Posts Tagged ‘shahid afridi’


Self Destruction – Pakistan at the Cricket World Cup 2015

February 21, 2015


I’m crestfallen, but not surprised by team Pakistan’s performance today against the West Indies in the World Cup. By showing up to International Crickets biggest tournament with apparently very little preparation, one shouldn’t have expected anything different than what’s happening.

Truth is, the teams they have lost to so far are not playing spectacular cricket, rather, Pakistan lacks the basic components of a world class team:

1. No Specialist Wicket Keeper. Pakistan is essentially playing without a wicket keeper and I wonder if that has ever happened in the history of the World Cup. Also, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, a specialist wicket keeper must also be a spectacular bat as a requisite in one day international cricket in the past 20 years: think Australia’s Adam Gilchrist, Sri Lanka’s Kumar Sangakkara and India’s M.S. Dhoni. Yet, selectors (PCB), commentators (Ramiz Raja) coaching (Waqar Yunus) refuse to address why specialist wicket keeper and in form batsman Sarfaraz Ahmed is not on the team now. And with every Akmal butterfingers drop, Sarfaraz’s absence is sorely missed. Yahoo Sports puts it well:

Surprisingly, regular wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed, who had scored prolifically against Australia and New Zealand in last year’s test and ODI series in the UAE, is yet to get his first Cricket World Cup match.

2. Zero Team Leadership: Starting from the top with mind boggling selections of the PCB, to Waqar Younus as a clueless coach and Misbah ul Haq as a most lackluster, demoralizing captain. Waqar consistently baffles everyone with his selection of bowlers and his misplacing batsman in the order (i.e. consistently selecting or opening with Younus Khan or putting him at the most valuable #3 spot, or not playing spin bowler Yasir Shah against the Windies who have trouble with spinners, but playing him against India who traditionally does okay with spinners). Then, Misbah who is the only captain out of every team i’ve seen, including the minnows who seems incapable of competitive, encouraging positive athletic leadership– which is a requisite of a captain for any sport! Battling legend Javed Miandad summarizes Misbah’s leadserhip succinctly

Cricket World Cup: Misbah-ul-Haq’s ‘weak’ leadership is not helping Pakistan, says Javed Miandad

This is aside from the fact that Misbah’s field placements CONSISTENTLY cost us matches (i.e. putting one of our least mobile fielders, Mohammad Irfan at mid wicket and long on), one is left scratching their head — what on earth is Misbah’s strategy, let alone rationale for winning?

Shoaib Akhtar agrees, he scathingly commented today “We are heading for disaster. I have never seen a more selfish and coward captain like Misbah,”

Remember Shahid Afridi as captain of Pakistan’s 2011 world cup team? THAT was world class leadership: Afridi led an inexperienced side that was underestimated by all, from the front, and launched them to exceeding all expectations. He was positive, motivational, competitive and strategic — Misbah doesn’t compare, and his captaincy is costing Pakistan win after win 😦

Shahid Afridi's Pretty Chiseled

Shahid Afridi’s Pretty Chiseled

3. No Batsmen Groomed for the World Cup: Shame on the PCB: Pakistan it seems is the only team who squandered the past 4 years without grooming enough batsmen for this tournament.

Inventor of the deadly “doosra” delivery, former master spinner Saqlain Mushtaq explains  “The whole nation feels let down and is understandably angry. You don’t expect such unprofessional decisions from a professional management,” he said.

Constantly yanking batsman with in form, winning performances like Fawad Alam, refusing to play Mohammad Hafeez when he insists he is ready, and wasting world class batsman like Umar Akmal and Shahid Afridi as lowest order players and instead playing non performing batsmen who consistently cost us key matches, like Younus Khan, Pakistan has yet to have a reliable opening duo, let alone stable batsmen to follow. And with Waqar Younus as coach admitting he’s still “experimenting” with the order (with dire results), Pakistan is painfully unprepared for the World Cup 2015.

Don’t expect major wins from a team that lacks the most basic components for crickets biggest tournament. I’m looking forward to tomorrows South Africa vs. India game. A.B. de Villiers, Hashim Amla and company — now that’s a team to be excited about.


India & Pakistan – Going At it Again

June 19, 2010
Pakistan Warms up for the Asia Cup India Match - June 2010

Pakistan Warms up for the Asia Cup India Match - June 2010

Well, it’s that time again. An India vs. Pakistan ODI match will be underway in a few moments. And there’s nothing like India-Pakistan cricket. For better or worse, it’s THE epic rivalry; it get’s catty, intense, fans are insanely polarized. It’s basically crickets equivalent to the NHL’s Crosby / Ovechkin rivalry. For my non-sports readers, it’s akin to team Aniston vs team Angelina. (for the record: I’m team Ovechkin and Angelina respectively)

But whether you’re a Pakistan or India fan, both teams are somewhat evenly matched at this time with Pakistan having more depth and raw talent, and India with firm composure, more consistent experience and better record in recent history. So it’s likely going to be a nail biter, winding down to the final over to determine a winner.

