Monday, February 20, 2012

Pakistan’s historic Whitewash against England in Test Series and indifferent performance in Odis By Shahzad Firdous

A Whitewash against England wasn’t expected by many people and came as a pleasant surprise to us. The series against England was supposed to be a hard-fought series but given the frailties of English batting against spin in spin friendly conditions of subcontinent and given the way English teams have previously struggled on subcontinent tours this could be expected after all. Saeed Ajmal, Rehman and Hafeez exploited the weaknesses of English batsmen against spin to the maximum. The most heartening thing to see was Pakistan successfully defending a low target of 145 in the 2nd test and then match-winning centuries from Younis Khan and Azhar Ali in the 3rd test.

The joy of a whitewash had only just subsided and now Pakistan are 3 nil down in 4 match odi series against England. The way England have come back after being all at sea against Pakistan spin attack in test series has come as a shock to me and to everyone concerned. Alistair Cook has looked a completely different batsman from the test series and Steven Finn has had a good run against Pakistani batsmen. Kevin Pieterson is now back in-form too.

It’s way too early to say that perhaps we need different teams for tests and odis but surely some thinking needs to be done as to how a side that dominated English team completely in test matches has put up a poor show against the same opposition in odis. Abdul Razzaq’s case is a very sorry case. A player preferring a second grade league to national duty is a shocker. A senior player like him should have known his priorities well. Pakistan is missing his services and has a long tail because of his absence from the team. Pakistan didn’t pick Azhar Ali in the first odi although he had got runs in test matches. His case is similar to Hashim Amla’s and Alistair Cook’s, who were earlier thought to be suited to test cricket only. Later they were picked and have proven themselves across both formats. Azhar Ali can be developed into a fine player in both tests and odis. Younus Khan missed out in the 3rd odi. Imran Farhat has so far not repaid faith that selectors have shown in him. He has only himself to blame after getting out in a bizarre manner not knowing where the ball had gone and getting run out after getting a start. Shoaib Malik only got into the squad after a selector pushed for his inclusion. Although Malik is out of nick but he is a fine limited overs player and he should find a place in the team. 

The biggest change I would like to see is enterprising and highly talented Umar Akmal getting a promotion and batting at most important No. 3 position to give the team momentum early on. Shahid Afridi is back in his preferred formats i.e. limited overs cricket. He played an uncharacteristic innings in the 3rd odi but highly effective it was. Pakistan made Umar Akmal keep in the first two odis to allow extra batsman or bowler in the team. Umar Akmal looked good enough behind the stumps.

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