Thursday, 31 March 2011

ICC CWC 2011:- A proud journey

If we look back at Pakistan's last 15 months we will see a dark time starting with the Australian tour and the Sydney debacle. That was followed by the bans on several key players, not to mention Afridi's ball-biting incident. This was follwed by the spot-fixing trio and Wicket-Keeper Zulqarnain Haider's run away from the Dubai ODI series against South Africa. This added by no home International cricket.Just a controversy free tour can be regarded as a success.

Pakistan's World Cup came to a end as arch-rivals India beat Pakistan in Mohali in the Semi-Final stage, by 29 runs. This was a game with a build-up like no other have I witnessed in 22 years of watching Cricket. The tension and drama was unbearable at times. In the end it came down to the pressure of chasing in a game in the magnitude of this that made the difference.

If we closely look at the campaign, there were loads of positives to come out of it; with the highlights being:-
Afridi taking 21 wickets
Umar Gul finishing with 14 scalps
Misbah top scoring with 3 half centuries
Umar Akmal taking two man of the match awards for his brisk batting.
The downside being Kamran Akmal's blunders continue, Younis Khan looking way below his best and Abdul Razzaq having a below par tournament.

In my opinion, Pakistan need to start building a team for the next World Cup, even if it means a few failures now they need to blood new young talent and persist with them in the long-time. As Ive stated on my other articles Pakistan have many bright young players and this is their time.
My ODI team for the future:-

Babar Azam
Azhar Ali
Asad Shafiq
Umar Akmal
Hammad Azam
Shahid Afridi (C)
Wahab Riaz
Umar Gul
Junaid Khan
Raza Hasan.

Yes before people come at me, Raza Hasan and Babar Azam are young and not ready but they need the exposure to the big stage so they need to be brought forward slowly. Saeed Ajmal will be a great tutor to Hasan and Azam should be brought into the line-up in a years time.

Thankyou Shahid and Team Green for restoring Pakistan's reputation in World Cricket.
Pakistan Zindabad

Pakistanis Should Be Proud

In anticipation of the great win I had prepared this: 30th March 2011 is a day to remember:

India Defeated by Pakistan in a World Cup Semi Final in Mohali. What history made. What performance shown. What drama seen. What scenes displayed. What jubilation experienced. Pakistan to take on Sri Lanka in a sub continental final on Saturday in Mumbai. Both teams will be playing in their 3rd World Cup Final having clinched the title once previously and the other time ended up as runners up. Which will it be this time? For now well done the lions in green. You have made us proud. It is a great occasion and one that will live in the memories of all Pakistanis who got to witness it!

Reality was different.

So near, yet so far. A successful and memorable World Cup campaign in many ways more than one comes to a heart breaking end with Pakistan defeated by arch rivals India by a margin of 29 runs in Mohali's second Semi Final. India book their place in Saturday's final against Sri Lanka. Pakistan only have their below par batting and undesirable tactical defensiveness to blame.

Nonetheless, well played India and lets accept this defeat gracefully. We should be proud of what our team has accomplished when not many people gave them a chance. They have exceeded expectations and had some key highlights during the tournament to take pride out of. They made their mark on the globe once more and restored a sense of direction. So as a Pakistani fan/follower let's put this symbolically tough defeat into perspective and consider what could have been and what actually has been achieved in order to reach the climax stages. Let's not get down on ourselves without forgetting the good.

Leading Run Scorers For Pakistan in the tournament:
Misbah Ul Haq-248 including 3 50s average: 50.
Umar Akmal-240 include 2 MOMs average: 48.

Leading Wicket Takers For Pakistan in the tournament:
Shahid Afridi 21 wickets
Umar Gul 14 wickets

Wahab Riaz

There were so many calls for the youngster to be dropped at the expense of the speed star for the heavily hyped clash but the management decided against it and stuck with their emerging left arm fast bowler who had been part of a successful combination and featured in some fantastic wins. I personally stressed in my preview that the management were in the best position to decide on Akhtar. I would not have liked to see Wahab dropped as I rated him highly and he had been impressive in his short career. He had the pace, variety, heart and old ball credentials to knock over the best in the business and had been a superb find. As it turned out he was the star of the show which rose to the wonderful occasion and arguably should have also been awarded the MOM. The surprise package provided a sense of cutting edge to the attack and produced tremendous deliveries against a high profile batting line up in front of a packed house in Mohali and beyond. A performance to remember. A day he shall certainly not forget. He pulled the game back, got Pakistan into a winning position where they could effectively have taken the game away from the opposition and dismissed the dangerman (Yuvi) on his home hunting ground with a superb reverse inswinging yorker which shocked an excitable crowd.

Slow scoring to blame?

In my view Kamran, Hafeez, Asad all gave their wickets away with poor shot selection. The pressure was mounting on Younis and Misbah even before they arrived at the crease. You cannot expect them to do the rescue job time and time again. Playing catch up is not the way they operate. Either they should be able to command the game forward by batting higher up the order and stamp their authority that way or they should be used as seeing the game through and accumulating on a good start. They got caught in between where their effectiveness is nothing. Younis was totally out of sorts by his high standards and Misbah struggled, but he hung in there and battled through. Throughout the tournament there was a lack of innovation and aggression from the captain and management in the team composition and batting strategy which proved costly. Overall, this probably was the ODI swansong for both Misbah and Younis and we have to think towards the future. Throughout, the tournament they did well and were key for the success Pakistan experienced in reaching the final 4. However, they could and should have got 261 against India's bowling and the whole batting performance and mindset must be assessed if any post mortem reviews are to be held on the matter.

Food For Thought

As it stands Pakistan have lost their 5th World Cup Match against India. Yet to beat India on the big stage. They have been knocked out at the semi final stage for the 4th time in 6 occasions during Cricket World Cup history. They have never won a World Cup semi final against a team other than New Zealand. They have been knocked out in the semi final stages during ICC tournaments for the 3rd time consecutively to go along with defeats in the 2010 ICC World TwentyT20 Championship against Australia and 2009 Champions Trophy against New Zealand.


The all Asian Final promises a lot and both Sri Lanka and India thoroughly deserve their places. From a neutral eye it should be an interesting and well matched up contest. From a Pakistani point of view, I guess there is something we can psychologically take out of regardless of the outcome. For example, if Sri Lanka wins we were the only team which defeated them during their campaign to glory. Likewise if India wins at least we can say we were defeated by the champions who were heavily regarded as hot favourites for the title by many pundits.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Pakistan’s world cup ends as India march into final