So, what’s it going to take for the men in green? Here’s what’s swimming around my head before the game:

Afridi: Stay the same. Awesome performance in the last game as skipper. In typical Afridi character he lived up to the “boom boom” title and strong character we expect from him. With 110 off of 75 it was his natural game catapulted to great heights with leadership and consistency. Good news is he has a tendency to excel against India. Let’s hope that form is maintained.

Salman Butt: Hold your wicket yo. He usually does, but it’s not always certain, yet crucial that he does so today. The Indian bowling attack looks mediocre, but don’t underestimate their pace bowling. Zaheer Khan is in the attack and Nehra could do harm too.

Abdur Razzaq: My favorite All rounder must be the Danger Man today. What does that mean? It means if we need it, you make 14 runs an over. No questions asked. Oh, and when we need those key maiden overs in the last hour of their lineup, keep up the bowling defense.

Kamran Akmal: Please no butterfingers. This is a world class game and an epic rivalry, no room for drop catches. Also, be quicker on the stumpings. Be a solid bat; a clutch hitter picking up the run rate consistently as a lower order batsman and even more so if you’re pushed up the order.

Mohammad Aamer: Come in strong and shut down Sehwag. Perhaps cut him some slack early on, get him into a slogging mindset then throw on pressure with an ultra slow ball. Sehwag’s bat is so fast that this is bound to be confusing to his game.

Shahzaib Hasan: Damn rookie stop playing like it’s a test match.

Shoaib Akhtar: Watch the extras, nuff said. If The Rawalpindi express does this, there’s no stopping him.

Shoaib Malik: Be at the top of your game, back form a honeymoon we need to see classic Malik in your best form. Picking off Harbhajan smashing off a couple sixes, fielding like a beast, and with accurate off spin.

Umar Akmal: Run with raw talent. You’ve got the youth, energy and can hold your wicket with a solid strike rate. Pick up the occasional boundary and stay consistent.

Prediction :::: the game changer will be either Shoaib  Malik or Shoab Akhtar. They’re comback kids and can steal matches for Pakistan. They’ve done it in classic form in the past, and i want to see them do it again tonight.

Let the games begin !



Unfair & Unlovely

May 28, 2010

OMG Shahrukh Khan "Fair & Handsome" -  Seriously?

OMG Shahrukh Khan "Fair & Handsome" - Seriously?!

I’ve very intentionally avoided this subject despite its relevancy to South Asia, but it’s close to summertime and now that Shah Rukh Khan is involved it’s borderline political, so it’s within my jurisdiction.

“Fair and Lovely” face cream is so pervasive in “desi” culture that it’s a household name amongst both Resident and non Resident Pakistani’s. International diplomats, the United Nations, countless non profits have all failed to get India and Pakistan to agree on nukes, trade, cricket, religion (the list goes on) but when it comes to the primal issues of attraction, both have consistently been on the same page. Visit the Fair and Lovely website and you’re confronted with images of a woman’s face growing progressively lighter and the slogan: “Gorepan se kahin ziyada SAAF GORAPAN”  Translation: “Even more Whiteness than Whiteness”. I kid you not, that is an accurate translation literally and contextually speaking, and yes despite this, we are still in the 21’st Century.

So this week Shahrukh Khan’s face is seen promoting the creams male counterpart, “Fair and Handsome”. The Telegraph reports “despite doubts of the effectiveness, the sight of Khan’s chiseled features endorsing the cream has angered campaigners, who say it’s “racist” to promote lighter skin as superior”

Shahid Afridi's Pretty Chiseled

Shahid Afridi's Pretty Chiseled

Alright, first off Shah Rukh Khan doesn’t from any angle I can see have “chiseled” features. Shahid Afridi is more chiseled than him. But, that’s besides the point and doesn’t invalidate the fact that billions of men and women around the world idolize Khan and find him very attractive, hence the lakhs of rupees I’m sure he’s receiving for this endorsement. But with such immense fame, comes responsibility and his endorsement of Fair & Handsome cream is justifiably being labeled “racist” by angry campaigners.

