Archive for March, 2009

THE DEATH OF INTERNATIONAL CRICKET IN PAKISTAN

Pakistan cricket in chaos

Pakistan cricket in chaos

03/03/2009 will be remembered as the darkest day  in Pakistan cricket’s history. As the world watches in disbelief, some cowards sitting somewhere will be celebrating because they have achieved their objectives, at least for the short term. No international team will visit Pakistan in the forseeable future and only a miracle can save Pakistan from this mess. The irony, of course, always is that the terrorists wanted this to happen, and life is so sacred that no foreign team will be willing to risk their lives for the sake of defeating the terrorists’ nefarious objectives. Does this make it an unwinnable war against terror, because no one will (perhaps rightfully) ever want to visit Pakistan following this barbaric act?

Terrorism has no religion and no borders. After the events of today as some Indians passionately rejected any possibility of an Indian hand in this atrocity, they asked what India would achieve by doing this? Someone can easily ask, what would Pakistanis or Muslims achieve by doing this? After the endless list of all terror attacks that have happened across the globe following 9/11, could patriotic Pakistanis, or Muslims risk tainting the name of their country and/or religion by engaging in these activities? At the moment most Pakistanis are simply thinking about where they will get their next meal from, and under these circumstances what possible terrorist motives could they have? 

Yet Pakistan has been a breeding ground for terror. The current and previous governments disclosed venues that were being used for nurturing extremism. Somehow, people on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan are planning attacks against Pakistanis. The world has to realise that Pakistan is more a victim of terror, rather than a perpetrator of terror. Pakistan has 100,000 troops fighting the Taliban on the border; that is probably the largest army any country has spared to fight extremism. Yet, why is the global media so keen on linking Pakistanis and Muslims with terror? Terrorist attacks occur in Pakistan almost everyday, so much so that now it is considered as a part of daily life. The world asks why Pakistanis are sympathetic to terrorists. That is a completely erroneous perception. Pakistan has faced so much destruction and loss because of terror, that Pakistanis simply have discounted the possibility of Pakistanis themselves being the architects of this annhilation and destabilisation of their country. Further, whatever form terrorism takes, the causes of terrorism, like most crimes, are poverty, destitution and manipulation. The War on Terror has left thousands of people homeless in the region, and Pakistani politicians have often hinted that it is these people who take on terrorism as a lifestyle, to effect vengeance against the people who have allowed this to happen; namely, the Pakistani government and the West. So, nothwithstanding how condemnable, evil and unacceptable terrorism is, the sad truth is that the military operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan have been a cause for terror to foster in the region. 

The elimination of terror remains the topmost priority nevertheless, and rightly so, as terrorism by its nature is committed against the innocent. One has to be insane to consider taking another’s life, as all life is equal and sacred. Pakistan, as a society, is dividing into religious Muslims and completely liberal Muslims. There seems to be no middle ground for the practice of religion. This can be fatal for the country. It should be the utmost duty of every Pakistani citizen to do all he can to ensure religion is not being preached in extreme terms in any school, madrassah, mosque or institution. There has to be some kind of social and religious revolution.  Despite the apparent futility of doing so, Pakistanis must protest against all kinds of extremism, just like how they protest against the actions of Israel, India and the USA. Pakistanis have to focus on the fact that, only the abandonment of all forces that claim to stand for Islam within Pakistan, can ensure Pakistan’s survival. 

Pakistanis will have to evaluate whether incidents such as the Lal Masjid fiasco should be encouraged in the country? For me, it is that incident which is the litmus test for finding out whose side a person is on- the liberals or the extremists. (Perhaps I am using the word “liberals” in the wrong sense there, as I consider myself to be a moderate Muslim and not exactly a “liberal” Muslim; I refrain from alcohol, pork, womanising, yet I don’t pray regularly and I don’t keep a beard or regularly attend religious gatherings etc.) I considered the actions of the Lal Masjid clerics as quite disgraceful and extreme, and although I did not support the brutal siege conducted by the Army (as I believe no one should be allowed to take anyone’s life, as both soldiers and students were killed), I severely condemned the actions of the radicals. Yet, there seems to be little similarity between what the Lal Masjid clerics wanted to achieve and their methods of operation, and what the Lahore and Mumbai gunmen did- which was just plain shooting and creating chaos. 

