Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Will the Pakistani team do a Phoenix?

There has not been much excitement in this ASIA CUP primarily because the IPL hangover refuses to die and also because India and Pakistan have played substantial number of matches so now an India and Pakistan game has become a 'one more' India Pakistan game, quite contrary to the hype that used to surround the games when these two teams used to play against each other once in a blue moon in the 90's. Team India has done fairly well against Pakistan in the last two years winning 10 matches out of 15.

Pakistan team has really looked out of sorts and with Umar Gul sidelined with an injury, the bowling attack is mediocre. The pakistan bowling doesn't look the same without the likes of Asif and Akhtar. Sohail Tanvir is maturing fast into a good international bowler, but nothing else even presents a trace of good news for the team. Their coach, Geoff Lawson, needs to take lesson on how to talk to people before ever thinking of coaching any team again. The way he tackled the Pakistani media after the loss to Srilanka was very rude, and not at all civil, and it clearly showed that the frustration of his incompetence of producing any good result with the Pakistani team spilled on to the media persons and they rightly boycotted the press conference. Shoaib Malik, I believe, for reasons more than one is not suitable for the post of captaincy. The assertiveness clearly likes in his captaincy as pointed out by the great Imran Khan. He is not backing himself enough, he needs to know that he is the captain of the team and the team will play and look like the way he wants to. Once you are the captain, you should forget who is the junior or who is the senior. He should take a cue or two from M.S.Dhoni's book in handling a team. Though I believe even if the Pakistanis are out of the tournament and if at all they want to change the captain(which they will, most probably), then, I don't think Misbah would be a great choice either for the same reason that he is pretty young in the international arena and giving the captaincy to him so early would not do him much good. I think an experienced campaigner like Younis Khan would make a good captain. Anyways, time would tell. Meanwhile, their ace allrounder Shahid Afridi hasn't fired at all. His golden duck against Sri Lanka in the previous game mirrored his batting performances in the past few months. It is imperative that he do something drastically miraculous in the remaining two games otherwise his time may well be up.

Pakistan's batting has looked good with Misbah, Younis Khan, Md. Yousuf and the skipper himself carrying some good form with the bat. However, it is their bowling which would be giving them. Their depleted attack against India's 'ready to rip off' any bowling attack in the world would be an interesting thing in today's match. Indian batting lineup looks a dream 20-20 batting squad and that is the way they have been playing of late. Gunning down 300 in 42 overs takes some doing. Also, with Adam Gilchrist out of the international arena, the opening combination of Gambhir and Sehwag looks easily the best in the world. Suresh Raina has been a revelation of sorts and one hopes that even if he bats with half the intensity he has been doing in Asia Cup, India may well have got a gem. But, its too early to comment, he started off with the same promise but faded somewhere in between, now the hope has been rekindled. Let's wait and watch.

If Pakistan lose this match, the whole configuration of their team may change. The Coach's term may be as well be over, the captain can be sacked, Afridi will have to make way for someone else. These are the major changes that one may expect given how fickle the decisions of PCB are. But, all these equations can be inverted if they pull off a victory against their arch rivals, and a good thumping against Bangladesh and with a stroke of luck, who knows they might be playing their final against Sri Lanka. Though, that is a bit far fetched. As of now, the Pakistan team is lying dead in dumps, nut you can never count them out. 1992 World Cup is just one of the tale of the Great Pakistani fightbacks. They are the most dangerous when they are almost dead. As a cricket fan, I want them to rise like Phoenix. Yet again.

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