rather nonexistence of matches against Australia, England, and New Zealand during this time is beyond the team's control.

They have played against the other 4 major oppositions and done well. Their past record against England and New Zealand is quite brilliant, while against Australia they haven't been worse than the other teams around.

Then why the questions I ask?

The 3-0 win over the West Indies means absolutely nothing for Pakistan.

Those who expected any other result probably forgot that the West Indies were the weakest of the 8 international teams, and they definitely underestimated Pakistan.

Make your pitch on this post...

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41 Pitched:

  1. Wasim said...


    Are these stats for last one year or since Malik took over?

    I think they are for last one year, Afridi took 30 wickets not 19 and Tanvir was the most successful bowler for Pakistan.
    I have not checked all the stats these two I knew so I am just taking the liberty to correct you.

  2. Q said...

    Wasim, these stats are since Malik took over going back to the 3 ODI series against Sri Lanka in May 2007.

    As I mentioned in the post I have not included matches against Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, and Hong Kong.

    Afridi has 30 wickets if u include those matches.

    In 19 matches that Afridi has played against Ind, SL, WI, and SA h has 19 wickets.

  3. sobi said...


    A nice analysis of the state of affairs that will certainly allow a a (die hard Pakistani) cricket fan to see sunlight which in normal circumstances hide behind the curtains of miseries.

    However, I would like to point out a very interesting fact that i realized after reading your post.

    Quoting couple of your statements:

    "This problem for Pakistan is so grave that not even once have they managed to field all three in the same XI. Not once."

    COMMENT: As far as I remember we fielded teams (in lost causes against SA and India) which had atleast 5 different members.

    "Any team that was less strong mentally, would have crumbled. Pakistan didn't."

    COMMENT: Over the last year not only the team but management as well has been going through a whirlpool of random changes.

    So, in light of my observations, I would like to differ. Firstly you can call it the mental strength of individuals, not the entire team, that performed on and off over the year. One more thing that strengthens my point is the fact that we lost to SA and India, not by alot but still we fell short. The numbers look impressive but they tell the individual tales. Not the story of entire team. And it was the team that lost against India and South Africa.

    If I were to analyze, I will keep WI in the same bracket as Zimbabwe and Bangladesh for now.

  4. Q said...

    Sobi, thanks for your comments..

    I'd like to respond to the following things mentioned by you:

    1. "As far as I remember we fielded teams (in lost causes against SA and India) which had atleast 5 different members."

    2. "Over the last year not only the team but management as well has been going through a whirlpool of random changes."

    3. "One more thing that strengthens my point is the fact that we lost to SA and India"

    My Response:

    1. I don't think that ever happened Sobi.

    2. Not true Sobi. As far as the team is concerned, it has been the same set of 15-18 players that have played for Pakistan. There haven't been random additions or deletions.

    The exceptions were the series against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh where a number of younger players were tried out but even then the core 7-8 remained the same.

    As for the management - there haven't been random changes over the last year but rather a change came about last month when a new Chairman took over the PCB.

    Ijaz Butt brought on his own team to run affairs, whereas before that Nasim Ashraf had his own men.

    3. I agree we lost the series to India and South Africa, but we lost 3-2 in the ODIs and 1-0 in the tests.

    I think the fact that we managed to draw a test against SA and 2 against India is quite a huge achievement.

    Things need to be looked at in perspective Sobi. India is probably the strongest team in the world today. South Africa for a long time has been one of the top 2 teams in cricket.

    Losing by a margin of 3-2 & 1-0 to them actually tells u a great deal about how good Pakistan's performance has been despite not having the services of match winners such as Inzi, Shoaib Akhtar and those of the past.

    We can never expect to reach the heights we did under Imran Khan or when the 2 Ws were around. Those players come once in a lifetime.

    The purpose of my post was not to paint a rosy picture for Pakistan cricket. It was just to highlight the fact that things are not as bad as they are made out to be.

    Our fans are a bit unreasonable at times expecting the team to win every match they play. Pakistan has always been inconsistent. As I said elsewhere, we were by far the worst team on display in the world cup that we won.

