Friday, 21 October 2011

King Sanga's Century Brings SL Back In The Game

Mohammad Hafeez dropped 2 regulation chances in slip off the bowling from Junaid Khan in consecutive deliveries (the last ball of his previous over and then the very next delivery of his next over). On a placid track, you really have to make the most of what comes your way. These costly misses could come back to daunt the hosts on day 5 if they make it overly difficult for themselves or are unable to enforce a victory from the position of superiority they have got themselves into with a sizeable 314 first innings lead. It was bitterly disappointing for the left arm young pacer, who got the ball in the right areas, made it talk, found the edge and it was spilled not once BUT twice. It was literally unbelievable because generally Hafeez has a decent pair of hands. Also, to add to his woes he nearly dropped 1 in the first innings but managed to hold on in the 2nd or 3rd attempt.

Kumar Sangakkara’s artistry batting was on show. The former Sri Lankan captain stood up and played a blinder at number 3. His off side stroke play is as pleasing on the eye as it can be. His aggressive running to scamper those quick singles also helped him accumulate with fluency and take the pressure of his lesser experience opening partner who was dropped 2/2 as mentioned in the above paragraph. Kumar is always up for a challenge and he won’t give it away easily. He has a fine average against Pakistan and achieved plenty of success against them over the years. I wasn’t surprised a touch to see him perform here. The pitch was still playing well and he tends to step up when the going gets tough.

Further observations

Misbah-ul-Haq, Pakistan’s captain played a fluent counter attack yesterday and really accelerated the rate as well as injecting some impetus and momentum into the innings with a declaration in mind. Scoring 46 with a SR in the 90s including 4 fours and 1 mighty sixer from the left arm spin of Rangana “the low round arm workhorse” Hearth. He got a rough decision which prevented him from reaching yet another 50+ score as captain which he deserved with his intent and positivity.

Asad Shafiq played a strange hand considering the situation with an unbeaten 26 from over 90 deliveries with only 2 boundaries when the hosts were looking to up the ante, nonetheless with 511/6 on the board we shouldn’t be too fussed and complains about these minor events. Shafiq who was playing only his 6th test would have wanted to cement his place considering the competition he has from Umar Akmal who is currently captaining SNGPL in the ongoing QEA trophy with Misbah on national duty.

Mohammad Hafeez and Taufeeq Umar average 35 as an opening pair with 2 century stands since last November.

More About TAs 236......

Highest score by Pakistan batsmen since March 2009

2nd highest score by a Pakistan opener

Highest score by a Pakistan opener since Aamir Sohail’s double century in 1992. Aamir of course has highly rated and backed Taufeeq over the years and worked a great deal with him which seems to have paid off big time

4th Pakistan batsmen to spend 700 minutes at the crease in a test match after Hanif, YK and Shoaib Mohammad

He is now 5th in leading test run scorers this year and the highest from Pakistan over taking Misbah. He is behind the likes of Ian Bell, Cook, Dravid and KP who have all played 2 more tests in the calendar year thus far

He has the 7th highest crease occupation per innings per minutes in Pakistan’s proud batting history even prior to this test from Abu Dhabi

Looking ahead: The match is open and Sri Lanka has the potential to save this match if they bat over half the day or more like it up to tea. Pakistan is likely to have to bat again, but will not want to chase more than 150/200. Kumar is the key. As things currently stand Pakistan will be disappointed not to go on and win this, but still there is work to be done. Sri Lanka has had a top day 4 and is definitely still in it. Defeat is not inevitable for them. I would say it would be 53% Pakistan win/42% Sri Lanka draw/ 5% Sri Lanka win in terms of a proportional verdict. It's all set up for a fascinating final day from the Sheikh Zayed Stadium. King Sanga just does NOT looking like getting OUT. I won't be surprised to see Sri Lanka hold on here

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Day 2 and Day 3 Review: Marathon Batting Effort From Taufeeq Umar Places Pakistan In A Commanding Position.

Day 2

Score: 259/1 (98 overs)

Looking ahead: Pakistan will be looking to battle through the first 40 minutes of day 3 and then kick on with some steady accumulation and consolidation through the course of the day. Considering the position of strength they have got themselves in a lead of 250-300 should be a minimum they should be targeting and having in mind with the experienced duo to follow.

