What Sri Lanka should expect is a painfully predictable Pakistan

Published: September 17, 2012

The trend, so painfully familiar, is to impede progress, go short-term, and appease the trophies. DESIGN: ERUM SHAIKH

The trend is to stick with the old, trust the tested and believe in the seen. The trend, so painfully familiar, is to impede progress, go short-term and appease the trophies.

Most of the squad selected itself. For the rest, PCB has been uncharacteristically bold in some cases, while hopelessly predictable in others. It’s a team selection that is devoid of a vision. There are at least three names I can point out that are almost confirmed to be selected before anyone else’s under Hafeez’s captaincy and are bound to disturb team’s balance; these are Kamran Akmal, Shoaib Malik, Abdul Razzaq.

Let’s talk about Abdul Razzaq first.

A player that had been dropped from all formats has suddenly been recalled to the team, on the basis of past, though undoubtedly great exploits. The great problem lies in him being selected in place of Hammad Azam.

Hammad Azam has been touted as a future all-rounder of the team. He has made sporadic appearances and hasn’t yet laid down a ground breaking performance. However, his immense potential is there for everyone to see. I really don’t agree with recalling players for a single tournament. It is the worst thing you can do to the self-belief and confidence of a young cricketer, who is trying to secure a permanent place in the team. It must also be remembered that short-term choices are insecure by definition and inevitably try and secure a long-term place in the team, for which they always have the tendency to play more for themselves than the team; case in point, Pakistan vs Australia 1st ODI Sharjah – Kamran Akmal (four of 14 balls in the batting power-play).

The fact that Yasir Arafat has been included alongside Razzaq is a testimony to the fact that the selectors are unsure of their best XI that are going to step into the ground; they are simply gambling.

Shoaib Malik has returned to the side without any great performances of late.

Though he has an impressive record for his domestic T20 side, he appears to be a shadow of his former self when in the international outfit. What is more worrying is his previous reputation of striking discord in team and that he may be played in the place of much deserving Asad Shafiq in the middle order.

Perhaps the most palpable of selections is the recall of Kamran Akmal.

After being dropped for repeatedly costing Pakistan important moments in the game, he has been recalled more out of desperation for the lack of a wicket keeping-batting talent. As witnessed in the ongoing series, his keeping still hasn’t improved. Maybe if the selection committee had been a little more patient with Sarfaraz Ahmed, they needn’t have adopted such desperate measures!

His batting prowess are a little overrated, even in the wake of recent performances, compared with the bane of his wicket keeping. His inclusion is likely to upset the balance a team must have; the team will have to be constantly juggled around to fit him in the side. Nobody is sure which position to play him in which was evident in the one-days and the T20s.

The only two positions he has performed credibly at (opening slot and the death) are already suitably filled by Nazir and Jamshed, and Afridi and Razzaq respectively. For Pakistan’s chances, it is vital that both of these explosive openers play together.

Jamshed has a strong domestic record in T20s. His range of shots and natural timing will be a vital asset on the sluggish pitches of Sri Lanka – an edge he had over the talented Ahmed Shehzad in the final selection.

Nazir’s selection on the other hand, has been the media’s dream. It has got everybody talking about the pros and cons of him being chosen. It is an uncharacteristically bold selection, it may or may not work – and I think the selectors are aware of that.

It goes without saying that with the current talent in our team, I don’t see Yasir Arafat getting a game. No matter what combination you try, I think Umar Gul and Sohail Tanvir will remain the better pace options. If Pakistan wants a third seamer -which they should if they can strike a good balance – they have the aggression of Muhammad Sami; which is why I insisted earlier that picking Arafat was clear evidence of great uncertainty in the minds of the selectors!

Raza Hasan is a good pick. I’ve seen him in domestic cricket; he’s an extremely mature bowler for his age and should serve us well if played. Saeed Ajmal has begun to have the Warne effect on batsmen. He is our most prized possession. Nobody in the world is able to read him. He is turning games by his presence alone, and has finally added theatrics to his armoury too!

This is where I think the selectors have left open ends in their selection. Each member of the squad should be good enough to be included in the playing XI, without disturbing the balance of the team. Each player must have a realistic chance of playing a game on merit. Team selection is not a process of selecting enough backup to make up for failures of the first-choice selection, no! The selection should have an idea of the best playing XI, and which four other players can make a significant contribution to the team when tactics and strategies are changed.