    So consistency has never been Pakistan's forte and yet people talk about how the team has declined.

    It hasn't is what my point is. When before have beaten South Africa in a one day series? I don't think we ever have.

    So why does Shoaib Malik get criticized for losing to them 3-2 when an Inzamam led side has lost to them 4-1 as has a Wasim Akram led side?

    Inzi's side lost to India 4-1 in Pakistan that is while Malik's team managed a 3-2 result in India.

  5. khansahab said...


    Good analysis and you have made a decent case for Malik to remain as captain.

    However, Younis's peformance may just be a case of Younis wanting captaincy. In 2008 Younis has made it clear on more than one occasion that if awarded captaincy, he will accept it.

    Afridi's batting has completely declined. He wants to open and he has told Malik many times he wants to open, but Malik is not supporting him from that perspective.

    Akmal is a close friend of Malik and I think he is also related to Malik. So he will be very comfortable with Malik naturally. In fact, they are all friends because Misbah is a close friend of Akmal. Butt is also a good friend of Akmal. That is why people accuse them of being a mafia and playing politics.

    Q, what you didn't mention is how Malik's lack of aggression and basic captaincy errors hurt Pakistan. Also, youngsters have not been happy with Malik's treatment of them because his own performance has been under the scanner. If Malik had not made captaincy bloopers Pakistan could have won many more matches in this period.

  6. Q said...

    Khansahab, Younis did say that he would like to captain if offered but even he knows that door for him was shut long time ago.

    If you heard his interview with Rameez then he said the reason his performance has been better is because he is under less pressure.

    That less pressure could be cause of anything really.

    As for the clique u mention - Malik, Akmal, Butt, Misbah etc.. well Aridi is very much a part of this clique as well - at least that is what I noticed. But then again u have these sort of groups everywhere.

    Afridi wants to open because he feels whenever he comes to bat the team is in a difficult situation and he is expected to fire them out of it. That is true but i dont think sending Afridi as opener is the solution. The solution here is that the general public need to stop thinking that Afridi is superman.

    As for Malik's lack of aggression. I agree, that has lost Pakistan some macthes but still, Pakistan has won more than it has lost. Malik will grow into the job I feel.

  7. sobi said...

    I can think of these players who have been changed within a year. All to different reasons but apparently most of them are not going make it back apparently.

    Imran Nazir
    Mohammad Yousuf
    Yasir Hameed
    Abdur Rehman
    Mohammad Asif
    Shoaib Akhtar
    Khurram Manzoor
    Saeed Ajmal

    And further, i relegated WI to the bracket of Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. Even though Fazeer Mohammed from Cricinfo wudnt agree to this(

    But how would you comment on 8 Wins of 18 (If we exclude last three matches).

  8. Q said...

    Ok so there seems to be a disconnect somehwere.

    Imran Nazir and Mohammad Yousuf ditched the team for the ICL.

    Shoaib Akhtar has been injured forever and in between he was serving a disciplinary ban.

    Mohammad Asif has been doped out. u cant expect to play for your country if u get caught with dope at international airports and then fail random dope tests as well.

    Yasir Hameed was brought in, he failed and then got dropped.

    Khurram Manzoor, Nasir Jamshed, and Khalid Latif were tried as openers against Zimbabwe in Jan this year.

    Out of the 3, Nasir impressed the most and the selectors continued with him. Nasir was the original choice for the matches against the Windies but he got injured so got replaced by Khurram.

    Saeed Ajmal played his 1st match in the Asia Cup and he has played since then.

    What seems to be the problem?

    As for 8 out of 18 - if u break that down to against each team its as follows:

    Vs Sri Lanka: 2-2
    Vs India: 4-5
    Vs South Africa: 2-3

    As I said, that is not as bad as it is made out to be.

    You can see the glass as half full and say we have beaten Indi and SA almost as many times as they have beaten us or you can see it as half empty and say man we've lost 10 out of our 18 matches.

    My only point: it ain't bad as it looks.