Player of the day: Taufeeq Umar who batted the whole 90 overs with patience, concentration and top notch judgement against the quicker men as well showing as a neat defence to trap out the spinners. He battled hard and kept at it throughout the day. This was top quality resilience and solid top order batting we witnessed as Pakistan thoroughly dominated the day with only 1 wicket lost in 3 full sessions.

Ball of the day: Only 1 wicket fell, but it’s worth a mention. Herath prevented Hafeez from reaching his 2nd successive test century by trapping him in front just after the lunch break. The slow left arm spinner toiled hard and bowled just over 30 overs in the humidity.


Taufeeq Umar and Azhar Ali have been involved in 3 100 and 3 50 stands in 8 innings together.

Azhar Ali averages over 40 overnight on 19/10/11 as does Taufeeq Umar.

Taufeeq scored his 2nd century in the space of 4 test innings.

All 3 batsmen registered half centuries during the day.

Azhar Ali 60 (176) needs 60 more for 1000 test runs and reached his 10th test 50 in 26 innings.

Sessions: 3-0 Pakistan

242 runs were added to the overnight total for the loss of only 1 wicket

Day 3

Pakistan 511/6: lead of 314

Sri Lanka 41/1 (11)

Moment of the day: Gul dimissing the Sri Lankan opener for a golden duck on the very first ball of the Sri Lankan innings and trapping him LBW with a moving delivery. Tony Greig who was on commentary at this moment in time with Waqar Younis called it out straight away from where they were sitting. It looked plumb in real speed. It summarised how Misbah’s side were so on top.

Ball of the day: The Sri Lankan left arm pacer W for short getting rid of Azhar Ali with a beauty to deny him his much awaited maiden test century. It was a peach of an inswinger which rattled the stumps and broke a 2nd wicket left right combo stand of 180. Finally Dilshan and company could see the back of one of them.

Player of the day: Taufeeq Umar once again continued from where he left off from to make a double century. He batted for over 5 sessions in total. The opener who former Pakistan captain Aamir Sohail highly rates continued his superb form since resurrecting his international test career against South Africa last November. He covered all the major qualities you look for in a “proper” test opener to add over 100 to his overnight total. It was a pity he couldn’t carry his bat to the end and was run out by a very thin margin.

Looking ahead: Pakistan win=75%/Sri Lanka draw=25%. Pakistan will be looking to get through the big fishes tomorrow and even finish the job off. Sri Lanka will be looking to go into the final day near to Pakistan’s lead with wickets and experience in hand. On a placid track they have the capabilities to avoid defeat in going 1-0 down here. Pakistan are on course for victory, even perhaps by an innings or a brief chase of day 5. I reckon it will be a 10 wicket win.

Sessions: 3-0 Pakistan.


Taufeeq Umar’s 236 was the highest score by a Pakistan test batsmen since Younis Khan’s triple century at the NSK against the Lankans in the first half of 2009

Azhar Ali scored his 10th half century in 26 innings

Both captains, Misbah and Dilshan were dismissed incorrectly and victims of no DRS

Pakistan have only lost 107 out of a potential 150 wickets in their last 8 tests

Kumar S averages 79 in the 3rd innings against Pakistan

First time since against Sri Lanka in 2009 has Pakistan posted 500 in a test match when cricket was played in Pakistan (24 tests)

2nd time in 3 tests Pakistan have declared the innings

Taufeeq Umar has the 7th highest stats occupation per minutes at the crease prior to this test match in Pakistan’s proud batting history. He gave us an ideal demonstration of why he is in that list here in Abu Dhabi during the first of 6 tests to be played in the UAE this winter. He also has the highest average by a Pakistan test opener since Saeed Anwar. According to many, he was dropped and treated unfairly throughout his career. In the test arena he always had the ingredients required to flourish, although his game was less suited to the shorter formats. The Lahore left handed opener is a gritty and mentally strong occupier of the crease.

Pakistan has won all 9 sessions in this match as far as I’m concerned which the scorecard reflects. The first session on the opening day was a debatable one, but nonetheless Pakistan did control the flow of runs and received a break through before lunch as well as winning the toss and getting to do what they wanted up front.

Further observations: Just a mention that the former New Zealand fast bowler Danny Morrison is also part of the commentary team here which I forgot to mention on day 1. Danny is an individual who comes across as a humorous and enthusiastic follower of the game to say the least.


