Former Pakistan captain and the veteran pace bowler Wasim Akram, on Wednesday came hard on the Pakistan Cricket Board selectors for dropping flamboyant all-rounder Shahid Afridi from the ODI squad for the India tour, while retaining him for the T20 leg of the itinerary.
While speaking to media reporters, the legendary left-arm swinger said that if Afridi’s form was not satisfactory then the selectors should have dropped him for the T20s as well. He further said that senior players like Afridi will be needed to handle the pressure in the high-voltage encounters against the arch-rivals.
“I don’t understand what the selectors are thinking. If they consider him out of favour, they shouldn’t have picked him for the T20 matches as well,” Wasim told reporters here.
“Afridi is a senior player and someone of whom the opposition is always worried about. In India, you need experienced players to handle the pressure and tension,” the former Pakistan skipper went on to add.
The PCB selectors last week dropped the 32-year-old flamboyant all-rounder from the squad for the three One Day Internationals against India, citing his struggling form. They, however, retained the hard-hitting batsman for the two T20 Internationals against the Men in Blue, which precede the ODI series.
The leg-spinning all-rounder has been struggling for form since the ICC World Cup in early 2011. The last 16 One Day International appearances saw the former Pakistan skipper amassing a tally of just 182 runs, including only one half century.
Besides struggling with the bat, he has also failed to make an impact with his right-arm leg-spin. In the ICC World T20 championship in Sri Lanka, Afridi, who is best known for his fastest ODI century, scored just 30 runs in six matches, and picked up only four wickets.
However, during the 50-over practice matches in the ongoing conditioning camp at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore, Afridi smashed back-to-back half centuries to catch his skipper’s eye.
“If his form remains like this and we need him, we will definitely consider him,” Misbah said at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. “The form of senior players, who are experienced enough, is very important. They are seniors, whenever you give performances like this it will be good for Pakistan,” he added further.
Pakistan team leaves for India on December 22, while the tour will start with a T20 International in Bangalore two days later, on December 25, 2012.
COLOMBO: Pace spearhead Zaheer Khan quickly needs to regroup his resources and improve his fitness level if India are to fancy their chances of winning the World Cup Twenty20 again, feels former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram.
“Zaheer’s fitness looked suspect. He did not look sharp enough and probably his energy levels were not up to the mark. I know Sri Lankan conditions are extremely demanding, but if Zaheer has to lead India’s attack, he has to be at the peak of his fitness. Dhoni’s selection worries, I would imagine, will be around his senior players like Zaheer, Harbhajan and Irfan Pathan,” Akram said.
Akram said that the loss against Pakistan in the warm-up game has left skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni with the dilemma of whether to go in with five specialist bowlers or opt for the additional batsman, considering that bowling in the death overs has been a worry.
“The match against Pakistan will force MS Dhoni to mull over his first XI. While it’s always a horses-for-courses policy, deciding the playing XI will always be a tough call.
“For a 20-20 game, India have several ‘all-rounders’ and that will enable Dhoni pick four specialist bowlers and seven batsmen. The fact that Sehwag, Raina, Yuvraj and Kohli are decent bowlers is a great bonus for Team India,” he said.
Akram expressed his happiness over the inclusion of Yuvraj Singh in the Indian team.
“It was great to see Yuvraj back in the field. I saw his quickfire 34 off 26 balls against the Kiwis in Chennai. Typically, Yuvraj connected a few lusty blows but his timing has to get sweeter. The fact he is back to international cricket is only due to the Almighty’s blessings and I am sure everyone’s going to watch him closely in Sri Lanka,” he said.
The pace legend picked India and Pakistan as favourites to lift the trophy on the slow familiar tracks of the island nation where they have played a lot of cricket.
“It’s too hazardous to pick favourites in a T20 competition. The complexion of matches can change like a chameleon. While India remain strong contenders because of their batting depth, Pakistan’s bowling strength makes them equally strong,” Akram said.
