Monday, June 15, 2009

Pakistan Through to the Semi Finals

A week ago, no one really gave them a chance.

Now, Pakistan are the second team through to the World Twenty20 semi finals after South Africa.

Who would have thought!

If New Zealand beat Sri Lanka tomorrow, Pakistan might even qualify at the top of the table in Group F.

Pakistan have always been slow starters in competitions, and their performance in the World T20 has gradually improved with every game.

Some might even say that they are peaking at the right time.

However, I believe their batting is still not up to the mark; they will have to do a lot better with the bat against whoever they face in the semis - South Africa, England or West Indies.

The bowling though is top stuff. Arguably the best attack in the competition.

As for tonight's victory, the ghosts of 2007 have been buried, only to some extent though. My nightmares will not end till we beat Ireland in an ODI or 10!

As for now, bring on the semis!

Make your pitch on this post...



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36 Pitched:

  1. Wasim said...
     

    Congrats Q.

    Batting is still a concern. I think only SA stands in our way.

    I would rate their bowling even better than Pakistan, but they depend too heavily on Gibbs and Smith. Only if we can strike early.

  2. khansahab said...
     

    Q

    Malik's batting is not up to the mark and he should be demoted in favour of Fawad Alam.

    Today on Cricinfo commentary page 3 people questioned why Alam is not batting in Malik's position and one of them said, eventually Alam, the better fielder and batter of the two, will replace Malik in the Pakistan side.

  3. Indophile said...
     

    Good for you and your team Q !!! as our uber cool team and captain courageous are back to square one we are all for you and the Windies. Its a petty that you will be playing against them in the semis if they manage to beat England. I think your guys can go all they way if its a 150 -160 match but if you have to chase 180 or around it will be bit difficult. Pretty dumb argument really as 150 is always better than 180 while chasing but what I mean that it will better if Pakistan is involved in low scoring thriller than a high scoring one

  4. Hani said...
     

    Q,

    Congratulations on Pakistan making it to the semis. The team seems to be clicking at the right time.

    However, I would like to know what your views are on Daniel Vettori's comments. Yet again, it seems that these teams who have no clue of how to play our bowlers, are trying to start a witch hunt against them.

    Personally, I thought it was a classless act and was very impressed with Younis's response at the press conference. Its about time we came out aggressively against such accusations.

    You know what, the next time Shane Bond is ripping through our batting line-up, I hope we start a similar campaign against him.

  5. Stani Army said...
     

    Wasim,

    Agree, we have to strike SA early. Can't allow them to get on top. I would rather have our bowling attack though.

    Khansahab,

    I have disagree with you about Malik. I think we need him in the middle as he's usually very reliable and intelligent.

  6. khansahab said...
     

    Stani

    He has been neither reliable nor intelligent in this tournament.

    He can play lofted shots and he can play aggressively. He just doesn't want to do it because he wants to maintain a good average.

    There are many people who think he isn't skilled enough to play international cricket, so he plays selfishly many times just to maintain a healthy average and look good "on paper".

  7. armaghan007 said...
     

    Just my 2 cents.. I agree, Pakistan's batting is still not up to the mark but Pakistan's lack of a defined batting order could play to its advantage.
    However, I firmly believe that Afridi should come in at No.3, i.e usually at a time when the powerplay overs are still going on.. Despite his recent lack of batting form, I feel Afridi can best be utilised if he comes in early, chips in with a quickfire 20 or so off 10 deliveries (to boost the runrate).. maybe in 50 over cricket, this wouldn't make much sense, but in 20-20 Afridi's batting can best be exploited if he does come in early. Even if he gets out early, Pakistan have nothing to lose as we all know he's not going to rescue u by coming in at no.6/7.. By having malik,younis and misbah come in line, Pakistan's batting relies too much on 'accumulators' (to use one of ur very phrases) who are good for picking up quick singles and doubles but are not the strongest hitters of the cricket ball.
    The bowling certainly looks perfect but we can't rely on our bowling to bail us out in every match, Pakistan's batting might have to win them a match pretty soon against mightier opposition in the semis (and hopefully) final. I'm still not sure as to what malik's role is in the team. He's clearly out of form, he's not exactly a useful frontline bowler and I believe his style (and erm technique) of batting is better suited to 50 over ODis or tests when you do have time to settle in on the crease. Against England and Srilanka, although he chipped in with useful knocks, having Malik and Younis on the crease in a long partnership is a blessing in disguise for the opposition, as the required rate ends up creeping up a lot. I still wouldn't say that Fawad Alam is a replacement for Malik though, they're both among Pakistan's 'better' fielders, both can bowl (albeit with limited usefulness) and both haven't done much with the bat (though in Alam's defense, he hasn't had much of a chance).. Still though, we shouldn't worry too much. One of the key ingredients of any successful Pakistani team has been its very mercurial nature that can upset the opposition..
    lets wait and see though how it turns out.

