Sunday, 29 August 2010

The Darkest Day In Cricket

The story which leaked out overnight on Saturday at Lords was one of shocking magnitude and indescribable disgrace as spot fixing allegations were made by a well known Pakistani Cricket agent. The agent predicted 3 illegitimate deliveries would be bowled at 3 precised times and his predictions were totally correct. It is evident and noticeable that this game has been influenced wrongly and needless to say negatively. And once more ,unsurprisingly ,it is Pakistan who are under the spot light for controversial dealings and at present I am lost for words as I dictate this article, angrily.

The punishments need to be made accordingly to all of those of which have been involved. Pakistan Cricket is in a disgraceful state and it makes one feel extremely let down, truly disgusted, daft and worthless in many shapes and forms as a passionate Pakistani cricket fan and follower. I feel the temptation to stop supporting, following and backing such players with endless passion who would dare to engage in such corrupt affairs. Such players need to refrain from the team unquestionably for the progressiveness of the sport in general as this would send a bold message to youngsters and first class cricketers flourishing through the ranks.

Regardless of ability, performance and history; disciplined and sensible approach is at the forefront of proceedings. Therefore, undoubtedly appropriate actions will need to be taken in order for the national team and game of cricket to move on. All due respect shall be lost to those 4-7 individuals who have clearly been involved/named and Pakistan or more professionally the ICC needs to take a firm stance on banning them for endlessly. Those individuals will always be remembered as criminals irrespective of any such accomplishments and I shall not hesitate to name or shame them but for the bounty of common human decency I shall wait until further developments on the matter, but it's clear that something has gone on and player's have been involved in something that should not be associated with the game.

The "innocent until proven guilty theory" is a mindless, brainless, thoughtless and unnecessary thinking ploy. The evidence is remarkable and if one witnesses from the naked eye the video which was made; they can clearly see the corruption which has evidently taken place.

In a sense I am glad that what has happened has been revealed because it needed to be addressed after years and years of suspiciousness. Finally we know the saddening truth and know really what goes on which can only be good for the betterment of the sport and specifically sub continent sides in the long termed future.

Shame on the game of cricket and more so shame on Pakistan. My faith and passion has been shattered like there is no tomorrow and I am definitely sure I am not alone on the talking subject matter. The limited overs encounters which are to follow will inevitably lack anticipatation and all on field matters will be overshadowed until further date.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

28th August 2010, A Forgettable Day If Your A Pakistani.........

It really was all that bad. Just as one thought things could not possibly get any worse. A day of depression and hopelessness.

A record breaking international 8th wicket stand of 332 between Trott and Broad stole the story of the match at the Oval 2010 Test, overtaking the famous 313 between Wasim Akram and Saqlain Mushtaq against Zimbabwe in 1996 as Pakistan were humiliated in remarkable fashion on a bright Saturday in London. Resuming on 346/7, England were bowled out for 446 shortly after Lunch.

Pakistan batsmen never came to terms with the England bowling and were demolished for just 74 in just 33 overs. This was Pakistan's 3rd failure to reach 3 figures in the series and the 74 was their second lowest score against England in Test Cricket. Unsurprisingly, Strauss enforced the follow on and Pakistan further slumped to 41/4 at the close of play.

The situation is clearly ominous and Pakistan's shambolic and humiliating performance was the last thing one would expect when England were 102/7 on Friday afternoon ,courtesy of individual brilliance from Mohammad Aamir who bagged 6 wickets. However, the youngster's performance was overshadowed by the phenomenal 8th wicket stand which followed and from there in things only got worse for the subcontinental visitors.

Today we saw the limitations of Pakistani batsmen being exploited with sheer ease. We saw an incapable unit looking to thrive in challenging conditions. And for some of us, hopefully for the last time the stances and faces of several tried and tested failures. Pakistan Cricket needs guidance and urgent help. Days like today just represent how weak and vulnerable our cricket really is. It was utterly shambolic and embarrassing for one to witness. The series is closing in and the PCB faces some tough decisions to make in the near by future.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Why Pakistan may win at Lords

Why Pakistan may win at Lords:

1) They have been to Lords already this summer and played reasonably well. They should have learn't from their mistakes and would have probably got accustomed to the slope, atmosphere and surroundings one would have thought.

2) They carry the winning momentum into this match. They will be keen to maintain standards and square the series.REMEMBER: So far this summer they haven't lost a series!

3) Last time Mohammad Yousuf batted here, he scored a double century. Perhaps the great memories will help him to deliver something special.

Off Topic

There is some talk in the British Press and a few writer's have been complaining that ball tampering goes on and Ajmal's action is illegal and therefore England faltered on tea day 3. These are baseless accusations. In my opinion ball tampering should be legalised because bowlers need assistance to perform well just like batsmen too. And ball tampering doesn't make bowling invincible by any stretch of the imagination as bowlers still need pace, control and special ability to swing the ball regardless of the state it is in. It just makes cricket more lively and evenly contested between bat and ball if anything.

I'm not saying that tampering took place at all, but what I am saying is even if it simply did, who frankly cares? Only because Pakistan are good at when it comes to making the old ball "talk" doesn't mean it's easy to do. We have gifted bowlers to perform the art, thats all.