  9. IndiaBol said...

    I don't anything good in malik. His body language is too bad so say anything. I appreciate Misbah as captain.

    Also you can compare this two teams. Both team are not similar in strength. I feel pakistan was allready up in the series. Its similar situation like India vs England. The results are allready known.

  10. khansahab said...

    When will Yousuf stop moaning?

    What more does he want? He was not captaincy material. The whole nation supported him and people prayed for him when he broke Viv Richard's record.

    People are cursing the PCB for letting Yousuf do.

    Yet he is making statements everyday that he didn't get respect. He should play for the country that loves him and he should forget ego.

    But what he is after is money. How much respect does he think he can get in T20 cricket? He is not even T20 material!

  11. Wasim said...

    Very honest analysis Q and thanks for clarification about the stats.

    Another way of looking at the situation is how other teams performed against India, South Africa, SriLanka and West Indies.

    India in last 2 years

    Vs SA won 2 and lost 5
    Vs Srilanka won 8 lost 6
    Vs WestIndies won 3 lost 1
    Vs Pakistan won 5 lost 4

    Srilanka in last 2 years
    Vs Pakistan won 2 lost 2
    vs India won 6 lost 8
    vs westIndies won 1 lost 2
    Vs SA won 0 lost 1

    South Africa in last 2 years

    Vs Pakistan won 6 lost 3
    vs India won 5 lost 2
    vs west Indies won 6 lost 0
    Vs srilanka won 1 lost 0
    Vs Eng won 1 lost 4
    VS Aus won 0 lost 2
    Vs NZ won 4 lost 2

    Now take a look at the countries against which Pakistan has not played in last two years.


    Vs SA won 2 lost 2
    Vs west Indies won 1
    Vs SL won 2 lost 4
    Vs Eng won 9 lost 4
    Vs Aus won 3 lost 7


    Vs Aus won 3 lost 4
    VS SA won 4 lost 1
    vS sl WON 3 LOST 3
    VS iND WON 4 LOST 5
    vS nz LOST 9 WON 4

    Now look at the above stat and tell me that other than England and Australia which other team has performed better against South Africa,The last series between Pakistan and SA was a very close one and Pakistan lost it 2-3 the last match was so close it could have gone either way.

    Against Srilanka Pakistan has an even record while most countries have an adverse record.

    People are also saying that West Indies didn't brought Bravo and Smith and played with only three established batsmen, well Pakistan didn't had the sevices of Yousuf and Shoaib Akhtar I think it makes it even, the test match we lost in India does any one remembers that Shoaib Akhtar, Umar Gul and Malik got injured how can you defend a match with just 2 bowlers.

    In the test match lost against SA Pakistan again didn't had the services of Yousuf and Shoaib Akhtar, if other teams can get margin for not playing with full stregth then the same margin should be given to the Pakistan team.

    A win is a win, and 81% win ratio is quite a performance, some of the big teams have lost matches against Bangladesh does that count.

    How Pakistan will fare against England, Newzealand and Australia is a big unknown,it depends on playing conditions, injury staus and the match ups between the teams also the fact that Pakiustan has not played against Australia and Newzealand can affect their performance, India is performing well against Australia as compared to other teams because it is playing Australia the most, Australian team is no longer a surprise for the Indian players.

    In my opinion Pakistan has played positive cricket and the team despite all odds is performing nicely and can perform well against any country. The ODI stats of India and Pakistan are not too different from each other so I don't see why one team is at the top of the world with same stats and the other is being rated at the bottom of the barrel.

    Also nobody takes into account the T20 stats where Pakistan is head and shoulders above the rest of the world.

  12. khansahab said...

    Malik's supporters love to insert this argument about "Pakistan was not playing full strength because Shoaib Akhtar wasn't playing."

    The last time Shoaib Akhtar played an ODI for Pakistan was on 15th November 2007. So I don't know why people like to cherish Akhtar's presence in the team when he hardly ever plays for Pakistan. Akhtar is not part of the Pakistan squad and his presence is a bonus, but not something we should associate with the Pakistani team.

