Stories about Azhar Ali

As captain, can Sarfraz Ahmed steer Pakistan to victory in the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy?

Pakistan’s archaic style of ODI cricket is up for a stern test in this summer’s Champions Trophy. The team is grouped with South Africa (ranked number one in the International Cricket Council (ICC) rankings), arch-rivals India, and Sri Lanka. A realistic assessment might be for the team to win at least one out of these three games – more likely to be the one against Sri Lanka – but that would also mean having to do away with the optimism of a Pakistani cricket fan. Regardless of how bad we think our team is, almost every fan will, as always, ...

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Misbahul Haq, the man who broke cricket beyond repair

As ungentlemanly as it is to castigate someone in the aftermath of a retirement, such is the rage I harbour for the man named Misbahul Haq that I’ll break this sporting code. Before I tear into my vitriolic rant, I’ll start by saying that I have nothing against Misbah ‘the person’. In fact, as a captain, he did a stellar job staying clear of any controversies a la the Salman Butts and Wasim Akrams of these shores. I’ll give him that. Statistically speaking too, Misbah, I’ve come to know, was better than some of our better ones. He also deserves some ...

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PCB should rethink its team selection for the West Indies tour

This month, the Pakistan cricket team, led by Sarfraz Ahmed in all three formats, will embark on the West Indies tour to play a series of four T20 matches, three Tests and three One-Day Internationals (ODIs), which starts on March 26th. In order to ensure direct qualification for the 2019 World Cup, it is imperative for them to win the upcoming ODI series. The last World Cup was played in 2015 in Australia where Pakistan made it to the third quarter-final against Australia but lost miserably by six wickets with 97 balls remaining. Currently, Pakistan ranks eighth on the ODI ...

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Can the Quetta Gladiators take home the PSL 2017 trophy?

“So close yet so far.” This phrase accurately portrays the Quetta Gladiators’ campaign in the inaugural edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL). Even though they were not able to cross the final hurdle last year, this time, however, it’s possible for them to lift the title. With the second season just around the corner, the Quetta-based franchise is probably hoping that the team can replicate it’s heroics from the first edition but for that to happen, some of their key players would really have to raise their game. Ahmed Shehzad The talented right-handed opening batsman has fallen out of favour with the selectors on ...

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Splitting the captaincy between Azhar and Sarfaraz is a bad idea!

Yet another tour of Pakistan to the continent of Australia has ended badly. After a good Test series in England, followed by achieving the number one Test ranking, they have been outplayed in the ODIs in England, New Zealand, Australia, and of course, the Test matches in New Zealand and Australia. There is a lot of blame being placed on the shoulders of Misbahul Haq for the losses in these last two Test series and for good reason. At the same time, cricket is a team game, and as the abysmal performances in the ODIs prove, there is only so ...

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Who will the next Misbahul Haq be?

After having been thrashed by the mighty Australians on their home turf, Pakistan looks to adjust to life after Misbahul Haq and Younis. Whether the two get a go in the upcoming series remains to be seen but the future doesn’t seem too bright for the men in green unless the management finally decides to make a new young team from scratch. Like all great teams of the past and the present, Pakistan must delve deep into their domestic structure and search for answers before it’s all too late. Whilst one might argue that Pakistan’s domestic structure is full of ...

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What happened to Pakistan at the Gabba?

Pakistan’s predictable unpredictability is their biggest threat towards both the opposition and, regrettably, themselves. In the last three Tests, Pakistan have lost nine wickets in the final session, almost pulled off the biggest chase ever in Test history. Pakistan’s cricketing woes are largely representative and reminiscent of Pakistan’s general attitude towards everything ranging from religion to politics – a middle ground just doesn’t exist. At the Gabba, Pakistan earned themselves a moral victory and were rightfully praised for all their efforts. Momentum, despite losing, had tilted slightly towards Pakistan and it was still there for three and a half days of ...

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Why has Umar Akmal disappeared from Test cricket?

In 2009, I watched a 19-year-old batsman score a century during his Test debut in New Zealand. He took on the likes of Shane Bond, and made it look relatively easy. Umar Akmal blitzed his way through to 129 on debut, and followed it up with 75 in the second innings. A star was born, or so I thought. Fast-forward seven years and the same cricketer is struggling to score runs in the Bangladesh Premier League. How times change. It saddens me to see such a talent being wasted, especially considering Pakistan’s batting stocks are so low. But how did ...

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If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

The alarm bells were not ringing in the desert heat; they were, in fact, ringing aloud in the immediate aftermath of the Pakistan team’s recent achievement; drawing the Test series 2-2 in England. On the back of a resounding victory at the Oval, Mickey Arthur stated that the plan that won Pakistan that Test was, in fact, a plan that Pakistan would adopt moving forward and is seen as the long term solution for the batting line-up. But did it really win us with that Test? After much deliberation, when Arthur was appointed, it was seen as a step in the right direction to modernise ...

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What’s right with the Pakistan Test team, is what’s wrong with the ODI team

A good Test player won’t necessarily be a good ODI player. Some examples of this theory are Justin Langer, Alistair Cook and Younus Khan. Similarly, a good Test Captain may not be as good as an ODI Captain; for example Alistair Cook, Michael Vaughan and Misbahul Haq. Yes, you read that right. Misbahul Haq is a champion – a champion Test captain testified by the number one Test ranking that now rests with Pakistan. But, what he brought to the ODI team is still on display, even during the last two years (when Azhar Ali became the skipper). Misbahul Haq is a champion.Photo: Reuters The defensive ...

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