Pakistan a dark horse
18 September, 2012
LAHORE: Under the coaching of head coach Dav Whatmore and captaincy of M Hafeez, Pakistan team remain as unpredictable as ever and still a threat to big teams who have been planning and doing hard-work to stamp their authority in the mega event to clinch the World Twenty20 Cup commencing from today (Tuesday).
While the talent in Pakistan is never dried up, either it is finding young batsmen such as Umar Akmal, Asad Shafiq and Azhar Ali or adding to their crop of promising fast bowlers like Junaid Khan who is being wasted by the selectors and the team management. Pakistan players, despite their hot-and-cold style, are very much in contention for the second title but they need all their resources to fire as a unit such as they played against India in the warm-up match. Kamran Akmal particularly played superb knock and snatched the match from India with his 50-ball unbeaten 92 with five fours and six sixes.
They simply can't afford a misfiring Umar Akmal who is already feeling the heat, mainly because of his own undoing as he failed to deliver against arch-rivals and he scored 92 runs in his last 10 outings with an average of 9.20 that is shameless for player of his caliber. Nasir Jamshed had vanished from international cricket for two-and-a-half years until resurfacing at the Asia Cup this March. Though Nasir not a big striker of the ball yet he comfortably makes up for it with his fluent four-hitting. Still only 22, he appears to be the sort of opening batsman Pakistan has long craved for. Pakistan's World Twenty20 record shows that they are a side not to be taken lightly and can turn the tables on their opponents on the day if they play like one-unit. They were runners-up to India in the inaugural edition in 2007, won the next one in England in 2009 and lost in the semi-finals of the last tournament in the Caribbean a year later.
Pakistan has a strong batting line-up with recalled Kamran Akmal and M Hafeez at the top of the order and with Umar Akmal, Shahid Afridi and Abdul Razzaq providing a power-packed middle-order. They also have one of the most potent bowling attacks with seamer Umar Gul backed by prolific spinner Saeed Ajmal, Afridi and Hafeez. Ajmal, the best spinner currently in world cricket, carries the main load for the men attired in green. He is a proven performer whose deeds over the past year in all the three formats of the game are unmatched on the international arena as he is No 1 in ODI and T20 rankings and third in Tests. Overall, Pakistan's track record in the briefest form is quite impressive as they played the most number of Twenty20 internationals, 58, and their success ratio of 60.34 is the best after South Africa's 65.21. In addition, the only bowlers to claim 50 or more wickets in this format are all Pakistanis — Saeed Ajmal, Umar Gul and Shahid Afridi.
However, on the batting chart, Pakistan lag behind with Afridi's 801 runs in 50 matches being the highest aggregate, followed by Misbahul Haq (788 in 39), Kamran Akmal (778 in 41), Shoaib Malik (754 in 44) and Umar Akmal (714 in 34). Having a good combination, Pakistan team will be able to score victories against the world top teams. They are still capable of scoring surprise win against any best sides of the world. If their bowlers bowled according to their strength and batsmen proved their credentials and do aggressive but sensible batting then World Twenty20 Cup will be of Pakistan. The future of four to five Pakistani players will be at stake as if Imran Nazir, Shoaib Malik, Abdul Razzaq, Umar Akmal and M Sami proved their credentials then they will be in the Pakistan side and if they fail to do so their cricketing future will be end on a sad note.