    Plus saying that the difference between a good Pakistan side and a bad Pakistan side is the presence of Shoaib Akhtar means Pakistan does not have any other wicket taking bowler. That is more cause for disgrace and humiliaiton.

    Both Misbah and Younis performed well so Yousuf's presence would not have affected the team much.

    I can't believe people are using Yousuf and Akhtar's example to support the team's standing and Malik. One is playing for a rebel league and may well never play for Pakistan again, and the other is just like an "Eid ka chaand" in the team so it is inappropriate to associate this Eid ka chaand with the team.

  13. khansahab said...

    Azhar Ali made another century. This guy should definitely be tried as opener in the series against India.

    He is one for the future- look at his consistency. He averages 52 in first class cricket and 48 in List A.

  14. Wasim said...

    WestIndies team was playing with three of the world's top batsmem, why Yousuf's absence should not be taken into account he has been the best ODI batsman for Pakistan in the last two years.

    Agreed Pakistan team has been used to Akhtar's absence now he has not been playing partly because of his own self created problems and largely because of PCB's heavy handedness during the last 12 months.

    If by stating the truth and writing my unbiased opinion if I am considered as a Malik supporter than so be it.

    At least I am not blinded by hatred to write stuff like this
    "Malik’s basic problem is one of self-preservation and selfishness. That is the reason why senior players Yousuf, Afridi and Shoaib Akhtar have been critical of him. He is desperate to see Pakistan’s rise in the world rankings so his status in the team can remain protected. That is not the attitude you want from your captain. What kind of precedent does this set for the future captains of Pakistan?

    LOL, "to see your team rise in world rankings" whats wrong with that and how does it sets a bad precedent for youngsters, shouldn't it be the main goal of every captain? How does it make him selfish, is he incharge of planning and organizing the tours?
    He is playing against the teams who are willing to play against Pakistan, he is not picking and choosing tours.

    We all know why we lost that final match against South Afica and lost the series and who was the main culprit I deliberately ommitted that detail so that I should not offend any body but if you insist I can refresh your memory.

    The argument that Malik doesn't support Afridi has also lost its steam as each and every time Afridi expressed publicly his desire to move up or down the order Malik granted his wish, Afridi still failed, both Yousuf and Akhtar tried to make Malik a scapegoat they are themselves responsible for the position they are in and you know it very well.

    I am not going to waste my time and energy any further in this futile discussion, you are entilitled to your opinion and I am entitled to mine.

  15. khansahab said...

    I don't understand why Afridi has to come up in contention whenever Malik is being criticised.

    That just shows bias and antagonism, not least regional implications.

    Why make a regionalism issue out of it?

    Malik does not want to see Pakistan rise in world rankings because he is especially concerned about Pakistan cricket. His status in the team will be protected if Pakistan beat minnows and move up in the world rankings.

    Do I need to refresh anyone's memory about the criticism people like Wasim Akram, Inzamam, Miandad, Sarfraz Nawaz, Imran Khan and everyone else have thrown at Malik?

    What about Malik's attitude towards Fawad Alam, Sarfraz Ahmed and Sohail Khan?

    Geoff Lawson said Fawad is the most deserving youngster. Why does Malik not give more chances to Fawad? I hope people know Lawson is from Australia, he is not from Karachi.

  16. Wasim said...

    Make up your mind first what you actually want to say because first you wrote" He is desperate to see Pakistan’s rise in the world rankings so his status in the team can remain protected."

    Now you are saying "Malik does not want to see Pakistan rise in world rankings because he is especially concerned about Pakistan cricket."

    These are two contrasting statements, secondly do I have to tell you why Afridi is coming in the discussion I am not running a campaign to get Afridi be made the captain of the national team and while doing so I am not smearing every such player's record and character who is in his way.

    You also didn't answered my question "does Malik have any control over which team he plays against?
    If not then your point is nothing but a baseless accusation.

