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Preview: Put the runs on the board, simple

Published Aug 30, 2012 01:43pm


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Shoaib Malik may get a nod over a fast bowler, although it would take a very brave captain to go into a crucial encounter with only one seamer. -Photo by AFP

Match: 2nd ODI Pakistan vs Australia (Australia Lead the 3 match Series 1-0)

Venue: Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE)

Date & Time: Friday Aug 31st 2012, 19:00 PST / 14:00 GMT

Overall Rivalry: Dominance; Australia 53 wins Pakistan 30 wins

Momentum in the last 5 encounters: Carnage; Australia-4 Pakistan-1

Weather Report: Sulking hot with a warm breeze. Partly cloudy but no chances of rain. Low of 30 Celsius with a high of 41 Celsius. Winds at 15 to 25 km/h. Plenty of water intake is advised.

The 22-yard report: The pitch is expected to support spin and the ball might not hurry onto the bat. The captain winning the toss will most likely bat first. Only 8 out of 19 chases have been successful at this ground. However, it is the first time both innings will be played under lights which should reduce the disparity in conditions between the two innings.

Game On: Old folklore narrates that Pakistan is blessed while playing matches on Friday in UAE. This story finds its root in Sharjah where in the 90’s Pakistan triumphed over arch rival India in numerous finals held on Friday. The religious reverence of Friday gave the story extra mileage for the Arab residents who poured in big numbers to the ground on their weekend; Friday in the region is the true equivalent of a Sunday in the west.

A more logical explanation of the depicted Friday wins could be the quality of the Pakistani team in the 90’s, a lot has changed since then. Pakistan went into this series with back to back series losses to England (0-4) and Sri Lanka (3-1) in familiar conditions and now finds itself 0-1 down in the current series. Some respite was provided by the lucky Asia Cup win against Bangladesh in the final.  To further Pakistan’s worry, it has been over a decade since they won a series against the Aussies.

Australia itself has not had a very good run recently, conceding its number one ranking last month that it held for a staggering 117 weeks out of a total of 128 since the rankings started in 2002. It has also quickly slipped down to number 4 after losing 4-0 to England.

Australia will look to polish of Pakistan and seal the series in Abu Dhabi so it can crawl its way up the ranking and also get to test its bench strength in the last game in Sharjah. The Australian bowling looks decent when matched against a frail Pakistani batting line. Man of the match in the first game, Mitchel Starc, got his first five-wicket haul and will look to carry forward his momentum on Friday.

The Aussie batsmen need to buckle up when facing the potent Pakistani spin trio. Two Michaels, the Captain and Mr. Cricket hold the fort in the middle-order, being the only ones with an average of over 40 or substantial experience. However, their inexperienced lower order showed maturity to steady ship. Their openers are not very consistent but the two lefties are positioned there to get them off to a flyer. The nemesis for left-hand batsmen and number one ODI bowler in the world, Mohammed Hafeez, will have other ideas if given the new ball again, which is very likely. Also, how they face the Saeed Ajmal threat and read his doosra will hold the key to their batting performance.

Pakistani batsmen on the other hand need to making themselves counted after their lacklustre performance on Tuesday. Four of their batsmen got starts and two of them half centuries. Yet they managed to accumulate only 198 runs and failed to bat 50 overs. The Pakistani batting collapse seems to have become customary and it comes as a surprise when it goes missing in the scorebook.

Batsmen number 3 to 6, who form the heart of the Pakistani batting line, have scored 46 half centuries amongst them with only a solitary hundred. Leading the appalling statistic is captain Misbah-ul-Haq, scoring 20 fifties, but is yet to achieve three figures. This inability of conversion is the primary reason of Pakistan not achieving big totals or even respectable ones in most outings.

Game Changer: On Tuesday, Australia needed 34 runs of 36 balls with 5 wickets in hand and Pakistan had to throw its last card. The captain threw the cherry to Sohail Tanvir who conceded 14 runs and the game was all but over. Ajmal with two allotted overs remaining picked up a wicket with the third ball of the next over but it had come one over too late.

Pre-Game Talk: “We were sure about the target today but we lost the way. We committed mistakes, mistakes we have been repeating in the last two or three series but we can't win matches if we continue to do that." Misbah knows where the mistakes lie but can he rectify them?

"We knew he was going to be a key bowler and I think that's one of the real focuses we'll have going in to Abu Dhabi is how we play him, and try to milk him a little bit better and try not to give him his wickets.” George Bailey is weary of the Ajmal effect.

