Archive for June, 2008


The past 2 or 3 years have been cherishable for the Indian cricket fans. There have been many positives that India has achieved during this time. A young captain has emerged as a formidable strategist who is not only good at motivating his team mates but is also a very skilled batsman. Youngsters like Rohit Sharma and Robin Uthappa have cemented their place in the side. On the bowling front the pacers have developed consistency and have shown remarkable form and fitness levels. India has benefited from the return of Pathan, the consistency of RP Singh and the pace and youthful exuberance of Ishant Sharma. Further Harbhajan Singh when playing has been effective as ever and Piyush Chawla has impressed, whatever little we have seen of him. There are also a few other talented spinners waiting for an opportunity to shine.

The IPL revealed many competent Indian cricketers, many of whom were unheard of until the event took place. But the Indian perspective cannot be properly analysed without saying that, for all the talent and positives seen from the IPL, ODI cricket is a different ball game. It is India’s position in ODI’s currently and in particular this Asia Cup that this article explores.

Most would assert India is going with the strongest batting line up. It has been mentioned earlier on this blog that India is blessed with 5 excellent batsmen; namely, Sehwag, Gambhir, Yuvraj, R Sharma and Dhoni. Although Rohit Sharma is out of form and although we have not seen him a lot, whatever we have seen is very encouraging. He has a good temperament, class and very good batting sense. Although there are good batsmen playing for Pakistan and Sri Lanka as well, it does not take a genius to realise that in terms of form and consistency the Indian batsmen beat their Pakistani and Sri Lankan counterparts by a mile.

Although India’s bowling is weaker than its batting (and almost always has been) it seems it is still a formidable bowling unit. Irfan Pathan, Praveen, RP Singh and Ishant Sharma are all in good form. The other main bowlers in the squad are Gony, Piyush Chawla and Ojha. Gony was very good in IPL and Chawla has a good head on his shoulders so there are huge expectations from him.

One major advantage for India, and which can be utilised by Dhoni as a trump card, is the number of all rounders in the squad. Traditionally India has lacked solid all rounders who deliver consistent performances with ball and bat. In this squad Dhoni has Piyush Chawla, Praveen Kumar, Irfan Pathan and Yusuf Pathan. There are also of course Yuvraj and Sehwag who can bowl if need be.

India will have no problem with the pitches and weather conditions in Pakistan, as the conditions would be more or less identical as India. We have shared opinions about whether the home advantage counts or not. It seems the consensus has been, that what is more important than home advantage is the form and confidence of a side. Recently India have performed well In Pakistan against Pakistan. 5 or 10 years ago they could not perform as remarkably. So the overall quality of a side matters more than where it is playing. Even if there is such a thing as “home advantage” it is likely to be nullified in the face of a confident and competent side, where the batsmen make plenty of runs and bowlers take wickets and keep runs down.

In terms of opposition, it would perhaps be fair to say that both Pakistan and Sri Lanka present an equal threat to India, although most of us have already agreed India is the strongest team in the series. Sri Lanka are expected to demonstrate more application and consistency than Pakistan. Whereas India will be wary of Pakistan’s ability to surprise as they clearly did in the Kitply Cup final. It is this “surprise element” Pakistan carries that makes it equally competent to Sri Lanka, when considered objectively as an opposition to India.

So India cannot afford to take Pakistan lightly in Thursday’s game. Maybe Pakistan is going with a slight psychological advantage having won the last game the two sides played and also because the Indians may have felt they needed some rest after Wednesday’s game against Hong Kong. Having said that, the way Hong Kong was thrashed made them seem like mere cannon fodder and India may have had the requisite match practice it needs to counter Pakistan with all guns blazing.

What happened in the Kitply Cup final from Pakistan’s perspective may have seemed a fluke, but from India’s perspective it proves that despite India’s recent infallible status the Indian side is still vulernable to a surprise attack from the opposition. Hence a competitive Asia Cup is expected and it remains to be seen whether Dhoni’s invigorated boys will rise to the occasion and win the Asia Cup for their country for the 5th time.   






ASIA CUP is starting from June 24th, right now the whole world is discussing reverse sweep rule, lets not get bogged down in that trivial discussion, because there is nothing wrong in playing a reverse sweep, those who create uproar and a storm in the tea cup must save their breath to cool their porridge.Since the advent of the Asia Cup in 1983-84 in Sharjah, the tournament has been played 8 times till the year 2004 and this will be the ninth one, so we can see there is a big gap between the 8th and the 9th Asia Cup. India has dominated in the Asia Cup and its very obvious from the results. Out of the eight tournaments, India has won 4 times, Sri Lanka has won 3 times and Pakistan has won only once. Bangladesh, Hong Kong and the UAE are the minnows and for them even to reach to the finals must be a herculean effort.

