Posts Tagged RBS T20 Cup
The warm up matches for the T20 WC start next week. Pakistan will be playing its preliminary matches against England and the Netherlands. The last few years have been disappointing for Pakistan for various reasons. Pakistan’s openers remain as clueless and brittle as ever since the departure of Saeed Anwar and Aamir Sohail. The middle order has not managed to remain consistent with critcism being levied on Younis Khan, Shoaib Malik and Misbah. Pakistan’s best batsman Yousuf has been largely unavailable and so have been three of Pakistan’s key T20 players, Abdul Razzaq, Imran Nazir and Rana Naved. Further, although Pakistan’s fielding standards have improved slightly, they are improving slowly compared to other international sides.
Pakistan’s pace battery is almost totally ineffective, with Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif ruining their careers themselves and Umar Gul being the only fit and world class pacer. If all this isn’t enough, the Pakistan team management seems obsessed with not providing any meaningful chances to promising youngsters such as Fawad Alam.
T20 is not real cricket, because it seems to go against everything cricket is meant to be. Cricket is meant to provide equal footing to both batsmen and bowlers. Test cricket, which is considered as real cricket, is all about patience, intelligence, stamina and mental toughness. T20 is more about luck and excitement, although the qualities needed to play Test cricket can be useful in playing T20, too. Yet, if one attempts to envisage what the founders of cricket must have had in mind, T20 must be a polar opposite.
Pakistan has a golden chance to provide some hope to fans, as the Pakistan team is balanced and consists of experienced T20 players. It is crucial to stress that half of these players have played cricket in English conditions, so they know what to expect and also, Pakistani cricketers probably play more domestic T20
than anyone else. So, there should be no excuse for poor performance and claiming lack of familiarisation with English conditions will be unacceptable.
Younis Khan is leading the side although his T20 credentials are doubted. Younis performed commendably in the ongoing RBS T20 Cup where he played 2 aggressive knocks for Peshawar. There were reports after the ODI series against Australia that Younis has decided to relinquish captaincy in favour of Afridi. These reports were obviously untrue, but it does prove that there is a considerable body of opinion that doubts Younis Khan as a T20 player.
Younis has to show more aggression than what we have seen from him. If Pakistani batsmen play defensively in this Cup, Pakistan will lose. Pakistan should also be mindful that other teams like New Zealand and South Africa have improved their T20 standards and they are capable of beating Pakistan this time round.
In particular the two openers Shahzad and Butt need to play lofted shots if they can’t drive the ball between the gaps. This is particularly important for Shahzad, who has struggled to place the ball in the gaps so far in international cricket. Neither Butt nor Shahzad have been in great form recently and it must be questioned why they have been picked for T20 when they do not appear to be T20 batsmen.
The new kid on the block, Shahzaib Hasan is inexperienced and it is rumoured Younis Khan opted for him over Khalid Latif. It would perhaps be wiser to give Hasan a chance in place of Shahzad, although it seems unlikely. Hasan was impressive in the recent mini series between Chairman’s XI and Patrons’ XI, where he was amongst the top scorers. Nasir Jamshed is returning to form in domestic cricket but his form was mediocre before this RBS Cup, so his exclusion is justified.
Ideally Younis should go with no more than 3 pacers. Spinners are usually more effective in T20 because the focus is
also to restrict the runs from the bat. My guess is that whoever is responsible for selection will once again not give a meaningful chance to Fawad Alam, but playing Fawad is undoubtedly an advantage because of his batting and fielding. He can also bowl a couple of overs if need be, although bowling is not his forte. The team management is likely to go with, 1.Butt 2.Shahzad 3.Younis 4. Malik 5. Misbah 6. Afridi 7.Akmal 8. Tanvir 9. Gul 10. Rao 11. Ajmal.
My preferred line-up would be: 1. Hasan 2. Afridi 3. Akmal 4. Younis 5. Malik 6. Misbah 7. Fawad 8. Tanvir 9. Gul 10. Rao 11. Ajmal
Aggression, good team spirit and fair selection can make Pakistan win this World Cup. Bowling wise Pakistan is adequately equipped with Gul, Afridi and Ajmal being world class bowlers. If Younis, Malik and Misbah once again do not show commitment and consistency, it will be a new low for Pakistan cricket and a slap on the PCB’s face.
Khansahab previews the much anticipated India vs Australia series starting October 9th and the T20 tournament featuring Pakistan in Canada which starts October 10th.
INDIA VS AUSTRALIA
Indian fans will have high expectations with this one. India fought back well against Sri Lanka after the Test series loss and won the ODI series. This series is crucial for many different reasons but the obvious ones are as follows:
1) India rise in world cricket and Australia’s newly discovered vulnerability means that both teams are on a level playing field, almost
2) Australia face a threat against genuine spin and Indian spinners particularly Harbhajan, have performed well against the Aussies of late
3) Ganguly has announced that he will retire after this series. Hence all eyes will be on Ganguly and his fans will hope he bows out gracefully
4) There is tremendous rivalry between the Indians and the Australians. Both teams have not been friendly to each other in recent memory. Sreesanth and Harbhajan have had trouble with the Aussies, Ponting was severely criticised by Gavasker for claiming a catch, and both teams have complained about the behaviour of the other. Perhaps the triggering incident of this animosity was when the Australian players rudely pushed the BCCI chief when they were having a photograph taken in a past series.
In terms of the pitches and climate, October is generally warm in India and the pitches are expected to play as standard- conducive to swing in the early overs but then favouring spin generally as the days progress. India’s biggest advantage will definitely be its spinners. Whereas Kumble has not been in prime touch recently, he has a great record inside India and Harbhajan has benefited from a resurgence of form.
There must be a mention of the Fab Four of the Indian batting line up. As stated earlier Ganguly has announced his decision to retire after this Test series. There have been reports from the BCCI circles that this is the last straw for the Indian Fab Four. Tendulkar has been granted an opportunity to break Lara’s record (he is just 76 runs behind) whereas the recent Wall built in Bangalore in Dravid’s honour seems like a subtle message to the legendary batsman to consider his retirement and exit from the game with some grace.
To conclude then, this is a very important series for various reasons and is being considered as a marathon battle between two cricketing giants. It will be great to see the Indian batting legends pile up runs and retire on a good note.
T20 TOURNAMENT IN CANADA
Although most cricket fans will consider this to be a meaningless tournament, it has gained some interest from Pakistan fans simply because of the absence of cricket in the country. A decent performance in this competition can provide some relief to the depressed Pakistan cricket fan.
The squad has been announced and is as follows: Shoiab Malik (c), Misbah ul Haq (vc), Shahid Afridi,Salman Butt,Shoiab Akhtar, Sohail Tanvir, Younis Khan,Kamran Akmal,Khalid Latif,Umer Gul,Anwar Ali,Abdul Rauf, Saeed Ajmal,Fawad Alam,Sohail Khan
Nasir Jamshed’s exclusion has been queried who has been replaced by Khalid Latif. Although Latif has been a prolific scorer in domestic cricket, he appeared out of form in the RBS domestic T20 Cup. Nasir was out of form too, but deserved a chance in this tournament. Disappointingly Malik is still captain.
A surprising name in the squad is that of Shoaib Akhtar who performed poorly against Surrey and then did not pick many wickets in the RBS Cup, although he was economical.
There have been many calls to drop Shahid Afridi although he was brilliant with the ball and effective with the bat in the RBS Cup. Afridi is in form and there will be enormous expectations from him.
This T20 Cup will not do much to alleviate the Pakistan team’s hapless standing in world cricket, but it will provide some entertainment to the cricket starved Pakistan cricket fans.