Posts Tagged Shoaib Akhtar
The Football World Cup has shifted focus from cricket to football to some extent, but the Asia Cup commencing in 2 days will redirect the interest of Asian fans towards cricket. 4 teams are competing in this Cup and it is expected to be a competitive contest as none of India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan have a significant advantage over the other in ODI cricket.
India is ranked no 3 in ODI cricket compared to Sri Lanka and Pakistan’s unimpressive rankings (6 and 7 respectively) but they are without two star players, Tendulkar and Yuvraj. Also, India’s bowling has only two consistent performers- Harbhajan and Zaheer. As expected India is carrying a strong spin attack- they have Ojha, Ashwin, Jadeja and of course the reliable Harbhajan. It seems the bowling attack could comprise of Zaheer, Nehra, Praveen, Harbhajan, Jadeja/Ojha and of course Sehwag can assist with a few overs. India is going ahead with a balanced line up- they have a decent amount of all rounders, their wicketkeeper is one of their best batsmen and they have a young, athletic side. What I consider to be a huge advantage from India’s point of view is that, Zaheer and Harbhajan can contribute with batting whereas Sehwag’s bowling form has been impressive over the past 2 years. So, unless the key players fail to perform it does not appear India will miss Tendulkar or Yuvraj.
India’s problems would be too much reliance on young players and lack of mental strength in
pressure situations. India still lacks reliable finishers, and one of the reasons for this has been the mastery of India’s top order with players like Gambhir, Sehwag, Dravid and Tendulkar- because these players have almost always been in decent form, the lower middle order has remained relatively underexposed to pressure situations. It is interesting to see that the average age of this Indian squad is only 25, which shows the emphasis of the BCCI on grooming youngsters and getting them ready for World Cup 2011.
Sri Lanka has proven to be an unpredictable side, much like Pakistan. Sri Lanka has often been accused of carrying players who have talent, but do not have the propensity to develop this talent into consistent match winning performances. Sri Lanka is going into this Cup with mostly experienced players; certainly the only 2 players who have played less than 15 matches are Welegedara and Randiv. However experience is a big advantage that Sri Lanka have, and it remains to be seen whether the batting prowess and experience of Sangakkara, Dilshan and Jayawerdene
can dominate the Indians and Pakistanis? However, India can argue that Sehwag, Dhoni and Gambhir are no less than the Sri Lankan batting stalwarts.
In bowling, Sri Lanka appears to be the weakest of the 3 main sides. They have the experienced Murali, but everyone knows he is beyond his best. Maharoof, Samaraweera, Malinga, Kulasekara can all be effective on their day, but are prone to inconsistency. The Sri Lankan team, as always, will have to rely on a team effort as they always do when they want to win. Provided their bowlers maintain discipline and their key batsmen contribute with runs, they can win this Cup. They are probably the best fielding side in the tournament. The average age of the Sri Lankan squad is 29.
Pakistan is the most mercurial side in this Cup and they have a new captain who does not have immense captaincy experience in ODI’s. Pakistan is also without its star batsmen Yousuf and
Younis but has been bolstered to an extent by the return of Shoaib Akhtar. I say, to an extent because if Akhtar gets injured or does not show form he can prove to be a big liability and affect the team morale badly. In fact the egregious error of selecting Akhtar and Malik has
saddened many fans, many who were looking to the future and hoping that underperformers would be sidelined from the team. There have also been question marks over the omission of promising batsmen Fawad Alam and Hammad Azam. Politics has clearly played its part and Pakistan is not going ahead with its premier squad.
Batting wise Pakistan remain as unstable as ever. Umar Akmal, Salman Butt and Malik are going ahead has Pakistan’s main batsmen in this Cup. Whereas Malik and Butt have still not been able to convince the fans that they deserve selection to play international cricket, U Akmal is
some cause for optimism. He is aggressive, reads the situation well and is very good at playing cross batted shots, which is often a rarity in international cricket. However, already U Akmal has been involved in controversy and this Cup will test his demeanour as to whether he can focus on his game and detract from dressing room politics. The biggest advantage that is held by Pakistan is that that their main batsmen- Malik, Butt and U Akmal have stellar records against Asian teams, particularly India.
In bowling, Pakistan is going ahead with the strongest line up on paper. Asif, Akhtar, Aamer and Ajmal are considered to be amongst the best in the world. However if one considers Akhtar’s normal fitness problems and Asif’s mediocre form over the past few months, then the Pakistani bowling appears vulnerable. Since Pakistan rarely ever plays as a team unit, they will be looking up to their potentially match winning bowlers and players like Afridi, Razzaq and U Akmal to swing matches in their favour.
In conlusion, the Asia Cup ought to be an exciting tournament with balanced teams. India can be beaten if their top order is dismissed cheaply, Sri Lanka can be beaten by performing basic tasks right, and Pakistan can be beaten by any means, by anyone at any time. Now it remains to be seen who exploits the other’s weakness best and who utilises their strengths in the best possible manner.
Pakistan cricket is in doldrums. Every passing day Ijaz Ahmed is plaguing Pakistan with his incompetence. One loses the will to fathom what exactly is the problem with the Patron in Chief of PCB and why there is a reluctance to change the PCB Chairman? The PCB’s stupidities are not amusing, shocking or funny anymore. They have frankly become
The latest stupid shocker to have emerged from the PCB is the return of the 2 Shoaibs.Shoaib Akhtar is 34 on paper and not getting any younger. The last that was heard of Akhtar before he got selected for the Asia Cup was that he had participated in a domestic tournament and had apparently impressed the selectors. This is no big deal as Akhtar has a good record in domestic tournaments but somehow cannot remain fit during international matches.