    Fawad has been playing regularly in the team, the team needed a good bowler against WI and we all know Fawad is a good batsman but not a good bowler. I hope you understand about team combinations and its requirements, and also understand that in order for a player to be considered by a captain in the playing 11 he has to get selected first in the national team. Sohail Khan, and Sarfraz were not selected.Malik is not the chief selector.

    Kamran Akmal played an important part in each victory in AbuDhabi, Q has already explained it.

    You want to discuss Malik's captaincy based on his on field tactics and strategies I am more than willing to do that and will agree to every valid point you will make, but I have no interest in carrying on this futile discussion based on nothing but a Jingoistic witch hunt against Malik.

  17. Damith S. said...

    A good analysis.

  18. Damith S. said...

    Ops, I hit submit without typing the rest of my comment.

    I think Pakistan are a good side. But what the stats show are that they are very inconsistent.

    They have potential to be a very good team, but there are so many distractions that I dont think they are really thinking about cricket 100% of the time.

    Also I dont rate Malik as a captain. If you look at all the captains in the world at the moment, there is something talismanic about them. Malik is just an average joe.

    I thought Moyo would make a good captain but that a closed case.

    Misbah and YK are good candidates.

    I think with better leadership and less turmoil Pakistan can be a very good team.

  19. Q said...

    Damith thats what my point was that Pakistan is just inconsistent and not a team in decline. The inconsistency has been there problem forever.. since the 80s.. they always blow hot and cold..

  20. scorpicity said...

    Good analysis Q,

    Malik is being criticized more than unfairly even though his results show otherwise. Perhaps a lot of the criticism is his sudden moments of stupidity in the field and perhaps his man-management skills which is highly debatable again. However, he is a young captain learning the ropes and so far he has been quite satisfactory on the results.

    The rankings are anyway totally rubbish... it only matters if you are the best consistently or the worst, in order to qualify for the world cup :)

    I remember that post with the mini-skirt analogue... stats like mini-skirts reveal more than what you can hide. The important thing is what is hidden is still very very crucial.

    Therefore how well a team is playing need not necessarily be based on stats but also how it pans out as the game progress which only gets recorded in distant memory.

    In the case of the India test series, Pakistan was quite off-colour... they were always playing catching up. The Indian captain did not try and enforce a win but wanted to be very safe just for the record.

    SA gave India back blow by blow and this same squad was being given back blow by blow by Pakistan.

    So the inconsistency factor here is crucial to make sense of any real indications on Pakistan's position of strength as a team in world cricket.

    So bottom line, this Pakistan has done better than some of the previous teams held by different captains but Pakistan had also the opportunity to do way better which got muffed up.

    It is still an inconclusive debate however few more series later, everything will fall into place from its current chaos, maybe that dream bowling line-up will be there in a match... right now, it is way too early to tell and certainly it doesn't look as bad as many would imagine.

    I take your point.

    Oh... knock Afridi off, get someone else.

  21. Q said...

    Scorps, I'm pleased that someone shares my balanced view as well :-)

    Afridi to stay man.. no bowler to replace him. I would even play him in tests in place of Kaneria!

  22. SledgeHammer said...

    A pretty reassuring post for a Pakistan fan. Especially since you have excluded the games against Zim, Ban, HK.

    Couple of points to make:

    - I disagree that Pakistan doesn't have a better choice in front of the stumps than Akmal. Sarfraz Ahmed has been untested. He may be a better option, we don't know. His domestic batting stats are decent.

    - It is true that Pakistan has faced many unavoidable situations (Woolmer's death, Pak domestic turmoil). But many events were the fault of either players or the board. Drug/discipline problems were avoidable. PCB could have been more proactive on moving tours to UAE. PCB-Yousuf/others situation could have been handled better by both sides. Intra-team fighting has been the mantra for decades and doesn't seem to change. etc.

    It's those things that make a Pakistan fan concerned, in addition to the fact that we hardly play anymore. Pakistan clearly has the most dysfunctional setup of all current test playing teams. And the players & PCB share a lot of that blame directly.

    Still though, Pakistan's performance is certainly not too shabby at all, at least in ODIs and T20Is.

