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Friday, February 10, 2012

Pakistan's GREENWASH not complete yet



The 3-0 mission accomplished in the most significant format
was monumentally, pleasantly surprising jubilance which no one could have
seriously thought about in terms of a series score-line along those lines, but
the job is not completed yet by any stretch of the imagination and there is
more dominance to follow and many more victories although they won’t quite be
as resounding as the test ones, but ODI cricket is Pakistan’s forte which they
take equally as seriously. Generally the ODI format in this part of the world
has higher viewership, crowd attendances and genuine excitement. Going by how
pessimistic some of the England supporters are about their team’s chances in
the one day internationals which start next week over winning even a single one
day international let alone draw or win the 4 match series, there is almost
every chance for Captain Misbah’s Team Pakistan to whitewash the visitors in
ALL formats and end up with a 10-0 score line once the whole tour concludes on
Monday 27th February in Abu Dhabi.

England have been woeful in sub continental conditions and
lost 5-0 in India last year whereas in the World Cup only managed 3 victories
in 7 encounters. They are below the men in green on the ICC ODI rankings by
some way. Last two ODI series they have played against the men in green away
from home have ended in defeats for them. Cook and Broad are inexperienced
captains and England is vulnerable to spin on the slow and low wickets.

For the hosts majority of the overs will be bowled by the
slower men who control the flow of runs, take wickets and are consistently
reliable performers. It’s a squeezing process to overcome for the batsmen and
each of the trio of spinners is different which never allows you to settle as a
batter. With anything even over 200 on the board batting first and Pakistan
will fancy their chances by turning to their spinners under lights, who get
through their overs quickly not allowing batsmen to think on their feet, build
pressure with dot deliveries, can come on early with the new ball to surprise
the top order and with varieties in repertoire can break partnerships and cause
panic in the dressing room at any moment. Lastly, they also have the skill,
experience and confidence of bowling in the batting power play and can be
extremely difficult to get hold of and subsequently trigger collapses courtesy
of Saeed Ajmal’s mesmerising mysteries.

 The off spinners Saeed Ajmal and Mohammad Hafeez are ranked at 1 and 2 on the ICC ODI bowling
rankings which just shows how impressively they have delivery in ODI colours
over the last year whereas the multi talented leg spinner Shahid Afridi was the
2nd leading ODI wicket taker last year with 45 scalps in 27 outings
including 4 5 wicket hauls with his canny flattish sharp drifting leg spinners,
sliders and top spinners. The talismanic leg spinning all rounder has kept him
busy by playing for the Melbourne Renegades down under while the national test
team were up against Bangladesh and England and had a decent time of it over
there from a personal point of view. How well England can negotiate and tackle
these gifted, accurate and unorthodox spinners will be the deciding factor in
the brief ODI series. The Men in Green are firm favourites, looking forward to
the contests and the tourists will be up against it. We shouldn’t be surprised
to see Pakistan win this series 4-0.  It will be a challenging ride for Cook’s side and even harder than what they were
up against during the test series which they’ll want to put behind them as
quick as possible after suffering the humiliation of a clean sweep.

 The visitors will be taking on their Lions squad for a warm up fixture on Friday who have just
beaten the Sri Lankan A team 3-2 in a 5 match unofficial ODI series whereas
Misbah and company they will be heading to Sharjah for a one day international
against Afghanistan on the same day where they will be looking to dominate and
perhaps experiment.

Only 2 of 8 KP writers had The Asian Side definitely claiming the series in the preview which was published on the 3rd of
January titled: “England will be put through a tough Pakistan test”and that too
by only a 1 match margin with a 1-0 scoreline. 1 of our writers hesitatingly
sat on the fence at 1-0 either way, 2 said 1-1 including myself, 2 said 0-0
whereas one thought England would bag the series 1-0. Few of us expected
Pakistan to win the series, compete and draw respectably perhaps yes, but
winning it was not what we expected in all honesty. None of us said we would
win the series by a 2 match margin, but it turned out to be by a 3 match
margin. In the preview I also mentioned that 2 results was pushing it and 3
results was close to impossible, but as it stands the Greens have won all 3
tests with all 3 tests having results. We expected docile tracks, high scoring
draws and uneventful action, but it was nothing but fast paced test cricket with
wickets falling in clusters and tests continuously progressing forward towards
an outcome with every session and none of the 3 tests went into day 5 believe
it or not. 110 wickets fell in 11 days with over 3 wickets falling per session.


There were several reasons for this –

a)      Highquality bowling, both teams bowled exceptionally and it was refreshing to see
some top class spin bowling in particular from both of the sides because as
Nasser mentioned we had seen some ordinary, average, mediocre spinners for some
time in world cricket, but here we had talented finger spinners from both sides
and a mystery bowler from Pakistan in the form of Ajmal who injected fear in
batsmen and posed some serious questions

b)      DRS and batsmen being paranoid as a result of getting struck on the pad with a
record number of LBWs falling for a 3 match series in this tour

c)      Out of form batsmen who were short of runs and confidence

d)      England’s batsmen struggling to adapt to the slow paced nature of scoring rates in this
part of the world and lacking patience and application to play long old
fashioned dogged test match innings

e)      Ajmal’spre series talk  really playing in theminds of England’s batters

f)       England’s preparation not being up to scratch while Pakistan were playing the Sri Lankans
and Bangladeshis as I incidentally said in my preview for why they had a slight
advantage over England coming into this series


g)      England Not being able to lift themselves after losing 5 wickets in the opening session
of the series of their top 5 batsmen without 60 on the board at the lunch
interval with Ajmal bagging 3 wickets in his first 10 deliveries he sent down.
Starting a series well is so often so important for what goes to happen at the
end of it all


h)      Underestimating the Pakistan team after the spot fixing scandal and how far they had come under
Misbah ul Haq and talking of underestimating they also did so for the Pakistani
bowler Rehman and Gul whereas they were taken a bit by suprirse by Hafeez who
got 5 left handers dismissed at just 16 as all the talk was surrounding Saeed
Ajmal

Combined Series 11

1) Mohammad Hafeez
2) Alastair Cook
3) Azhar Ali
4) Younis Khan
5) Misbah ul Haq (C)
6) Asad Shafiq
7) Matt Prior (WK)
8) Stuart Broad
9) Abdur Rehman
10) Saeed Ajmal
11) James Anderson

Pakistan’s ODI Squad

Batsmen

Misbah ul Haq (C)
Younis Khan
Azhar Ali
Asad Shafiq
Imran Farhat
Shoaib Malik (added on the request of Misbah ul Haq)

Wicket Keepers

Umar Akmal

Adnan Akmal

All Rounders

Mohammad Hafeez
Shahid Afridi
Hammad Azam

Fast Bowlers

Umar Gul
Wahab Riaz
Aizaz Cheema
Junaid Khan

Specialist Spinners

Saeed Ajmal
Abdur Rehman


Sessions WON

Pak 21
Eng 12

1st test: 6-3 Pak
2nd test: 6-6

3rd test: 9-3 Pak


Pakistan's cricket captain Misbah-ul Haq gestures as he holds the trophy after victory in the third and final Test match between Pakistan and England - AFP

Pakistan's cricket captain Misbah-ul Haq gestures as he holds
the trophy after victory in the third and final Test match between Pakistan and
England - AFP

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