Posts Tagged Australia
Millions of Pakistan cricket fans were left astounded by the events that occurred on 14 May 2010. Australia snatched the World Cup T20 semi final from Pakistan’s grasp and did the impossible.
One must wonder whether Australia’s miraculous victory was a product of good luck or a certain mental resilience that has defined global cricket domination for more than a decade. To say whether sheer skill, or sheer luck plays a part in T20 is a moot point that can lead to heated arguments between fans of the format, or purists who view it plainly as entertainment. One devles into arguments of philosophy regarding how “skill” is defined, or whether the ability to slog, constantly vary line and length, and create new shots can be considered as “skill”, too.
Apparently the Pakistan Cricket Board has attempted to employ the same techniques used by the Australian board as regards psychological coaching of players in order to inculcate some form of mental strength. However the PCB has missed a trick. Why is that Pakistan is always so vulnerable against the Australians? Ever since the 1999 World Cup final, Pakistan loses to Australia consistently even from winning positons.
Most Pakistanis are satisfied with the team’s performance and are commenting that, Pakistan reached the semi finals and put up a competitive show against a good team, Australia. But, I am not as optimistic. We seem to have forgotten that Pakistan is the best T20 team in the world with great T20 players like the Akmal brothers, Razzaq, Afridi, Ajmal etc. It must not be forgotten that Pakistan lost to teams like England and New Zealand but they were able to beat South Africa. T20 is more about luck than anything else, although we can argue the skills of players like Ajmal, Razzaq and Afridi are more suited to T20. I still feel that if Pakistan was mentally strong they could have reached the final.
Pakistan was playing with so many T20 specialists. It is worrisome now to consider that teams like England and Australia have demonstrated so much improvement in this format. Pakistan is unable to compete with these teams at Test level, and will we now see a situation that Pakistan will be relegated even in T20’s? People might accuse me of being sceptical but one must not forget that Pakistan just scraped through in the semis because of good luck. In the next World Cup if we see Pakistan performing the same way then it is fair to say that Pakistan will be completely marginalised from international cricket and will be accorded the same status as Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, teams the ICC does not take seriously.
England and Australia have picked up upon how T20 is played. Going back into history, T20 originated in Karachi, at the Nazimabad ground in the 1970s. It spread like wildfire across the whole of Pakistan and then other countries took notice and played the format informally. T20 suited Pakistanis because the way cricket is played on the streets in Pakistan, slogging the ball is encouraged and no one wants to see batsmen who take singles and doubles or who plan think too much about their statistics. Also, Test cricket required discipline and good facilities which you cannot find very commonly in Pakistan. So, it was natural that Pakistanis excelled at this short format.
Shahid Afridi’s captaincy has evoked mixed reactions. Some people comment that he was too defensive, some people did not understand his constant shuffling of the batting order and bowling options. Yet, what Afridi has proved is that he is able to experiment and constantly try something new. This is a good quality and it must not be undermined. With time Afridi will improve but for now the PCB must continue with him as captain. The reason why Pakistan did not perform ideally in the first few matches was because of poor fielding and batting performance of Misbah, Umer Akmal, Hafeez and Afridi himself. Whether Pakistan’s performance in this Cup was good or bad, they must continue to work on their fielding as most of their fielders are still not world class.
Misbah ul Haq went into this Cup one of Pakistan’s 2 batting order backbones. Yet, his performance was pathetic. Even before this tournament the Legslip management criticised his selection (and have been doing so for 2 years) but Misbah somehow keeps being selected repeatedly. On the other hand, Fawad Alam is still not being provided with opportunities. Hopefully this Cup is a message for the PCB never to select Misbah, Hafeez and K Latif again. How many more matches will Misbah lose for Pakistan?
In conclusion, this Cup represents Australia’s resurgence in world cricket glory. The difference between the winner and loser in that memorable semi final was one team’s complacency and mental weakness and the other’s “Never Say Die” attitide. Australia took a dip for a few years in international cricket and many people commented that without McGrath, Warne, Hayden etc the team’s status would wither, yet the Aussies have shown that there is no alternative to mental strength. There is a certain level of self-belief, a certain mettle that can cause humans to create miracles.
And we witnessed a miracle at St Lucia on 14 May 2010.
The next few days bring an uncanny excitement to Pakistan cricket fans. We have seen captains changing, disasters wrecking sport in the nation and political and social turmoil affecting the morale of the Pakistani public and cricketers, but the next few days can improve the situation for everyone who has some kind of association with Pakistan.