    As for Tests, Pakistan has played only eight tests since the beginning of 2007. That in itself is sad. And the record is pretty sad too: W1, L4, D3. I know that if you look at it series-by-series, we've lost all three series by a margin of one, and all the matches were against two of the top three teams, but the record is still poor - winning one of out eight tests.

    So there is some positive news for sure, but some negatives do prevail as well.

    Let's see if the new setup can do anything better. I say let's continue playing in the Middle East as much as possible, and throw in a home tour every so often until teams become more comfortable.

    Great post, thanks!

  23. Wasim said...


    I beg to differ, twice in the series India scored 600 and on both occasions Pakistan responded with 500 plus score, Pakistan only struggled in the first innings of the second test where Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Sami both got injured and not to mention Umar Gul was already injured and had returned home and Asif was also ruled out for the series, these unusual events helped India in piling up a huge score in the first innings and enabled them to win the match. Otherwise it was evenly contested series.

    About Malik's man management skills I would say a captain can only enforce his will if he has a strong bench otherwise he will be helpless like Malik dealing with indispensable players and their attitude all the time.

    Malik was ordinary as a captain in Test matches but in Odi's and T20 he has been as good as anyone else.

    We are not saying that Pakistan has become the top team in the world its not even close, but it has been playing generally good cricket,81% win record cannot be attained by playing bad cricket regardless of your opposition and you can't reach T20 WC final by playing substandard cricket it wasn't a fluke, I think India were lucky to even reach the finals of that cup the way they played initially, Pakistan only lost to the Indian team in that tournament but nobody seems to remember it.

    Other teams are inconsistent too, India struggled against SA and Sri Lanka recently the same Indian team crushed a weaker Australian team at home which is only a shadow of its past, and this victory erased the struggles against SA and Srilanka from our minds, the performance of a modern cricket team largely depends on the conditions it is playing and the match ups it is facing these two factors will determine the level of inconsistency of any team.

    In recent times only two teams have dominated International cricket and have been quite consistent and they are Australia and South Africa, all the other teams have displayed their inconsistencies from time to time the stats don't lie, its unfair to single out Pakistan for it.

  24. Q said...

    Thanks Sledge..

    I completely agree with you regarding the negative points that could have been easily avoided... what i was trying to get at was that despite all that shit happening around Pakistan cricket and its cricketers, the team continued to do well.. Thats an achievement in itself...

    Sarfraz Ahmed - he's done well this domestic season, which by far has been his best with the bat so yes he is an alternative.. But Akmal has won and saved matches for Pakistan with the bat..

    In this ODI series against the Windies - Akmal was super.. there have been good efforts in the past (Mohali, Karachi..).

    I agree the negatives are there, test cricket being one of them but at times its also good to highlight the positives, which sadly the media hasn't done.

  25. khansahab said...

    Pakistan cannot compare with India at the moment and whoever thinks India is not a force to be reckoned with is out of touch with reality.

    I suppose if someone thinks Malik is a decent captain despite the criticism coming from all quarters, not least former great players, then one must certainly be out of touch with reality.

    It is easy to say "ifs and butts"- I can also say India lost to Sri Lanka because of the Mendis effect. Mendis completely rocked the Indian batting line up and I can bet you Australia and South Africa who play spin poorer than India would have fared more miserably against Mendis.

    Before this Test series when India comprehensively defeated Australia 2-0 I thought this Indian ascension is just a fluke, but you have to give it to these guys to beat the best team in the world like they did. A few more series victories and India will be no 1.

    Whereas Pakistan will not be able to complete even with teams like England and Sri Lanka at Test level, especially with the idiot captain at the helm.

    Apart from having in form pacers, spinners, opening batsmen and a pretty good middle order despite the absence of Ganguly, India has a smart captain in Dhoni who is everything Shoaib Malik isn't.

    The reason why this difference in class does not show that much in India-Pakistan encounters is because every Pakistani player plays above to his potential against India and seems like an altogether new player. Whether that is Butt, Younis, Misbah, Malik, Tanvir or Gul. This has been the trend even in the past with players like Imran Khan, Miandad, Wasim and Inzamam.