World Cup 2011 – Match Report: 2nd Semi-Final, Pakistan v India, Punjab Cricket Association Stadium, Mohali, Chandigarh, 30 March 2011 Despite much hype and excitement India were neutral’s favorites to win this high-intensity clash. India proved too strong for Pakistan who had already played beyond expectations in this tournament. But still this match provided every thing which an India-Pakistan clash promises, barring a last over nail-biting finish. Pakistan played with heart but in reality they should have actually won this match had they put some mind into their game. India strangely left out Ashwin in favor of Ashish Nehra while Pakistan went into the game unchanged. Despite much talk about possibility of Shoaib’s inclusion Pakistan backed Wahab to do the job. Dhoni won the toss and decided to bat first without hesitation. Tendulkar and Sehwag started cautiously but soon were on their way having judged the pace of the pitch. Sehwag took Umar Gul to cleaners in his second over and thumped him for 5 fours as Umar lost his line bowling on both sides of the wicket. The uptight atmosphere suddenly changed as the crowd came to life. While Sehwag was going berserk, Tendulkar took time to play himself in. India raced to 50 in just 6.2 overs. Wahab Riaz was the man who halted Indian charge by trapping Sehwag LBW. He trudged off amid complete hush after making a quick-fire 38 off 25 balls with 9 fours. Gambhir joined Tendulkar but they could not keep the momentum going as Saeed Ajmal and Afridi squeezed them with tight bowling. The crowd was buzzing when Tendulkar gave them a heart-in-the-mouth moment when he was given LBW to Ajmal. Quite astonishingly the hawk-eye showed the ball would have gone past the leg stump and crowd as well as Tendulkar came back to life. There was even more drama on the next ball as Ajmal deceived lunging Tendulkar and Kamran whipped the bails off in a flash. On umpire’s review it was too close to give as his foot had lifted just for a split second. Luck was on the side of Tendulkar who was not picking Ajmal at all. Gambhir was playing uninhibited at the other end while Tendulkar continued to live a charmed life. First Misbah dropped him when he tried to pull Afridi and then Ajmal deceived him with a doosra which went for four off the outer edge through the vacant slip. India were comfortably placed at 100 for one in 15.2 overs. The 68-run partnership was broken by Hafeez when he was stumped by Kamran for a 32-ball 27. Afridi’s patience was praiseworthy when Tendulkar was dropped again off his bowling. Younis was the culprit on this occasion as he failed to collect a forceful Tendulkar drive. In his next over, Tendulkar rubbed salt on Afridi’s wounds by caressing him for two lovely fours bringing up his 50 in the process which took 67 balls and included 7 hits to the boundary. The 100th international ton was surely on especially considering the generosity of Pakistan’s fielders. India were running away with the game at the half-way stage with 141 on the board and Tendulkar well set. Pakistan needed something special to come back into it. The moment of magic was provided by Wahab Riaz. First he had Virat Kohli caught at backward point and then shattered Yuvraj Singh’s stumps with a reverse swinging low full toss. Two in two and Pakistan were suddenly ahead for the first time in the match. Amid shell-shocked Indian supporters, Dhoni survived the hat-trick ball. Although Dhoni and Tendulkar were kept in check, absence of a slip continued to cost Pakistan dearly. Quite relentlessly Pakistan continued to drop Tendulkar and hence despite good bowling, the run rate hovered around five and a half. Kamran joined in the act when he gave Tendulkar another let-off by spoiling a tough edge. This was the third time Afridi could have had his man. The drama reached its comical heights when Umar Akmal gave Sachin his 4th life when he pulled Hafeez uppishly to midwicket. Despite atrocious fielding display by Pakistan, the match hung in balance until Tendulkar was finally dismissed 15 short of hundred. Afridi had to do it himself as he took a low catch off the bowling of Ajmal. Tendulkar faced 115 balls and hit 11 fours. It was a lucky innings but it helped India post a decent total in the end. At 187 for 5 after 37 overs, Pakistan had their noses in front with last Indian batting pair on the crease. Wahab came back to nip out a struggling Dhoni as India searched for some quick runs. Raina and Harbhajan took the batting powerplay after 44 overs. Gul came back but again proved disappointingly expensive. Ajmal deceived Harbhajan with a lovely doosra Wahab removed Zaheer to complete his first 5 wicket haul in ODIs. India scored 43 vital runs in the last powerplay thanks to Suresh Raina who remained not out on 36 off 39 balls. Pakistan restricted India to 260 for 9 on a wicket which had slowed down ad helped spinners. It was a par score but Pakistan were more positive than India at the innings break. Apart from Wahab’s 5 for 46, Ajmal and Hafeez were among the wickets. Gul who was Pakistan’s spearhead all tournament, gave away 69 runs in his 8 overs. Pakistan started off confidently as Hafeez and Kamran put on 44 runs in 9 overs without much fuss. There was no swing for the Indian seamers but Pakistan needed to take advantage of the new ball for a longer period as it was coming on to the bat nicely. After Kamran fell to Zaheer, Hafeez and Asad Shafiq carried Pakistan to 7o when a moment of indiscretion from Hafeez jolted Pakistan badly. For no apparent reason, Hafeez tried to play a scoop shot to Munaf Patel with both fine leg and third man on the boundary line. His attempt backfired miserably as the leading edged lobbed to Dhoni. He made 43 off 59 balls with 7 fours. This proved to be the turning point of the match as the in coming batsmen found it difficult to rotate the strike. Asad was bowled by Yuvraj for 30 when he tried to cut a delivery which was too close. Yuvraj was again celebrating wildly when he removed Younis. It was a miserable innings by Younis who consumed 32 deliveries for his 13 runs. At 106 for 4 in the 26th over, the match was heading to a cliff-hanger. Umar Akmal played a few courageous strokes to lift Pakistan as the asking rate mounted steeply. When Umar was cleaned up by Harbhajan through an arm ball, tensions mounted in the Pakistan camp. He played well for his 29 runs 924 balls, 1 four, 2 sixes) but Pakistan needed substantial contributions not cameos. Abdul Razzaq was promoted in order to increase the run rate but Pakistan missed the trick by not taking batting powerplay at the right time. Misbah was going at snail’s pace wasting too many deliveries. The asking rate approached 8 when Abdul Razzaq was bowled by Patel with a lovely leg cutter. Shahid Afridi tried to blast away but fell to Harbhajan after contributing just 19 runs as Pakistan still did not take the batting powerplay. From 184 for 7 in the 42nd over, a miracle was needed to save Pakistan from elimination. Nehra came back to bowl a stunning over which culminated in the dismissal of Wahab Riaz. Pakistan needed 61 from the last 5 overs, the batting power play, but they had only 2 wickets left. The blunder to delay the powerplay cost Pakistan the match as Pakistan fell short by 29 runs with a ball to spare. Misbah flashed in the end with a few fours and a six but still ended up needing 30 runs from the last over. He was the last man out caught by Kohli at log on off Zaheer for a 76-ball 56 (5 fours, 1 six). It was a useless innings in the end. All five Indian bowlers took 2 wickets each. As soon as Kohli took the last catch, wild celebrations erupted in the stadium and across India while shell-shocked Pakistan supporters watched in disbelief. India continued their unbeaten run against Pakistan in the World Cups and made it five in five. Tendulkar who had played in all those matches was named man of the match. There was something more than cricket in this match as Pakistani premier watched the match alongside his Indian counterpart marking the beginning of new era in the relationship between two countries. India has made to the final third time aver all where they will meet Sri Lanka in what looks to be another thrilling encounter at Mumbai. Pakistan will head home disappointed as they missed a golden opportunity but they should hold their heads high for what they gave on the cricket field after suffering from all that trauma off the field. Match Result: India 260 for 9 (Tendulkar 85, Sehwag 36; Wahab 5/46) beat Pakistan 231 all out in 49.5 overs (Misbah 56, Hafeez 43; Nehra 2/30, Harbhajan 2/43) by 29 runs to qualify for the final. Man of the Match: Sachin Tendulkar

Friday, 25 March 2011

NZ Beating South Africa-We are Talking Rugby-Aren't We?

When I was awoke this morn by my radio exclaiming a New Zealand victory over South Africa....
First I thought I was dreaming and then secondly thought because I was listening to Retro 80's that I was indeed had been indulging in substances from those indulgent days........
Then thought have a stiff Scotch roll over and accept that the Springboks have been struggling of late and the All Blacks are the All Blacks after all.........
So the clock ticks over to 5am and as always my cat is body slamming me to wake me to feed it....
The radio again telling me the Kiwis beat the South African's.............!
But NOT in Rugby,but in cricket.......
The penny drops and a few expletive filled sentences later I drag my sorry old carcass to my lap top and get on WWW to confirm this miracle of all miracles........
Indeed it happened and again *^^%$# followed by *&%#$@
Hehe lol I didnt even feel the need to write a preview of the match such was my certainty that the regal South African's would smash the Kiwi's into oblivion...
Though citing the Earth quake tragedy in their fine land,the men from the shaky Isles rose and indeed slayed the giant
Prompting wags in the spothlight like Andy Zaltzman to twit this on the key action in the match-the running out of DeVilliers by Faf Du Plessis

"AB was batting so beautifully I felt compelled to run up to him and ask for his autograph... but he blanked me and ran off in the other direction. Bloody celebrities."

So the farce aside what can we say about this game?
Most will say the South African's choked,but that in truth is very disrespectful to the Kiwi's who just played out of their boots to beat them
Though the result from a South African point of view is best summed up by this learned Indian cricket pundit Srinivasan Narayanan

'2011 - harakiri (no presure when the madness took over). So SA must be a gold mine for a psychologist studying 'why men fail' :('

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Clarification from Maaz before Quarter Finals

As the group stages conclude the quarter finals are expected to take place over the next 4 days. The Match ups include Pakistan vs. West Indies (A1 vs. B4), Australia vs. India (A3 vs. B2), New Zealand vs. South Africa (A4 vs. B1) and finally Sri Lanka vs. England (A2 vs. B3). Before the tournament I predicted on this very blog and other platforms that India, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Pakistan will reach the semis and now this looks like a likely possibility when taking into account the QF match ups, all 4 outcomes are STILL front line possibilities NOW. 3 sub continental teams could reach the final 4.

I recently posted a thread “A Confident Pakistani Cricket Fan” assuming Pakistan will take on the winner of the South Africa/New Zealand QF encounter should they win. However, the ICC schedule has been muddled and muffled up considerably and the order of the games has changed significantly whilst the tournament is in progress which is extremely puzzling and unprofessional so my rather optimistic analysis may no longer be applicable.

This comes about as a result of the hosting nation home rule policy with India playing their tie on Thursday whereas Sri Lanka playing their tie on Saturday. Obviously, with the home rule for hosting nation’s policy and with one Semi scheduled in Colombo and the other in Mohali, only the winner of the hosting nation’s encounters can take on the winner of the team which emerges victorious from one of the matches being played in Mirpur in order for it to work out properly. The order of the semi finals has changed to the winner of the 1st quarter plays the winner of the 2nd quarter whereas the winner of the 3rd quarter plays the winner of the 4th quarter as opposed to the winner of the 1st quarter plays the winner of the 3rd quarter which many people initially thought without the home rule being fully explained on leading media platforms including cricinfo which previously had is displayed incorrectly, but have recently just amended. Therefore, if Pakistan do beat the West Indies they will either take on India or Australia in the Punjab City of Mohali on Wednesday 30th March under lights.