A new leader is at the helm in the form of Younis Khan, a generally respected figure. Younis is one of the few stars of Pakistan cricket of the past decade who have not been involved in scandals or disgraceful incidents. Across the world Younis Khan is known as a friendly, caring individual who is deeply patriotic about his country and passionate about his culture, but who does not let that come in the way of respecting other countries and cultures. Although it is too early to speak in favour of or against Younis’s captaincy, he needs to lead with relentless aggression because that is the only way Pakistan can become a top side.
The top performers for Pakistan going into this series are Younis and Umar Gul. Whereas
Younis has been Pakistan’s best batsmen for almost 2 years now, Gul has been Pakistan’s best bowler for almost the same duration. Apart from testing Younis’s captaincy skills, this series will also test his character when it comes to batting. Younis only averages 16 against Australia in ODI’s and he needs to improve that figure.
Gul needs to bowl with fire and aggression. If he can extract the right bounce, bowl quick and use reverse swing, he can cause Australia plenty of problems.
LOOK OUT FOR…………….
Shahid Khan Afridi: Afridi has been in good domestic form and made an impact both with bowling and batting in the recent RBS One Day Cup. If Afridi can get into some kind of batting form, he will be a force to be reckoned with in this series. He is going into this series as Pakistan’s most reliable spinner.
Sohail Tanvir: Tanvir got into some form in recent tournaments after consulting Javed Miandad. He started with a bang and he needs to retain the same attitude. If he can bowl with pace he will trouble some Australian batsmen.
Nasir Jamshed: Younis reportedly prefers Ahmed Shahzad over Nasir Jamshed, not least because of obtaining the right hand/left hand opening combination with Salman Butt. However, Nasir has more experience and has impressed to some degree so far in international cricket. He needs to bat with confidence and play his natural game. A good series against Australia will guarantee him selecton in the team at least for another year.
Australia will be banking on captain Clarke, all rounder Symonds, keeper Haddin and medium pacer Bracken.
Symonds averages 62 against Pakistan in ODI’s which is his highest average against any Test playing nation. Haddin is averaging 43 this year. Clarke is going into this series as Australia’s best batsman. Bracken is amongst the best ODI bowlers in the world, although against South Africa he was not in his best form.
A lot of Pakistan fans are predicting a series win for Pakistan, and some are also saying that Pakistan will end up winning 2 matches. Australia cannot be underestimated and in fact the LS Management is doubting Pakistan’s potential, although they acknowledge this potential. Players like Hauritz and Shane Watson have the ability to turn matches around single handedly. Hauritz was the Man of the Match in the last match against South Africa, so he is in form.
The biggest advantage to Australia which is also Pakistan’s biggest disadvantage, is that some consistency can be expected from the Aussies. Clarke can bank on knowing the limits to what his players can and cannot do. Younis will be less sure of his team’s potential, but his job is just to offer support to his players and persuade them to play positive and aggressive cricket.
Pakistan cricket thrives on uncertainty. The fans expect the unexpected. That has been the pulse of Pakistan cricket for a long time. Today Pakistan is devoid of legends like Wasim, Waqar, Imran and Miandad. The problem I have with Younis and Qadir’s management is that we are only seeing 1 or 2 new players in this squad. Barring Nasir Jamshed, Ahmad Shahzad and Fawad Alam, all of these players have been tried and tested. When his career ends Younis will probably be considered a legend, but ODI cricket has not been his forte until very recently. So, none of the players in this squad are capable of emulating the feats of Saeed Anwar, Miandad or Wasim Akram.
However, playing under a new captain and in home-like conditions, still offers limited hope to Pakistanis. Younis will be in the spotlight because he has supported playing these tried and tested players. Now it is upto Younis Khan to create some magic and create history by leading his team to a series victory against a formidable side, a win which will go in history books as the revival of Pakistan cricket. A loss is expected, but a win will transform the morale of a bruised nation, and an emotionally battered people. This is Pakistan’s chance to make a difference.
Pakistan squad: Younis Khan (capt), Salman Butt, Nasir Jamshed, Ahmed Shehzad, Shoaib Malik, Misbah-ul-Haq, Shahid Afridi, Kamran Akmal (wk), Fawad Alam, Shoaib Akhtar, Sohail Tanvir, Umar Gul, Rao Iftikhar, Yasir Arafat, Saeed Ajmal.