“After India and Pakistan, in my reckoning, two from among England, the West Indies and South Africa will complete the last four. Sri Lanka have little chance with a weak middle-order and over-dependence on Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara. No team has ever won the T20 World Cup as hosts. I think the trend will continue,” he added.
Akram felt that Pakistan’s run-chase and their ability to handle the pressure against a talented Indian side will give Mohammed Hafeez’s team a great deal of confidence going into the championship.
“No matter what the status of the game is, no Indian captain wants to lose a match against Pakistan. Every India versus Pakistan contest is emotionally supercharged and hence the high fives in the Pakistan dug-out on Monday were expected. It was good to see the players in great spirits and the younger ones exchanging pleasantries after the game.”
Akram said that Pakistan have the best attack in the world and singled out Saeed Ajmal and Shahid Afridi as the key men for the Men in Green.
“Saeed Ajmal will be the man to watch out and Shahid Afridi remains the quintessential partnership breaker with wickets at crucial junctures. If Afridi has to play in the Pakistan team, he can only do so as a bowler. His experience in tight situations can be effective and his flatter leg-spins are tough to hit.”
Courtesy: TIMES OF INDIA
The former Pakistan captain, Wasim Akram, thinks that Shahid Khan Afridi was the best choice to lead Pakistan in the forthcoming ICC World T20 2012, but said that Mohammad Hafeez can also turn out to be a good leader in future.
Boom Boom was replaced by Misbah ul Haq last year as the limited-overs captain, after his differences with the then Chairman of Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), Ijaz Butt.
The cricketer from Sargodha took charge of the national team in the T20 format last month, starting his stint by leveling the T20 series in Sri Lanka.
The former Pakistan captain believes that Afridi did a great job in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011, helping the Green Shirts reach the semi-final of the tournament and also finishing the tournament with the most number of wickets, along with India’s Zaheer Khan.
Akram expressed that Hafeez is still inexperienced at the ultimate level of the game and thinks that the board should have utilized the all-rounder’s abilities. The legendary cricketer slammed the authorities’ short-sightedness and negliegence of Pakistan’s interests in the sport.
“I think it is too early to name Mohammad Hafeez the captain of the side. You can’t ignore Afridi’s experience,” the former Test captain said. “He also led the team to the semi-finals in the 2011 World Cup against India and should have been given another stint at the top. But that’s Pakistan cricket for you!”
Akram however, believes that Hafeez is a brilliant cricketer, possessing the ability to deliver the goods at the world-stage, both as a player and as a captain.
While talking about Pakistan’s chances in the mega event, the former great said that the Green Shirts have a massive chance to lift the illustrious tournament for the second time, taking into account Pakistan’s depth in both departments of the game.
“Hafeez has the potential to handle pressure, he is a good all-rounder and I believe he can do well as long as he enjoys his game and remains positive. I think Pakistan have a very good chance to win the tournament and bring the Cup home once again,” he thinks.
KARACHI: Famed paceman Wasim Akram was upbeat Tuesday about growing signs that India and Pakistan are to resume cricketing ties, nearly four years after they were suspended following the 2008 terror attacks on Mumbai.
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Zaka Ashraf is in India negotiating a revival of matches after watching the Indian Premier League (IPL) final.
India has also allowed the Sialkot Stallions to take part in October’s Champions League, the first such participation by a Pakistani team since 2008.
Wasim, who as bowling coach helped Kolkata Knight Riders win their maiden IPL title on Sunday, said there were signs of a thaw.
“I acted as an ambassador for Pakistan as everyone knows me and during my stay I have seen that people want Indo-Pak cricket to start and for me the invitation for Sialkot is the first step,” Wasim said.
Pakistani players featured in the inaugural IPL in 2008 and Sialkot was due to participate in the first Champions League the same year, until the Mumbai attacks saw cricket ties suspended.
Wasim, 45, expressed his hope that the doors to the IPL will open for Pakistani cricketers next year.
“Pakistani players Shahid Afridi, Umar Gul, Umar Akmal and Mohammad Hafeez are popular in India and Indian fans have realised they can add to the charm of the league,” said Wasim, who played 104 Tests and 352 one-day internationals for Pakistan.
