Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The selectors amuse you once again...

So Shahid Afridi and Umar Akmal have been left out of the touring party for the UK where Pakistan will first play a couple of ODIs in Scotland and Ireland, and then take part in the final edition of the ICC Champions Trophy.

That is going to be one action packed UK summer for Pakistan's cricketers and all of you better get hold of your Sky Sports deals an make sure you are ready to follow Misbah & company as they take the field in Scotland, Ireland, and England.

Two of my favorite cricketers are out of the team, with at least one of them not deserving the axe at all. But I'll move on and focus on the players that have been picked.

Particularly the three newbies - Umar Amin, Asad Ali, and Ehsan Adil.

Asad Ali
I first spoke about Asad Ali when I wrote the two part piece on "Pakistan's new ODI team". He has an exceptional First class, List A, and Twenty 20 record, an he was the leading wicket taker in the recently concluded President's One Day Cup Competition.

He was one of the 20 bowlers to take part in the 10-day fast bowler's camp under the supervision of Wasim Akram, which must have helped him immensely.

He comes with 8 years of domestic experience under his belt and at 24 is still very young to have a long career for Pakistan.

Asad might end up being the largest beneficiary of Umar Gul's injury and with the supportive conditions in England, he could not have asked for a better opportunity to break into international cricket.

Umar Amin
Umar Amin made his ODI and Test debut in 2010 when he played in the Asia Cup and the following tour of England with no success. He has been long considered to be a talented batsman, but his record is hardly impressive.

With an average of below 40 in first class cricket and below 35 in List A cricket, I seriously do not feel that he is international material. If anything his failure in the Asia Cup and the tests in England in 2010 told the same story.

Yet the selectors have picked him, not only ahead of Umar Akmal, but also ahead of better domestic performers like Sohaib Maqsood, Haris Sohail, Khurram Manzoor, and Azhar Ali.

The only notable performance Umar gave this past season was his glorious 281 in the President's Trophy that helped him to end the competition as the leading run scorer. Yet the all the batsmen mentioned above scored more first class and List A runs than him during the past season.

I have my doubts about Umar Amin, which I hope he can prove wrong; but I really do not see him succeeding in international cricket.

Ehsan Adil
Ehsan Adil is another tall pacer in the mould of Mohammad Asif. We all saw him make his test debut in South Africa, where he picked up Graeme Smith with his third delivery in international cricket.

Adil is one of the leading wicket takers of the past domestic season and along with Asad, Junaid, and Irfan creates a potentially dangerous pace attack for Pakistan.

He was also part of the fast bowler's camp under Wasim Akram and will be a better bowler in England than he was in South Africa.

I can bet that we all will see a lot of Adil and Asad over the next 10 years. For all your cricket bets, use bwin.

The Squad and the XI
Pakistan's Champions Trophy squad looks a bit bowler heavy to me with as many as 7 specialist bowlers - Junaid, Irfan, Asad, Adil, Wahab, Ajmal, Rehman! Taking the keeper, Akmal, and the "allrounder", Malik, out leaves room for only 6 specialist batsmen with 1 of them totally unproven in international cricket.

I don't get how a nation known to have a brittle batting line up picks a squad for a place like England (seaming conditions et al) with only 6 specialist batsmen.

With Younis Khan out of the team, Asad Shafiq will definitely get an extended run and I guess the playing XI will pick itself:

1. Hafeez 2. Farhat 3. Nasir 4. Misbah 5. Asad 6. Malik 7. Kamran 8. Junaid 9. Ajmal 10. Asad 11. Irfan

Or Asad could play at 3 and Umar Amin at 5 with one of Nasir or Farhat sitting out.

In either case without Umar Akmal and Shahid Afridi that looks like a very weak batting line up to me with almost no firepower. With Younis gone and Misbah vowing to play more aggressively the batting is lacking an anchor as well.

As always the batting has left a lot to be desired and the bowling is looking like an exciting prospect.

And as always, the selectors have amused us all once again!

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