I grew up in California where girls lay out in the sunshine all summer to quite frankly, try and get skin like mine. When sunshine isn’t an option, they confine themselves into what are nothing shortof human frying pans, lids closed in tanning beds as they do their best to maintain my shade of golden brown all year long. So it’s no surprise that I love my mocha skin. Always have. I wouldn’t change it for anything. Tan skin is part and parcel of being a Californian. Just listen to Katy Perry or the Beach Boys. In this part of the world, tan has always been undeniably sexy.

Maria & Zainab - Perfect Beach tans ;)

Zainab & Maria - Perfect Beach tans

Which is why the angered campaigners in India are correct in denouncing the Shah Rukh Khan endorsement; it perpetuates an unhealthy, yes racist fascination with fair skin. The reason it’s racist while the the girls in California wallowing in tanning beds isn’t is because “Fair & Lovely” occurs in a post-colonial context. You’d think that as oppressed subjects having suffered and struggled to fight of massive injustices of colonialism until Partition wherein India severed itself into two as a result (the birth of Pakistan) looking like the oppressor would be unpopular. But instead fair skin is the ultimate desire in desi land, and it’s mind boggling because European skin tones are not naturally attainable in South Asia.

Sure evolutionary biology will tell you that humans are innately attracted to beautiful people. According to biologists, we’re attracted to relatively youthful characteristics because they’re indicative of heightened fertility (i.e. lustrous hair, hourglass figures, large eyes and clear skin) but a preference for skin color really is only skin deep. South Asians naturally have darker skin and there’s no reason it should be touted as inferior.

Out of chance I happened to have grown up in a particular part of the West that values darker skin, but had I lived in Pakistan I might not have been so lucky. It’s a sad realization, because skin color is not in our control, which is why it’s problematic when corporations like Fair and Lovely seize control in attempt to create preferences where none should exist. They’re preying on insecurities to peddle their products which is done by all advertisers, but this one goes too far because it’s racist.

Shame on Shah Rukh Khan for endorsing Fair & Handsome cream; it’s not a “fair” or “handsome” move on his part.  It’s Unfair and Ugly.


My Unhealthy Relationship with Pakistani Cricket : 1996-2010

March 11, 2010
The PCB has Ruined Pakistani Cricket

You constantly let me down, embarrass me in front of my friends, and lately I’m told you cheat on me. From ball tampering, to match fixing (that’s the cheating part), to winning zero games in recent series’, and slipping in the world standings, I should probably move on. I’ve been loyal, passionate, and relentlessly defended you, but you keep breaking my heart.

And I’m not going to lie. After your loss to the Aussies last month, I was tempted to leave you, perhaps for the Kiwi’s, maybe even see Sri Lanka for awhile. But I didn’t stray; I was a good girlfriend. Then came today’s PCB decision, reminding me that you are subject to an absurdly inefficient authority so seeped in politics that I can’t deal with your baggage anymore. The drama has been progressively agonizing.

It’s like dating a teenager. Which is why it was so easy to love you when I was one. But I’m not a teenager anymore. I’m in my 20’s now and am seriously thinking about settling down. I need a cricket team who can reciprocate my love, show consistency and keep me amused. After a long day of work, yoga and blogging, I stay up till midnight and beyond (California time) to watch your ODI’s, even Tests and you leave me dissatisfied, night after night. It’s been 14 years, of ups and downs, which have been a sad series of “downs” in the past few years. When Shahid Afridi first joined the team and scored the Worlds Fastest Century in the nineties, I was captivated; you had me at hello. So I put up with the 1999 World Cup Debacle, the next world Cup Debacle, and have no idea what you’re going to pull in this next one.

So why do I still love you? I suppose because deep down I still believe in you. It’s irrational, impractical and against my immediate interests to stay, but I won’t leave. And after all you’ve put me through: if I still don’t walk away…..that’s gotta be love.


The End of Conservative Cricket

December 31, 2009

Test matches will disappear from cricket by the year 2020, and ironically, because of 20Twenty. After Pakistan’s frustrating loss against Australia today, batsman Mohammad Yousuf warns that Twenty20 cricket will ruin Pakistan’s game. He says:

“Because of Twenty20 cricket no player knows how to stay at the wicket anymore. Until players do not play with discipline and play ball to ball and leave balls they are supposed to we will struggle in ODIs, let alone Tests. If you are going to slog all the time what is the point? It is necessary that Pakistanis, the media, the board, the fans realise that we play as little Twenty20 as possible.”

Mohammad Yousuf is asking everyone to limit Twenty20 cricket at a time when it’s popularity is on the rise, Pakistan is the reigning World Champion and undoubtedly has the best players the game has seen (Afridi, Razzaq, Ajmal, Gul). He’s basically making a case for conservative cricket: or getting back to the basics of Test.

