Ads 468x60px

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Pakistan let it slip through their fingers, literally

 At some point over the next couple of days, Pakistan will come to understand just how close they actually got - with this side whom few gave a chance - to getting to a World Cup final. The margin of defeat looks comfortable enough but there wasn't a whole lot between them and India, ultimately, other than a safe pair of hands somewhere, anywhere in the field.

There are many frustrating ways to lose a game, let alone one as big as this, but few gnaw away at reason and rationality quite like those lost to dropped catches. In this age of the instant vent and search for a "match ka mujrim" (criminal of the match), Misbah-ul-Haq's innings is already being pilloried in Pakistan for its poor pacing. The reaction is misplaced and overdone, for the pitch wasn't given to fluent strokeplay, particularly after the ball softened, and there had already been some momentum-losing poor shots earlier from the openers.

Blaming the batting in any case misses the point. Pakistan are never comfortable chasers and 261, in a World Cup semi-final, at the home of the opposition is an entirely different kind of 261 from the ones they might chase down in a bilateral series in the UAE. The point is, they shouldn't have been chasing that much in the first place.

There are some truisms in cricket that Pakistan quite brazenly and joyously ignore; leading among them are those to do with catching. They win matches? Yes, but not as much as scoring runs and taking wickets, thank you. They once dropped Graeme Smith five times as he ground out 65 in an ODI in Lahore, and still won the match comfortably. They dropped seven catches in an innings in New Zealand in 2009-10 and won the Test comfortably. These are to recall just two examples from a sizeable sample.

But there are some rules in life you cannot defy, some batsmen you really cannot give a chance to. And if you give Sachin Tendulkar four chances - not one but four! Tendulkar! - you cannot expect to win a game, no matter what else you do. It was one of Tendulkar's least fluent recent innings as well, but in the drops of Misbah, Younis Khan - their two best catchers -Kamran Akmal and Umar Akmal, went the game. It is as simple as that.

It wasn't - as it never is - just the runs that came after the drops, though Tendulkar did add 58 runs after the first chance went down. It was the mood that was lost each time. The first spill, with Tendulkar on 27, came as Pakistan were beginning to regain their senses after Virender Sehwag's early blast. Tendulkar had just survived two torrid overs from Saeed Ajmal and a seminal moment was at hand.

The second, on 45, came the over after Gautam Gambhir had gone. Momentum again was at stake. The third came a few overs after Wahab Riaz's two-wicket over left India in a position of real danger. All chances, incidentally, were created by the tournament's leading wicket-taker, the man to whom Pakistan look for inspiration, for breakthroughs, for controlling the middle overs of the game, their captain, a man who thrives on taking precisely such wickets, Shahid Afridi.

The effects of this on a game cannot possibly be calculated, except to say the obvious, that it changes everything and goes beyond runs alone. Who knows what target Pakistan could have been chasing? There was another, less important, miss later, on 81, but a miss nonetheless and none of the outfield catches were difficult.

"We made some big mistakes in fielding, we dropped some catches, and catches for Sachin," Afridi said. He then quipped, referring to his much-discussed phantom statement in the build-up of trying to prevent a 100th international Tendulkar hundred, "I told you he wouldn't score a hundred." It was gallows humour.

It is sad - but also predictable - that ultimately it came down to Pakistan's fielding, for that is the one area they have really worked hard on in training and actually thought about methodically, making sure for once of placing the right fielders in the right places. Younger players have come in who genuinely enjoy fielding, a couple of older ones have led the way.

They have been very sharp as they were against Australia but also still capable of sudden, unexpected tragi-comedy as against Sri Lanka at the R Premadasa in the second half of the hosts' chase and today. Overall, they have been considerably better than before, in particular with the energy they have brought on to the field. But there is much, much more to be done.

If they are skilled and contrary enough to get away with it against most sides and players, to expect to do so against the game's greatest modern-day batsman, in such a setting, is to expect miracles.