So where does that leave my thread?

Personally, I would say we are expected to thrash the West Indies anyhow, but after that the boys in green will have to play exceptionally well in order to stand any realistic chance. It is within their capabilities nonetheless, but after hearing the way the programme has changed I am confident, but not as confident as a few days before nonetheless. I stick by my initial pre-tournament prediction that Pakistan will be knocked out in the semi final stages with the deep hope that I am proved wrong as a fanatic Pakistani Cricket follower /observer. GO GREENS GO!

Vast apologies in advance for any inconvenience and misunderstanding caused. Hopefully, it’s crystal clear now and hasn’t dented your confidence too much if anything! After all, Afridi said he will be happy on a place in the semis at the beginning of the tournament and we should be proud of the boys as they have been able to get that far at least...or haven’t they? Confirmation expected within 24 hours. All eyes and minds on Dhaka for now.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Sri Lanka:- A Pakistani's Apology

The group stages are over and Pakistan's adventure in Sri Lanka has come to a end. Very unlike Pakistan, but they have been very consistent in their 6 games, winning 5 and losing the one solitary game against New Zealand.

Rewind 15 tears and World Cup 1996, Pakistan was knocked out of the tournament by co-hosts and arch-rivals India at the quarter-final stage. That game will be remembered for Ajay Jadeja's magnificent hitting and Aamer Sohail's stupidity against Venkatesh Prasad. In that particular World cup, Sri Lanka lit it up with attacking batting in the start of the innings. Yes, it happens in everyday Cricket now but in those days it was unheard off. Jayasuriya and Kaluwithara will get Sri Lanka off to a flyer and the consistent likes of Ranatunga, De Silva and Mahanama will nurture the innings. Add Murli and Vaas and this team were no mugs, yet no one gave them a prayer.

This Sri Lanka team faced India in the Semi's and dominated the game. They were awarded the match after crowd trouble at Eden Gardens never let the game to be completed. Was a shock on the cards? Sri Lanka had reached a World Cup final for the first time. Could Sri Lanka do it against all odds?

Lahore was the venue, and the mighty Australia the opposition. The Pakistani crowd made noise in its first and thus far last hosting of a World Cup final. The stadium packed to its rafters was behind their fellow sub-continent brothers. Every dot ball, every wicket, every run and every boundry was cheered like it was Pakistan playing. And I still remember, not only the Ghadaffi Stadium but my house raised in celebration has captain Ranatunga guided the ball in the third man region to win the World Cup.

Fast forward again and In 2011 Sri Lanka have repaid that Lahore day with cheer for cheer, slogan for slogan and scream for scream. I'm really sad that our captain didn't acknowledge the Sri Lankan people for the support. I'm sure he didn't mean to be rude but was taken away by the occasion of ending Australia's 34 match unbeaten run in the World Cup. So on behalf of Shahid Afridi, Waqar Younis and the whole of Pakistan I apologise.

Sri lanka, Lahore 1996 u didn't forget and this we will never forget. Sri Lanka/Pakistan friendship Zindabad!!!

Sunday, 20 March 2011

The Future of Pakistan's Batting

Fast bowling and spinners have never really been any problem for Pakistan to produce. The Green's have always produced great bowlers, and in living cant remember a line-up that didn't include match-winning bowlers. The main concern for Pakistan has been batsmen; Yes they have produced the likes of Hanif Mohammed, Miandad, Abbas, Inzi, Malik, Yousaf, Anwar and Younis; The problem has been able to produce these sorts as a collective batting unit.

Too many times have we seen good youngster's come through, exeptionally talented young men, but never do their talent the justice they should have. Maybe some have had technical issue's, whereas some just have mentally not been ready to go in the pressure cooker of International cricket. Whatever the problem is, Pakistan needs to address this problem, and fast, maybe have coaching schools in place so young 12-13 years olds can address these issues in their game and are ready for the bigtime.

Again just in the last few months, we have seen two such youngster's break into the line-up for the second time, Shahzaib Hasan and Ahmed Shehzad, but for pressure and little technical issues are out of the team again.

Pakistan again have some very good players in Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq and Umar Akmal, whom have cemented their places in either the test or shorter formats. Pakistan have also players such as usman salahuddin, Babar Azam, Rameez Aziz, Shan Masood and Umar Amin in the domestic scene all vying to make that step up and cement a place in the team. All have expentional talent and can make it but need to be brought through properly. I'd suggest have someone like Saeed Anwar or Inzi working with these player's, making them strong mentally and rectifying any minor defiencys in their game before they're confidence is shot to pieces when they dont cut it at the big stage. If we can work with these youngsters and other's like them then;

"The Future is Bright, The Future is Green"
Pictures (from to bottom):- Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam and Azhar Ali

An Irish View On The Next Indian Coach?

The Stare That's So Hot That It Can Turn Sand Into Glass!
In the midst of the trials and tribulations for India at the World Cup stands the more pressing concern of the future of the Team post World Cup.This in regards to their Coach Gary Kirsten,a man who is widely respected and liked amongst the players deciding to give up the post
So in a Nation that lives,sleeps and dreams about cricket this has become a point of much conjecture from the men in the palaces to the men in the street.
The key man being bandied around is the ex New Zealand Captain and current Coach of the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) Stephen Flemming.The very astute Flemming is held in high esteem as seen in this quote:

'Fleming, 37, is respected for having a shrewd cricketing mind and isn't the type to ignite controversies.
Plus, he's known to manage players exceedingly well,'

Which indeed are key prerequisites for such a high profile job.Plus the fact the he has such a great working relationship with the current Indian Captain M.S.Dhoni as seen at CSK.This also is seen as something heavy in his favour
Though as an outsider looking in this seems as flawed logic. For it seems that a man who has been on the wrong side of average in his Captaincy in Dhoni is calling the shots.Thus in sport when an individual starts to get bigger than the Team-well the latter is the loser.
So viewing this as a huge issue amongst a host of others issues in Team India.....
Why would you hire a man like Flemming who would simply pander to Dhoni and the staus quo?
Granted it would be a recipe to have India stay where they are in the game,but hardly a blueprint to propel them forward.For Flemming would be expert at looking after the playing side of the game,but would he be able to deal with the Indian players and their eccentricities?
Which in India is probably a bigger issue than the playing of the game
So who should be the man to achieve this desire of taking India to the next level by being able to be a master of every facet of Indian cricket?
The name of Anil Kumble has been bandied around and his professionalism and attention to detail would be a great bonus in the job.Though would he be able to handle the huge ego's of the players or would they indeed handle him with little or no respect?
Again to labour on the point of players is the rumour that there is a lobby within it that treats training programs and schedules with sheer disdain.Which is hardly a recipe for success and you'd have to question Kumble's success in dealing with it
Though what of another Indian who had a reputation of having such a presence that he could turn sand into glass with a stare.Such was the heat and fire in his eyes.
In Saurav Ganguly?
Though he hasn't the experience in Coaching,but he has the experience in the game.
Plus as seen in his Commentary he has an intimate understanding of the needs of the Indian Team.Citing such things as tactics,attention to fielding and lack of depth in bowling in his insights.
In Ganguly as seen in his Captaincy you would have a man who would stand in the face of anything and impose his will and get it done his way.
If Dhoni wanted to run the show it wouldn't matter what his backing or his support Ganguly would fix him.
As for the players who didn't want to train they'd be gone
If needs be, he'd burn Indian cricket to the ground and reinvent it in a bigger and better way.Then if any administrator or big wig dared to stand in his way
You think they would win-good luck lads take your brass knuckles and id still back Saurav!
Then in the midst and aftermath of this the winner would be Indian Cricket
So though it is unlikely and in truth pie in the sky stuff.For India likes to play safe and look after it's 'investments' like M.S.Dhoni...
Saurav Ganguly would be the one to cure the many ills in Indian cricket with his iron fist

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Kangaroos are Served

How would you like your Kangaroos, Monsieur ? Boiled ? Roasted ?
I would prefer Grilled, mon ami.

Exactly, same thing happened today. Kangaroo Curry. Australia faced complete demolition by the hands of Pakistan. 12 years before, Pakistan was the last team to defeat them in a World Cup match (1999 World Cup, Headingley). Though, both teams met again in the Final, but Pakistan were totally blown away.

But from now onwards 19th March 2011 would be a date forever remembered, the day when Pakistan ended Australia's World Cup winning streak.

The pitch, looked quite tricky. Soon, we came to know it was not an ordinary track. It was Two-faced (I miss you Batman), with odd bounce. Soon Pakistani bowlers, lead by Umar Gul, shattered Australia dismissing them for 176 runs, involving good fielding, excellent keeping by our 'keeper' and Ricky Ponting's facial expressions too.

