It is time to write a new thread and it is time to analyze the Pakistan cricket team selected for the Champions Trophy. It is time for us to raise our concerns over the selection and omission of a few players. The most obvious one is the inclusion of Mohammad Asif and omission of Abdul Razzaq. Asif has not played international cricket for almost 18 months and it is possible that he might take a few wickets, just like Abdul Razzaq did in the T20 WC, two wickets in his first match and 4 in the final. But, Abdul Razzaq is dropped in favour of Rana who took 4 wickets in the last ODI and Rao took 5 wickets in the previous ODI against Sri Lanka. Some say that Asif’s inclusion is OK but, Abdul Razzaq should have been retained in the team and either Rao or Rana should have been omitted. That is because Razzaq has more experience and his bowling would be more effective in SA.
Similarly, in the batting department some say that Salman Butt should have been in the team, but he is totally out of form and he has been getting out cheaply and the team spirit is dented with his early departure. Khurram Manzoor’s form is better than Butt and he should have been considered in the squad. But, in any case there is no need to lament on Salman Butt’s exclusion.
For someone to open the innings in a 50 over match should not be the likes of Imran Nazir, who is certainly the best bet for a T20 game and not for a 50 overs match. However, if Nazir learns something from (the current) Shahid Afridi, who has learned to control his aggression in the early stages of the innings, he (Imran) too can be very useful and valuable for the team. The difference between Afridi and Nazir is, the later is only a batsman and if he is out cheaply his utility in the team remains at only 33% of his abilities i.e., purely his fielding. Whereas, Afridi’s utility, because of his bowling and fielding remains at 66%, even if he gets out cheaply.
It is strange that Butt’s omission is justified by his poor form but, Malik and Misbah escapes like a Stealth and no one notices them or raises any objection and they have managed to sneak into the side through an automated selection panel. This is purely nepotism and jingoism, their inclusion is justified on the basis of experience! What experience are we talking here? Age multiplied by number of years = zero experience. There has to be a realistic measure to select a player based on his recent past performance and not the averages. The averages could be deceptive and misleading.
Misbah’s average during the Sri Lanka tour (barring the last match in which he remained 72*) was only 9 and after one not out it is 45. And, Malik’s average is only 7. Yes, s.e.v.e.n. 7. If one takes into consideration just the averages, then rookie fast bowler Mohammad Aamir’s batting average is second highest at 49 because he remained not out twice. So, it appears that Misbah’s inclusion in the team is not justified on the basis of his ODI average but, purely on the basis of regionalism. But, Malik case is neither this nor that. He is a chronic, persistent, consistent loser, a trivial politician who is out their to back stab other players in the team and he deliberately throws away his wicket, even asks his colleagues (Misbah and Akmal) to do the same. Based on that he should have been dropped long ago. The irony is in Pakistan it is neither the form, nor the class but, only “sifarish” works.
Even with the inclusion of the super star bowler Asif in the team, the bowling department is pretty mediocre especially in South Africa the wickets are hard and bouncy. Rana has the tendency to bowl out side the off stump and he gives too much width to the batsmen to play their shots freely. Rao, bowls wicket to wicket but, he takes wicket once in blue moon and for rest of the time he is pretty mediocre. Aamir, is too young and he would be playing in SA for the first time, so there is nothing much you can talk about him but, he is by far the best fast bowler in the team today. Even Gul is off colour in ODI’s these days and he should be used after 20 overs when the ball is old and again after the 44th or 45th over to get the best out of him.
Among the spinners, we need to see how Ajmal will bowl in SA, India and Australia can play him with ease and they can frustrate him and force him to change his line and his variations which could end up in giving away too many runs. He needs to be focused and remain calm even if he is not getting wickets, if he can contain runs that will be an achievement. As regards Shahid Afridi, being a leg spinner he is bound to give more runs than a off-spinner and on fast tracks, if Kamran Akmal is slacking behind the stumps, not only will be dropping a few of Afridi’s catches but, would be giving away runs.
Therefore, the bowling department seems to be weak, whereas the batting is still better – provided they play sensibly – but, that is asking too much from Pakistan team. The whole team plays like champions one day and the next day they play like minnows.
Ijaz Butt should stop making stupid decisions of firing people and now thinking of replacing Younus Khan with Afridi, it is going to hurt the team’s performance a lot. You cannot change the captain a few weeks before the departure of the team to a major competition especially when the captain and the team has been announced. This PCB’s off-the-cuff management must come to an end. Enough is enough. If the captain needs to be replaced this is not the time, it must be done after the CT and in a proper manner with proper justifications. This is not Ijaz Butt’s Jageer that he can take decisions just like that. In fact he should be fired immediately, that will not effect the team’s performance in any manner whatsoever.