  8. Q said...
     

    Wasim,

    Congats to u too!

    I think our bowling is stronger than SA's.. their batting though is very strong. It will be tough to get past them.

  9. Q said...
     

    Khansahab,

    I agree abt Malik. He has been out of form for a long time now.. his last notable performance came against WI last year in AD..

    When he came out to bat tonight he looked a bit out of sorts.. it also looked as if he did not like the fact that he was batting at 7.. but I think it was right to send Afridi and Razzaq before him..

    Maybe Fawad should also bat higher than him...

    As for replacing him - well he has performed for Pak for a long time so I think he still warrants a place in ODIs and T20s..

  10. Q said...
     

    Indophile,

    Thanks! :-)

    Pakistan have always been bad chasers so Ideally I would like them to defend targets against whoever we play rather than chase.

  11. Q said...
     

    Hani,

    Welcome to Well Pitched.

    You're right, they are clicking at the right time.

    As for Vettori's comments and complain to the match referee. I feel it was uncalled for. What he failed to see was the atrocious shots his batsmen played to get out to Gul. Gul has been performing like this in T20 for a long time now and I don't understand what Vettori means that he hasn't seen anyone reverse swing the ball after the 12th over.

    Has he not seen Malinga? Steyn?

    Does he not remember seeing Gul in 2007 in the T20 WC?

    I couldn't believe that statement came from Vettori, but I guess when u lose that badly it makes u say absurd things.

  12. Q said...
     

    Stani, Khansahab,

    Malik has been out of form for some time now but there isn't anyone who can replace him in the XI in this tournament.

    Fawad can bat higher than him sure.

    I don't think the average has anything to do with Malik's selfishness. If that was the case, he wouldn't be getting out to lazy strokes or to shots he plays while trying to up the tempo.

    Malik, in my opinion still commands a place in T20 and ODIs.

  13. Q said...
     

    Armaghan007,

    Welcome to Well Pitched.

    I agree with you about Afridi. I've realised now, and maybe many others including the Pak team mgmt has as well, that Afridi is no longer the batsman who can attack from the word go. He needs a couple of sighters and just a bit more time in the middle before he can go all out for his strokes. We saw that today and in the match against NZ. Despite losing that all aggressive touch, Afridi still manages to score of every delivery he faces and even by getting 1s and 2s and the odd 4 he scores at a very good strike rate.

    So it definitely makes sense to bat him higher up when he doesn't have to go for his shots right away.

    We saw the same from him against Australia in Dubai where he got a couple of good 40s when he has time to bat.

  14. Wasim said...
     

    After a 20 matches Afridi scored and all of a sudden he is being portrayed as the backbone of Pakistan team their only hope to win this cup.

    What about all those ducks and single digit scores.The biased always have selective amnesia.

    Malik has done alright so far in the tournament.

    It's not easy to blast in every single match especially when Pakistan had little international match practice before coming into this tournament.

    The match we lost to Srilanka Fawad scored what 10 or 11 on 11 balls five overs were left and 50 runs were required when he came in to bat he didn't displayed anything spectecular to justify all the hype surrounding him.

    I think we should stop picking on players and commentators based on jingoism and should support the team as a whole.

    It's good that Afridi scored a few runs after a long while and lets hope Misbah and Malik also perform the way we expect from them in the semi final.

    This fickle minded criticism creates a lot of pressure on players before big games nobody can read minds all these speculative and imaginary commentary is nothing but BS.

  15. Q said...
     

    (I had logged in from the Well Pitched account, which is why the comment came from Obaid, but since they were my points, here they are again):


    Wasim,

    My point on Afridi is simple.