Honestly speaking, Pakistan faced a difficult task. Chasing is something that Pakistan is a bit reluctant to do. Add to that reluctance, there was swing/ seam factor, a tricky pitch and chasing under lights (I ignored these factors when Pakistan started their chase, ignorance is bliss, period). Hafeez got dismissed first, followed by Kamran. It was the partnership between Younis and Asad, and later on Asad and Umar Akmal that settled the ship. Also, those two fours by Razzaq just provided extra spice to the win !

Brad Haddin. What a man. During a brawl, on the field, the guy PUSHED Younis Khan. The most humble, down-to-earth player of Pakistan currently, and one of the humblest around the world. What Younis wanted, with a smiling face, was to settle the issue, but Haddin, oh well, he had other plans. He pushed Younis, and look what happened, Haddin got dismissed later on, followed by the collapse and then ultimately his team lost the match. Silly, what the hell were you trying to do? Huh ? Better go and bury yourself, it's better that way.

Secondly, what the hell was on Ian Chappell's mind ! He was acting like the Mayor of gaga land ! For the duck's (Kindly, avoid replacing D with F) sake man ! I mean why was he bashing and ranting against Pakistanis, when his own team was doing nothing spectacular ? ! I just wish Ian Botham had jumped at him at that exact moment and broken his teeth.

Well, I am pretty ecstatic. Kangaroos are really delicious, I tried them with noodles !

Pakistan Zindabad !

A Confident Pakistani Cricket Fan!

Pakistan enter the quarter finals having won 8 out of their last 10 one day internationals. Today they broke Australia's 34 run winning streak in World Cups.

Before the tournament I said:

" Pakistan effectively only need to beat Canada, Kenya and Zimbabwe to progress to the quarter finals in the World Cup. They can actually afford to lose to Sri Lanka, New Zealand and Australia without harming their prospects of reaching the knock out stages as long as they beat the minnows. Nonetheless, you'll expect them to beat New Zealand and if they could win their encounter against either Australia or Sri Lanka as well, that will put them in an excellent position to get the momentum, psychological edge and in-form confidence to deliver when it matters. Also, will give them an easier fixture in the quarter final against a lesser in form outfit. There are absolutely no excuses for not reaching the quarter finals. Reaching the semis should be the target and where I think they will be, come 26th March! The tournament structure certainly suits Pakistan as it is all about easing your way into it and peaking at the right time. In short, a very open World Cup where Pakistan stand a good outside chance in all seriousness.

Mark my words. The match vs. Sri Lanka on the 26th of February and the match against Australia on the 19th of March will be absolutely detrimental to Pakistan's general chances in the long chain of events. I expect them to beat Canada, Zimbabwe, Kenya and New Zealand comfortably. These two aforementioned encounters are crucial and if can win at least 1 or even 2 of them that will be simply awesome.

6 Group fixtures are to be played between the 23rd of Feb and 19th March. How many games will they win? I personally reckon 4 but they really should target winning 5. Here below is the rating of the various, but inevitable possibilities:

The glory of 1992 was an unforgettable achievement under Imran Khan's captaincy on the 25th of March that year. One wonders and dreams if Pakistan can repeat such a feat on the 2nd of April 2011? An outside chance is a possibility and a team not be underestimated is what I feel are the chances of the men in green. Above all, anything but a repeat of 2003 and 2007 is something which needs to be prevented as a matter of expectation.

It’s an open World Cup in all seriousness and fairness. It would be unwise to rule out the capabilities of the majestic cornered tigers. Going the distance and triumphing is not beyond them. Nonetheless, I feel India and South Africa look like favourites to win this 10th WC tournament. Pakistan should target a spot in the semis at least; I will be satisfied if they are able to reach that far. That would be a good showing and a successful campaign."

1/6= Not happening (elimination)
2/6=Not happening (elimination)
3/6=Not happening (poor but progression nonetheless)
4/6= Decent/Expected
6/6= Outstanding

Quarter Final=Minimum expectation
Semi Final= Good achievement
Finalists= Excellent
Winners=What DREAMS are made of!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Winner: India
Semis: Pakistan, Sri Lanka & South Africa

Group A
1) Australia
2) Pakistan
3) Sri Lanka
4) New Zealand

Group B
2)South Africa

Pakistan have successfully topped the group and NOW can be considered serious contenders for the title. In my view, this is an excellent opportunity NOW for Pakistan to go on and win the World Cup more than ever before. Whilst they may have their own questionable internal downfalls which looked to be significantly standing in their ways of achieving their full potential and bringing them down in the bigger matches as the tournament progressed, this may not come into play as much as one may initially think. Reasons to be explained assuming India beat West Indies tomorrow as expected and the group standings remain the same:

1) Playing a weakened West Indies outfit in the QF. Not in form and not with the best of preparation behind their backs. Arguably the weakest side in the QF. Pakistan are undoubtedly the superior force and firm favourites for this encounter regardless.

2) If there is one team that can make South Africa choke it is Pakistan. Same applies against New Zealand as well. Either one of these will be facing us in the semis should we win our QF against the West Indies and therefore we should certainly fancy our chances on history alone which is in our favour whereas playing in the back of their minds!

Whilst I may disagree with some of the selection, strategy, combinations and captaincy ill mannered approach and mindset, I am nevertheless fully confident of Pakistan reaching the Wankhede Stadium for the grand final and so should you! The route to glory is significantly easier than it could have been and deservedly so as they topped the group. The captain, management and strength of the team composition isn't great and probably will not be fully challenged as explained. However, who could simply consider complaining if it was to be at the expense of lifting a prestigious sporting trophy and when assessing the situation of the country away from the playing field it simply could not have come at a better needed time.

Before the tournament I predicted India, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Pakistan will reach the semis and now considering the quarter final match ups this could turn out to be a perfect prediction although I would love to see England get through to the final 4 as well and feel they might get there.

Friday, 18 March 2011

A Life In Pictures:- Shoaib Akhtar

Shoaib was always a stud
Well known party animal

Equally well known for the aeroplane celebration

And up-rooting batsmens stumps

Shoaib 'The Superman'

With SRK and the IPL

Put his body on the line for Pakistan

Hurt his favorite Batsmen, in Lara

I didn't say Superman for no reason :P

Having a joke with Sachin

With Afridi, Gul and Tanvir

After yorkering Sachin with his 1st bowl to him

Yes he was that quick

A young Shoaib celebrating.

Shafiq is The Future

Shafiq made a well compiled unbeaten 78* in Pallekele.

World Cups are stages where heroes are made and true gems are discovered. Over the years some of the world’s finest players have announced themselves to the World at a World Cup event which famously includes Inzamam Ul Haq in 1992 when the youngster took the world by storm by playing phenomenal match winning knock under pressure in the semi final at Eden Park New Zealand where victory looked improbable, but the class and exuberance of Multan’s Sultan had other ideas in mind as he blasted the Kiwi attack to all parts of the ground and single handily stamped his authority to give Pakistan an unlikely victory when they were chasing down a tough total.

Recently, Asad Shafiq got his chance after Umar Akmal pulled up an injury which side lined his participation in Pakistan’s penultimate Group Fixture against Zimbabwe and in his very first of World Cup appearances notched up a delightful knock to guide his side over the line. He caught the eye of many experts including former England left hander Mark Butcher who was impressed by the youngster as he highlighted in his post match analysis in the Sky Sports Studio.

Shafiq showed a great deal of maturity, application and determination as he walked out to bat at number 3 following the early exit of Ahmed Shehzad. Initially he looked a touch scratchy, but once he battled through the nervous patches up front, he began to find his comfort zone and was in full flow.

Asad is a short lad with a very well composed level headed stance. He generally favours the on side. Against spin he uses the crease very well to rock back and create room and this is a key scoring option he turns to. Occasionally every now and then he comes out of his blocks and can execute lofted shots. He has the ability to knock the ball around and play the ball late like a cheeky operator and tends to go about his business at a good rate.

Against pace he is very strong off his legs with anything slanting into him which he frequently tucks away neatly into the gaps. He usually gets behind the ball nicely in defence and when the width is on offer he ensures he doesn’t miss out by crunching the ball through the off side. He gets on top of the ball well and looks in control, but occasionally is found wanting playing the wrong line outside the off stump. His attitude is admirable and he has the gift of solid temperament and mental strength to carry him through and show some fighting resistance when the going gets tough or handle different match situations efficiently.

Asad models himself on Mohammad Yousuf who is one of his role models as a middle order batsmen. There are similarities already visible between the two. Specifically referring to the elegance, strike rotation and commanding presence they have at the crease as they look to dig in hard and accumulate.

In the field he is alert, agile and has top notch hand eye coordination. We have seen him make some wonderful stops and take some cool headed catches. Additionally, he provides a keeping option and is regarded as a handy glovemen who can stand in if needed.

