Posts Tagged T20 cricket
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.
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Khansahab reviews the 1st Test between India and Australia and also considers the T20 Canada tournament.
INDIA VS AUSTRALIA
India will take heart from the fact that they managed a hard fought draw after Australia imposed a commanding total in the 1st innings. Apart from notable contributions from Dravid, Sehwag and Ganguly there wasn’t much to write home about as far as the top order is concerned. However it was the fighting spirit and commitment of lower order batsmen Harbjahan and Zaheer Khan that was a cause for celebration for the Indians. Both of these players have performed consistently with the bat in the recent past whenever the Indian top order has failed to click.
Zaheer Khan was superb in this match and thoroughly deserved the Man of the Match award. Zaheer has come a long way since he yorked his way into international cricket 8 years ago. He line was on target and he caused considerable disturbance to the Australian batsmen and his 1st innings spell of 29.5-4-91-5 will remain in memory for a long time.
India will also take heart from the fact that, all of the Fab Four players performed in bits and pieces. This might disappoint those critics though who want fresh blood to be infused into the Indian middle order right away. Tendulkar could not break Lara’s record, but his 49 played under pressure did potentially save the Test for India. Dravid will probably have secured a place in the 2nd Test by scoring a 50 in the first innings whereas Laxman showed resilience in the 2nd innings. Ganguly, who has snatched away most of the spotlight due to his retirement decision made before the series started, looked convincing in both innings.
Questions are being raised about Kumble’s declining bowling performance. He is struggling to grab wickets and appears far from from his best. It will be interesting to see when the retirement decision comes from him. Most people will agree Dhoni is ready for Test captaincy.
The second Test starts on Friday and India will probably go with the same line up. The Mohali pitch traditionally favours pace bolwing more although in the very recent past it has also produced cracks to assist the spinners. It has been discussed on LS before that Harbhajan is the in form player for India and Kumble is the captain, so India has no option but to go with two spinners. It is recommended to go with an extra pacer but that would mean one of India’s Fab Four would have to sit out.
CANADA T20 REVIEW
We saw a highly charged and for most period, competitive T20 tournament. There have been far more negatives than positives for Pakistan in this tournament and this review will analyse those. Shoaib Malik’s captaincy again came under the scanner as he made some unforgivable mistakes. In two crucial matches Malik did not let Umar Gul bowl his full quota of 4 overs.
Speaking of Gul, he was fantastic in his tournament and appeared very threatening. Gul bowled with an average of 9, an economy of 4.5 and a strike rate if 12. In terms of bowling statistics only Mendis outperformed Gul. Gul’s spectacular performance raises questions if he is the best T20 pacer in the world? The reason why Umar Gul is successful in this format is because he bowls wicket-to-wicket, uses good variation and the limit of 4 overs allows him to bowl many fast yorkers.
Another success story was Fawad Alam, whose 3 sixes were the turning point of the match against Sri Lanka which enabled Pakistan to enter the final. His talent was never in doubt but he needed a platform to showcase it and was lucky that he got a chance despite going against his natural style of batting, which is similar to Michael Bevan’s.
The new PCB administration needs to decide how it will handle the following concerns:
1) Shoaib Akhtar’s lack of commitment- Shoaib was a liability in this tournament and single handedly lost Pakistan the final
2) Sohail Tanvir’s ineffective bolwing performance- will he go down the same route as Mohammad Sami and Rana Naved?
3) Malik’s uninspiring captaincy. Consider a) The different batting positions Afridi was used in, b) Fawad being sent in at no 9, c) Gul not being able to finish his quota, being the most reliable bowler in the squad, d) Attitude towards Sohail Khan who only got to bowl 1 over in the whole tournament, e) The over utilisation of Shoaib Khan who appeared mediocre at best, f) Inability to handle Shoaib Akhtar and Sohail Tanvir……no captain has been able to handle Akhtar’s destructive behaviour but Malik should have advised Akhtar to bowl with some sense in the final
4) Misbah’s role in the team- in this Cup Misbah only made 60 runs with a strike rate of 97- clearly not in line with what is expected from a T20 specialist
5) Selection issues- the time has come to decide, a) whether Malik should remain as the captain, b) whether Younis Khan is needed in limited overs’ cricket, c) what role Misbah ul Haq is performing in the team as he has not been able to win matches for Pakistan, d) whether people like Nasir Jamshed, Saeed Ajmal and Khurram Manzoor should be considered to serve Pakistan cricket in the future.
Bear in mind that nothing positive is expected to materialise from the new PCB administration because we are expected to see the same faces that have ruined Pakistan cricket like Saleem Altaf and Aamir Sohail.
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.