    Mostly he has come out to bat in tough situations at 6 or 7 when Pakistan is facing a stiff target or a requirement to up the tempo. In those situations, Afridi has tried to hit out from ball 1 and failed.

    In the last 2 games against NZ and Ireland, Afridi was sent higher up, allowed time, and came in a situation when he didn't have to go at the ball from the 1st delivery.. and he came out good... atleast better than the 0 or 1 he has been getting.

    I have always maintained that Afridi is good for a quick 20 or 30 and nothing more should be expected of him.

    That quick 20 or 30 might be more useful at the top of the order than in a pressure situation lower down, where Afridi has proved he cannot bat.

    Having said that, I regard Afridi as a bowler primarily.

    Regarding Malik, he has been out of form for a bit now, but again I don't see that as a reason to drop him. But if pakistan is better of using Razzaq and Afridi above Malik then so be it.

  16. Wasim said...
     

    Q

    What ever you said makes perfect sense and I have been saying the same thing when Afridi was not scoring runs, it was futile to waste him down the order.

    But to pick on Malik and Misbah for no reason doesn't make sense, Malik bowled well in a couple of matches and scored 20-30 runs he played a bit slower but according to situation.

    He is not out of form, we all saw his form in RBS it's just that he got out whenever he tried big hitting which is always an inherent risk associated with batting in this form of game.

    I just pointed out at the double standards in some of the comments.

  17. Wasim said...
     

    I still think only SA stands in our way, we can beat West Indies but the Saffers have a very balanced team.

    Pakistan's big guns will have to come good against them.

  18. Late Inswing said...
     

    Well, I for one did.
    I said let them beat Holland & their first big team in the Super8s. They have done that and are within two strides of the cup.
    I think West Indies would be as concerned about Gul and Afridi as much as Pakistan is concerned about Gayle and Bravo. If Windies bring their A game, the passage to Final may not be easy. South Africa. Well, lets wait for tonite's results.

    Go well Q!!!

  19. Hani said...
     

    Q,

    I whole heartedly agree with you on Vettori, but I would have loved to have seen an official blog post from you to hit back at these accusations. The Indians would have NEVER let this go so easily, so in a way, I am a little disappointed at the reaction, or lack of, from well pitched.

    Whether we like it or not, these accusations have taken some shine off of an amazing bowling performance from Umar Gul.

    As far as the batting order is concerned, the management will never change a winning combination, so there is no point in demanding a replacement for Malik. And besides, who do we have who is better than Malik and can come straight into the semis to give us a boost? The batting order needs to be fluid in this form of the game, but I don't think sending Afridi up the order would be a good strategy against a top quality South African attack. If we play the Windies, then maybe.

  20. khansahab said...
     

    Afridi is a bowler now and his job is to take wickets and build momentum, which is exactly what he is doing. So far Malik has not even played 1 decent knock when he is capable of playing better. He played much better in the last WC. His bowling as usual is pathetic and Younis just wants to make him feel important which is why he gives him 1 or 2 overs in every match, which not only takes pressure off the batsmen but also affects the team morale. You can see the difference between the psyche of the two individuals. Younis is trying to make Malik feel important whereas Malik is creating divisions against Younis.

    Focusing on Afridi's batting to protect Malik is just a ploy to promote favouritism. Against a pathetic bowling attack like Ireland Afridi at least performed but Malik couldn't play. He made 4 from 7 balls, Ajmal could have played better. Malik did not even attempt one boundary or six.

    Heads are turning, on most Pakistani blogs and sites people are questioning Malik's selfish batting and his role in the team. He only came into the team on the basis of politics- if you look at his record he is not even a first class domestic player.

    I was supporting him and hoping there will be some improvement but I have no doubt that he is redundant in the team.

  21. Q said...
     

    Wasim,

    One can never tell with WI.. i did not expect them to chase 80 in 9 overs.. esp when Sarwan and Chanderpaul were in the middle.

    They're are more like Pak.. u can't plan for them..

  22. Q said...
     

    Late Inswing,

    Thanx for your faith in Pakistan!