The reaction to the 15 man squad for ODI’s against Australia has generally been positive with most fans approving the selection of Nasir Jamshed, Shoaib Akhtar, Ahmed Shahzad and Saeed Ajmal. However, this thread argues that the some players should not have been selected.
There were reports that Younis was against the selection of Ahmed Shahzad in the Sri
Lanka series earlier this year. It is very strange hence that Ahmed has now been selected for this series, and that too against one of the best sides in the world. For those who are not aware, Ahmed Shahzad is a 17 year old aggressive opener from Lahore who has only played 12 List A matches at domestic level. With such inexperience, why was he selected over the likes of Khalid Latif and Khurram Manzoor?
Khalid Latif is a 23 year old opener from Karachi who has played 34 List A matches and averages 54 whereas Shahzad averages 45. In the recently concluded RBS One Day Cup, Latif averaged 114 with a highest score of 204 not out. Latif has a phenomenal conversion rate too, with 8 hundreds and 2 fifties which shows that when he gets going, he tends to score big.
It is accepted that Latif had a poor debut against Zimbabwe last year when he made 19 runs. However, many players have had lacklustre debuts. Surely Abdul Qadir or Younis Khan could not have made their decision based on one sole innings?
Since Younis is known to prefer experience over youth, it is just mindboggling why he
would prefer to play Shahzad over Latif or Manzoor. Manzoor has so far shown inconsistent batting technique. His debut was impressive, but in his next few matches he struggled with shot selection. However, largely he impressed and in the 2nd Test vs Sri Lanka at Lahore, he played more confidently than Salman Butt. Is this how PCB wants to reward performance?
One could argue that recent domestic tournaments have little bearing, or should have little bearing, for international selection but it would be wrong for someone to say that. Abdul Qadir stated at the start of the RBS Cup that players who perform will be considered for the series against Australia. Selectors around the world use domestic tournaments to decide who should feature in a given forthcoming international assignment. It is not that case that Nasir Jamshed or Ahmed Shahzad are established players, if one wanted to argue that one poor domestic tournament should not affect their chances of playing against a top team.
Speaking of Nasir Jamshed, we have always spoken in support of him on LS. However, as a matter of principle he should also have not been selected and his place should have gone to Khurram Manzoor who as stated earlier, has so far performed adequately (this is on the basis that Shahzad’s place should have gone to Khalid Latif). Nasir was out of form in the RBS Cup and only scored 153 runs in 7 matches, whereas Manzoor had a much better tournament, scoring 246 runs in 6 matches.
The reason why is it submitted this selection is diabolical is because the opposition team is Australia, not Zimbabwe or Sri Lanka. There are reports that a second string team will be sent to play Pakistan, but even a third string team will be tough for Pakistan to handle. It seems as though there is a conspiracy to favour Nasir Jamshed and Ahmed Shahzad, whilst depriving Latif and Manzoor. This is because you only need to score 1 fifty in 5 matches against Australia to build a reputation as a formidable international-level opener. Salman Butt went through his worst form after his century against Australia in one of his earlier Tests, but he was constantly picked on the pretext of being the batsman who “scored a century against Australia”. So this series is a tremendous confidence booster and a golden chance in all respects for Nasir Jamshed and Ahmed Shahzad. The only problem is that there were other players who deserved this golden chance more than them.
Saeed Ajmal has been satisfactory so far, but is he really useful to the team? Shoaib Malik has recently improved his bowling and seems to be bowling just as effectively as Ajmal. Ajmal is a pretty mediocre fielder and further, he failed to impress in the RBS Cup. Qadir had suggested selecting Yasir Shah, a young legspinner from NWFP who has been in good form over the past year or so. It is strange Qadir chose the ostensibly useless spinner Ajmal and ignored Shah, who is an attacking legspinner and shows considerable promise. With Malik and Afridi containing the batsmen and attacking them too occasionally, it would have been much more useful playing the attacking Yasir Shah, his inexperience notwithstanding.
Shoaib Akhtar and Kamran Akmal are other controversial selections. Whereas Akhtar is likely to be injured or unfit, Akmal’s batting performance is the RBS Cup was average. We have discussed both Akhtar and Akmal many times previously. One has to wonder that if Younis Khan is supporting the constant selection of Akmal, can he guarantee Akmal will stop dropping catches? Whoever has been responsible for the unfair selection of this squad should come forward and explain his choices. This series is all-important because the opposition is Australia and hence it was very crucial that the most in-form players should have been selected.