For example, I would understand if we play only seven batsmen to accommodate a third seamer. A batsman may have to be dropped but it can be understood. I would condemn however, any changes made due to sudden realisation of the captain, coach and manager that a player is not good enough.

I’m still unsure of Razzaq’s ability to play as a third seamer. Judging from the two T20s against Australia where in the first, he wasn’t even called on to bowl, and in the second where there was extreme drama and we were saved by luck, a top-edged leg stump full toss, Hafeez may want to consider shuffling the line-up and playing Sami.

Call me radical, but secretly, I’d rather Umar Akmal keep wickets than Kamran be retained for his keeping and batting skills.

We have a good chance of going all the way, but only with a captain who believes it so, and has the courage to go for victory when he sees it looming. There are highly impressive teams like South Africa, India and England against which we will have to show aggression and toughness of the mind. Although Hafeez has showed he is astute in strategy and critical decision making, we must hope that we do not have to brace ourselves for shallow team selections, decisions made in panic and the general defensiveness that’s become the epitome of our cricket captains ever since Younis Khan was removed.

It’s a tricky job, but hey, we’re not getting the central contracts and the good money are we?

Good luck Pakistan!

Hamza Ahmed Khan

Hamza Ahmed Khan

A risk consultant by profession, cricket-crazed human by heart and a wanderer by choice, Hamza breathes cricket and supports Dr. Aur Billa. He blogs at www.spatoutvicious.wordpress.com and tweets as @GumbyAKhan twitter.com/GumbyAKhan

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • THE

    Watching the warm-up match against India, I have no doubts that Pakistan has a very inferior team with the likes of tested and tried Sami & Tanveer in the side. Saeed Ajmal cannot single handedly win us all matches, we need bowlers of the quality of Mohammad Aamir. I wish I could announce life in prison for the people (Butt and Majeed etc) who ruinned his career.

    P.S: I wish so many positive things for Pakistan as well, but hazaaroon khowahisain aysi kay har khowahish par damniklay… Recommend

  • Ahsan Ali

    Absolutely right, nice article, kamran akmal is talented player no doubt about it, but hi is also involved in match fixing , he just through his wicket in crucial , he is a player who plays for himself not for pakistan. We have to consider such youngster who are brilliant players as well as patriotic, not like kamran akmal who just drop catches like ross taylor (Newzeland) for his birthday gift and many other moments like that , we need player like virat kohle whenever he comes I wish that he out quickly but i just forced to say at the end he is total class , u know why because he loves his job & his country , his level of interest incresase from first over to last ……………………Shoaib malik option is just a diaster for our team .. his bowling speed is too much that when he throw ball bowlers have enough time to think as well as adjust himself to hit him badly , and when he comes to ground for batting his face seems like as someone beats him badly ………all what i want to say is that we have to pick best patriotic player not just players………………………….play for our flag not for money Recommend

  • THE

    I am a huge Afridi fan but I think this tournament might prove to be his very last if he continues to be in this form!! Recommend

  • TMK

    ho ho .. Hamza bhai .. gaana hojae koi ?? :PRecommend

  • THE

    OK NOW!!
    ET please remove this blog! This is an amazing innings from Kamran Akmal!! Recommend

  • Hamza Ahmed Khan

    @THE:

    Yes, it is very concerning … Afridi’s form. The guy just doesn’t look the same Lala anymore !! Even Manjrekar lamented this as he got out … Recommend

  • Hassan

    Pakistan’s show against India in the Warm up game has clearly made every single word of this blog null and void……Recommend

  • uH

    Eat your words, all of you!Recommend

  • Hamza Ahmed Khan

    @Hassan:

    I’ll be the first to wish I am proved wrong, as in the end, all of us want to see Pakistan win. But, there’s a whole world cup remaining … and we all know Malik and Kamran’s great propensity in striking team discord, and their performance failures over the last 2-3 years.
    No doubt they played innings of their lives today, also remember they had so much to prove; but can there also be some connection made in the way Hafeez handles his men? We came out guns blazing today in the batting which is so rare, i hope this marks as a change of stance for Pakistan :) Recommend

  • Jawwad Khan

    Hello Dear, nice article Hamza. Anyways II would like to share some of my thoughts on the Pakistan team. First of all Ahmed Shahzad is a quality batsmen we should have played him instead of Umar Akmal, we can’t rely on him he never play sensible game and his shots selection are very poor and for Raza Khan he is good but he need some more games to play in a big tournament. Abdul Rehman can play instead of him. He is more experience for this level and he can bat too.

