PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU VOTE IN THE POLLS!!!
Khansahab reviews the 1st Test between India and Australia and also considers the T20 Canada tournament.
INDIA VS AUSTRALIA
India will take heart from the fact that they managed a hard fought draw after Australia imposed a commanding total in the 1st innings. Apart from notable contributions from Dravid, Sehwag and Ganguly there wasn’t much to write home about as far as the top order is concerned. However it was the fighting spirit and commitment of lower order batsmen Harbjahan and Zaheer Khan that was a cause for celebration for the Indians. Both of these players have performed consistently with the bat in the recent past whenever the Indian top order has failed to click.
Zaheer Khan was superb in this match and thoroughly deserved the Man of the Match award. Zaheer has come a long way since he yorked his way into international cricket 8 years ago. He line was on target and he caused considerable disturbance to the Australian batsmen and his 1st innings spell of 29.5-4-91-5 will remain in memory for a long time.
India will also take heart from the fact that, all of the Fab Four players performed in bits and pieces. This might disappoint those critics though who want fresh blood to be infused into the Indian middle order right away. Tendulkar could not break Lara’s record, but his 49 played under pressure did potentially save the Test for India. Dravid will probably have secured a place in the 2nd Test by scoring a 50 in the first innings whereas Laxman showed resilience in the 2nd innings. Ganguly, who has snatched away most of the spotlight due to his retirement decision made before the series started, looked convincing in both innings.
Questions are being raised about Kumble’s declining bowling performance. He is struggling to grab wickets and appears far from from his best. It will be interesting to see when the retirement decision comes from him. Most people will agree Dhoni is ready for Test captaincy.
The second Test starts on Friday and India will probably go with the same line up. The Mohali pitch traditionally favours pace bolwing more although in the very recent past it has also produced cracks to assist the spinners. It has been discussed on LS before that Harbhajan is the in form player for India and Kumble is the captain, so India has no option but to go with two spinners. It is recommended to go with an extra pacer but that would mean one of India’s Fab Four would have to sit out.
CANADA T20 REVIEW
We saw a highly charged and for most period, competitive T20 tournament. There have been far more negatives than positives for Pakistan in this tournament and this review will analyse those. Shoaib Malik’s captaincy again came under the scanner as he made some unforgivable mistakes. In two crucial matches Malik did not let Umar Gul bowl his full quota of 4 overs.
Speaking of Gul, he was fantastic in his tournament and appeared very threatening. Gul bowled with an average of 9, an economy of 4.5 and a strike rate if 12. In terms of bowling statistics only Mendis outperformed Gul. Gul’s spectacular performance raises questions if he is the best T20 pacer in the world? The reason why Umar Gul is successful in this format is because he bowls wicket-to-wicket, uses good variation and the limit of 4 overs allows him to bowl many fast yorkers.
Another success story was Fawad Alam, whose 3 sixes were the turning point of the match against Sri Lanka which enabled Pakistan to enter the final. His talent was never in doubt but he needed a platform to showcase it and was lucky that he got a chance despite going against his natural style of batting, which is similar to Michael Bevan’s.
The new PCB administration needs to decide how it will handle the following concerns:
1) Shoaib Akhtar’s lack of commitment- Shoaib was a liability in this tournament and single handedly lost Pakistan the final
2) Sohail Tanvir’s ineffective bolwing performance- will he go down the same route as Mohammad Sami and Rana Naved?
3) Malik’s uninspiring captaincy. Consider a) The different batting positions Afridi was used in, b) Fawad being sent in at no 9, c) Gul not being able to finish his quota, being the most reliable bowler in the squad, d) Attitude towards Sohail Khan who only got to bowl 1 over in the whole tournament, e) The over utilisation of Shoaib Khan who appeared mediocre at best, f) Inability to handle Shoaib Akhtar and Sohail Tanvir……no captain has been able to handle Akhtar’s destructive behaviour but Malik should have advised Akhtar to bowl with some sense in the final
4) Misbah’s role in the team- in this Cup Misbah only made 60 runs with a strike rate of 97- clearly not in line with what is expected from a T20 specialist
5) Selection issues- the time has come to decide, a) whether Malik should remain as the captain, b) whether Younis Khan is needed in limited overs’ cricket, c) what role Misbah ul Haq is performing in the team as he has not been able to win matches for Pakistan, d) whether people like Nasir Jamshed, Saeed Ajmal and Khurram Manzoor should be considered to serve Pakistan cricket in the future.
Bear in mind that nothing positive is expected to materialise from the new PCB administration because we are expected to see the same faces that have ruined Pakistan cricket like Saleem Altaf and Aamir Sohail.