Junaid: "When I went to Lancashire, Wasim used to call me and tell me how to bowl, how to use the conditions," Khan said. "That stint was very helpful. There I learnt how to seam, how to swing the ball, how to bowl a yorker."

Taufeeq: “Partnerships are the key”

Waqar: “Captain and coach trust is very important. The captain and coach should also be good friends.”

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Day 1 Review: Pakistan Right On Top Straight Away....

Commentary team: Sanath Jayasuria, Rameez Raja, Waqar Younis, Russel Arnold, Tony Greig were just some of the people involved. It was interesting to hear Waqar back in the commentary box just exactly 1 month after completing his tenure as coach. It was fascinating to hear his insightful views as he has been around the camp. It’s nice to see him going strong and still being involved in the game and more specifically with his country. His passion and enthusiasm for Pakistan Cricket never runs out. I look forward to hearing more from him throughout the course of the series with his knowledge and experiences more than the comical grammatical errors in tone of voice. Tony Greig of course is from channel 9 in Australia and a familiar voice to many.

Pitch and Conditions: As always in the UAE the weather is humid and it becomes a test of stamina as much as it is to do with skill. The conception was the pitch would be a batting paradise once more in the Middle East dessert.

Toss: Misbah won the toss and elected to insert the Sri Lankans into bat due to the moisture in the wicket. It was a brave and courageous decision on the UAE wickets which are renowned to be placid. The man with the best cricketing intellect and decision making credentials in the country certainly got his assessment spot on and thoroughly justified his decision with the performance and backing from his bowlers who responded extremely well against an experienced Sri Lankan middle order. Without a doubt the day belonged to Pakistan who are placed in a commanding position. I can understand why Misbah wanted to bowl first because Pakistan batters tend to be slow starters in new series schedules. Therefore, he wanted to give them more time to have a look and get settled. Also, the other 3 times he has won the toss and bowled he achieved a superb draw and 2 comprehensive victories. He had confidence in his bowlers to get the early breakthroughs and batsmen to chase in the 4th innings which speaks a lot about him and his team. It was a tremendous outside of the box decision from him which many captains would have been very reluctant to do. The results are there for one and all to see.

Team selection: Pakistan left out Wahab Riaz and Abdur Rehman. They decided to play 3 front line pacers. Junaid Khan was the surprise selection and the Lancastrian overseas player was sensational during the afternoon session where he claimed 3 wickets in quick session in his first proper test against a major test force. It was an incredible spell of left arm pace. As expected Shafiq got preference at number 6 with the omission of Umar Akmal. Is Pakistan’s lack of batting a concern? Gul, Ajmal, Junaid, Cheema in the absence of Rehman and Wahab who both can be handy down the order.


-This is the 7th time in 8 tests Pakistan is in the field on day 1.

-Misbah has won 5 tosses in 8 tests and decided to bowl first on 4 occasions.

-Pakistan has 2 bowlers who are playing only their 2nd test in the current attack.

In other news today Afridi has officially announced his return to international cricket putting an end to the conditional retirement following his removal from captaincy after the ODI series against the West Indies in May. Whether he will be selected for the Sri Lanka ODI series remains to be seen.

Sessions: All 3 belonged to Pakistan. 3-0.

Score Line: Sri Lanka 198 AO Junaid Khan 5/38. Pakistan 27/0 (8).

Ball of the day: Junaid uprooting the stumps and giving the SL keeper the death rattle early in the piece. He was overwhelmed. Pakistan had turned the tables. It was magical viewing.

Player of the day: Junaid Khan. He made a bold statement in his first international match of any kind within Asia and against an Asian team. He wasn’t expected to play by any stretch of the imagination, but Mohsin and Misbah included him and backed him all the way. The Abbatobad youngster produced some excellent deliveries and was having a great time of it. He came out with a 5 for. The first bowler to get one at Abu Dhabi (a venue where it’s only test produced 27 wickets). Adnan Akmal was also worth a mention with 4 dismissals.