  23. Q said...
     

    Hani,

    Initially I decided to ignore Vettori's uncalled for accusations. If you noticed, I didn't write anything regarding Saeed Ajmal either when he was reported for chucking by the Aussies.

    The thing is that I believe that these b*stards never shy away from complaining against Pakistan... I don't know what it is, but be it Aus, Eng, or NZ - they feel at ease when talking against or accusing Pakistani players of doing something.

    I have been witnessing it since 1992 and its been way too long and it still hasn't stopped. It pisses me off no end.

    But overtime I have just ignored these claims and let them be - they are baseless, and don't deserve any attention at all.

    Woh kehte hain na, "kuttay bhaunkte hain, bhaunkne do".

    I do though feel that the ICC should fine Vettori for make those accusations. People can't go around saying things like that and expect to get away with it.

    Having said all that, I have been working on something regarding the ball tampering accusations and may have something up soon :-)

  24. Q said...
     

    Khansahab, (and the others questioning Malik),

    I agree that he has been below par with the bat during this tournament.. he was below par against Australia as well in Dubai.. he's just out of form in my opinion.. he has been a very good ODI and T20 player for Pakistan and does not deserve to be dropped due to a few bad performances with the bat.

    I don't think its been selfish.. he just hasn't been good enough. Thats all.

    His first class record was never good, which is why I always said that he doesn't deserve to play test cricket. He's not a test batsman and should not be in the team. But in ODIs and T20s his place is unquestionable.

    As for his bowling - initially i also wondered why Younis was throwing him the ball in every game when Afridi and Ajmal were going great... but I realized that it was to finish the quota of 1 or 2 of the pacers that attacked..

    If u notice, Younis bowls the attacking pacers 3 overs each.. if he gives Malik 2 overs in the middle he can avoid using Aamir and Razzaq at the death, which I think is a good thing. Aamir and Razzaq can be very expensive at the end.

    Malik is being used by Younis for a couple of overs in the middle.. not to pick up wickets..

  25. khansahab said...
     

    Q

    I agree with you that he is out of form, but his form isn't returning and batting at the top of the order, he is being a liability.

    Younis should stop changing the order around so much. He needs to send himself and Misbah as high up the order as possible. And then he should send Afridi whenever quick runs are required and then he should send Fawad Alam. Malik should go after Fawad and Razzaq.

    The point is that in T20 there are so few balls to play that you can't risk an out of form guy like Malik to waste balls and put pressure on everyone else.

    I hope Younis learned his lesson and in the remaining matches I hope Malik is sent as lower down as possible.

  26. khansahab said...
     

    I guarantee you that in all those matches when Malik was sent early, if Afridi, Fawad or Misbah were sent early Pakistan would have made a much higher score.

    It's such a good batting line up and it's a disgrace they can only afford 160 whereas poorer teams like England are managing 160+.

  27. Q said...
     

    Khansahab,

    I agree that Pakistan are capable of scoring much higher than they have.. hopefully they will when it matters.

    As of now, they can't drop Malik from the XI in the World T20.. so lets hope he comes good wherever Younis bats him...

    After the cup is over.. we'll see where Malik's fate lies..

  28. Wasim said...
     

    How Much runs did Younis Khan scored against Ireland and New Zealand 6 and 10? Malik score was also in single digits in these matches bcz he got out early against NZ and faced a few balls only against Ireland.

    Afridi and Fawad Alam combined score was 12 against SriLanka Malik scored 28.

    Afridi and Fawad Alam's combined score was 16 against Netherland Malik scored 30.

    Against England Malik scored 20 Afridi scored 5.

    As regards conspiracy theories don't forget that it was Younis and Afridi who conspired against Malik first so even if he is under performing which I don't believe and don't support.

    But would be considered as natural bcz Jaissi Karni waissi Bharni nahin manta tu kar key dekh.

    "What goes around comes around"

  29. Q said...
     

    Younis Khan is Pakistan's top scorer in this World T20, and by some distance.. I don't think its right to criticize him or say that he isn't a T20 player..

    Kamran Akmal is behind him..

    Malik is 3rd followed by Misbah - but neither of them have been at their best..

    This clearly shows that Pakistan's batting has collectively failed, and Malik is just one of the many failures.. why single him out?

  30. khansahab said...
     