They return as heroes

It was a match that will live long in my memory.
Pakistan slipped out of the World Cup after a nerve-wracking loss to archrivals India.They now return home as heroes nonetheless.
The defeat is not under debate: we lost fair and square. However, the team that returns home is now a special one. They are special because they wore green and marched into the yard in Mohali, with their heads high, sending shock waves of intimidation to their opponents.
Shahid Afridi’s leadership and the team’s performance in the 2011 World Cup was awe-inspiring. They continued to defy all odds, defeating the unlikeliest of opponents and losing when defeat seemed implausible. They lived up to their tag of being the most unpredictable team in the world. It makes them one of the most entertaining sides to watch in the game of cricket. No one can deny that fact.
It is important to go back in time and look at the haywire journey our cricket team has gone through. The odds were against us all the way, but we still managed to shock many and get into the semi-finals.
Think of the turmoil the Pakistan team has been through. The 2007 World Cup was marked with the sudden death of our coach Bob Woolmer. This upset was followed by a year which saw no Tests in 2008. This was then followed by the Sydney debacle. And we were rocked by one of the most damaging scandals in cricket history when three of our players were banned on grounds of involvement in spot-fixing.
Our talented team was on the brink of utter collapse.
Yet here we saw them yesterday, walking right into the PCA ground with smiles and twinkles of glory in their eyes. They stood before millions of fans ready to fight India in a World Cup semi-final battle. This is a journey which deserves nothing less than applause, appreciation and love.
They are our heroes. Our heroes who won many but lost one or two. They are our heroes, regardless of whether they come bearing the golden trophy or not. We should welcome them as heroes, and nothing less.

WC defeat should be probed, says Zulqarnain

Former Pakistani wicketkeeper Zulqarnain Haidar questioned the defeat in semi-final of the World Cup 2011 against India and asked the higher authorities to probe the poor performance of the players.

In his status on social networking website Facebook, he asked the higher management of Pakistan cricket team to investigate the poor performance of the players during the big match. He said who had criticised him in the past and declared him a psycho patient be asked to probe the incumbent team players.

He said the players should take oath on the holy Quran that they were not involved in any kind of match fixing. He said he would soon expose the Pakistani players who were involved in match fixing.

Earlier, he claimed that some Pakistani players were involved in match fixing but due to threats by unidentified bookies he did not reveal the names of those players. Last year, Zulqarnain abandoned the Pakistani team during a series against South Africa at a neutral place.

He said he went to London as he received life threats from some unknown bookies. Instead of probing the matter, Pakistan Cricket Board termed him a psycho patient.

Sania wins domestic 'war' with Shoaib

NEW DELHI: Indian tennis star Sania Mirza, who had jokingly tweeted she was at 'war' with husband - and former Pakistan cricket captain - Shoaib Malik, praised the defeated semifinalists on Thursday.

Mirza, as well as Indo-Pak tennis partners Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi, had cheered on their teams from the United States where all had been involved in the Miami Masters tournament.

"Bad luck to Pakistan..fantastic win by India but job only half more to I can go practice in peace..GO INDIA," Mirza wrote her Twitter account.

She later tweeted: "As for today the men in blue brought smiles to a billion ppl:) Now to support an Indian (Rohan Bopanna) and a Pakistani (Aisam Qureshi) playing together in Miami."

Mirza added: "Makes you wonder what they (Pakistan) could achieve with this talent and without all the problems and controversies surrounding them!!"

Shoaib, who was left out of the 15-man World Cup squad, tweeted to his wife: "I wish I would have played today's match. The boys in green should walk with their heads held high."

Davis Cup tennis star Mahesh Bhupathi, also playing in the United States, believes India will win Saturday's final against Sri Lanka in Mumbai.

He wrote on Twitter: "Big day.. One more to go for India. Can't fight destiny folks. Everything going our way. Catches, home field advantage, power play and so on."

PCB chairman roots for Indo-Pak series

Not talking on the performance of any particular player in the world cup semi final clash against India, chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board, Ijaz Butt said changes in the team will be made if needed. Butt, who was going back to Pakistan through the Attari road route said, “I think the Indian te 
am played better cricket and they won. Although the Pakistani team has also done well in this tournament to reach the semi finals, but they could have played better in the match against India.”
On reactions back home, Butt said, “People must take it as a game and should not react with anger. They should understand that the team tried its best, but India had a better day.”
Butt, who was hopeful of more cricket between India and Pakistan in future, said, “Even the Prime Ministers of both the nations had talked on this and we cricket boards also feel that both the nations must play regularly. We hope that bilateral series resumes soon and we see quality cricket.”
On a question regarding changes in Pakistani team and especially the way some players played in the semifinals, Butt said, “I won’t debate on the performance of any particular player. But changes will be made if there is need.”