Wasim added that India not playing Pakistan was a great setback for the millions of spectators in both countries.
“I am a great advocate of Indo-Pak cricket and I hope all the issues between the two countries are solved so that millions of fans are not deprived of such entertaining cricket,” said Wasim, who led Pakistan on the tour of India in 1999.
Turning to Pakistan’s imminent tour to Sri Lanka, Wasim said: “Pakistan has done well in the past year and although it will be tough playing Sri Lanka on their home grounds I am sure this Pakistan team will do well.”
Pakistan play two Twenty20, five one-dayers and three Tests on the tour of Sri Lanka, with the first Twenty20 taking place in Hambantota on Friday.
Courtesy: TIMES OF INDIA
Dubai: Former Pakistan captain and fast bowler Wasim Akram yesterday stressed the importance of ignoring people who rake up cricket controversies.
Commenting on the claims of alleged bookie Mazhar Majeed that many top cricketers are involved in match-fixing, Akram said: “This joker has been dropping names like Brad Pitt and Roger Federer and has said that he even knows Pervez Musharraf. It is high time everyone listened to people with credibility and not people like him, with no credibility.”
When asked for his remarks on Shoaib Akhtar’s claims in his autobiography that Sachin Tendulkar trembled with fear when facing him, Akram said: “I have only seen players shivering in bed when they had fever. I have never seen a player shiver with fear on the cricket field. It is high time everyone stopped taking people like Akhtar seriously. He never takes himself seriously.”
Asked to comment if former captain Shahid Afridi will be missed by Pakistan during the series against Sri Lanka in UAE, he said: “Afridi hasn’t played Test cricket for three years since he has retired. My advice to him is there will be differences in the team; differences with the chairman of the board, selection committee or coach but all these differences have to be settled.
“You cannot announce that you are retiring … that is the easy way out.
“Afridi has retired twice or thrice so it is not even funny. He has still got cricket left in him and I am all for him to continue playing. He is still only 34, though it is a mystery too, but he is a huge name worldwide.”
Coming back to life
Akram, who bagged 122 wickets in Sharjah, is delighted to see the venue returning to this scene.
“Sharjah is a part of me as I have been going there from 1984 and I am glad that this stadium is coming back to life,” he said.
He also called for an India-Pakistan series to be held there.
“If India does not feel comfortable playing in Pakistan or Pakistan playing in India they must play the series in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. UAE have the best facilities and with the ICC global cricket academy here with 20 practice wickets, two oval grounds and indoor facilities everything is here.
“So if India and Pakistan want to renew their ties, UAE is the best place.”
By K.R. Nayar, Chief Cricket Writer
Courtesy: GULF NEWS
Former Pakistan skipper slam’s maverick all-rounder’s whimsical tactics after Waqar Younis‘ exit as coach.
They were brothers-in-arm during the peak of their bowling careers. Wasim Akram seemingly respects that relationship with former new ball partner Waqar Younis. In an exclusive chat with Mobile ESPN from Hyderabad on Thursday, Akram is not amused with Shahid Afridi’s comments that he wants to play for Pakistan again since Younis has resigned as coach.
“Shahid Afridi is making things too complicated for the Pakistan Cricket Board. Cricket is a team game and not an individual sport. You have to treat the interests of the team and the management above your individual preferences. So I think Afridi should decide once and for all whether he wants to retire or not,” said Akram.
Afridi has made a mockery of the word “resign.” After being appointed Test captain in 2010, the all-rounder quit after just one match, citing lack of form and ability to play the longest format. He also led Pakistan to the semi-final of the 2011 World Cup but was soon replaced as captain (by Misbah-ul-Haq). Afridi then announced his conditional retirement citing differences with Younis (coach). Akram feels it’s all becoming a joke.
“His (Afridi’s) retirement has become a joke now. You can’t play cricket on your own terms. You will have difference with your coaches, with your chairman and with your colleagues but it should not show in your outlook. At the end of the day you are representing your nation – Pakistan,” said Akram.