In Test’s even if you’re pitched a full toss at above average speed and there’s no one at long on or square leg, the skilled batsman refrains from smashing it out of the park.

Reason being the risk of getting out supersedes the worth of a six. However, that kind of discipline is the exact antithesis of 20Twenty cricket where you are required to play each ball as if it’s a potential six. But having the sense to resist potential sixers is but one part of the batting discipline needed in traditional cricket. It’s an overall psychological discipline where batsman must with extreme patience and consistency just hold one’s wicket. To do that, over after over for 5 days, knowing that the match could wind up in just a draw requires an extreme endurance that few batsman posses. In fact some of the best batsmen in the game who have mastered this don’t even play ODI’s anymore, like Rahul Dravid. Case in point, most teams don’t have players who specialize in Test, Dravid is actually a rare case. Mohammad Yousuf could then be on the right track: are players losing an edge in Test, and perhaps even skill by playing 20Twenty cricket?

20Twenty is the American equivalent of Home Run Derby: the game simply requires batsman to smash anything and everything out of the park. 8th man down must carry at least a 100% strike rate to give a team the depth required to be competitive in the game.

It’s less about psychological discipline, discerning batting or even batting skills for that matter. Because if the aim is to slog, you can take a whack at just about anything pitched your way. It requires a lot of power and little else. Anyone with training and enough arm strength to smack the ball around can be fairly successful. There aren’t rewards for consistency, patience or discipline. In fact, those qualities are counter productive in 20Twenty. In Tests you score runs by first discerning which balls are safe, whether that be after 5 or 50 overs, and then you nudge, or direct the ball into anticipated gaps.

It’s a whole different ball game, as they say in the States. So is Mohammad Yousuf correct in calling for a limit to 20Twenty? The conventional part of me who tends to resist change says yes. But the more spontaneous, forward thinking side of me says, hey, if that’s the natural progression of the game and Tests are inevitably obsolete, bring on a few more Shahid Afridi’s !



Pakistan vs Australia: Playing for South Asia

September 29, 2009

aussia pak cricket shot stumped

Even if peace talks are stalled between India and Pakistan, warming relations are on the cards for South Asian’s this week. With India’s chances of surviving the ICC Champions Trophy contingent to a Pakistan win on Wednesday against Australia, Dhoni and company will be watching closely in hopes for a victory for the men in green. So what’s it going to take:

  • Strong Opening:
    • Imran Nazir can’t be hasty. He has a tendency to get carried away after an early four, or six. Overconfidence can be a hinderance. And he can’t rely on hopes of weak fielding as he might have done in previous matches. He should play his natural game, hit a few boundaries overt time, but keep on guard.
    • Kamran Akmal has fair potential, even if he’s not my top choice for opener because of a lacking consistency. Key for him is simply: “don’t get out”. Allow Nazir to handle hiking up a solid run rate and understand that if his partner does get out, skilled batsman such as Malik and Afridi are behind him. Plus it’s well known that Pakistan can generate 100+ runs with middle/tail end batsman if need be. So Akmal should refrain from taking leadership, hold his wicket and play big shots if given safe opportunities to do so.
  • Discipline:
    • Umar Gul must be more careful. With a 9.16 economy in the India match, and zero wickets, he needs to step it up. Gul has to take charge as Pakistan’s most experienced opening bowler with this squad.  There’s no such thing as negligible extras when playing against the Aussies, it’s just too costly.
  • Wicket Taking:
    • When Australia loses a wicket, they face opposition with equal or even greater confidence than before. Their batting doesn’t falter, it goes up a notch. So what Pakistan needs to do is ensure a constant aggressiveness in bowling. Keeping an Aussie run rate down in the first five overs is critical. If you give the Aussies a chance to consistently gain confidence from the onset, they’ll run with it and it’ll be hard to chase/contain from there.
  • Fielding:
    • Shahid Afirdi & Shoaib Malik are the top fieldsmen. But it’s going to take a concerted effort on the entire Pakistan side to avoid weak fielding that  can wind up expensive in the end. The Australian concept seems to be that when a fielder drops a catch off their hit, they punish bowlers by hitting one out of the park, as if to consider the misfielding an opportunity for a bonus hit, or a free wicket of sorts. It’s an aggressive strategy underscoring the importance of fielding against this team.

The game plan for Pakistan ultimately is: Cautious Intensity. No extras, keep the Aussie run rate down, maintain wickets and the runs will come. Besides, Pakistan’s already secured their seat in the Semi Finals. A safe victory is really all we ask for. Well, in the case of the Indian squad, given that their survival is reliant on both a Pakistan win and an astronomical run rate against the West Indies in their next match, they might be hoping Pakistan get a little more than just a “safe” victory   😉

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