    The only difference is under the current captain Qadir has unequivocally stated Malik was creating divisions, whereas under Malik it was all conspiracy theories regarding Younis and Afridi.

    Against Ireland, Afridi's "combined score" was 24 from 13 balls and even the "combined score" of Ireland's extras (6) was better than Malik's pathetic 4 from 7 balls.

    Q

    Malik is singled out because he has been sent up the order and he has slowed things down. He may have got out trying to hit but he was trying to hit because his strike rate (100) was poor. It is a poor strike rate in T20 for someone batting at no 3 or 4. I don't know if you listen to the press conferences afterwards but people have asked in almost every match why Malik is playing like this?

    I am not blaming Misbah because he only got 1 proper chance to bat (where he failed) when he made 21 from 28 balls. Other than that he has tried to hit. What Malik did against Ireland was criminal, he didn't even attempt one lofted shot- why was he just taking singles?

    Akmal is OK, that innings against Ireland was very slow but other than that he has been OK.

  31. Q said...
     

    Khansahab,

    I have listened to the press conferences and heard all the questions regarding Malik. That doesn't make any difference cos its the reporter's job to ask questions. They have been asking why Afridi bats the way he does for the last 10 years - has that changed anything?

    The media will continue to ask. We can't let them dictate.

    Against Ireland, I agree Malik looked very disinterested but atleast he was taking singles to ensure Razzaq gets the strike because he knew he couldn't attack like Razzaq.

  32. Q said...
     

    Khansahab,

    I want to ask u a question. We both agree that if someone within the team is conspiring then he needs people within the team to back him, right?

    When Wasim Akram was lobbying for the captaincy he had some people behind him, while the others were behind Waqar.

    So if u believe what Qadir said is true then who in the team is backing Malik, or helping Malik conspire?

    It ain't Akmal cos he's performing.

    It ain't Butt cos he's not even in the team.

    It can't be anyone else?

  33. khansahab said...
     

    Q

    I don't like to form conspiracy theories- I don't know who it is but why would Qadir speak out against Malik like this?

    It might have been Butt, who was kicked out on the basis of non performance. And Qadir said that the conspiracy was going on in UAE- where neither of Malik or Misbah performed.

    Journalists never questioned Malik's batting before this Cup though? They question Afridi's batting because it is useless. So now if they are questioning Malik's batting that means he needs to perform or go, because his bowling his useless and hence he is being a liability in the team. It is a simple issue.

    There is always this trend to discussions on Wellpitched. When Malik is criticised Afridi's name is thrusted all of a sudden. Why does this happen? Is there a rule somewhere that says if Malik is criticised then you have to condemn Afridi too? Why does a bowler get compared with a batsman?

  34. Q said...
     

    Khansahab,

    U know I am a huge Afridi supporter and have also supported him to get the captaincy, so I don't bring his name in for the sake of it, I do it to make an arguement :-)

    I brought him up to defend my case that the media can stir things up needlessly.

    We both know he's a bowler primarily then why does the media keep complaining abt his batting?

    Qadir has said stuff for his own reasons. I don't know what they are. But again we can't believe what these people say, especially after they resign. Why didn't he speak up when he was chief selector? Why after?

    U say the reporters have never questioned Malik's batting before and that is because he has never given them a reason to.. he has been performing for a long time now..

    1 bad series and 1 bad tournament means u kick him out of the team?

    I think that's a bit unfair.

  35. khansahab said...
     

    Q

    I never said Malik should be expelled permamently. Everyone goes through a bad tournament but it's a World Cup and a big tournament. If he is in bad form he should be dropped FOR A FEW MATCHES or demoted in the order. It isn't the case that there is no one to bat in his position. They have a guy waiting below in the batting order who averages twice as much as Malik in first class domestic cricket. Surely he deserves a shot?

    Look what they did to Salman Butt; it doesn't mean he is never going to be selected again.

    That is why I said it seems Younis is trying to favour Malik. In every match Malik has been sent in before Fawad despite not looking 100%. In most matches Malik has been sent before Misbah, who everyone knows is a better T20 player.

  36. Q said...
     

    Khansahab,

    I agree abt promoting Alam ahead of Malik.

    For this tournament though, there's no one to replace Malik in the XI... so he has to play..

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