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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Pakistan team's performance in 2011

By Usama Abbasi

2011 has definitely been a good year for Team Green.

Off the field, controversies continued to haunt them but on the field performance improved in all formats of the game.

Under the astute leadership of Misbah ul Haq, Pakistan hasn’t lost a single test series this year, in fact they have also been able to beat a team higher in the ICC ranking. Pakistan’s stellar performance has showed us an opener scoring a double century for the first time in over 19 years. Furthermore, Saeed Ajmal’s antics with the ball have granted him the title of the highest wicket taker in the format thus far.

The ODI’s also bear similar stats as the test series, but the picture is quite different in this format. Pakistan reached the semi-finals of the World Cup under the captaincy of Shahid Afridi, who was then unceremoniously removed following a row with the Chairman. He was replaced with Misbah, whose style of captaincy is quite opposite to that of Afridi, but the results continued to be favorable. Pakistan is now the leading ODI side of the year and has won more matches in this format, than any other team.

We have had quite a few good performances in the ODI’s this year with a lot of players chipping in with their weight, but some have gleamed brighter than the others. Bowlers have been the cornerstone and architects of many of the wins, as Saeed Ajmal rises to the No. 1 spot in the ICC Bowler’s Rankings and Afridi leads the pack of highest wicket takers in the format.
The new players brought into the team have performed marvelously as well. Aizaz Cheema and Junaid Khan have done their part by picking up a number of wickets and Azhar Ali has made a test match hundred.

The beginning of the last series of the year has been good for us with Pakistan beating Bangladesh in the lone T20 match as well as the three match ODI series. Hopefully, we will be able to clean sweep this series and end the year with a bang.

All this means that Pakistan is peaking just at the right time to take on the No. 1 test team in the world- England- early next year in the Middle East. If our players continue to perform as they are currently, I don’t see a reason why Pakistan cannot conquer the Englishmen in the coming year.

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