By Imran Riaz
imran.riiaz (at) gmail.com
Pakistanís Team Selection & ICC Cricket World Cup 2015
I am not convinced with the team selection of Pakistan Cricket Team for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015. There are many flaws in the selection. Moin Khan, the Chief Selector of Pakistanís Cricket team was a brilliant cricketer and he was the member of the Imran Khanís successful campaign for the 1992 Cricket World Cup. I have no doubts on his ability as a cricketer, but strong reservations on his abilities as a chief Selector. The players like, Fawad Alam, Asad Shafeq, Bilawal Bhatti, Anwar Ali, Nasir Jamshed, Zulifqar Babar & Umar Gul are totally ignored for the final squad for the World Cup. Most of these players were part of Pakistanís Cricket Team during last year and played regular cricket. On the other hand players like Yasir Shah, Eahsan Adil & Suhail Khan is selected for the world cup team, a real surprise for cricketing brains. Most of these players even did not play a single game against Australia and New Zealand home series. These both ODI home series were the part of the preparations for the world cup. Selection committee had selected players who even not play a single odi game and dropped the players who were playing regular cricket. This is a real shame and disgrace and raising questions for the team selection process.
Letís compare the players on logical ground realities. Starts from Muhammad Hafeez, he is a bowling all rounder not batting all rounder and this is true. His batting average is about 30.73 in 154 games and he is not bowling as per ban on his illegal bowling action. There are very less chances that he will bowl in world cup. He is very tricky on the pitches of Australia and New Zealand and will be the failure, as he is the part of Pakistan Cricket Team because of his bowling performance. On the other hand Nasir Jamshed having an impressive odi average of 33.64 in just 45 games and having all proper cricketing shots in his books. All he needs is confident, which is not providing him by the PCB. This is dishonesty if you compare Muhammed hafeez and Nasir jamshed as batsmen and you select Muhammmmad Hafeez. Nasir Jamshed and Ahmed Shahzadís combination as opening batsmen can win you any game on any day. Remember Muhammad Hafeez scored only 0,18,2 in his last 3 games in New zeland. I do not need more argument to prove my point.
Letís talk about younis Khanís role in the team as the most senior batsmen. His role is in the team to hold his wicket on the one hand, rotate strike rate and give liberty and comfort to other young batsmen. But I am very sorry, as Younis Khan is throwing his wickets like an old lady in last 3 matches is proving, his refluxes and time is gone in odi and very bad selection. He scored just 9,7,1 in last 3 games. He comes to the crease waste many balls and then gone as simple as that. He is putting pressure on other young players. As Muhammed Hafeez and Younis Khan both top batsmen is playing like a club cricketers and this is world cup. Instead of Younis, Asad Shafeq or Fawad Alam may be very good choice, but who cares and justice. Both young batsmen can rotate the strike rate and cannot give their wicket and fight hard. This is a real shame that selection Committee did not pick Fawad Alam. He is a real talent. The failure of one down position and opening batsmen can cost Pakistan the World Cup. Sometimes we must have to take strict and bold decisions for the sake of the victory. Younis Khan is a legendary batsman and effective in test cricket, but his time in odi is finished.
Moreover, the selection of Sohaib Maqsood, Umar Akmal and Haris suhail is a good sign. As these players can win the game, on their day alone. I would love to see Umar akmal at no. 3 and Sohaib Maqsood at on. 5. Umar Akmal is not less talented then Ricky Ponting or Virat kohli. But you canít expect your best batsman to come at no. 6 and win a game for you. It may happen once in a blue moon. If you want to give others team at least some fight go with Umar Akmal at no. 3, as you have nothing to lose. Take some aggressive decision drop Younis Khan as Imran Khan dropped Majid Khan. If you talk about, Sarfaraz Ahmed. He is in the farm of his life. He needs right batting position in the team. I would love to see him open the innings with Ahmed Shahzad as we donít have Nasir Jamshed and I cannot trust Muhammad Hafeez as batsman. So my first Choice as opening pare is Ahmed Shahzad, sarfaraz Ahmed and Umar Akmal as one down batsman. Please keep in mind in recently two tour matches, Umar Akmal rescued the Pakistan Team and score aggressive 77 and 68. It shows his ability and power. If I am a captain, I would allow him to play as many as balls possible.