With 2 ODI half centuries and 2 Test Half centuries already under his belt within just 18 international appearances in all formats the future is looking promising for the emerging player who has settled into international cricket very well. He can form the future of Pakistan's batting line up along with the likes of Azhar Ali, Umar Akmal and some domestic prospects like Usman Sallu, Babar Azam, Rameez Aziz and Shan Masood who have pushed through the ranks in this concluding 2010/11 season.

Preview-Australia versus Pakistan by Tim Holt

This is a huge clash that will more likely than not decide the Team that finishes on top.So there is all to play for for both of the Teams
So lets start by looking at the Australian's


World Cup Form:
The Australian's have been undefeated so far in this Tournament.Which on paper indeed looks very impressive.Though when you take a close look at their games you start to query how good they are.For they have accounted for the Associate Teams in Zimbabwe,Kenya and Canada and beaten a New Zealand Team that was reeling in the wake of an Earthquake tragedy back home.In the game against a quality Team against Sri Lanka. They were under the cosh with their bowling hardly posing a threat.A true indicator of the real Australia would have been seen in that game,but Mother Nature won out half way through Sri Lanka's innings when they batted first

The Likely Team
The Australian's are unlikely to make changes so the Team will be as follows:

Watson, Haddin, Ponting,Clarke, White, Hussey, Smith, Johnson, Lee, Krejza, Tait

4 Keys For Them To Win

1,The Openers Need To fire
Whether they are batting first or chasing the openers need to get Australia a good start.For the obvious reason of the impetus it will provide the rest of the innings.Though more importantly it will blunt Pakistan if they decide to try to beat Australia with spin.Which they obviously will for it's a known thought amongst cricket observers.That this Aussie Team are bunnies against spin.
If the openers can get a good start then the game changes.For the spinners will have to bowl against set batsmen with defensive fields.Thus their effectiveness will be neutralised.From the point of view they'll have to bowl in a defensive manner rather than an attacking manner

2,Australia's Middle Order versus Pakistan's Spinners
The Australian duo of Michael Clarke and Mike Hussey are without a doubt Australia's best players of spin.If in fact the openers fail and Ponting continues with his struggles.The Pakistani's will throw the noose around the Aussie batsmen's necks and let the spinners pull tight to strangle the life out of them.Though in the midst of this. These two Aussie batsmen are good enough players against spin to turn the tables.They'd do this by attacking with discretion till they got on top and then dominating.
As we saw with Hussey against Graeme Swann in the Ashes and Michael Clarke against spinners in the past
These two could be key in Australia winning the match

3,Can The Aussie Pace Trio Continue The Form?
In this World Cup so far the trio of Brett Lee,Mitchell Johnson and Shaun Tait have been very fine performers.Though the fact that all the three have had various struggles in the recent past makes you question if they can keep up their form.In a game like this on a pitch that will more likely be dead and in no way favour them it will be a huge challenge.So if they struggle,the fact they are all attacking bowlers mean that they could go for plenty.It would also throw the Australian bowling into disarray.For you'd have to look at someone like Steve Smith having to cover some of their overs and the Pakistani batsmen would rip his very average offerings to shreds

4,Ricky Ponting Is Due!
The Australia Captain is one of the best batsmen in the games history.Though in the last year from a Team point of view and an individual point of view he's had a very forgettable time.Even here at the World Cup he's struggled with form and had a few incidents on and off the Ground that have rankled him.
Though few even now he's in the twilight of his career doubt his quality and also his pride in performance.
So him playing a match winning innings in this huge game is on the cards
If he does it would be a huge key in Australia winning the match

I for the life of me can't see Steven Smith's role in the Team.So be a great ploy to remove him and include Dave Hussey.For Hussey is a better batsman,bowler and better option for Australia


World Cup Form
The Pakistanis in the Cup so far have been very impressive in regards to showing that they have a Team that has every base covered.As shown against the Sri Lankan's when they get it all right they are very hard to beat and a match for any one
Come the New Zealand game and the Kamran Akmal circus began with him basically costing his Team the game with his blunders.Then in the aftermath his brother got involved in the farce by claiming he was injured to save Kamran getting the bullet (like in Sydney in 2010)
They regained their composure to beat a very average Zimbabwe side with Kamran in it due to Umar being 'injured'
Though sadly one has to worry about the damage that has been done to a side that had been so impressive so far
Needless to say if Pakistan has sense Kamran would be gone and if Umar starts any nonsense he'd be told your out too.
For no one is ever bigger than the Team.
This aside,a Pakistan Team in a chaotic state is at it's most dangerous.

The likely Team
Hafeez, Asad Shafiq, Younis, Misbah, Umar Akmal (wk), Razzaq, Afridi, Ajmal, Gul, Wahab, Ahktar

4 Keys For Them To Win

1,Umar Gul And Reverse Swing
This very underatted quick bowler has been so impressive at this World Cup.Again showing that he is one of the Modern day masters with his use of reverse swing.If again he can master it against the Aussies.He will more than likely have great success for the Aussies as seen against the Indian's and English are real bunnies against any type of swing
Gul could be a huge factor in this game

2,Asad Shafique Should Open
The openers for Pakistan have struggled mightily so far in this World Cup and duly Ahmed Shahzad should be dropped.As seen in the last game and in his debut series against South Africa. Asad Shafique is a very fine young player.He in truth would be a perfect opening batsman and if he succeeds he could strengthen the Pakistan side automatically.Not only through his success, but also by allowing Younis Khan to bat at his rightful position at 3

3,Pakistan Needs To Target One Of Lee,Johnson Or Tait
This is a tactic Pakistan needs to take on board.For granted their all quick bowlers but aren't as dangerous as others for they haven't the skill and can be very loose.They are all very one dimensional too for their solely attacking bowlers.So if Pakistan can take one or more to the cleaners and duly knock them out of the attack.They will force the Aussies to look at their part time options which are very average indeed.
If they can do this they will win the game

4,The Fielding And Tactics With The Fields
There is very little doubt that Pakistan will target Australia with spin.Which is completely justified.Though when the spinners come on either in attempt to counter the Australian batsmen being on top or to strangle the life out of them with the Aussies under pressure.Firstly the spinners have to be backed by the fields set by Afridi.There's no sense at all leaving gaps so the batsmen can tap easy singles into the out field.Thus automatically taking the pressure off.Instead they need to challenge the Aussies with more in the infield to challenge the batsmen.Thus making it easier for the bowlers to strangle the batsmen's scoring rates and thus lead to frustration and likely demise.
This being said the men in the infield have to be 100% switched on!
The tactics and the fielding in support of the tactics could be the key factor in the match

The announcement of Shoaib Ahktar's impending retirement after the World Cup will more than likely be a huge inspiration for both him and the Team.As such Shoaib must play in this game

On the basis of the Pitch more than likely favouring spin and Australia's weakness against it with the bat and zero options with it with the ball.
Pakistan should win this match

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Shoaib:- Retirement Transcript

Pakistan pace bowler Shoaib Akhtar has said he will retire from international cricket after the World Cup. Akhtar made up his mind after Pakistan's 110-run defeat against New Zealand. Excerpts from his press conference: Since I am not very good with speeches, I have written this down. So let’s see how it goes.

Dear friends, I thank you for being here. Today, I step ahead from the most significant part of my life and walk forward. I have decided to say goodbye. This World Cup is my last and the remaining matches here will be the last few in my international career. Mentally, I wanted to continue perhaps forever, but I must make way for the youngsters to take over. In my entire career of 18 years, I have had many defeats but countless victories. I have made a lot of friends and won’t hesitate to say that some misunderstood me.

I can’t say I have any regrets. It’s been an excellent run. I really thought I could last a little longer. Though I touched 159.9 km/hr while bowling a few days ago right here in Colombo but now I want to wait for it to be taken over. With this announcement, it feels like it’s my first death (sniffs a tad). My retirement, my ability to play for Pakistan was a dream come true for me. This dream was made beautiful and exciting because of the love and affection from my fans. I want to thank all my fans back home and around the world from the bottom of the heart.

I want to thank my board, my dear Pakistan Cricket Board for their support. I want to thank all the players who worked with me and those who played against me. And also those who were loyal and even disloyal. I want to thank the sponsors who always believed in me. And lastly to my family, my Abbu (father), my Ammi (mother), my brothers and my dear sister for all their prayers and blessings. I thank you very much.

You had said that you had a little more cricket left in you and you could play for a few more years. Then why this sudden announcement?
Look, I had decided upon this moment about two years back. When I was going through my knee surgery for the fourth time, I had made that decision that I was going to play this World Cup and play the part that as much as possible for Pakistan. I made that decision then and there. And secondly, the news about the three Pakistani players being involved in such matter (spot-fixing) and that’s where I felt a lot like I should be able to help the Pakistan team. I should concentrate on my fitness and get back into the side and help Pakistan. So that decision was made around a couple of years ago.

