Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Pakistan can win the world cup?

Pakistani cricket team is considered to be an unpredictable side possessing ability to beat any team on their day and submitting to weakest opposition the very next day. The fall of favorite and potential winners have made the tournament a wide open opportunity for teams like Pakistan. But they would need to change their approach and poor strategy off and on field to pull a miracle. Talking realistically Pakistan is a team with a tame top order, woeful fielding and toothless bowling but these weaknesses can be overcome with positive approach and better startegy.

The weakest link is the top order with a rocky batsman Ahmed Shahzad with 12 ODIs under his belt and no experience of playing in subcontinent. The other opener Mohammad Hafeez is playing cricket since 2003 but still he has not justified his talent or fulfilled expectations. Both openers form is worrying for Pakistan. Adding to opening woes we have Kamran AKmal at number 3 who is a wicket keeper batsman. In each of three matches played so far our top three failed miserably, if we did not have Misbah and Younis we would have lost to Kenya and Canada as in both matches the score was 12/2 (7 overs) and 55/3 (13 overs), it was Misbah who handled the situation and Pakistan posted a respectable total to win.

If we want to win we need to stabilize our top order, the best option is dropping Mohammad Hafeez or Ahmed Shahzad and adding an extra bowler to the squad. Kamran Akmal should be given bigger responsibility with bat if we have to bear his glove work. I personally feel that Umer Akmal should bat at number three; he can lift Pakistan?s hopes with his talent and style. Misbah and Younis are okay at 4 and 5 but any of them can be promoted to 3 if Pakistan found them where Canada was yesterday. Given his bowling woes the only quality justifies Adbul Razzaq be in team is his breathtaking batting but he bats at number 8. Is it not pathetic that we are wasting two of the best hard hitters in world cricket at 7 and 8? Taking an opener out would automatically help Razzaq getting up the order but he can be promoted to 3 or 4 if match situation demanded specially in big scoring games.

Team selection is also debatable and full of questions. Except Afridi and Shoaib our bowling performance in tournament so far is pathetic. We have only one complete fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar but he has some fitness issues, either Umer Gul or Wahab Riaz can not use new ball effectively thus we use Abdul Razzaq wasting new ball in this way. Uncapped fast bowler Junaid Khan has been included in the squad, but he has not been given an opportunity against weaker teams. I fear what would happen if the situation appears like 1996 Quarter Final against India when Waseem Akram pulled out at the last moment due to an injury and Pakistan lost the match. If Shoaib or Umer gets inured who would replace them? this is a million dollar question. Team management should give Junaid Khan an opportunity in upcoming matches against NZ and ZIM, he has the talent to perform at the highest level but needs some exposure. Team should include two spinners against NZ and Australia but this luxury can not be
afforded against India, South Africa or Sri Lanka. Team management should not stick to one strategy it needs to be reviewed against different teams at different stages keeping in view their weaknesses and strengths. 

The fielding and wicket keeping in the tournament so far is miserable I would say. We have a wicket keeper batsman Asad Shafiq he should have been given an opportunity as he can be a replacement for woeful Akmal. Fielding can not be improved overnight but coaches need to do more work on the fitness and technique of the player.

Another fact that can be more significant then above is the final position of Pakistan team in their pool as if they end at number 2 they would play in India against number 3 of pool B most probably England or West Indies. They should win at least two games with big margins and see Australia lose to Sri Lanka for getting number one position in pool A, which will lessen the pressure as top team of Pool A would play fouth of pool B (weaker opponent) at Mirpur, our old city.

Pakistani batting line for the next match should be
Ahmed Shahzad, Kamran Akmal, Umer Akmal, Misbah ul Haq, Younis Khan, Abdul Razzaq, Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Akhtar (if fit), Umer Gul, Abdur Rehman, Saeed Ajmal or Mohammad Junaid (considering the wicket)

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