Australia vs Pakistan: Finally, the Kangaroos retreat!

Published: March 21, 2011
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Australia's captain Ricky Ponting and teammates walk off the field after they lost their ICC Cricket World Cup group A match to Pakistan. PHOTO: REUTERS

Australia's captain Ricky Ponting and teammates walk off the field after they lost their ICC Cricket World Cup group A match to Pakistan. PHOTO: REUTERS Umar Gul celebrates taking the wicket of Australia's Brett Lee. PHOTO: REUTERS Shahid Afridi celebtaes after dismissing Australian batsman Steven Smith. PHOTO: AFP Australia's Steven Smith is bowled by Pakistan's captain Shahid Afridi as wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal reacts. PHOTO: REUTERS Kamran Akmal runs out Australian batsman Cameron White during the Cricket World Cup match between Australia and Pakistan. PHOTO: AFP

I am proud of you, team Pakistan! You have done what no other team has been able to do since you did it in 1999; you thrashed Australia in a World Cup match.

The jubilation of Pakistanis across the world is apparent on social media websites like Twitter and Facebook. Even the defectors joined the chorus of euphoria; people who had disowned Team Green after we lost the match against New Zealand are now supporters again.

Unplayable deliveries

Before I go on to talk about the batting woes, in the words of many Pakistani captains I would like to say “First of all, thanks to Allah” for granting us one of the best (if not the best) bowling attacks in the world.

Is there any other team in the world that can drop players of the caliber of Shoaib Akhtar and Saeed Ajmal and bowl Australia out for 176 runs? Not by a long shot! All the bowlers picked up wickets and, barring Wahab Riaz, everyone was economical.

Aside from our match against New Zealand, our bowling attack has fired. When our bowlers have the support of its fielders, like they had against Australia, they can give their opponents nightmares.

They have all the variety a bowling attack could ask for – everything from late reverse swinging yorkers to cleverly disguised googlies.

Failing with the bat

However, let’s not allow this victory to hide our apparent batting problems.

Our batting line up was on the verge of collapse once again. It almost seemed like Pakistan had taken offence to people saying “England has become the new Pakistan”, but luckily Umar Akmal and Abdul Razzaq made sure we crossed the finish line.

Now imagine how good our team would have been if we had one batsman with an average of  50 runs.

Our best batsman (according to averages) is Misbahul Haq, but his average is only in the 40s.

The most number of centuries in our team have been made by Younus Khan and Shahid Afridi, but the statistics are not impressive – six centuries each.

How I wish we had a Hashim Amla or a Sachin Tendulker in our team! If one takes the mean of the averages of our batsmen, it comes out to a sad 29.84.

If we supported our bowling attack with batsmen who could regularly score centuries, our team would be the most formidable this time around.

For now we have to manage with what we have and hope our bowlers restrict other teams’ total scores.

Changes I would make

Firstly, I hope our management does not have a brain freeze and drop Asad Shafiq. He looked comfortable batting against the Aussies and put up a good performance. I still believe that Ahmed Shehzad has talent, but he needs to be worked on. There will be many stages of less importance to give him more chances and groom him for the next World Cup.

Secondly, I think Abdul Razzaq needs to come out to bat before Shahid Afridi.

Afridi is just not performing with the bat – he should just be the last resort, a Hail Mary instead of a middle order batsman. The team should be mentally prepared to win the match without him.

He has matured into a wise bowler but unfortunately, still bats like a street cricketer.

Abdul Razzaq has both the stats and the temperament to bat before Afridi. He has the fourth highest batting average in the squad and a much cooler head on his shoulders.

Having said this, I am extremely delighted that we have won two consecutive matches chasing instead of batting first. I hope this gives our batting lineup a much needed confidence boost.

Go Greens!

Shaukat.Hamdani

Shaukat Hamdani

Broadcast journalist with an interest in sports, travel, history and culture. He tweets @Shaukii

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