But I must make way for the youngsters to take over.

Satisfied with how your career has shaped up despite all the controversies and the number of Test matches that you missed?
As it is, playing for my country was just a dream. But I never thought it would come true and that I could only hope that I could play with the people I admired. As it is, it was such a great thing to make my debut for the Pakistan team. It was a pleasure, an honour and if I am ever born again, I would do the same thing.

About my injuries, the hypermobility in my joints have cost me a lot of Test matches. But whenever I had a chance, even with the niggles and during the most horrifying of pains, I never said no to Pakistan. And I always made myself available. I always wanted to be there for my country as much as possible. So there are no regrets except few. But you see I have countless victories and memorable moments like getting Sachin out first ball and bowling Dravid out. Playing with Waqar and Wasim. And serving just the greatest nation on the planet. Playing for Pakistan and serving my country, what else could I have asked for. Yes it was a dream.

Future plans:
So for what I have planned is, I am going to spend time with my family. I haven’t been with my family for the last 14 years, in fact 18 years. I have dearly missed my family a lot. And my parents are getting old and I want to serve them well. The only truth about my career is that I represented my country with everything I had and was very honest while I was doing so.

The best moment in your career and the fastest ball that you bowled during the 2003 World Cup to Nick Knight:
When my name got announced for Pakistan, I could not believe that someone like me could ever play for this great team. And the team had some of my idols, Wasim, Waqar, and Imran was there lending support whenever he could and Inzamam and all the other senior players, who I would see on television and dream to play with them. The best moment was when I got my first kit for my first Test, which had a big star on my chest (the Pakistani cricket symbol). And I wore that kit and slept in it, and I couldn’t believe that I was going to wake up in it. I did not take it off for three days. I was so passionate about my country and so patriotic. And I was so pleased that I am going to make it to the Pakistan team. And that was the best moment—the first kit I was given.

I have bowled a few 100-mile deliveries before that, but unfortunately it didn’t get accepted. I found myself in that race (to bowl the fastest ball and cross the 100-mile barrier) I don’t know why (sniggers) but I wanted to do that in an ICC event and once and for all, put an end to it. And I am glad that Pakistan, Rawalpindi (where he hails from) and the subcontinent now can boast of having had the fastest bowler in the planet.

Some of my best moments in international cricket came in India and also while playing back home. The first over I bowled in front of my home crowd. And also the Test that we played in Kolkata, where I got Sachin and Rahul out and playing a huge part in my team’s win. But it was also sad that my idol (Waqar) had to sit out because of me. I have never admired anyone like I have him (Waqar). Always have and always will.

Do you think you can have done something different regarding the controversies that played such a huge role in your career?
I don’t know, perhaps that’s how it was supposed to happen in my life. Because as I said, I had a wonderful run in international cricket. And I loved being out there, I loved bowling fast and I loved winning matches for my country. There are few moments but that’s just a part of life. It’s all a process you have to go through. And you grow out of it and you turn 35 and you become mature. I came from a humble background and cricket has been an institution for me. Whatever I have learnt I have learnt from cricket. There have been no moments that I regret. And the days I played for my country will always remain close to my heart.

On the players he enjoyed bowling against:
I wouldn’t say that I enjoyed bowling against them as they are my very top of the favourite. Inzamam is there. I love bowling with Wasim and Waqar obviously. Love bowling against was Gilchrist. I love to hate him but he was very tough. Ricky Ponting was another greatest that you can ever imagine. He has not only played but won matches and has so much ability. I wish he plays for Australia for some more time. Then my favourite Brian Lara. He was so elegant that I lost myself in his elegance. I only bowled three balls to him and that were the favourite three balls. I felt very sad when I hit him and he had to leave. These are the players that I really enjoyed bowling against. I wish that I could ever bowl but my good luck is that I could never bowl to that guy Viv Richards.

Team not wanting you:
Nothing like that. It’s my personal decision. Obviously I have consulted with Intikhab Alam before the New Zealand tour. I sat down with Afridi and Aquib. We all sat down together and decided on this point. At the same time it was my wish that I wanted to retire in this tournament and wanted to do well. There is no rift. I told them today that I am going to double my efforts from today in the field and any possible manner that I can offer help to Pakistan cricket. With every ounce of the blood in my body I will serve my country. I play or not is up to the management so they are the best people to answer that. I am working hard, even today I am focusing on the match against Australia and if I get a chance I will serve my country to the best of my abilities. If I don’t play I will ensure that my efforts and guidance. I will make sure that every guy gets my help. If nothing is left I will carry water to the field.

Replacing Wasim anad Waqar and questions over fitness and timing:
Obviously as I told you that I made this decision about an year ago. You always knew me as not the fittest man or the bowler. I always played with pain. I have always been half-unfit. I have never been a guy what you call who can play five ODIs on a trot. Fitnee issues have been there and are still there. But as if now I am feeling good, have been bowling 10 overs. In the last one year I have played almost all one dayers and have bowled ten overs in all kind of situations. You see my efforts have been there in the World Cup and I will double my efforts from now on. Whatever I can do for my Pakistan I will do it with the best of my abilities.

How do you want to be remembered?
Definitely want to be remembered as a guy who was very patriotic about his country and always been very honest. A guy who was always been there through the thick and the thin. Pain or no pain, I never worried about getting myself injured. On numerous times, I had so many injuries but I still carried on playing for Pakistan. I never said no and will never say no to Pakistan. Pakistan is my greatest passion. Whenever it was required of me to get out and play I was there. I always picked up the right path. I promised to myself, to my parents and to my country that I will never pick the right path and I always stayed away from controversies like match fixing.

I am available for every match, I am working hard and bowling fast as quick as you know. My pace is still there, I am not slowing down. My services are there for the country whenever they need me. As of now I will like to be with my family. They haven’t seen much of me in the last 18 years. My mom really misses me, she wants me back home so I will be back home in Islamabad.

Perception of Pakistan cricket:
It’s getting better. The way we are playing and have gathered ourselves after the episode in England, we have worked really hard. As a senior player and Pakistani it was my responsibility to lift the game back and come here with only focus being on wining the WC. Obviously if we win the tournament we will get the cricket back in Pakistan. We will get the craze back in Pakistan. We are playing for the people of Pakistan. This time we are not going to go down without a fight. We have to make sure that we make it happen for millions of the people around the world and especially for my people in Pakistan. This is a chance we have to turn it all around.

Some day this had to happen might as well now.

Dressing room scenes in the morning:
Obviously sentiments were there. Sadness was there. The team knew that it was going to happen but they were not ready to believe it. They love me and I love them. They were sad but they were also happy for me. The next few matches that I play I am going to whetever is left in me I am going to put it in against Australia or any other matches I play. They are happy for my future life. Might be feeling a bit awkward to them that in Pakistan cricket someone is leaving on this note and I would say that they were a bit shocked. They have accepted this decision of mine. This is my decision and I hope I am setting a good trend.

That doesn’t mean I am criticizing anyone. But Pakistan team…unfortunately there have been some incidents. But if you look at it.. the greatest part of Pakistan cricket is that, if you remember.. we’ve played 1986 semifinal, 92 final, we’ve played quarterfinal in 96, then we played final in 99. We’d a bad run in 2003 and 07, but we have won the T20 World Championship, and now we are in quarterfinal here once again. So, Pakistan cricket has achieved so much and why can’t you remember that. It’s very important to cherish the memory of Pakistan cricket and the magnificent part that Pakistan has played for world cricket. The talent they have produced to inspire so many youngsters around the planet to start this beautiful game, because of Wasim (Akram), Waqar (Younis), Inzamam and because of Imran (Khan), and Imran was the driving force behind Pakistan cricket. I am literally thankful to Imran, and if I didn’t watch him when I was growing up, the long hair, the beautiful structure, the man was well-educated and the greatest cricket I have ever seen, I wouldn’t have been a cricketer. I would have ended up copying Waqar and I would have ended up something different which is Shoaib.

As I said earlier, I want to spent time with family and I don’t want to anything else. My message to the youngsters is not to give up, not to give it at any cost, don’t go in depression, if you go in depression make sure that have a quick nap and get up and start training. That’s the best way release your tension, the best way to release your negative energy and thoughts. Please stick to the cause, bang your head on to the wall until you go through that wall. In right manners, be hyper, don’t be incomplete man…get up, train, work hard and love your country and love what you do. As far as is retirement is considered, this is my retirement and I am not coming back.

How can I predict, I am not …(laughs).