Letís talk about the skipper, Misbha ul Haq. He scored 58, 88,107 in his last three matches in New Zealand. He is in brilliant farm before the world cup. This is a massive bonus for Pakistanís cricket Team that their skipper is leading from the front. But, my doubts are clear. Which number suits him to bat. There is no hope from Muhammad Hafeez and Younis Khan in the World Cup. Who will set example for the youngsters? Who can take pressure from the top till to 50th over, yes he is the man Misbha ul Haq. Misbha ul haq must not wait and canít afford to sit and watch Pakistanís batting trembling in the World Cup. He must come at number 4 position and take all the pressure. He must play maximum overs with his pace and make sure a proper and favorable support for the youngsters like Umar Akmal, sohaib Maqsood or for the Haris suhail in the middle. Just remember 1992 World Cup, when Imran Khan came like a Lion and played at number 3 position now this is all history and a fairy tale. But wait, what happened in 1999 cricket World Cup, Steve Waughís brilliance in batting makes Australians proud for the daces. Same Ricky Ponting did in cricket World cup 2003 and in 2007. So I would love to see, Misbha ul haq to come and lead from the front. As we have nothing to lose.
If you talk about all-rounders, then Shahid Afridi is a super choice, with the ball and equally with the bat. He is a real match winner on his day & a real motivation for the youngsters. Now we need another all rounder, probably fast bowling all rounder like Abdul razzaq. We have two choices before World Cup. There is Anwar Ali & Bilawal Bhatti. Anwar Aliís pace is not good, but his bowling can work very well in Austrians & New Zealand wickets. He is also very decent batsman at the lower order, he is not selected although he was playing regular cricket. Bilawal Bhatti was another decent choice. He can bowl 140Kph plus, decent batsman and a hard hitter. He is also not picked. He was also playing very decent cricket in odi for Pakistan. So, there is no decent fast bowling all-rounder in the team. If we consider wahab Riaz as fast bowling all-rounder, then his bowling line and length is very poor and he gives runs a lot. His batting is good but he is a hitter. If selection committee picked Wahab Riaz for the World Cup. Then my question is why not umar Gul is picked as fast bowling all-rounder. He is better bowl then wahab Riaz and a good hitter too. Now, Pakistan Cricket Team will miss a fast bowling all rounder in the world cup, which is a real shame, until unless Bilawal Bhatii may come in the position for Junaid Khan, as if he is not fully fit.
If we talk about spin bowling attack, o I am sorry we have nothing except Shahid Afridi. I am sure he will be one of the finest bowler in this world Cup. Yasir shah another leg spinner. His performance may be a surprise package. What he needs is confident from the team management. But, I would love to see Raza Hassan or Zulifqar Babar in the side. Both of them are really fine left arm spin bowler and they can bat too. But selection committee missed the trick. This is no easy for any batsman to hit Raza Hassan or Zulifqar Babar. Both of them can be used as opening bowler. But none of them is selected, who cares a system without justice. Yasir Shah is a good bowler, but still not tried enough to play World Cup. He will leak runs as only 4 fielders are allowed out of circle after power plays. The selection of Yasir Shah is a gamble, I hope so it may work.
Now, my favorite topic the fast bowling, I am still in shocked, that Umar Gul is not selected. He is experienced fast bowler and sometimes a good hitter as well. He can control the game in power plays, having brilliant Yorkers and reverse swing bowling with some quick bouncers a real package. We are playing in Australia and New Zealand, and we will miss experience fast bowler. The selection of Muhammad Irfan and Junaid Khan is fine and they are automatic choices. Muhammad Irfan will be a real threat in this world cup with his bowling. But, Junaid Khan is not fully fit and may be ruled out from the World Cup, as his fitness is poor. Letís see who is reserve fast bowler? Umar Gul or Bilal Bhatti. But if Junaid Khan will not play world cup, it will be a great lose for Pakistan cricket Team. Another quick fast bowler is wahab Riaz. He can bowl more than 145 Kph, but without control and line. He will leak runs and may be less effective. The selection of Eahsan Adil and suhail Khan is still shocking for cricketing brains. Both of them will be useless and the waste of resource in the world cup. If selection committee considers Eahsan Adil and Suhail Khan than why not they consider Muhammad Talha. I have no hope with the fast bowlers. I canít see this kind of funny and weaker Pakistanís fast bowling attack ever in my life. The selection of Eahsan Adil and Suhail Khan will hurt badly Pakistan in the World Cup.
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