    But if you look out of the India vs Pakistan context you will see India is miles ahead. If Pakistan was good enough an opposition like Australia would have made an effort to play them. Why did they go to India despite the terrorist attacks in Delhi, in fact all around the country?

  26. Wasim said...

    You can believe what ever you want its your choice but if there is anybody who is out of touch of reality its you.

    The reality is that the team has a 81% win record under Malik in ODIS which took place, every thing else is "ifs and buts" and is a big unknown which you and some others continue to bring in the discussion to prove your point.

    The same Ex greats have also been asking to knock Afridi out of the team.

    I never said India are not a force to be reckoned with don't try to quote me out of context, I only pointed out the same inconsistencies in other teams for which Pakistan team is singled out. You cannot judge Pakistan team with one set of rules and have another set of rules for the rest of the world.

  27. Q said...

    Khansahab, Wasim Akram and Rameez Raja, 2 of Shoaib Malik's biggest critics are now changing their mind.. they both said this in the last 1 week that Shoaib Malik has improved.

    I think the biggest problem abt malik's captaincy was that he himself is a very modest person and he himself initially felt uncomfortable captaining the seniors in the team.. it was the seniors job to make him feel comfortable as captain and support him but we all know that they didn' - they all had their own agendas and captaincy aspirations, hence Malik was percieved as a weak captain.

    I believe that slowly this is changing and Malik is gradually stamping his authority, something that a captain needs to do.

    He has captained in only 5 tests, losing 2 out of them. That is no timeframe to judge his test captaincy.

    We have all seen how he has improved in the shorter versions of the game.

  28. Q said...

    Moreover, in times like these for Pakistan cricket, I feel all of us - the public, the fans, the media, the players, the administrators, everyone of us needs to back Shoaib Malik. He needs the confidence to be able to do what he wants to... No one can do anything without any support.

  29. khansahab said...

    Again why thrust Afridi's name into the argument when the discussion is on Malik?

    Why so much hatred for non Punjabis?

  30. Q said...

    Come on boy, lets not make this about Punjab vs Sindh or Lahore vs Karachi or Malik vs Afridi...

    This is about Pakistan and wats best for them...

    Give the existing team some support.

  31. khansahab said...


    Pakistan has all my support. I just don't see why Afridi's name is mentioned by people when Malik is criticised. They are two different people and the discussion was not about one of them, it was about the other.

  32. Q said...

    Khansahab, u r the biggest critic of Malik I have seen and I respect ur opinion - everyone is entitled to theirs.. u have more than once mentioned that u would like to c Afridi captain the side instead of Malik.. hence when u criticize Malik, Malik's supporters will criticize Afridi..

    C what I mean?

    Anyhow.. as i said we all are entitled to our opinions.. I strongly suggest that we drop this war among ourselves and focus on backing Pakistan the country..

    If only we could coexist among ourselves, we would be where India is today as a country and as a cricket team.

    Cooperation and communication is imperative and sadly even after 60 years we fail to unite for the same cause and continue with our own individual agendas.

  33. khansahab said...


    Do you honestly believe I want to see Afridi as captain because I have something personal against Malik or some soft spot for Afridi?

    As a captain I believe Afridi will do much better; it doesn't mean I have a soft spot for him or a natural bias towards him. If he is made captain for 18 months like Malik and if the results don't show, trust me I will wipe the floor with him. If I believe that it doesn't mean Afridi's name is inserted in an argument whenever Malik's stature is being debated.
    I believe anyone of Misbah or Younis can do a better job than Malik, forget Afridi.

    By justifying the condemnation of Afridi whenever Malik is being criticised, are you not going against the virtues you have mentioned yourself, such as "what is best for Pakistan" and "coexisting" amongst ourselves?

    I'll forget what you said there Q because I come on this blog as I believe you are a neutral person who will be fair and equal to everyone.

    We are all grown up people here and if the discussion is about one individual then we don't need to point the barrel at another.

