I am inclined to write this new thread because of two people, Omer and newguy. Omer did some analysis on Pakistan team and wanted us to delve deeper in the subject on how momentum is built and shifted. And newguy threw some light on India’s exit from this T20 WC, based on that on how teams from the sub-continent performs against bouncers.
The team momentum builds up with the performance of individual players who get into rhythm at the right time and it is their individual momentum that creates ripple effects in the team and motivates and then, a few of the non-performers also start catching up with those who are building the momentum and that helps in gelling the team into a winning combination.
For India in 2007 T20 WC mainly it was Yuvraj Singh and, for Pakistan in 2009 it was Shahid Afridi who peaked up at the right time, starting just before the semifinal and then taking his form to the final to win the world cup for Pakistan. Whereas, Dilshan in 2009 reached his peak performance and flopped when he was supposed to deliver, but now he is doing the opposite, he is coming back into form at the right time. These individual performances are dangerous because, they can tilt the game either way. Therefore, in T20 at least 2-3 players must perform well i.e., a couple of good partnerships and a good bowling performance of 3-4 wickets by one bowler earlier in the innings and the other bowlers contain runs, that makes a big difference. Like Umer Gul did in the previous world cup. And in the West Indies team, it’s the Gayle factor, which plays the major role, when he performs WI wins and when he doesn’t they fall like nine pins.
For Pakistan to have two consistent players on the top and a couple of unorthodox players like Afridi or Abdul Razzaq but definitely not Misbah ul Haq, if they can go berserk in the end, it changes the entire scenario. Saeed Ajmal has been very consistent with his bowling, even when he takes one or two wickets he doesn’t give more than 25-30 runs. Likewise, if Salman Butt can score in semifinal like he did in all other matches in this tournament except for the match against SA and then Kamran, Umar, Afridi, Razzaq if they can chip in 30-40 runs its more than enough to defend a total of 170-180 and the so-called mighty Australians will crumble. Although Cameron White just got into form and looks dangerous plus, Mike Hussey is Australia’s Mr. Consistent, they might put resistance in the end but, the key for Pakistan is using the right kinda bowlers in the end and not to mention good fielding.
Australia looks dangerous because of only two fast bowlers i.e., Shaun Tait and Derek Nannes, the later is more accurate and a wicket taker whereas, Tait intimidates the batsmen, especially with his speed and rising deliveries if the Pakistani openers can respond to his bouncers with a few fours he would go into his shell just like Mitchel Johnson. The Pakistani batsmen have to deal cautiously with Nannes because, he moves the ball away with an angle and right hand batsmen find it very difficult, Butt should not have that problem at least with Nannes but, he might get scummed to Tait’s pace.
There was a time when Pakistani batsmen were considered as fearless against the mighty West Indies of the late ’60s and early ’70s. Young Mushtaq Mohammad responded to Wesley Hall’s bouncers with fours and later on Majid Khan, Zaheer Abbass, Javed Miandad et all were renowned to be experts in hooking the bouncers. Even young Afridi used to go after every single bouncer and at times got out. But, lately there is a trend in the sub-continent players to duck under the bouncers. I am not sure it is due to fear or is it the new rule of 2 bouncers per over where they expect to get a no ball? In doing so they have given away the moral victory to the bowler and themselves have lost the ability to score as well as dent the fast bowler’s aggression. In order to fight back they need to tackle aggression with aggression.
Pakistan’s biggest problem is not just the opening stand but, it is the fielding, they keep dropping catches, miss run outs and give away extra runs through poor fielding. Also, they need to convert singles into twos and twos into threes. Salman Butt needs to improve his running between the wickets, he looks very lazy and was labeled as a lethargic and a selfish player. The truth may not be that but, once you are labeled you are in focus and everyone keeps watching you. So, he needs to run like a hare and play like a sher. In any case they should not be playing the unorthodox scoop shots and reverse sweeps, there is no need to play those fancy shots in such important matches and get out or take a big risk and score one run or nothing. Like Shahid Afridi cannot control his emotions and tries to hit every ball out of the ground for a six, Misbah ul Haq also cannot control himself and go for silly scoops which had cost his wicket and the match on a few occasions. So, why bother playing such shots when there is no need for it?
I have noted this before besides getting this gut feeling based on my observation that when Pakistan plays two T20 matches against Australia, they lose one and win one. The same they have done against England. Since they have lost one, it is time for them to win the second. The first hurdle is Australia and they must take them as any other team and not just big names. My other gut feeling is Sri Lanka will win against England and it will be a repeat final that we saw in England last year. However, even if England beats Sri Lanka, they cannot beat Pakistan the second time in one tournament. Therefore, Pakistan despite being underdogs have more chances of defending the cup than other teams. And this feeling is not based on emotions but, on observation and facts that Pakistan team are late bloomers and they play good in big matches. Winning and losing is a part of every game but, we all need a good performance from Pakistan and we want Pakistan to win.