It’s an emotional decision for me and it was a tough decision for me. To play for Pakistan was not just my dream, it was my passion, and I am attached to my country. All of you know that how painful at times it was for me to play because of various injuries but I never say no when it comes to playing for Pakistan. It’s an emotional decision, there will be a lot memories. As a human being, though not perfect, I have always tried to put my country ahead of anything else and try not to be a part of any controversy, especially not to get involved in that controversy…playing for Pakistan was a dream, will you make me cry now? I have consulted my dad, mom, and they are getting old and told me to come back to home but do better and come. I might have played on for another one or two years, but I want to give chance to youngsters and if any youngster, in Pakistan or in India, if they want my guidance and I will transfer my knowledge for them, so that they can channelize their aggression well and become fast bowlers and world can admire them.

The world is suddenly slow with his decision by SportPulse

Shoaib Akhtar is retiring from cricket after the World Cup. And certainly the most mercurial, compelling and controversial career of World cricket is coming to an end. Its not something surprising for me neither it’s something of news to leave me stunned. I expected this from Shoaib. He looks past his best and simply gives the impression of a soldier who simply is trying to give us the impression that what force he was once.

But the colorful Rawalpindi boy will be missed. Shoaib caught my attention in 1998 in the second Test against South Africa at Durban where his pace completely destroyed the Proteas batting line up and helped to take a lead that paved the way for a memorable win. Then he again was lost and he again came back with a bang at Kolkata where his express pace left the Indian God clueless and broke “The Wall” in to pieces.

The Kolkata exhibition of furious pace from the 23 year old Rawalpindi boy launched the story of Shoaib Akhtar. Since then the world was thrilling, the world was like an express train, the world used to thunder towards its target like a leopard. The world loved remixed music, DJ parties and it loved the run of Shoaib Akhtar.

The world loved the aeroplane landing on the runway with a style as Shoaib Akhtar aeroplane antics after getting a scalp. Time used to stand still and hold it’s breathe when Shoaib used to start his run up towards the wicket and let the expiratory air release when Shoaib delivered his cannon balls down the track. But the romance and adventure never finished. The thrill never dried up as the flat footed, dark eyed, silky haired dashing Pakistani was to script thrillers after thrillers with each of his deliveries.

The world will never forget his devastation against England on a flat Lahore track in 2005 in the third Test where he rattled the cream of English batting with a fiery spell that contained slower ball mostly, the world will miss the thunderous attack on the Aussies at Brisbane and Colombo in 2002, The Eden gardens will always curse him from shutting her down when he knocked out the Indian Gods middle stump.

In an era when the world lacked fast men to put shiver down the spine, Shoaib Akhtar has been the Ferrari on the rough roads. There were flat wickets every where only to aid the batters, the rules had gone against the faster men and the bowlers were to shun pace and were taking care of line length more. But Shoaib refused to go defensive. He continued to essay pulsating and impulsive bowling and continued to rattle the stumps with his deadly venomous pace.

Shoiab could have been an all-time best fast bowler had he been more disciplined, had he been more cautious in handling his temper. His recklessness and his fragile fitness often let him and his fans down. And the biggest loss was cricket’s as it missed more thrillers of the man named: Shoaib Akhtar.

Cricket will lose its colour when Shoaib will halt after the World Cup. He was the foaming, freakish crank who sleeps and shouts at the end of your road through the night, and you and the other neighbours complain about him, but when he's gone, for some reason you wish he wasn't.

Even those who hated him will definitely miss him. His name will come in any cricketing topic when the subject about fast bowlers is being discussed. The world’s thrill seems to have stopped; the wind is not blowing fast in the cricketing arena, the speed gun has suddenly become a lost topic, the aeroplane is not landing artistically on the runway.

The world seems suddenly slow with Shoaib Akhtar's decision of retirement.

The Conclusion of a Great Story by Zeeshan Ahmed

I woke up this morning, and as usual, checked my cell first, I was going through the text messages when I found @MOHAMMAD_umar 's text message...
"F*** ! Shoaib Akhtar Retiring! F***"

For a few moments I failed to understand. My lazy grey cells, as Hercule Poirot calls them, simply denied this revelation. I skipped this text, and checked other ones. Sadly, I was not dreaming. There were around 15 text messages which simply said "Shoaib Akhtar set to retire". I couldn't believe it...

I still remember what happened to me when I read about Michael Jackson's death just after waking up on June 25, 2009. My best friend's text shattered me "Michael Joseph Jackon is no more. Rest in Peace". I can never forget that feeling.

The same feeling pulled the ground beneath me, when I woke up on August 29, 2010 (It was around 3 am, for Sehri) to find about the News of the World's exposé of Spot Fixing within the Pakistan Team. I still remember what happened with me, I failed to comprehend the situation, and had no one to comfort me.

It was somewhat the same today, but there was a single emotion over that almost drowned me. It was sorrow.

I have always been a die hard fan of Shoaib, regardless of the controversies. There was also a time when I was depressed because of his scandals, but I knew the guy still had it. Last year, when Shoaib made a comeback, and played domestic T20 competition, my uncle was also here (on a visit, from India). He is a fan too, of Shoaib. We were talking about him, as he kept bowling for Islamabad Leopards, setting off from his mark and scaring the hell out of batsmen. My uncle said "Look at him! His pace is just so awesome! He can still do it!" I listened to him for a while, and then said "You know uncle, Geoff Lawson, who coached Pakistan in 2007-08 recently said that Shoaib was the most careless cricketer he ever came across". My uncle smiled, and then said "I don't care. He's an artist, he has God-gifted talent. A person with such a talent can act crazy at times, but it is the responsibly of the captain, coach to make sure they get the best out of him" I nodded and agreed.

My love for Shoaib Akhtar increased a million times when he made his comeback, last year, in 2010. His performance in Asia Cup 2010, the whole tour of England (including T20s Vs. Australia), then the series in UAE against South Africa and later on in New Zealand. I loved the way he bowled during the England-Pakistan ODI series, right after Spot Fixing scandal. With all the pressure, and the criticism, he led the bowling attack, and the way he dedicated himself on the field, was just breathtaking.

Currently playing his last World Cup, and his last International tournament/ series, he has done well so far too. The best delivery was when he dismissed Jayawardene, and added him to the hall of shame by taking down the middle stump.

Shoaib Akhtar said that his biggest accomplishment was 'being an honest man'. These words echo, what a man he is. Regardless of being thrashed by issues both on and off the field, he never backed down. He was like that Hero is epics, who never gave up and kept coming back, destroying his enemies.

Who can forget that plane celebration ? Who can forget the rants ? Who can forget the dirty brawls ? Who can forget Shoaib's finger, as he pointed toward the batsmen ? No one.

I am pretty sure that he'll do his best against Australia on March 19th and then later on in the Quarter Finals. I want him to dismiss every batsman, and etch a deep mark on the mind of every cricket lover out there. If this is his swan song, I want him to do his best. People like Shoaib Akhtar are irreplaceable. Though, I can never do him justice by writing about him, because words will always defy me, but just like Shoaib, I will never give up.

Shoaib, go and rock the world ! We will always love you, and respect you.

4 more from the brilliant Zeeshan visit him on:

The Special One Known As Shoaib Ahktar

One That Will Never Be Forgotten!
The only thing certain in any sporting career is it's brief and could end as quickly as it starts.So you learn to let go of all its players from the average to the good to the great.Some passing without a thought,others having some meaning and then the others who you let go with a certain regret.A bit like you'd pass on your favourite childhood Teddy that meant so much too you
On a higher plain is the ones that occupy your heart and you deem as being special.When you have to let go of these players the pain is immense and the legacy is taken to your grave....
Ive lived a long time. so have a few that will be buried with me with probably my most poignant being the Aussie firebrand Jeff Thomson
To put his meaning to me in context..........
I didn't cry at my children's birth or my grand children's birth,but I balled like a little schoolgirl when Alan Turner ran into Thomson in 1976 and wrecked his shoulder......
For he was special and in essence was the heart in my sporting being and couldn't bare him not being around....
35 years on we are faced with the lose of another special one in Shoaib Ahktar and with his announcement of impending retirement after the World Cup.You could almost close your eyes and feel the hearts of the 180 million cricket crazy Pakistani's breaking with this announcement
This was because Shoaib Ahktar was everything that the word special embodied.Whether he was on the field or off the field he was the subject of fanfare.For such was his mystique and his aura that people just couldn't take their eyes off him.
Maybe it was because he was what we attach with sexy in the game.That of being an express fast bowler that when he got it right he could make even the very best look foolish.

