During consciousness and intoxication, mysterious forces within and outside have danced to the intensity of my passion. The symphony of my determination to make them dance has never fallen weak nor faltered.
Monday, April 11, 2011
New Era in Pakistan Cricket
The Pakistan Cricket selectors have done justice by picking a fresh looking squad for the one day and T20 matches to tour the West Indies later this month. By excluding old horses like Younas Khan, Misbah ul Haq, Abdul Razaq and Kamran Akmal, they have paved the way for the next set of players in order to re build the house for the next World Cup.
It was a decision that had to be made, and there's no better time to groom younger players than now. If we can unearth another Umar Akmal, perhaps find another exciting fast bowler and a decent wicket keeper, we may have a better shot of winning the next World Cup. The exiting players have contributed to Pakistan cricket in many ways, and while I thank them for giving us some memorable moments, it is time for them to step aside and allow PCB to blood new players for the future.
1. Sadaf Hussain: Dont be deceived by his name, he has all the masculine characteristics of a fast bowler on the verge of breaking through the ranks. This 21 year old left arm quickie from Chakwal has made strides in domestic cricket. This past season, in 11 first-class matches, he was the leading wicket taker with 64 scalps at an average of 16.12, with 8 five wicket hauls and 2 ten wicket hauls ! Ravi Shastri was right on when he said they shake a tree in Pakistan and talented fast bowlers fall like leaves.
2. Usman Salahuddin: The 20 year old right hander from Lahore has had a brilliant first season in domestic cricket in 2010/11. In 24 matches, he piled on the runs at an average of 41.80, including 5 hundreds and 8 fifties in the process. In an interview with PakPassion.net, he talks about the unexpected call up and excitement to be given the chance to represent Pakistan. He believes strongly in his ability especially after scoring a brilliant 141 against Khan Research Labs, the team which boasts the best bowling attack in Pakistan domestic cricket.
3. Junaid Khan: The much hyped tall left arm bowler from Abbotabad. He was a part of Pakistan's 2011 World Cup squad, he has done remarkably well for the past two years in domestic cricket. In 35 matches, he has 167 wickets, average of 21. Yeah, it's a stiff competition if you want the fast bowlers job in the Pakistan national team.
4. Hammad Azam: An exciting all rounder, tipped to take over Razzaq's role in the team. The right hander has done well representing Pakistan in U-19 competitions. Hammad has only played 14 first class matches, in which he has a batting average of 29.85 with a strike rate of 55, along with 16 wickets at an average of 25. Though the numbers are not as impressive as the praises, many see immense potential in the young fellow. He is one to watch out for in the future.
5. Mohammad Salman: The new wicket keeper (finally!), and not an Akmal. Though, young Adnan Akmal showed excellent finesse with the gloves, Rashid Latif has called Salman "technically, the best wicket keeper in Pakistan". And given the stunning glove work Latif used to do behind the stumps, who can doubt his words. Almost 30 years old now, right handed Karachi native, Salman, will make his debut in the Caribbean later this month. His batting average of 26.63 in 103 first class games doesn't suggest an ideal keeper-batsman. But given the headaches and heartaches Kamran Akmal gave us with his shoddy glove work, we ought to settle for anyone who can hold onto catches behind the stumps.
6. Ahmed Shehzad: I wrote an articleabout this guy after his sensational hundred against New Zealand in Hamilton. His record in domestic cricket speaks for itself. Though Shehzad wilted under the pressure of World Cup matches, his abilities and shots are there for everyone to see. With the help of a much needed batting coach, who can help him (and others) strengthen his mental game, he is sure to come good for Pakistan in due time.
Also returning to the one day arena is Taufeeq Umar, the old warrior, I have always thought Taufeeq was one of our better openers, who was hard done by selectors in the past. His inclusion in the squad brings in some experience at the top. Wahab 'Viki' Riaz will be leading the bowling attack after Umar Gul has asked to be rested for the one day series. While I hope Gul makes a speedy return, Wahab has the chance to enjoy the responsibility as the fast bowling ace for Pakistan. If he can develop that elusive in-swinger, he will be twice as threatening as he is right now.
It is important to remember that majority of these new faces are still quite young and inexperienced. This is what makes Pakistan cricket so exciting. Bringing in kids off the streets who dazzle the world with their skills. They will make mistakes and occasionally succumb to pressure, but it is important that we notice the potential of talent in each of these individuals. We must persist with the ones who have a natural sting in their game and have the ability to handle pressure. It is the feeling of confidence when backed by fans and pundits alike that often helps them perform to the best of their abilities. Responsibility on Umar Akmal and Asad Shafiq's young shoulders has doubled, they will have to play a more mature innings from here on. It is pleasant to see, given the chaos, that Pakistan Cricket is being proactive with developing young players in order to be ready for the next World Cup.