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Friday, March 09, 2007

Pakistan at the World Cup

Pakistan cricket has gone through lots of ups and downs recently - more downs in fact - the Darryl Hair "Test", the doping scandal, the reported issues between Bob Woolmer and Shoaib, the ban on Shahid Afridi, and many more. It is very difficult to see how they can retain their concentration with all this going on around them. It looks like they will not have much success at this World Cup - their bowling lineup is inexperienced and doesnt look capable of running through any lineup. Batting is settled in the middle-order but not at the top.

Inzamam-ul-Haq came onto the scene by showing his prowess in the 1992 WorldCup. Can he bow out on a high? He has to come up the order for his team to get more runs on the board. Has not been in a great form recently, but can come up with the goods on a big occasion. His captaincy and leadership skills are very vital for his team in this Cup.

Younis Khan has a reputation of scoring runs against India, not against other countries. He has to be more consistent for helping his team's cause.

Mohammad Yousuf went through a run-scoring spree last year when he broke Viv Richards record for maximum runs in a year (in test cricket). He is the key batsman for Pakistan alongwith Inzy.

Mohammad Hafeez has cemented his place in the team for the last 1 year by decent performance with the bat and ball. But, he has to concentrate on giving his team a good start.

Imran Nazir is the other opening batsman, who has been appearing in the team, more because of lack of options than his batting skills.

Shoaib Malik has been shunted up and down the order. Currently, he seems to occupy the No.6 slot. Can be a useful bowler also.

Shahid Afridi has been playing since the first World Cup and he is only 18!!! Just kidding. He seems to be playing for ever but his inconsistency is evergreen. It would be a miracle if he can shine in this World Cup - maybe one match, maximum 2 matches, but not more.

Azhar Mohammed has been drafted in because of the injury to Razzaq. He has been out of the team for more than 2 years now (before the South Africa series). He might be able to contribute with the ball, but will not be able to repeat what Razzaq is capable of.

Kamran Akmal has been pushed up and down in the batting order. To be fair to him, he has not been a major let-down with his bat. Consistent with the gloves. Can do the big-hitting, if required.

Umar Gul will be the main strike bowler, given the inconsistencies of Sami and Rana Naved. But, he is coming back from injury - hence, it would be interesting to see how he performs.

Rana Naved-ul-Hasan is quite effective at the death but he is one bowler who shouldnt bowl with the new ball - he leaks runs. Can swing the ball prodigiously.

Mohammad Sami is the Pakistan cricket team's Ajit Agarkar. Inconsistent is one word that applies very well to both these cricketers. He was part of the last World Cup also, but as usual didnt do any wonders - dont expect anything great this time also.

Rao Iftikhar has shown that he is a decent bowler, who always seems to get a chance when the frontline bowlers break down. But, lacks the capability to run through a team.

Danish Kaneria has been picked in the team, after many years of keeping him out of the ODI circus. He can be Pakistan's trumpcard during this Cup.

Yasir Arafat is the other replacement in the Pakistan team. Will not get many chances to play in this World Cup.
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