Despite the fact that Pakistan has won only once, they have posted the highest totals in the tournaments four times, in fact if you look at the highest totals of ten matches, Pakistan’s name appear 7 times and the next three berths belong to Sri Lanka. Now, the style of batting has changed from conventional cricket to more aggressive cricket due to the T20 matches, it is likely that all those previous records would be broken. The highest total posted by Pakistan is 343/5 against Hong Kong in 2004 and 300/9 against India also in 2004.

As for the individual records for all the 8 tournaments Sanath Jayasuriya holds the records for both batting and bowling. And even in the IPL he was seen in good form, so one should not brush aside Sri Lanka, they have the ability to surprise any team. In the Pakistan team of 2004 Asia Cup, Shahid Afridi was not in the team. Shoaib Malik was the top scorer averaging 63 runs in 5 matches also took 9 wickets. And for India, Tendulkar topped the scores with an average of 56 and Irfan Pathan took 14 wickets, in fact Tendulkar was only 2 wickets behind Pathan.

India is a very different team since the last Asia Cup and they are not going to take this tournament lightly. Also, they have a score to settle against Pakistan, i.e., the recent defeat at the Kitply tri-series in Bangladesh. While India and Pakistan both benched against each other in the same group, it will be an opportunity for both to play semifinals and then whoever plays against BD would be an easy sailing for them to the finals. So, there will be lot of planning from both sides. Pakistan may have advantage of playing at home and they have always played well in Karachi that is where they will play their round match against India. Here is a link of the schedule of matches to be played.

All countries except Pakistan have announced their squad for the Asia Cup and the news that has appeared about who is not playing in the Asia Cup are two players, Mohammad Asif and Sreesanth. The later is injured and the former is still visiting his in-laws and most likely to remain there for quite sometime. I wonder why everything moves so slow in Pakistan? Is it something very difficult for them to pick up a squad for the Asia Cup? Or they are hoping that Asif will come out from Naif Road Jail?

Its up to you to choose Pakistan’s/India’s squad and also make your own predictions as to who will win?
Everyone, including all the leading Sri Lankan players are saying that India are favourites. Once again putting them under tremendous pressure to perform. Pakistan might be happy to remain underdogs but they are certainly capable of rising on a big occasion like they did last week.




Testing Times

A LOT of people, including myself have been very critical towards Nasim Ashraf. The problem is in our thinking pattern. The reason is that, our minds have been conditioned like that. Just think of an “Angel” and imagine the picture. What do you see? We have been conditioned by the Christian pictorial representations of Angels. The moment we hear the word Angel and what comes to our mind? A picture of someone with an angelic face, long hair, wings and dressed in a flowing white robe appearing from the sky…..right? Our minds have been prepared to think like that. Now, erase that picture, descriptions of the angels vary immensely. Still, we cannot conceptualized it in a manner that is similar in my mind and yours and that is because we have been accustomed to use a picture when thinking about angels. Its also true that, a mind can only see what it is prepared to see.

The train derails and several hundred people die in a tragic accident, what is the first public reaction and demand? “The Transport Minister must resign with immediate effect.” There is a big fire in the school, the headmaster must resign, why? Because we have been programmed to react like that. Before we go into analyzing this scenario whether Dr. Nasim Ashraf should resign or be impeached along with Musharaf Parvez, lets look into the chain of events first and charge him guilty or hang him for the sins he has NOT committed.