This morning I saw a news bulletin, which somehow made me feel hopeful ironically. People from across the country- Quetta, Lahore, Peshawar and Karachi were interviewed about their thoughts on this atrocity. They looked very helpless, hopeless and confused. I genuinely felt for them, as their lives are being wrecked by a nameless, faceless and cowardly enemy and they can only sit and watch their country being ravaged by these wild, heartless beasts. What I felt more sorrowful about though, was that people like those interviewees, the common people of Pakistan, are the people the whole world likes to point fingers at and declare as terrorists. Now what made me slightly hopeful, was that I saw an uncanny burning emotion on their faces. I saw people of different facial features, different accents, different body language, but they were all unanimous in declaring this as an unacceptable act. I saw that being at the brink of social destruction has brought the commonalities out in these people who belong to different religions, ethnicities and social backgrounds. For once, Pakistanis seemed united and seemed to consider national issues as more significant than petty internal political and ethnic strifes. What Pakistan needs more than everything else is a torch bearer, someone who can motivate and encourage the general population that their survival, life, pursuit of all things cherishable to Man, are not perished yet and that they are more than capable of turning around their (mis)fortunes. Pakistan needs hope, and all it takes is one man who does not care about political parties, dirty politics, corruption, ethnic supremacy, to start the bandwagon and motivate the people. Sometimes you take a fall, but you only have to look up to see how high you can really get. 

That has to the silver lining in Pakistan’s dark cloud. Younis Khan is not an intellectual or philosopher, but today he said something that was very simple, and yet very true and meaningful. He said that Pakistan will be able to brave the storm if all Pakistanis unite and fight against these people who are hellbent on destabilising the country. Unity, faith and discipline was the motto of the Quaid, and it is time these words are put into effect. Something’s gotta give, because now Pakistan is in a desperate situation. It may be the death of international cricket in Pakistan for the forseeable future, but now Pakistanis have to make things right and become prominent in the world as ambassadors of global peace and harmony.

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THE MISERY MUST END….NOW!

 

Danish Kaneria is facing the heat after consistent ineffective performances

Danish Kaneria is facing the heat after consistent ineffective performances

Pakistan again ended up conceding over 600 runs to Sri Lanka in the 1st innings. Everyone was in unison over this wicket being a supportive one for both pacers and spinners but barring Umar Gul, there was no one else who left a mark. This article aims to cover just what is lacking in the current side which is resulting in such lacklustre team performances. Pakistan scored more than Sri Lanka in the Karachi Test; however that was largely due to the efforts of a flawless triple century by Younis and a huge century by Akmal. Akmal’s century however was nothing spectacular as it was achieved against a tired, directionless Sri Lankan attack consisting mainly of part timers such as Dilshan.

Danish Kaneria has been a huge disappointment for Pakistan ever since Akmal started dropping catches off his bowling. Akmal drops approximately 1-2 catches off Kaneria per Test and it seems this has done incalculable damage to Kaneria’s confidence. Surely this has to be the reason, because Kaneria started with a bang in international cricket and comparisons were drawn immediately with Shane Warne. Kaneria had virtually everything in his repertoire a successful spinner needs- flight, variation, bounce, turn capacity etc, yet Kaneria has completely failed to apply any of those elements successfully to his bowling of late.His biggest problem has been that he is constantly overpitching and all 6 balls of his overs are pitched at different lines and lengths. This is usually a simple problem to remedy, but Kaneria seems to be clueless. The most important aspect of a spinner in Test cricket is control, and if control is absent, the spinner is treated like a club level bowler which is exactly what is happening with Kaneria at the moment. PCB needs to consider whether Afridi’s dynamism and all round capabilities can provide what Pakistan is looking for. Although not a specialist legspinner in the Test mould, Afridi has experience and variety and he certainly can do a better job than Kaneria in the circumstances. Pakistan can also benefit from his spirited fielding, good motivational skills and aggressive batting.

