Tuesday, 11 January 2011

QEA Final 2010/11

Ahmed Shehzad has an opportunity to show case what he can do in the longer formats as well following his impressive and flamboyant 34 ball 54 against New Zealand in the 3rd T20 on the 30th of December. Can he follow this up with more top performances? He will be opening the batting for HB against the mouth matering talented opening combination of Aizaz Cheema and Anwar Ali for PIA. Promises to be a challenging and potent contest against a personal favourite of mine in Shehzad who I have hyped and rated for some time.

The Quaid-E-Azam Division 1 Final will be contested between Habib Bank and PIA at the NSK between the 12th and 16th January. Both sides compromise of some key names with international exposure and experience as well as many eye catching fresh youngsters and talented back ups which are statistically and technically highly spoken of. It should be an enjoyable and competitive encounter and one which shall really promote the image Pks domestic structure. The match will be televised thankfully, but what stands out is that it will be played under lights for the first time which promises to be a fascinating spectacle for all concerned. This is excellent forward step, experimentation and initiative in advancing the standard of FC within PK, especially on the commercial front which is all but lacklustre and arguably always has been. Fingers crossed everything runs smoothly and may the best man win. Hopefully, the Karachites turn up in their numbers to support the scheme and appreciate the special latest introduce scheme which is undoubtedly a key highlight in the PK domestic calendar and one which has been running for several generations in the past.

Proceedings can be followed at the following link. Key names include Malik, Shehzad, Cheema, Kaneria, Farhat, Mahmood, Hasan Raza, Kamran Hussain and Anwar Ali. Therefore, inevitably there shall be no shortage of excitement, especially with a few of those candidates eyeing a place in the final 15 for the global World Cup spectacle when then 30 man preliminary squad will be shortened soon.

Brilliant Team Misbah, Misbah is the Man!

An excellent appointment in October 2010. I could clearly see the logic and potential behind the decision in the first place. So far the experienced seasoned campaigner has provided 3 really meaningful memorable positive and heartening results. His command and composure is all but praiseworthy. Ironically, Pakistan have done better without the trio and have not lost a Test without them yet!

This is what is needed

The application, mental toughness, gutsiness, maturity, responsibility, application and decision making Misbah has demonstrated and installed as skipper is something Afridi could not achieve in his wildest dreams as far as the captaincy front is concerned!

Yet ours fans are reluctant to praise him and seem to be jealous and fearful of him taking over the credit and recognition from Afridi. At the end of the day, this is Pakistan and not "Afridistan." Our honest analysis and constructive criticisms consider what is for the better and common good of Pakistan Cricket as we want to get the best out of it.

Team Misbah= Threatening, fighting, compact, controlled, organised, balanced, mindful, structured

Team Afridi=Instinct and aggression yes, but no plan, guidance, responsibility, or tactical awareness in order to imagine him being able to become successful and guide the team through

Leave personal favouritism and entertainment individualism out of the equation and on these basis honestly give your verdict for who is the better short team captain which can maximise the effectiveness and bring the best out of the team? My vote would go Misbah any day of the weak personally speaking. Team Misbah has made Pakistan Proud and is the best way forward for the WC captaincy. There is a strong rumour that if Misbah successfully leads Pakistan to a series whitewash at Wellington in the 2nd Test, he will continue captaincy for the ODI Series and subsequently World Cup too. In the short term and bigger picture, a captain like him is where Pakistan can unite, pride themselves on professionalism, show means of solid temperament and innovative braininess is where I can be highly confident that Pakistan can go far in the World Cup. Under Afridi, this is by no means necessarily the case. Make the lives of fans and players easier is a request I give the PCB management and appoint the man that deserves the captaincy and will get the best out of the team in Misbah.

Hamilton Test Match Review

A new year and a new beginning saw Pakistan march to a remarkable 10 wicket victory at Seddon Park to take a moral boosting and thoroughly deserving 1-0 lead in the Test Series with a game to follow in due course.

The highlight and talking point of the match was undoubtedly the manner in which New Zealand were demolished within a single session of play in the evening segment of the 3rd day. Pakistan resumed on day 3 trailing by a margin of 40 runs with 6 first innings scalps left. They managed to stretch it to an invaluable lead of 92 runs once the first innings was completed. New Zealand got off promisingly as they reached 33-0 by tea time.

However, after that, it was all about Pakistan domination which totally controlled proceedings in style and strongly advanced the game forward. Wahab Riaz and Abdur Rehman bowled unchanged and reaped the rewards as Pakistan closed in on victory. From being 60/2 they were 61/6. The two left armers ran through New Zealand's line up with Abdur Rehman bowling with craftiness and guile which enabled him to build up pressure and dictate terms whereas Wahab Riaz managed to successfully extract some appreciable reverse swing to trouble the Kiwis top order.

It was a truly astonishing exhibition we were witnessing. Umar Gul polished off the effort by claiming the final 3 wickets as the Kiwis faltered to a disappointing 110 all out on what looked a pretty decent surface for batting in all fairness. The Pakistani openers reached the 19 runs required untroubled to ensure they won by an overwhelming 10 wickets.