And same concept applies to the mystery off spinner. ICC and cricket in general should be flexible in allowing the doosra to be bowled because it gives cricket more of an exciting contest between bat and ball and of course it's a respectable art in its own right which requires plenty of skill, talent and ability to perfect when bowling. Again, I am not saying Ajmal's action is suspicious but even if it was?

English media's unwillingness to praise Pakistan's bowling uniqueness speaks volumes.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

3rd Test, Pakistan Review

A long term prospect in the making

There were plenty of memorable and joyful moments at the Oval this time round

Pakistan managed to achieve something which many doubted prior to the Oval Test Match following two comprehensive defeats at Nottingham and Edgbaston by winning the 3rd Test Match by 4 wickets on the fourth day's play to bring the series standing to 2-1 with one to go and all to play for at Lords, commencing on Thursday 26th August. It will be Pakistan's second visit of Lords for the summer so there should be limited problems adapting to the atmosphere and famous old slope. Also, as traditionally would be the case with England they play 2 Tests per year at the illustrious venue.

Pakistan had two left armers with 5 wicket hauls in the match in debutant Wahab Riaz and teenage pace sensation Mohammad Aamir who both triggered batting collapses with the quality bowling performances. Ajmal was phenomenal and bamboozled the English batsmen in the second innings with some magical craft and guile.

Azhar Ali impressed with his 92*and demonstrated his batting credentials. His determination, willingness to stay at the wicket, patience and solid defence was wonderful as for the first time this summer in 5 test matches Pakistan managed to reach 300. Mohammad Yousuf returned with plenty of class and character and played 2 significant knocks, scoring 56 and 33 respectively.

The difference in this match in contrast to the other two was that Pakistan actually managed to hold on to their catches with Kamran Akmal holding 8 against many people's surprise. Batting wise, Kamran's appalling form continues and his weaknesses continue to get exploited with ease. This needs to change.

Pakistan made hard work chasing the modest total of 148 but eventually managed to reach the target with the young starts Mohammad Aamir and Umar Akmal hitting the winning runs which was would have been an important experience for the two by getting their nation over the line after a slight collapse.

There is now some news from reliable sources that Younis Khan is set to make a comeback which will only make the team stronger and better. I have the belief that Pakistan can become world beaters and on their day they are unmatchable. Salman Butt rightly dedicated the victory to the flood victims.

Irrespective of the result at Lords, Pakistan can rate the summer of Test Cricket as a success with plenty of bright moments to come in the foreseeable future. The learning curve for the debutants and youngsters must have been like no other. Well played Greens, keep it up!

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

20/20 Finals Day Preview 2010

"Its all to play for"

To take a break from Pakistan's tour of England 2010 I have decided to write this article about one of the highlights in the county cricketing calendar of T20 Finals Day. This year the event will be hosted at the Rose Bowl, Hampshire with Essex, Hampshire, Nottinghamshire and Somerset being the contenders. It will be the 8th finals day and this year it will certainly be as good or even better than any other that has been with several highly acclaimed stars in action such as Dwayne Bravo, Graeme Swann, Danish Kaneria, Abdul Razzaq and Dirk Nannes to name a few. Thereby, there shall be no shortage of entertainment just like any other 20 over fixture!

Unfortunately and idiotically the winner of this competition this year for some strange and poor administration related reason will be unable to represent England in the CLT20 in South Africa this year due to how the schedule plans out.

The picturesque venue for the day

Nonetheless, 14th August which is finals day as well as Independence Day for Pakistanis just to mention as this is a Pakistani based cricket blog primarily and therefore can't go unmentioned, has its individual significance as each of the 4 counties will be eyeing a place in the evening final and by doing so have the golden opportunity to win the competition.

Essex Eagles have been to finals day 3 times previously but without joy in 2003, 2006 and 2008 respectively. They will be determined to change this under the captaincy of James Foster. The Eagles beat Lancashire in the quarter final by 8 wickets in a thrilling match at Chelmsford to book their place for the finals day event thanks largely to a superb partnership between former captain Mark Pettini and experienced seasoned campaigner, Matt Walker.

Nottinghamshire Outlaws meanwhile beat Sussex Sharks, the defending champions at Trent Bridge in their quarter final. The outlaws have 3 World T20 Champion bowlers in their side in Sidebottom, Broad and Swann, all of whom which played an instrumental role in England's T20 triumph in the Caribbean this May. The Outlaws also have Dirk Nannes in their ranks who is one of the all time leading T20 wicket takers at all major levels.

Hampshire will have the home advantage and from a general and commercial perspective its great to see them there. Young left arm spinner who played for England at the U19 WC this year, Danny Briggs has had a fantastic T20 season with 27 wickets and he is one to watch out for. James Vince is an attractive young player to watch. Dominick Cork will be fired up for the challenge as ever and has been to the event with the Lancs in the past but without success. Abdul Razzaq is also on show for them with his all-round credentials.