Australia, last XI fielded: 1 Matthew Wade (wk), 2 David Warner, 3 Michael Clarke (capt), 4 Michael Hussey, 5 David Hussey, 6 George Bailey, 7 Glenn Maxwell, 8 Daniel Christian, 9 Mitchell Johnson, 10 Mitchell Starc, 11 James Pattinson

Pakistan, last XI fielded: 1 Mohammad Hafeez, 2 Nasir Jamshed, 3 Azhar Ali, 4 Asad Shafiq, 5 Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), 6 Umar Akmal, 7 Kamran Akmal (wk), 8 Shahid Afridi, 9 Sohail Tanvir, 10 Saeed Ajmal, 11 Aizaz Cheema

Possible Changes: Australia might go in without shuffling to keep their winning combination intact. However, the sticky turning wickets of UAE may make them consider left-arm orthodox spinner Xavier Doherty in place of one of their faster men. Pakistan has taken 16 players for a three-match series from which young pacers Anwar Ali or Junaid Khan could get the nod. Shoaib Malik may be considered as a replacement for a fast bowler, adding one more spin option and strengthening the batting line up. Pakistani fast bowlers rarely bowl their allotted quota in UAE but going in with just one fast bowler is unlikely; it will take a brave captain to do otherwise.

Trivia Quiz: Who are the two Pakistani cricketers to have more career runs than Misbah-ul-Haq without scoring a century? Hint: They have both captained Pakistan (Answer will be published in the 3rd ODI preview)

Final Words: Pakistan finds itself in a very familiar do or die situation and needs an inspirational performance from within its own ranks. Australia will go in as favorites but Pakistan performs best with its back to the wall and will need all the Friday blessings to level the series. A good crowd is expected to come in and support the hosts.

The writer grew up in a home with sports as its religion and “The Cricketer” subscription of black and white pages as holy script. He resides in Istanbul and can be reached here.