And don't think this was a once off...For he did the same to the peerless Aussie batsmen and to the South African's
Which duly gained him the Rawalpindi Express nickname for he was truly irresistible.
It didn't matter that he probably didn't live up to his immense potential or if in fact he was more frustrating to the masses throughout his career.......
Or it didn't matter that he was the source of scandals within the Team and in the public eye....
All that mattered was how he made people feel by his exploits which few could come close.Or the meaning to these masses of people that came with how he made them feel
For he was like a diamond so rare and special and something we just couldn't take our eyes off,
For this we thank you Mr Shoaib Ahktar for everything you gave us!
Shabby you will be missed but never forgotton,
Mere Cheetey meri dua tere saath hai

Who Can Win This World Cup Now? by Tim Holt

If anything this World Cup has been symbolised by the incompleteness of the Teams....
There have been no super Teams like the great West Indies Teams of the 70's and the masterful Aussies of the recent World Cups
So it could be conceivable that a Team comes from the clouds to win the Cup.Like India did in 1983 and Pakistan in 1992
So what are the respective Teams chances?
Ill separate it into 5 categories

5.Chances to Win


The Aussie batting has been strengthened by the inclusion of Mike Hussey.Who not only is an exceptional player,but one of the few Aussies whose accomplished against spin.They also have the quality of Shane Watson at the top and two sleeping giants in Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke.Then also dangerous types like Dave Hussey,Cam White and Brad Haddin

The bowling is in my mind very one dimensional with the three fast bowlers of Johnson,Lee and Tait.All of which are attacking options,but if someone gets on top of them they can go for plenty.In Shane Watson you have the one defensive option in the bowling.Who has done a very admirable job,but the reliance on him in this Team is intense.There are spin options in Krejza,Smith and Dave Hussey,but none are of the threatening incarnate

Spin in all regards...........They struggle to bat against it bar Mike Hussey and Clarke and then they have no one who can bowl it adequately.Which makes their bowling very one dimensional.
Also a very unhealthy reliance on Shane Watson,so if he was to get injured or struggled. Australia would be on it's knees

Mike Hussey's inclusion is a huge boost for he adds quality to the batting and a good player against spin.Also a very good leader on the field in a Team that lacks leaders

5.Chances of Winning
20%-The inclusion of Hussey has improved their chance but I still think this Team will come a cropper against a quality unit.Or against a Team with quality spinners.

Bangladesh (Assuming they qualify)

The Tigers have struggled with their batting with an unhealthy reliance on Tamim Iqbal and Shakib al Hasan.Thankfully for them Imrul Kayes and Junaid Siddiqui stepped up in the last game.They still are very fragile in this regard of the game

The bowling has improved by the match with the very impressive medium pacer Shafiul Islam becoming a key factor.Then the spinners starting to perform in a manner that is making it very hard for teams to score against this Bangladesh Team

The batting is very fragile and relies on too few to get winning scores.So against better bowling Teams they will struggle to post winning scores
Also the Tigers have struggled with the weight of expectation as seen in their insipid implosion against the Windies

There are two for the Tigers........
The first being the pitches getting low and slow and favouring their glut of spinners and the second being fate.In regards to missing an Asian Team (in particular India) if they make the quarters

5.Chances of Winning
2%-Their batting is too weak to survive against the better Teams

England (Assuming they qualify)

The batting has been reliant on Strauss,Trott and Bell to carry it.Which on occasion has been good enough for them.Though like the rest of the English Team these three have struggled with consistency.The loss of Kevin Pietersen to injury and the loss of form of Paul Collingwood has nobbled the batting .This off set in some small way by the inclusion of Eoin Morgan

It has like the batting been so inconsistent and bar the South African miracle win has been toothless.Though one of the chief architects in that miracle Stuart Broad has now succumbed to injury and thus the bowling has been weakened again

Chief one consistency......
For there is obvious quality in their Team though they are all over the place in performances.
Also seems luck is against them with so many injuries to key personnel at inopportune moments

Chris Tremlett replicating his Ashes heoroics

5.Chances of Winning
1%-More chance of flying to the moon


The batting is about as complete as you can possibly get.
It has the supreme class of Tendulkar
Then other class acts in Sehwag,Gambhir and Kohli.
Completed by the lower order maulers in Yusuf Pathan,Yuvraj Singh and Dhoni

The bowling has one of the best bowlers in the World in Zaheer Khan and then a very able off sider in Harbhahjan Singh.
Though if they are very good the rest are average to be polite and rubbish to be honest in Piyush Chawla,Ashish Nehra and Munaf Patel

The Bowling.........
The back up bowlers to Zaheer and Harbhahjan are money for old rope and then the part timers in Yuvraj and Yusuf.Though they have been effective against the Associate Teams can't be expected to be decisive factors against the better Teams
M.S.Dhoni's Captaincy has also been seen as a weakness for it's very defensive mindset and ill advised decisions
The fielding is on the wrong side of average too

The inclusion of Ravi Ashwin on pitches that are likely to get lower and slower could make the Indian bowling a bit more effective.For Ashwin with his off spin is very effective with his accuracy and very unorthodox and penetrative with his lethal carrom ball

5,Chances of Winning
20%-Their batting can carry them far,but then their bowling and fielding will eventually lead to their demise

New Zealand

The batting is if they perform very dangerous and in the initial parts of the Tournament they struggled and the Team with them.Though with the likes of the Taylor's,McCullum's and Ryder's having started to improve as has New Zealand.They have very dangerous lower order hitters in Jacob Oram and the unconventional but effective Dan Vettori

The bowling has very much been carried by the improving Tim Southee.Then supported by the big hearted types like Kyle Mills and Jacob Oram.Dan Vettori has yet to be a factor at this World Cup with the ball,but has potential to do so.

The bowling is an accident waiting to happen to be honest.Southee has carried it with his very fine performances,but he's a young man and can be reasonably expected to cool off at some point.The rest of the bowlers aside from Dan Vettori are just mediocre trundlers.
So against the better Teams they will likely get plundered

Kane Williamson would add some much need class to this Team in the batting department.Plus is an exceptional fielders and a useful off spin bowler

5,Chances Of Winning
5%-They haven't the class in particular in their bowling to win the Cup


The batting has been very inconsistent with only Misbah ul Huq being a constant performer.Though it isn't lacking in class in regards to players like Younis Khan and Umar Akmal and threat in the lower order hitters.Such as Shahid Afridi and Abdul Razzaq.The adding of young Asad Shafique might alleviate the issues in the top order.

The bowling has been carried by Shahid Afridi and Umar Gul...
The rest of the attack in Shoaib Ahktar,Razzaq and the spinners in Harfeez and Rehman have had their moments,but can' really be relied on in a big match

The key one is the keeping of Kamran Akmal and if he's retained then Pakistan have no hope of winning.For as seen again New Zealand his drops and attitude just kills the Team like putting termites in wood
The top order is also a worry,but Asad Shafique could assume a role in the top order and alleviate that issue.
Then the bowling is reliant on too few to get Teams out.

I think it would be a good ploy rather than wasting Abdul Razzaq at 7 to bat him in the top 4.Where if it comes off it could be devastating
Saeed Ajmal needs to come back into the Team too

5,Chances of Winning
0% If Kamran Akmal is retained as keeper or even kept in the Team
25%-They still if everything comes together can upend the more fancied Teams and as seen when everything clicked in 1992 can go on a run and win the Cup

South Africa

The South African's have been very fine in this regard.Highlighted by stars like Hasim Amla,A.B.DeVilliers and J.P.Duminy.Then with class players like Smith and Kallis yet to leave a mark on this Tournament

In truth the best at the World Cup with every aspect covered

Very few,maybe the lower middle order against a quality spin attack

The Team has been performing very well,but they could do better and be very hard to topple if Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis start to perform

5,Chances of Winning
70%-They'll be very hard to beat

Sri Lanka

The batting is based around the elite pair of Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene and they are good-very good indeed! If the openers click which they have in games. It's another huge strength.The lower middle order is workmanlike

On a par with South Africa's with a key spear head in Malinga and then spinners that are lethal.In lieu of slower and lower pitches as the World Cup goes on. They'll be even more lethal

The lower middle order is fragile especially if Sangakkara and Mahela are dismissed cheaply.It exposes them and as shown against Pakistan.They are very fragile.

If Sri Lanka had the courage to play Mahela Jayawardene as an opener as they do in T20 cricket.It could be a factor that can win the World Cup.Especially when their chasing a target

5,Chances of Winning
71%-I'd rate them just ahead of South Africa on the basis that they have so many quality spinners and the pitches will start to favour them.

West Indies

The batting has been very adequate in this Tournament and Chris Gayle its king pin has yet to make a decisive contribution.They have the class of Darren Bravo and the acidic threat of Kieron Pollard down the order.Then the workmanlike players to compliment them

Like the batting they have got the job done.The unlikely opening partnership of Kemar Roach and Suliaeman Benn have been huge successes.In Roach they have one of the best strike weapons in this Cup.Then the rest of the bowlers,like the support batsmen have done their job adequately.

It's hard to pick a weakness out of this Team for they have been very well performed in all regards.If anything the lack of supreme class is a weakness.For they are very much 11 good players playing exceptionally well as a Team.

Chris Gayle always is threatening against any bowling,but has yet to exert his influence here.If he decides to turn up and put in one of his characteristic devastating blitz's.Well the Windies might be a darkhorse to win it

5,Chances of Winning
20%-They have on performance have a chance to pull off an unlikely win.Though I think might be found out by a better Team