One wonders if some strategy should be devised to handle the controversial Akhtar, perhaps one where he is not utilised for more than 3 overs in one spell. However this is easier said than done. Firstly, the Pakistani team management is not known for inventing effective strategies. Secondly, the whole bowling strategy would have to be centred around Akhtar and other
bowlers may be disadvantaged as a result. Asif, Aamer, Afridi and Ajmal are good bowlers in their own right and their strengths and abilities must not be compromised insofar that Akhtar is being facilitated.
There is a saying, “If it aint broke, don’t fix it.” One fails to understand why the Pakistani management takes so much liberties with bowling, when bowling is the least of Pakistan’s worries. When Akhtar gets unfit, the team morale suffers. Plus, Akhtar has issues with teammates like Asif and Afridi. Is it worth playing Akhtar? The Pakistan management keeps playing at least one of Malik and Misbah which weakens the batting, but they are not concerned with the batting! They want to fiddle with the already capable bolwing attack but they do not want to play deserving youngsters in the places of Malik and Misbah. All cricket commentators say that there are many bolwers like Mohammad Aamer in the domestic circuit, yet the PCB wants to play Akhtar instead of giving someone else a chance.
The allegations against the other Shoaib (Malik) are grave and longstanding. Malik is accused of creating factions in the
team ever since the departure of Inzamam. He is also accused of selfish batting and playing only for himself, not for the team. Despite countless newspaper reports and opinions of cricketers like Abdul Qadir, Sarfraz Nawaz, Afridi and Younis Khan, most people in Pakistan favour Malik’s inclusion in the team. Not only has Malik been blamed for regional bias in the selection of players when he was captain, he also admitted fixing a high profile domestic semi final match. It has been revealed that he refused to bat in a difficult position in a match when it was realised that the pitch was supporting bowlers. Yet, the PCB has excused Malik and he is well and truly back. What kind of justice is this?
Malik’s reinclusion in the team is conclusive evidence of that fact that, in Pakistan if you have connections you can be the biggest criminal, most incompetent, useless person but you will still be able to benefit from a depraved system.
Perhaps the reason why deserving players like Fawad Alam and Hammad Azam are ignored is that the selectors do not want to take risks for fear of losing their credibility. If players like Malik and Misbah fail then the selectors have this
excuse that they selected experienced players and hence the fingers get pointed towards the players more than the selectors. This has to be the reason for this inexplicable selection of at least one of Malik and Misbah in every series?
Afridi claims he has remedied his problems with Malik and Akhtar and his team is united. Even if Malik and Akhtar perform in this series this cannot wash away their misdemeanours of yesteryears. The passionate Pakistani cricket fans deserve better than to see these 2 players back in action again.
There is too much of Imranism in Pakistan cricket. I have a lot of respect for Imran Khan, but sometimes he disappoints me with his bigmouth loud thinking. Apart from sponsoring, praising and ruining the career of Mohammad Sami, and then by saying that Younus Khan is the logical choice to captain Pakistan side and now this recent statement that, Shoaib Akhtar deserves one final chance to prove his worth are a few examples of his bad judgment about players and imo these are big bloopers. I think he speaks loud without thinking and then he goes on supporting his own view even when he is proved wrong.
During his captaincy days, he supported Mansoor Akhtar who failed miserably and not just once but many times and Imran Khan not only selected him over others but, gave his total support to the extent that people started calling Mansoor Akhtar as his blue eyed boy. As a captain and as a player Imran Khan had many good qualities but, it doesn’t mean whatever he says is always right.
Giving Shoaib Akhtar one last chance is like killing one more young potential fast bowler’s career. I don’t agree with his notion that the Actor deserve one last chance. Its all over, he is done and dusted and finished. He should not even think of playing cricket anymore at any level. Therefore, it is not right for Imran Khan to poke his nose in the team selection and influence the senile, demented, daft and impotent selectors who are already ruining the career of so many young cricketers.
Pakistan should seriously bring in fresh, new, young fast bowlers in the team like Mohammad Aamir, Sohail Khan etc. And forget about Shoaib Akhtar, Rao, Arafat, Rana they are all spent force. They cannot justify their presence in the team purely on the merit of bowling alone. Abdul Razzaq is in again because of his batting and a little bit of bowling left in him and because of the fact there aren’t any fast bowlers who have some experience. The ban on Asif shall be removed but, there is no guarantee that he will get back into his rhythm and take wickets.
In this thread, I want khansahab and others to identify and highlight the names of a few young talented fast bowlers who are performing well in the domestic circuit and they are either ignored or sidelined by the selectors.
Younus Khan’s blaming the domestic cricket structure of Pakistan is definitely like a bad carpenter blaming his tools and I think he is simply echoing the words of his mentor, supporter Imran Khan who has been talking about it since the last 2 decades. In order to set that structure right one needs to identify and recognize the fallacies and set the priorities in order and determine which came first, the egg or the chicken? In this context i.e., to change the domestic cricket structure, whether the wholesale change in the team is needed first or, the whole of the PCB regime needs to be revamped and restructured first?