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Comments (28) Closed

Cyrus Howell Aug 30, 2012 03:40pm
The Best Defense is a Good Offense.
Zakir Aug 31, 2012 12:48am
ICC must allow Pakistan to name their side after the toss because they only play one dayers to win toss and bat , they are so pathetic in chasing that once they are asked to bowl first , half of the match is already lost . Even when chasing they adopt the same methd of keeping wickets in hand as if they are setting a target.Apart from technique , they must first learn some cricket from AUS/SA/INDIANS , how to approach the game.
EmMoosa Aug 31, 2012 04:01am
If these are the best possible batsmen available then Pakistan should say good bye to international cricket.
Cyrus Howell Aug 30, 2012 03:38pm
The way to win is to have more runs up on the scoreboard at the end of the game than the other team. Duffy Dougherty He may be a great player, but can he hit? Ted Williams
Cyrus Howell Aug 30, 2012 03:42pm
Winning isn't everything. It's the only thing.
Mahis Aug 30, 2012 02:56pm
These are the best possible batsmen we can get right now. If these batsmen can't perform, Pakistan must start focusing harder on bowling even better and making the fielding at least acceptable. But these batsmen STILL need to put up something to defend.
EmMoosa Aug 30, 2012 09:24pm
Shoaib malik should permanently be out.
EmMoosa Aug 30, 2012 09:26pm
Please come out of the dreams. These guys and some similar others are not selected on the basis of their talents. There are other reasons behind their selections.
Nadeem Aug 30, 2012 04:26pm
no malik..please....
Nadeem Aug 30, 2012 04:19pm
With the vurnerability of our batting line we need an all rounder who can ball medium pace. Abdul Razzaq has credentials for that. After Vivan Richard he is the cleanest striker of the ball. He has won Pakistan several games single handedly. With Hafeez and Afridi not clicking with the bat, we need a real all-rounder in all formats. Razzaq with his experience is the solution. At least for another year or so.
kirtherSG Aug 30, 2012 03:50pm
Why include players like Sohaib Malik, Cheema, Misbah and Kamran Akmal when there is so much talent in Pakistan. It is better to harness new talent even if it means loosing one or two series rather than loosing because of bad selection policy.
EmMoosa Aug 30, 2012 09:21pm
Afridi should be the captain of the team. This team will win. That guy took us to the semi final of the world cup. We need a fighting leader not Misbah. The semi final was lost mainly because of Kamran Akmal and it is that unfortunate he is again in the bunch. What a shame.
Salman Aug 31, 2012 08:32am
46 fifties and 1 hundred..... what sort of batsmen are these ? Pray juma for Pakistan, it is our best hope :)
M.Khaliquz zzaman Aug 31, 2012 07:13am
i think moin khan and wasim akram are the two cricketers who scored more runs than misbah
Nasser Ali Khan Aug 30, 2012 09:11pm
Now, that's called - let's face the facts. If we know our deficiencies, we can then hopefully decide to do something about them. This talk of us Pakistanis having talent is laughable. Don't they know the cricket records or Olympics history?
EmMoosa Aug 30, 2012 09:18pm
And both Wasim and Moin were not the regular batsmen.... and Misbah !!!!
Capt C M Khan Aug 30, 2012 03:13pm
Shoaib Malik cannot do much he is out of match practice. Should just change both fast bowlers, Junaid and Anwar in, Kamran and Jamshed to open, Hafeez at no six. Rest nothing can be done with this Pathetic bunch of players.
Azhar Aug 30, 2012 02:17pm
Australia will have to perform poorly to lose. Pakistan is all set to lose every game with their pathetic batting & fielding and balling alone can't win them any game.
Cyrus Howell Aug 30, 2012 03:45pm
Winning takes more effort than just wanting to.
Ali Aug 30, 2012 02:42pm
If Pakistan bat first, they need to have a reduced target runs. If they ended up scoring higher that is bonus but a reduced target will allow a relax environment. They should be creative and try to open with Afridi and Azhar. Have Umer Akmal next and Hafeez 5th or 6th down the line.
Ahsan Aug 30, 2012 02:40pm
Well there are two Pakistani batsmen in ODIs that have more runs than Misbah without scoring a century. Wasim Akram with 3717 and Moin Khan with 3266 Misbah currently has 2935
Shafi Aug 31, 2012 06:59am
Waste of time watching this serious. Pakistan will be whitewash both ODI and T-20.Pakistan Cricket is finished.
shabih Aug 30, 2012 05:40pm
01) Kamran Akmal,02)Md Hafeez,03)Azhar Ali,04)Misbah-ul-Haq,05)Umar Akmal,06)Asad Shafiq, 07)Shoaib Malik,08)Shahid Afridi, 09)Saeed Ajmal,10)Aizaz Cheema,11) Junaid Khan. This team is perfect because it has four genuine batsmen,one batsman wicketkeeper,one(Malik) batsman with spin bowling option can trust with bat,two genuine spin bowler allrounder cant trust with bat,one genuine spin bowler Ajmal and two quick bowlers because if needed to be bowled first quick bowlers will come in action and yes one more thing Azhar must be given at least couple of over all 4 batsmen with 3 spin allrounders this means 4 spin bowlers can go for there full quota and if akmal brothers or afridi or hafeez or malik any of these players does click then obviously there will be runs on the board and 4 spinners can defend it.Best of luck to them.
Faisal Aug 30, 2012 09:51pm
Completely agree with Capt Khan. Shoiab Malik and Kamran Akmal do not deserve a place in the side. Give Mohd Talha,Anwar Ali and Sadaf Hussein a chance if you want to find talent in the fast bowling department. Imran Nazir and Ahmed Shezad are in superb form and they shoudl be selcte dto open the innings. One might argue that Nazir has been given chaces in the past but he is one of the cleanest hitters in the game. It was due to poor shot selection that led to his downfall. Bring these players in and see what a difference they make. After Kamran's pathectic keeping he should be kept out for life. Only in a country like PAk can a player like Kamran and Shoaib Malik can be selcted. Kamran akmal has singe handedly lost us crucial matches, From the tried and test keeper Zulqairnan Haider is by far the best, if it were not for his psychological issues, we have an excellent keeper batsman in him. The present team selection does not do our talent pool any justice. It makes me sick to see Karman anad MAlik back in the team.
Nasser Ali Khan Aug 30, 2012 09:07pm
What's your definition of talent, kirtherSG? Pakistan has a population of 180 million. As an example, New Zealand has 3.2 million (56 Pakistanis for every New Zealander). Just compare NZ's record in cricket and other sports to that of Pakistan. I am a Pakistani supporter but one who knows facts and man enough to face them.
ali Aug 30, 2012 08:03pm
Shoaib malik is a liability.
sherali Aug 30, 2012 02:00pm
Shoaib Malik in, Afridi out
danny Aug 31, 2012 02:00am
Bring Shoaib malik in and take afridi out and call shezad to open with jamshed by taking out kamran and umer should do the keeping. Junaid should replace tanvir.