 

Akmal must be the luckiest man on Earth

Akmal must be the luckiest man on Earth

Akmal dropped Samaraweera off Kaneria on the 1st day when the batsman was on 68 and he went on to score 214. This is not the first time this has happened and it certainly won’t be the last. Akmal has dropped South Africans, Indians, Australians; in fact, batsmen from all teams in his under-achieving career, yet his place in the team seems to be set in stone on the pretext of some good batting performances.

What is the role of the wicketkeeper? It is to hold on to catches, concentrate, and motivate all the fielders. However, Akmal does the opposite of that. Since 3 years Akmal has been dropping catches in every Test and ODI series, yet he has not been replaced. Dropping 1 or 2 catches every few matches is acceptable, but Akmal drops them at an unbelievable rate and his carelessness has resulted in Mohammad Sami’s and Kaneria’s confidence shattering almost completely. Akmal’s latest victim is Shahid Afridi, who also happens to have a professional rivalry with Akmal’s best friend in the team, Shoaib Malik.

Enough is enough and PCB and Younis Khan need to consider whether they want a keeper who can hold onto his catches, or they want a batsman who occasionally dominates docile bowling attacks on flat pitches? I am no Don Bradman, but Akmal’s batting technique is laughable on bowling pitches. His record against good teams speaks for itself. He is not a good batsman and he is a worse keeper. Period. Players like Sarfraz Ahmed and Ali Asad who can keep better than Akmal have been hitting 100’s and 50’s at domestic level consistently and how are the selectors rewarding them?

 

Clueless coach who is living in past glories

Clueless coach who is living in past glories

Intikhab Alam is a miserable coach. He is more like a media manager- everyday he gives a few interviews to the media that contain useless, vapid rhetoric. Inti’s main problem is that being an old timer he is still living in the past and he believes another Imran Khan, Miandad or Wasim Akram will suddenly emerge and rescue the team. He needs to realise that cricket has changed and this is the age of glamour, money and global fame. Nowadays, apart from raw talent, what is needed is professionalism, discipline and relentless commitment. That should be the primary concern of Inti Alam. India has adapted to changing times very well and we are witnessing that in players like Dhoni, Raina and Gambhir. Pakistan does not have any deficiency of talent, but that talent needs to be nurtured at the highest level.
Barring Youniss triple century, hardly anything positive has stemmed in this series for Pakistan. There are plenty of challenges that await Younis.

Barring Younis's triple century, hardly anything positive has stemmed in this series for Pakistan. There are plenty of challenges that await Younis.

Finally, Younis Khan needs to fire with all guns blazing. It is perhaps too early to set off the cannons of criticism, but Younis needs to stop covering himself by making defensive statements to the media, such as saying he believes Pakistan will not be able to win this series because of lack of match practice. That might be very true, but psychologically he must prepare his men to win each and every game. Pakistan cricket is at its lowest point for decades and the desperate situation requires a captain who is completely aggressive in every way, whether that is in his selection of players, field placing, body language or statements to the media. Younis said he wants to lead from the front like Imran Khan, and if he wants to do that he must garner more courage and aggression.
In conclusion, Pakistan needs to get rid of players like Kaneria and Akmal, who are agonising the team with their lack of commitment and half-hearted efforts. The strategies employed in this Test series are not good enough. In pace bowling, the PCB needs to keep rotating talented youngsters who have shown the pace and control to succeed at the highest level. Surely, someone will emerge who can emulate the heroics Wasim and Waqar so frequently performed for Pakistan? The PCB needs to remember the greats of the past and make tough decisions in the present, so that Pakistan’s future features continuous victories against all kinds of teams. But the first step is to get rid of this parasite in the team, namely the twosome of Kaneria and Akmal.The misery must end…….NOW!

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