  34. Q said...

    Khansahab, u misunderstood what i was trying to say.. i was not defending anyone nor was i justifying critcizing Afridi everytime Malik is discussed..

    U asked why thrust Afridi's name everytime Malik is mentioned and I answered the question explaining how other people see it.. not me..

    Since u have been advocating Afridi's case it is only natural for Malik's supporters to attack Afridi when u criticize Malik.. know what i mean?

  35. khansahab said...


    If I accept it is natural for Malik's supporters to attack Afridi if anyone opposes Malik, then it is also "natural" for us to fight over petty things and exactly those things that have made Pakistan a weak country?

    It may be natural for People to react in such a way, but it is wrong at the end of the day. I can see you classify it is a "natural reaction", however I don't agree with that.

    Where would you draw the line- you will have to say every disagreement would have to be natural, then. If someone accuses the other of any bias or hatred, that would be a natural reaction too?

    The fundamental point is about being big hearted and broad minded enough to accept criticism and not instigate any hatred or bias if you see someone with a different opinion to you. That is exactly what People are doing by thrusting Afridi's name whenever Malik is being criticised.

    The point I made was that senior players have been asking for Malik to be removed as captain. To say in response to that, "They also want Afridi to be removed", seems to suggest undying love for Malik and unreasonable hatred towards Afridi.

  36. scorpicity said...


    Just wondering if you misunderstood... because I am largely or almost entirely with you here :)

    1. I am with the notion that Pakistan performances in the last 1 year has been more than quite satisfactory. They are by far not the worst and perhaps you cannot even call them by a mile the worst. They have been competitive.

    2. On man management skills, am with you.... The notions here expressed by some are highly debatable for the fact that no player has come out and explained in concrete the incidents that ruffled them against malik... when it does, then everyone can take a call... until then support the captain or ask the ones who make the noise in the team to own up their reasons.

    3. I think the debatable aspect was with the ones I mentioned about the India series. true, I forgot about Gul, Asif's injuries but largely my perception was Pakistan trying to play catch up in that series... I think it had lot to do with that match where Akmal saved Pak with a superb century. That's why... but you are right, I did not take those injuries into consideration.

    4. On the injuries, all are ok except the test where Akhtar played. That was a tactical blunder... a risk because he was not match fit anyway. They played him because he was important and he made a mark when he bowled, but they paid the price.

    By and large am with you... cheers

  37. SledgeHammer said...

    I personally don't have much of a problem with Malik's captaincy. I think Pakistan has done ok given the circumstances, though they could do better.

    Malik himself has played quite well as captain, and that's really important. Infighting will happen with any captain. It's just something that Pakistan has to deal with. Unless you have a dictatorial player like Imran, there will be camps and strife.

    There are a few contenders for sure - Afridi, Misbah, and Younis. Just like Malik, each has their pros and cons.

    But let's continue with Malik for now. I definitely need to see him in more Tests before I can make further judgment.

  38. Wasim said...


    Thanks for explaining it on my behalf.

    I am not a Malik fan and I don't hate Afridi that is a fact, the unfair criticism of Malik and double standards used to judge both players pushes me to defend him and compels me to throw in the comparison.

    I don't think Malik is a great captain in test matches he is still learning, I have said it many times, I have criticized him many times, but he should not be made a constant target of a jingoistic witch hunt and conspiracy theories, if the criticism is fair and honest, I will never defend him.

    For me both Players are Pakistanis and if tomorrow PCB appoints Afridi or anyone else as captain I would support that player wholeheartedly, our criticism and support of any player should be fair and not based on a jingoistic witch hunt as we will never get away with biased comments on a public platform somebody will confront us.

  39. Wasim said...


    Thanks for the clarification.

  40. khansahab said...

    So if I say Malik is an idiot is that a jingoistic witch hunt or fair criticism?


  41. Q said...

    Sledge, I agree.. we need to see Malik in more tests before we can make any call.

    And Khansahab, calling anyone an idiot is I think uncalled for.

    You can criticize cricketers without calling them names or passing judgement on them..

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