Looking ahead: Pakistan batsmen will be looking to get stuck
in, apply themselves at the wicket, work their socks off, dig in long and deep,
pile up the runs, wear out the bowlers and gain a sizeable first innings lead
to put the visitors under pressure. They can afford to take their time. Grit,
application, solid temperament, determination, mental toughness and the ability
to value their wicket and scrap hard for their runs is the strength of the
current Pakistan top 6 which they will be looking to portray again here. They
should be rewarded for this discipline, stamina, patience and sound defences. A
total of approximately 400 will be very pleasing. They’ll be looking to bat to
around lunch time on day 3 and really tuck into this inexperienced bowling
attack. They’ll be looking for a centurion or two.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

South Africa V Australia T20 Series Preview


South Africa will be taking on the Australians in a 2 match T20 series commencing from Cape Town tomorrow to kick off South Africa’s 2011/12 home international season. 3 one day internationals and 2 tests will follow. Sri Lanka will be visiting for 3 tests and 5 one day internationals afterwards around the New Year time. Many of the players from both teams are coming into this tournament on the back of their participation in the Champions League where Mumbai Indians became the 2nd IPL team to lift the trophy in back to back years, despite the absence of their star player in SRT who was ruled out of the competition with injury.

South Africa and Australia have a 3-3 score line against each other in this format of the game. Hashim Amla will be leading the Proteas in a new era with Gary Kirsten taking over as head coach. Australia have been woeful in this format with 7 losses in their last 8 appearances. Cameron White will be doing his level best to get the team back on track in this format with the 4th ICC World T20 championship less than a year away. The 2010 finalists will want to put on a good show after disappointing quarter final elimination in the 2011 CWC where the eventual winners knocked them out in Ahmadabad.

Key Player


Warner: Winner of the golden bat in the CL T20. He will coming into this game with back to back centuries in this version of the game which is a formidable accomplishment. The explosive left handed opener has the talent and intensity to tee off and get the Baggy Greens off to a flyer early on. There is certainly no shortage of excitement when he is whacking them past the bowler at a rate of knots. The visitors will be hoping for him to set the tone and seize in the initiative early doors with remarkable form and sheer flamboyance.

South Africa

Botha: An experienced bowler in this version of the game with over 90 caps and an economy of below 6. The South African off spinner is a canny customer who fires the ball into the batsmen rather than trying to beat them in the air. His main strength is containment and he tends to run through his over quickly not allowing the batsmen much time to think on his feet. Botha is also a capable pinch hitter down the order who can be promoted up the order to get quick fire runs. A thinking cricketer who is gifted in all 3 departments and has a successful track record in 20/20s. Also, a previous South African captain who will be a useful reference in giving Mr Amla some tips and advice during his first outing in charge.


7/9 of the times the team batting 2nd has won an international 20/20 at Newlands. The last international T20 this ground hosted was the 2007 ICC T20 WC semi final between Pakistan and New Zealand. The venue is a picturesque sight with the mountain surroundings. On Sunday, in Jo Burg we can expect a high scoring feast with the small ground dimensions. The spectators should get their money's worth. Cricket SAs attendances tend to be high in these day night spectacles.


1-1 will be the usual thing to say when it comes to these 2 match series so I'll sit on the fence for this one, however should I pick a winner to whitewash the other that has to go to South Africa who are a prolific T20 team. Yes, they have not shown their potential in ICC events and underachieved by the spook of choking, but in these one off and 2 game series they have by and large had the better of their oppositions.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Match Preview:- Bangladesh V West Indies 2011. Only T20

Match Preview:-
The only T20 game between takes place in between Bangladesh and West Indies on Tuesday 11Th October. The game brings together two teams that are struggling to make a impact in the shortest form of the game, less than a year to the 4Th edition of the World T20 Championships. Under new skipper Mushfiqur Rahim, Bangladesh have a real chance to start getting on winning ways again in home conditions against a team that are struggling for any form. Whereas, The Windies will look to beat a team that had a appalling tour of Zimbabwe.

Probable line ups:-
Tamim Iqbal, Imrul Kayes, Mohammad Ashraful, Alok Kapali, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim (captain and wicket-keeper), Mahmudullah, Nasir Hossain, Abdur Razzaq, Shafiul Islam and Rubel Hossain.

West Indies
Lendl Simmons, Adrian Barath, Darren Bravo, Marlon Samuels, Keiron Pollard, Danza Hyatt, Carlton Baugh (wicket-keeper), Darren Sammy (captain), Andre Russell/Kemar Roach, Davendra Bishoo and Ravi Rampaul.

Pitch and Condition:-
The Sher-E-Bangla stadium in Dhaka is usually a flat track that will be of great assistance to the batsman. We can expect a high scoring encounter.

On paper the West Indies look stronger, but in home conditions, I am going for a win for the Tigers.