Somerset have the explosive opening luxury of Kieswetter and Marcus Trescothik (who has hit 5 half centuries in the competition this year) in the batting department who I'm sure will come out all guns blazing with their attacking and aggressive stroke play. Alfonso Thomas is one of my favourites around in the county arena and he is one to watch out for especially when he comes back to bowl at the death which he does so effectively and well.In this year's competition he is currently the leading wicket taker with 31 wickets. Pollard will be on show for them with his acrobatic fielding, big hitting and medium pace bowling. Pollard is the leading six hitter in the competition with 27 and the second leading wicket taker with 28 scalps in the 15 games he has played.

On the whole, it should be an action packed and thoroughly enjoyable day of cricketing action. I back the Eagles to win the competition. Out of the 4 teams competing on the day,only Somerset have won it in the past which was in 2005 when they beat Lancashire in the final when Graeme Smith was at Taunton as a captain and overseas player. Its been a long journey for all the participating sides. 16 group games followed up by a quarter final. I'm sure all the participating captains will be saying to their side: 2 wins and that is that!=£££££££££££££££££+ Status+Trophy and Medals!

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Haider The King!

A revelation to the name of Zulqarnain Haider who will be donating half his match fee to the Imran Khan cancer hospital in remembrance of his late mother who died 12 years back.

What a superb knock from Zulqarnain Haider, he played exceptionally well under pressure! What a character he is! Have Pakistani found the ideal man for the job? I can now say that Kamran Akmal is officially history in Test Matches.........

Ironically, he was out first ball and would have had a "king pair" had it not been for the wonders of technological advances! Also, would have been the first Pakistani to have the amusing status. However, the second lifeline saw the beggining of someone who could play and was a gifted talent.

Credit is also due to Ajmal and Amir who gave the debutant much needed support with their patience and fighting spirit. Ajmal has now bagged a 5 for and scored a 50 too! Kaneria is surely out of business?

Swann bowled extremely well and claimed a career best and produced some real gems with his craft. The purchase he can extract is remarkable for a finger spinner.

So we have a lead of 112 with 1 wicket remaining at the close of day 3. If Pakistan can put on a frustrating last wicket stand tomorrow and the bowlers maintain their excellence and are given full support from their fielders; I then back the greens to pull of something spectacular at Edgbaston tomorrow. However, even if Pakistan lose this match which is obviously the likelihood, if they could compete and make England win as narrowly and difficultly as possible that would be enough to satisfy me and many other supporters.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Pakistan Need Some Inspiration!

After a grand humiliation at Nottingham where Pakistan were defeated comprehensively by 354 runs; team Pakistan will be low on confidence, mentally shattered and looking for something to lift the camp very quickly before they take the field on Friday at Edgbaston where they will be looking for a drastically improved performance, particularly in the batting department which was utterly shambolic and mediocre at Trent Bridge.

1st Test At Trent Bridge: 2010/engine/current/match/426413.html

The recall of Mohammad Yousuf from retirement represents the urgency and desperation of the team. The fact that Younis Khan is being ignored however is totally disgraceful. A world class accomplished player and proud patriot deserves to be treated better one would have thought? Surely he ought to be accepted openly and happily by the team? His stats speak volumes and represents his professionalism and expertise as a class act!

Kamran Akmal's WK has to come under serious questions now. He made countless errors behind the stumps in the last Test Match and at this level it is just well and truly unaffordable. Whilst I back him as a batter, his style is more suited to Limited Overs cricket and his Test batting form is in decline if recent outings are anything to go by. Zulqarnain Haider is the possible replacement and I sincerely hope the PCB makes this change for the Edgbaston 5 day encounter, otherwise it is injustice to the worthless selection process. Keeping ability primarily holds the key when choosing the WK position in Tests and Kami isn't a sound and reliable keeper.

Danish Kaneria's omission was understandable after continuous average or below par performances. We need someone who could be more attacking, maintain pressure, look threatening with their art and also be consistent which I'm afraid to say Kaneria wasn't or didn't show he could be. Raza Hasan, well I am full of praise for his selection and have been extremely impressed by his progression and development in the last year or so. I believe he can be as good a revelation as Mohammad Amir was without means of exaggeration. He is 18 and a very mature lad too.

Umar Akmal is also not doing too well so far in the 3 Tests of this extended tour. I would like to see him bat up the order and stick to his natural game of aggression, ruthlessness and counter attacking. Adapting the mindset doesn't suit him and therefore he should return to what he does best!

Azhar Ali has shown glimpses of being a real gem for Pakistan in Test Cricket. Generally speaking he is sound technically and temperamentally. However, he is vulnerable to full swinging deliveries outside the off stump. So far he has been dismissed 5 out of 6 times caught behind and the once LBW. He needs to try and combat this weakness and try not to necessarily commit himself to deliveries he doesn't need to play at, otherwise this area shall continue to be exploited. I back him to shine in the matches to come!

James Anderson is one of the best around in swinging conditions and he teared through the Pakistani batting order and claimed outstanding and astonishing match figures of 11/71! The England team is playing exceptionally well currently and the competition for places is healthy and positive. They are shaping up nicely for when they look to retain the Ashes this winter down under!

Desperate times require desperate measures but one wonders have the PCB done enough with just the 3 changes?

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