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 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
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 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!