1. It was Younus Khan who started the drill, he was pissed off by the former Chairman Shahriyar Khan whose office peon made him wait for 20 minutes. He went off in a huff-puff and refused to captain the team by saying he is not a dummy captain.
2. Shahriyar Khan resigned and DNA was appointed by the President as the new Chairman of the PCB. So, he took-over the charge as CEO under the most unpleasant circumstances and also inherited all the grumpy and corrupt seniors already holding senior positions in the board.
3. The team goes to India to play Champions Trophy and the two druggies were sent back for being tested positive for anabolic steroid (Nandrolone) and were banned.
4. The ban continued on them and not only the ICC but, WADA and CAS, except for the USA’s FBI, CIA, DEA all of them including the whole world, the whole media started talking about the Pakistani team. Not to mention Darel Hair’s Oval match forfeiture and Inzamam’s hearing in London. And the hiring of the expensive lawyers from the UK, all this was happening just when he took over the office.
5. That was not the ending. Somehow due to public pressure and loopholes in the ICC regulations the PCB was able to lift ban from these two druggies and were allowed to play in South Africa.
6. The team went to South Africa without Shoaib Akhtar and Shahid Afridi and then due to public demand and pressure from so many circles, DNA personally went to the ground to see the fitness level of Show-Actor whether he is really unfit or what? He proved his fitness and fooled DNA and fooled himself and, he was sent to South Africa. He took 4 wickets bowled only 12 overs and went into a huff-puff situation had a big fight with the coach Bob Woolmer and was sent back because he was unfit. Another unfit player was sent by the PCB officials i.e., Shabbir Ahmad. Good that he is gone forever now.
7. The fear of Asif and Aktar being banned if tested positive at the WC center stage because, Nandrolone is known to remain in the system for several months, DNA had no choice but to protect them at the advise of his colleagues who suggested to declare them unfit. Besides, neither Bob Woolmer nor Inzi were keen on taking them. Afridi was also banned for 4 matches, the two crucial matches at the WC that was a blow to the already injured team. We all know what happened in the WC.
8. Bob Woolmer died under mysterious circumstance and once again the whole team had to go through such a torrid experience and once again this happened when DNA has hardly settled in his office.
9. Immediately after the WC, Inzi announced his retirement as he wanted to be known as PirZamam. Younus Khan was asked to lead and once again he declined to accept the captaincy role. He emphasized that he doesn’t want to be a dummy captain.
10. The PCB, after experiencing Inzi’s domination over the players and the officials, they wanted to give Younus Khan a title without power, “responsibility without authority.” Its impossible because, responsibility and authority go hand in hand. He realized that its better to be in the team as a player rather than being a dummy captain.
11. Afridi, a strong contender for that post, is another stubborn, rather obstinate “Akhroat” a hard nut to crack, he would never “bend over backwards” like Malik. He would never listen to the PCB buffoons, hence he was not selected. DNA himself being a Pushtoon never pushed his case further otherwise they would have targeted him for being jingoistic.
12. Malik (the baby face boy who once said, “If Inzi Bhai wants me to open …. I will open {my trousers} for him.”) was the only choice for them, rather the ideal person who is very submissive and most obedient to his superiors.
13. He has created history by beating the minnows 12 straight wins and then he has also created history by getting thrashed by India with biggest margin ever. Also, for losing on Indian soil after 26 years.
14. Then, in the T20 WC the Show-Actor launched another ugly episode by hitting another druggie with a cricket bat. He was sent back. The team however gelled well because Umar Gul and Shahid Afridi bowled well and Misbah batted well. Afridi was declared Player of the Tournament and that scared Malik a lot, he thought Afridi would take over the role of captaincy from him and he started playing petty politics. Because Malik is not performing as a batsman and he is not bowling at all. He is afraid that if he bowls, his bowling will expose him further and he would be out of the team.
15. Nasim Ashraf was again confronted by the ugly incident when the Show-Actor, who splattered baseless, unjust comments against him and also threatened to sue him. While handling the whole team was one big effort, managing a druggie menace was even bigger, every now and then he (Akhtar) used to accuse someone or the other.
16. Nasim Ashraf Pardoned him and sent him to play for the IPL, he was not fit again. He couldn’t bowl more than 4 overs. Rumours were circulating about the needles that he was reportedly carrying in his bag.
17. To make the situation even worst DNA had to deal with the junior druggie who was so drunk that he was not aware whether the direct flight from Delhi to Lahore is the shortest or Delhi to Lahore via Dubai is the shortest? Its a journey of his life now.

In short what I was trying to say here is, Dr. Nasim Ashraf did not get enough time to look outwards or to pay attention to his team, he was forced to see inwards which is so full of dirt, muck and so full of garbage – politics. I am glad that he kicked out Saleem Altaf. There are more morons like him who needs to leave that place for good. Not only the PCB, the team also needs to be restructured.

The first thing he should do is remove Sissy Malik from the team. Or, at least suspend him for 8 – 10 matches for lying about his fitness and also for poor show. Kamran Akmal is his most favourite buddy and he needs to give Malik some company otherwise Malik would be sulking alone. Definitely Talat Ali needs to give company Geoff Lawson and both should be sent on a holiday at their own expense, in other words they should be asked to leave w.e.f.

These are the hypothesis based on the facts and my view is, Nasim Ashraf must stay as the CEO of the PCB to prepare a team not only for the Asia Cup or the Champions Trophy but, for the 2011 WC. You as bloggers may continue to comment on the India / Pakistan final to be played on June 14th on this thread. But, please also keep this thread alive and don’t hesitate to air your comments about this important subject, as the future of Pakistan cricket team rests on the anvil of emotions and we need to phrase and rephrase the verses that will be like a poetry in motion. Whether our views are read, heard or get any heed or not, is not important. We express our views and discuss them in utmost sincerity and we hope to see a fair selection in the team and also a good performance from them. With time our bloggers will increase, (they already have) like we have some +ive energy in seeing “Sakhti” on the blog.