Pakistan now have an opportunity to win a Test Series which is something they have not achieved since the days of Bob Woolmer in 2006 when they defeated the West Indies 2-0 on home soil. Ideally, a 2-0 whitewash will be absolutely fantastic, but a draw will also do pretty nicely when the 2nd and final Test gets under way at Wellington on Friday in order to ensure Pakistan take the series honours.

Looking ahead to Wellington

The significance of this Test Match cannot be stressed enough if we have a look at Pakistan's last 10 Test Match Series where they have not won a single Test Series. Therefore, this test match is of utmost significance as Pakistan look to change this and ensure they comfortably take the series honours under the impressive and responsible leadership of Misbah Ul Haq. Below is the record for one and all to visualise. The days of Bob and Inzy have been greatly missed. Latest first of course.

Drawn 0-0 vs. SA home (November 2010)
Lost 3-1 vs. England away (August 2010)
Drawn 1-1 vs. Australia home (July 2010)
Lost 3-0 vs. Australia away (January 2010)
Drawn 1-1 vs. New Zealand away (December 2009)
Lost 2-0 vs. Sri Lanka away (July 2009)
Drawn 0-0 vs. Sri Lanka home (March 2009)
Lost 1-0 vs. India away (December 2007)
Lost 1-0 vs. SA home (October 2007)
Lost 2-1 vs. SA away (February 2007)

Personally really looking forward to Wellington and am pumped up for the occasion as well as highly confident with this well organised, fighting, determined, balanced, united, gutsy, mentally tough and very well composed outfit under an excellent leader and well selected line up. It will be bitterly disappointing if they are unable to take the series honours at this stage. Fingers tightly crossed, they go well and give us something to smile about. The eager countdown to Wellington has begun.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Fantasy League Outcome


So, it’s done and dusted after a good month and half in the land of the Kangaroo

Never would one have imagined that it would have been such a walk in the park for the visitors

Never in their wildest dreams

The outcome is certainly astonishing

Moreover, it’s a good reflection or indication of how exactly proceedings have fared

What we have witnessed is nothing but complete domination on the one side and nothing but complete humiliation on the other

For some, it may be too hard to sink in or digest and who could possibly blame them?

Until the summer of 2013, where the Aussies will get an opportunity to redeem themselves, the Poms can savour their brilliance and look forward with an abundance of optimism

The moment belongs to them once more

In short, a formidable accomplishment and monumental feeling

At present everything is singing and dancing for them

As ever, there is room for consolidation, further progressiveness and maintenance of standards which they still have in their backs of their minds

It will be good to see them challenging for the number 1 status in Tests and beyond

With the progress, professionalism, planning and structure they have got in place, impossible is nothing and there is no reason why they can’t develop on their instrumental success in the years which lie ahead

WC is the next big thing on their agenda

Given their record on sub continental conditions, I find it hard to imagine them being a threatening force

Let’s wait and see if they can give us another mammoth surprise and shut up their doubters?

Just how damn good are they really?

Monday, 3 January 2011

Tactical Areas Pakistan Should Look At In The Test Series

Pk vs. NZ in Tests
Pk Record Played 48: PK Won 22/Drawn 19/Lost 7

5 Areas Where they should look to exploit and capitalise on In The Test Series Against NZ

1) The Tail wagging. This is an area where they could look to excel, surprise and frustrate the Kiwis with their vast depth in this department with many handy bowling all rounder's in their ranks who have the capability to stick around and strike the ball nicely. This could help in extending leads, minimising deficits and posting respectable totals.

2) Getting after the NZ Skipper. He is a dominant experienced cunning figure in both departments and in order to minimise his individual impact, attacking him is the best way forward.

3) Holding on to their chances and raising standards. They have a much better fielding unit and keeper this time then they did last time around when they visited, so I expect them to do considerably better in the fielding department in order to give their attack maximum support.

4) Getting scalps up front with the new cherry. They will be banking on this. They have a few rookies who will enjoy the assistive conditions. Imperative that they use this to their advantage and get themselves in the game early on, as opposed to having to fight their ways back into it.

5) Finding ways to overcome the fragility of their line up in challenging conditions such as by ensuring they win the toss and bowl first with the vision of keeping NZ under 250 in order to give them a realistic chance of making things happen and prevent their limitations from being exposed which will potentially and inevitably bring them on the back foot early in the piece.

On the whole, it should be a thrilling well balanced contest between two low ranked mediocre Test Sides. The series provides an opportunity for Pakistan to finally win a Test Series which is something they have not achieved since 2006. Personally, I feel the brief series will be drawn, but inside dream optimistically of a Test Series Win which the side could really do with for various reasons. Lets wait and see as the intriguing action will unfold in front of our eyes.

If 2011 is anywhere as bad as 2010 I seriously fear for the future of Pakistan Cricket and subsequently Pakistan as cricketers are our leading ambassadors. Cricket is a field of professionalism which can unite, develop reputation and promote a good image. Its make or break time and we as patriots and passionate followers need to express our passion for wanting to get the best out of Pakistan Cricket.

I am not expecting performance to improve drastically, however a clean, flawless and minimal controversy will be really refreshing to see and perhaps will rejuvenate our interational cricketing credibility in a sense. Performance is also needed to keep us motivated and hopeful. A WC victory is an unexpected dream, but will get behind the men in green and follow them with great intensity.

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