PM to invite Pakistan cricket team on their return

Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani will invite the members of national cricket team on their return to Pakistan to acknowledge their performance in the Cricket World Cup and reaching in the semi-final. A spokesman of the PM House said the gesture is to encourage the players for even better results in the future.
He added that Wednesday’s semi-final match in Mohali, provided a very useful opportunity to the leadership of Pakistan and India to get together and discuss the whole gamut of bilateral relations. 
The Prime Minister, he said, has termed his interaction with the Indian leadership as a milestone for opening up a new chapter of good neighbourly relations and cooperation between the two countries. 
He said the warmth and hospitality shown by the Indian leadership and people to the Prime Minister, his entourage as well as to Pakistan’s cricket team, were reflective of the shared sentiments of goodwill between the two peoples.

Anti-climatic end to Shoaib's intriguing

A career that began so promisingly 14 years ago with Shoaib Akhtar refusing to take off his first Pakistan kit for three days, ended with a dressing down on Wednesday when the fast bowler was reduced to being a 'waterboy'.
The man who was nicknamed the "Rawalpindi Express" for his ability to bowl at high speeds had been hoping for one last hurrah in Wednesday's high-octane World Cup semi-final against traditional foes India.
However, Pakistan's defeat by India brought one of the most controversial careers in cricket to a screeching halt.
For Shoaib, there will be no more highs of taking wickets or winning matches for his country. When he wakes up on Thursday, all he will be left with is a sackful of memories.
"The best moment was when I got the first kit for the test match and there was a huge star on my chest," an emotional Shoaib told reporters after announcing his decision to quit two weeks ago.
"I wore that kit and I slept in that kit and I just couldn't believe that I was going to wake up in that kit. I didn't take if off for three days."
Luckily for Shoaib, his 46-test and 163-ODI appearances ensured he received a regular supply of team strips for almost a decade and a half but from Thursday, there will be no more new kits arriving on his doorstep.
But no one can deny the impact, good or bad, he made in the sport. The 35-year-old made his debut in a test match against West Indies in 1997 and immediately caught everyone's attention as the fastest bowler of his generation.
Considered by many as the heir to Pakistan fast bowling greats Imran Khan, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis, Shoaib disappointed most with a career blighted by injuries and controversies stemming from his indiscipline.
His tearaway pace was a threat to many a batsman around the world but his figures failed to justify his immense talent.
He finished with 178 test wickets and 247 ODI scalps -- a record he will not be too pleased with.
Ball-tampering allegations, numerous disciplinary issues, hitting team mate Mohammad Asif with a bat in 2007, doping accusations and several other controversies and injuries took the focus away from his often devastating bowling.
Even at this World Cup, reports emerged Shoaib had angrily kicked his team mate Kamran Akmal after the wicketkeeper had dropped New Zealand's Ross Taylor twice in the space of three deliveries during a group stage match on March 8.
The Pakistan camp played down the clash but that match proved to be Shoaib's last international outing.
He was reduced to carrying drinks to his team mates on the field during the semi-final against India on Wednesday, an end the fast bowler would have despised when he announced his retirement midway through the showpiece event.
"It feels like it's my first death," he told reporters about his decision to quit.
"I have taken this decision after much thought. Pakistan's last match in this World Cup will also be my last."
Shoaib's obsession with pace during his career was often detrimental to the team's cause as he lost control and proved to be expensive on occasions.
His long run-up often put Pakistan at risk of incurring a penalty for their slow over rate and it irked many of his coaches over the years.
On a number of occasions, he was not considered a team man and was rather portrayed as the problem child of Pakistan cricket with a penchant for night life.
But the strongly-built Shoaib at his peak, running in from about 35 yards out with his long hair furling in the wind, was enough to catch the imagination of cricket lovers across the world.
He demonstrated his talent in the series against India in 1999 when he took eight wickets in the Asian Test Championship in Calcutta, bowling Rahul Dravid and then yorking Sachin Tendulkar next ball with two inswinging deliveries.
Shoaib was a huge draw at the 1999 World Cup in England where he finished with 16 wickets as Pakistan reached the final, which they eventually lost to Australia.
But subsequently the dark phase in his career followed and he found himself in and out of the team due to reasons that were not strictly cricketing.
If disciplinary issues were most frequent, the phase in 2006 when he was banned for two years after testing positive for an anabolic steroid -- in an internal drugs test carried out by the Pakistan Cricket Board -- was the most embarrassing.
A three-man appeals tribunal later cleared him of the doping offences but the fast bowler never came back to his best
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...