Pakistan embark on a new challenge when they take on Sri Lanka in a three-Test series starting October 18 in the UAE. The PCB has declared that the new coach will be finalized on September 29 and Akram feels the team’s performance depends a lot on the selection.
“The first challenge for Pakistan would be to find a new coach. It’s important to find the right man for the job. Does he gel well with the players? What combination does he form? All these questions will decide the fate of Pakistan cricket,” said Akram.
Pakistan swept the recently concluded one-off Test, three ODIs and the two T20 matches against Zimbabwe and are looking forward to the Lankan test. Akram feels Pakistan have a good chance in UAE.
“Pakistan team has an abundance of talented players so they have no problem on that front. Sri Lanka, without Muttiah Muralitharan, are not the same side. Australia got the better of them on their home ground. It will be a tough series but Pakistan will do well against Lanka,” said Akram.
Even though the wickets in UAE are flat, Akram believes that Pakistan should bank on the pace and experience of Umar Gul and movement of left-armer Wahab Riaz.
“You got to play Gul and Wahab. Give the youngsters a chance but keep the experience with you. Rookie pacer Aizaz Cheema bowled well against Zimbabwe and he should be retained. Dubai and Abu Dhabi are flat wickets with dry weather, so reverse swing will come into effect,” concluded the Sultan of Swing.
Courtesy: ESPN STAR
Former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram has questioned the decision to rest fast bowlers Wahab Riaz and Umar Gul for the upcoming tour of Zimbabwe saying it would hamper their growth as bowlers.
“I don’t mind taking Zimbabwe lightly and giving chances to youngsters,” Akram told AFP, “but it is surprising that you rest Riaz who has just started his career a year ago and is progressing. He doesn’t need rest.”
The Pakistan selectors also omitted seamer Tanvir Ahmed, and instead chose to go with an inexperienced pace attack comprising Sohail Khan, Sohail Tanvir, debutant Aizaz Cheema and Junaid Khan. Commenting on the selection, chief selector Mohsin Khan had said the fresh look to the squad was an effort to blood youngsters. However Akram said the tour would have been a good opportunity for Riaz to continue his development and for Gul to regain his form.
“I have seen that out-of-form paceman get back to form by playing easier teams, but here we have rested the two main pacemen and they were allowed to play county cricket, instead of doing the national duty,” Wasim said. “The idea to groom a young paceman is to give him more and more opportunities and not to rest him. Riaz needs opportunities and it’s not wise for him to rest at this stage.”
Riaz, who has played seven Tests and 22 ODIs for Pakistan, was the leading wicket-taker for Kent in the Friends Life t20 competition with 20 wickets from 13 games while Gul picked up 12 wickets from eight games for Sussex.
Wasim said teams like India and Australia who played continuously could afford to rest key players, unlike Pakistan whose cricket calendar is not as packed. “If we see India giving rest to their key players, it’s understandable because they play too much cricket throughout the year but Pakistan rarely plays Tests and here we are without our rising paceman.”
Akram praised the selection of 31-year-old Cheema, who was rewarded for his solid performances on the domestic circuit. “Cheema has been leading wicket-taker in Pakistan’s domestic season, so he deserved a chance but there should be more consistency in selection,” he said.
Akram also said that Pakistan still needed the services of former captain Shahid Afridi who announced his retirement from international cricket following a dispute with the Pakistan board. “I won’t speak much on the issue but Afridi is needed,” Akram said. “He has a lot of cricket left in him and he can still do a lot for the Pakistan team.”
Courtesy: ESPN STAR
Each dawn brings a new hope along a vibrant dynamism to follow one’s dreams to make them a reality. The dream to reach ahead and strike for victory till the end is one that the Pakistani Cricket Team holds at the moment.
To make it true is another effort that we have seen in the Quarter-Final of ICC World Cup 2011. Pakistani team once more remained successful in performing up to the mark and becoming the first team to enter in Semi-final.
