Pakistan’s World Cup strategy: Win the toss

Published: March 10, 2011

Shahid Afridi opened with Shoaib Akhtar and Abdul Rehman on an untested Pallekele surface against New Zealand. PHOTO: REUTERS

In Sri Lanka, the locals warn all tourists to be aware of the oncoming traffic.

Despite various road markings and signs, overtaking at will on even the narrowest of single lanes is a common sight. For that reason alone, you need to be on guard at all times, be wary of even the innocuous Tuk Tuks (rickshaws) and sit prepared for a sudden manoeuvre.

It seems as though the welcoming committee failed to inform Pakistan cricket team of these trends on the streets. The rigidness of their plans oozing from their on-field show, the refusal to budge from what was discussed in the team meetings and the lack of flexibility they carry in their minds – and acts – has made for a questioning performance in the middle.

Going into every World Cup match with just three specialist bowlers, stacking the playing-eleven with batsmen and all-rounders with hopes of winning the toss has been Pakistan’s strategy.

Shahid Afridi opened with Shoaib Akhtar and Abdul Rehman on an untested Pallekele surface against New Zealand and gave the spinner five overs straight. Rehman was in defensive mode, not giving the ball much flight and not enticing the batsmen to add to the spinner’s tally. So while the spinner, and Pakistan, failed with the early tactics, Afridi persisted with the faltering plan, not realising that Abdul Razzaq would now need to bowl in the middle overs as well as at the death. As things unfolded and Ross Taylor rose to the occasion, Razzaq’s lack of pace, movement and conviction left Pakistan searching for answers, and a specialist bowler.

To add to their woes, Kamran Akmal played a helping hand. The immovable entity chose to disappoint his captain, his team and the fans by another horror show behind the stumps which left the steaming Akhtar realise what Danish Kaneria used to go through in every Test. Akmal survived the bans, the fixers, the Integrity Committee, injuries, Zulqarnain Haider’s defiant knock, and even his brother’s brief challenge for the wicket-keeper’s slot but riding high on Pakistan’s reluctance to bury the demons and start afresh, he came out to bat and disappointed yet again.

The batting order, too, needed a change given the openers’ failure and the job on hand but, unlike all that happens in Pakistan cricket, hopes were pinned on the senior stalwarts and Umar Akmal, Afridi and Razzaq came in with Pakistan reeling, needing to perform but with not much batting to follow. Waqar Younis insisted, given the shambles that was the chase, that Pakistan needed more batsmen than an extra bowler. Rehman has been chosen over Saeed Ajmal because the left-armer provides a better batting option but two wickets from four matches hardly deserves a slot in the playing-eleven.

It seems Pakistan’s hopes rest on the flip of the coin instead of their own performance: win the toss, bat first, pray the batting clicks and let pressure bring the desired result, not the bowling. The thought process must now change.

For the latest World Cup updates and opinions visit The Express Tribune Cricket.


Faras Ghani

Faras Ghani

Sports editor of The Express Tribune who is also the author of the book "Champions, again"

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

  • Deen Sheikh

    We are going to need a better playing 11 against Australia, the Zimbabwe game would be good to try out an alternative playing 11. Bring in Ajmal over Rehman and bring in Wahab Riaz as an additional bowler in place of Kamran and try Umar Akmal as the Keeper. The left armer can add variation to the pace attack and prove to be a good new ball bowling partner to Akhter.Recommend

  • Sana

    @ Faras: My feelings exactly. It’s been about the toss this whole time. They need to have a flexible game plan. I also agree that Kamran Akmal is not solely responsible for the defeat. Razzaq and Akther bowling those last 5-8 overs game away incredible amounts of runs! Cricket is a team sport. It requires a team effort.

    @ Deen: I agree. If Kamran Akmal was missing stumping and dropping catches but still performing well with the bat, perhaps I would be able to forgive him. He has no place in the team. Even a relatively inexperience keeper in the form on Umar Akmal would be a better option, as we would then be able to bring Ajmal in.

    Let’s hope this defeat will just make the team stronger and perform better.

    Fingers crossed! Praying for our boys no matter how much they make my blood boil at times!Recommend

  • Adil Akhter

    Forgive Kamran Akmal, we should realize that winning and defeat is the part of game, so please accept this fact and support team PakistanRecommend

  • noor muhammad

    its too late now kamran akmal should train vigorously in the nets for three days and concentration should only be wicketkeeping. he shhould also go down the order after abdul razzak. Recommend