    For Hammad Azam we know he has the potential but i guess we have not given him many chances, give him time and then judge but Abdul Razzak is not a bad choice.

    Asad Shafiq is a promising youngster. He has the quality andpotential. I guess we should play him more instead of Umar Akmal.

    Pakistan is a very dangerous team in T20′s and Hope we can lift the world cup once again.

    Good Luck Pakistan Team !!Recommend

  • Asim Siddiqui

    Great article Tribune, finally someone who actually understands cricket….Recommend

  • Sana Samar

    Very well written piece. Great read!Recommend

  • Zain Lakhani

    Hello, I like the genuine use of wit by the writer. Good read!Recommend

  • Khurram

    Its nice to finally read some sports journalism on this page. I liked this article a lot and completely back your statement on Hammad Azam !Recommend

  • Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara

    The reason we keep going back to Kamran Akmal is because he gives us a balance in the side that no other keeper has provided us with so far. Yes, he might not be a great keeper, but there is always room for improvement. His asset is his batting, which as seen today in the warm up against India, can single handedly take the match out of the opposition’s hands. Sarfraz Ahmed, Zulqarnain Haider (the run away bride) and Adnan Akmal didn’t take their chances when given. Their batting is below the standard required for international cricket. If Kamran manages to improve his keeping, he can no doubt be one of the best keeper/batsman in the world in the mould of Adam Gilchrist. And come on, be fair to the lad. It’s not like he drops 3-4 catches every game. Like it or not, he’s our best bet for a wicketkeeper for the time being. Domestic circuit just isn’t producing any top keepers at the moment.Recommend

  • Aasim Mukhtar

    Well, had the writer waited for hte Warm-up match to finish he might have withdrawn his writing.. Anyhow, I agee to the point of view that new players should be given a chance, but best time to give chances would be after the cup, when stakes are high you got to stick to the best and avoid experimenting.. Perhaps that could be done later..Recommend

  • Farhan Karim

    It was a very well written article by some one who has a good keen close eye on the inside and outside of the cricket.

    Well done Hamza Ahmed Khan.Recommend

  • Paindu

    UMAR AKMAL OVERRATED, DROP HIMRecommend

  • AD

    u r late bro & in middle of the WC T20 such article shudnt be published u can anlyze the team pros & cons performance after WC
    Timing of this article is not gud at allRecommend

  • shakeel ahmed

    Hi Folks

    Pakistan team made tremdous outcome by defeating India,certianly it is a great achievement in the warmup match,certainly in the last T 20 match with Austrialia pakistan was beaten by Austrailia,despite pakistan won the match,but still the energy which expecting from pakistan team is somewhat missing,Finally omer akmal knock inthe warmup match is the right strength generated on the right time.

    Pakistan ZindabadRecommend

  • http://www.teknolojionline.net/2012/09/12/en-iyi-tablet-2012/ tablet

    Kamran akmal made excellent knock,despite rumour about akmal brother’s indulged in the politicis within the team,i believe it is the right time for him and for the team as well before actual play.

    Well we are hoping that Shahdi Afridi will also give his 100 percent in coming T-20.

    Well done Pakistan

    Anchor Text: tablet
    URL: http://www.teknolojionline.net/2012/09/12/en-iyi-tablet-2012/Recommend

  • Khalil

    Kamran akmal made excellent knock,despite rumour about akmal brother’s indulged in the politicis within the team,i believe it is the right time for him and for the team as well before actual play.Recommend

  • http://hafsakhawaja.wordpress.com Hafsa Khawaja

    Very well-written!
    Refreshing to read such a critical yet balanced piece on the team selection for the T20.
    The point about Hammad Azam and Asad Shafiq struck me particularly.
    Unsurprisingly, such aspects are usually ignored in the process of team-selection, which should be based on as you wrote:

    ‘…Each player must have a realistic chance of playing a game on merit. Team selection is not a process of selecting enough backup to make up for failures of the first-choice selection, no! The selection should have an idea of the best playing XI, and which four other players can make a significant contribution to the team when tactics and strategies are changed.’

    Good luck Pakistan!Recommend

  • AQ

    You know nothing about cricket…Recommend

  • http://http//www.apnidharti.com waqas

    Sri Lankan team has a strong beating line but Pakistani Lions also not bad against any any team in the world of cricket. Pakistani team can easily beat any team at any time but some time with the mistake of some players and other sources Pakistani team lose their matches very badly but All the Pakistani have always hope on their team.Recommend