In Dhaka, on 23rd March first Quarter-final between Pakistan and West Indies took place, with an avalanche of hopes from both sides to succeed. West Indies captain showed utter content and happiness after winning the toss and choosing to bat first, which led them towards scoring an unexpected low score of 112 runs. In this knock-out round Pakistan did not face any difficulty in achieving the given target.
West India started off with a boundary on first ball and soon losing their most valuable wicket of Chris Gayle by Umar Gul. This was the first jolt that the team felt but still believing in their batsman they played further on. At the score of 16 West Indies was unlucky enough to witness the fall of 3 wickets, including Darren Bravo and Ramnaresh Sarwan.
With Pakistani bowlers striking, Afridi was able to take 2 more wickets and remained thriving in sending Kieron Pollard and DC Thomas to pavilion. At the score of 71 West Indies was at the verge of losing their last wickets. DJG Sammy and D Bishoo got out when Ajmal showed best spinning on the field against West Indies. Their strategy moved towards settling with singles and stretched the score giving target of 112, while Chanderpaul stayed not out.
Pakistani team emerged as a powerful unit in this match on the day (23rd March) when Pakistan was officially conceived. It eventually became a gift for the nation with tremendous performance by each team member on the field in batting as well as bowling session. Pakistan played exceptionally well, achieved the target and knocked out West Indies with no fall of wicket.
Muahmmad Hafeez famous for being a professor in the dressing room due to his good analysis of matches completed his 50 and became Man of the Match. On the other hand, Kamran Akmal tried extremely hard to match-up with his partner swinging the bat well scoring 47 runs.
The movement of glory revived for Pakistani team through a precious victory in Quarter-Final. It made the team one step closer to the Semi-final. The struggle of Pakistani team would last until the final match of World Cup 2011 to achieve the title of World Champions.
Written by: Kiran Khalil
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With the commencement of ICC World Cup 2011 teams have shown stupendous performances on the field and concerning behavior in dressing rooms about scoring agenda. A well-managed and high-spirited team is able to knockout confronting opponents in order to make the nation proud back home.
Pakistan has remained successful so far in maintaining their glory on the field. It has topped group ‘A’ by staying victorious and smashing West Indies in the first Quarter-Final, on 23rd March- Pakistan Resolution Day, bestowing nation with a gift of glorious victory.
Throughout every single match played by divergent teams, moments of victory were marked bringing about memorable change in the history of cricket world cup matches. Talking of those moments include names of best players from best teams like Shahid Afridi, Ravi Rampal, Kumar Sangakkara, IJL Trott, Kemar Roach and others.
In the last match, First Quarter-Final against West Indies, Afridi spilled the magic over the field with his unbeaten performance, taking 4 wickets and able to sustain his position of highest wicket taker in the tournament up till now. His hard work got paid off making a break through by sending Ramnaresh Srawan to pavilion, eventually taking 3 more wickets during the innings.
Roach on the other hand, made history claiming first Hat-trick while playing against Netherlands, which has become his best figure in ODI’s. Roach has given the wonderful moment of success to his team by taking 6 wickets with immense confidence.
Another moment to be remembered till the next world cup arrives is when Kumar Sangakarra, one of the best players of Sri Lanka scored highest with an average of 121.66 and secured top position in 6 matches. Likewise, IJ Trott is seen at the second position in top ranking, with 336 runs and 6 matches.
The top-notch players are able to produce colossal alteration in existing figures anticipated by spectators around the world. Therefore, the scores made so far have been creating new records in ICC World Cup 2011.
The game between West Indies and India became intriguing when Ravi Rampaul took 5 wickets and upheld a knock of 51. It is now marked as one of his best performances in ODI. Rampaul made it crucial with his first strike by sending Sachin Tendulkar to pavilion and then using reverse swing to crash the stumps against Virat Kohli.
A whole new turn in performances has been seen in the ICC World Cup 2011 which eradicated a pre-conceived notion of winning the trophy by world champions of last World Cup. With striving victories and declining fall downs of performances, the ship containing fourteen teams is now on the verge of reaching its destination with one cup to win after marvelous play offs.
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