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There is a strange argument that usually follows after every match, particularly in limited-over Cricket, regarding giving credit or blaming a specific player. For best player of the game there is award Man of the Match, but there isn’t any such accreditation for worst player of the game. That leaves the argument open for those who have to find the worst player while those who argue for best player would simply come up with reference of Man of the Match.

Adam Gilchrist scored 149 out of Australia’s total of 281 in World Cup Final 2007, so all the credit goes to him. Other would argue, there is no guarantee that someone from middle order would have not performed had Gilchrist got out early – Ricky Ponting scored 140 in Final of the previous World Cup. Saeed Ajmal’s 18 off the last over in Semi Final against Australia would be put as argument to blame him, the for argument would be: he defended 17 off the last over in the previous match at the same venue or it was captain’s mistake who made him to bowl from the end with short boundaries.

In Pakistan, such arguments are most common. In a winning cause, it is team effort. For losing cause, there in one someone who spoiled the game and earned them a defeat. If we zero in those debates, the arguments mostly depict the style and technique of players, not the player himself – that’s what those with meticulous nature would easily conclude. Mostly the argument, in losing cause, revolves around batsmen, for getting failed or playing too slow.

For example, in Misbah-ul-Haq vs Shahid Afridi’s case. The reason of argument is either playing slow or going for the broke right from the start. Those who prefer to attack, never mind the state and conditions of the game, would blame to a batsman even if he ends up scoring suitable runs (the same reason Mohammad Hafeez was blamed in recent Semi Final against Sri Lanka for starting off too slowly, notwithstanding he scored most runs in the match from either sides). In Afridi’s case, even if he fails, his courage and style of aggressiveness is endorsed, for he has won us many matches in the past with his brutal batting. There is no dispute over it.

I don’t know if it is right to blame one player for an entire defeat when you are believer of ‘team efforts’. I don’t support the notion of blaming one player. But there is something, may be intangible, that slants your views to blame one person in defeats. And by the same token, compels you to give credit to a sole player in winning cause.

Shahid Afridi is the latest victim of the blame game. Rather than having the comparison with some other player – saying that if Tom, Dick or Harry had played in his place the result could have been different – let’s analyze his own performances to see how the result gets changed for Pakistan.

6 Ducks in Twenty20 Internationals.

Of Shahid Afridi’s six scores of 0 in Twenty20 Internationals, 4 times Pakistan lost the match. The two times when Pakistan won, both had exceptional innings first by Umar Akmal and second time by Umar Gul. Akmal’s inning was recently termed as 2nd best ever in history of Twenty20 Internationals by ESPNCricinfo.

What the stats don’t tell about these 6 ducks is at what stage of the game they appeared. They were not in the penultimate or last over of the innings when batsmen go for broke. The ducks rather appeared at stage when an innings could have been built and he could drag Pakistan out of trouble. Notably, 5 of these ducks came in World Twenty20s. Following we discuss those four where Pakistan lost.

1. World T20 Final vs India 2007

81 runs required off 51 balls with 5 wickets in hand. Shahid Afridi tries to hit Iran Pathan out of the park the first ball he faces. It goes high, doesn’t get the elevation, caught at mid-off.

2. Super Eight Match vs Sri Lanka World T20 2009

50 runs required off 27 balls with 6 wickets in hand. Shahid Afridi goes for slog-sweep, first ball against Muttiah Muralitharan, all he manages is a fielder at deep midwicket. [He hit the same shot to the same bowler in Final of the same event at the same ground, that went for Six, may be because it was not first ball]

3. Super Eight Match vs England World T20 2010

Pakistan 76-3 after 10.3 overs. The scoring momentum is with Pakistan. Shahid Afridi tries to take single off first ball which was never there for the taking. He just nudges it in the close field and starts off running carelessly, turns back after few strides, but it is too late. [He is captain of Pakistan]

4. Semi Final vs Sri Lanka World T20 2012

Pakistan need 49 off 34 balls with 5 wickets in hand. First ball, Shahid Afridi misses to read the arc of ball and plays onto his stumps. An awkward shot, even if he connects it, question remains where would it land? [Not as careless as are the other ducks, but then a player with 16-year-experience would have known it needed a stride forward to forestall the effect of the ball]

Four 50s in Twenty20 Internationals

In his six-year international career of Twenty20 Cricket, Shahid Afridi has managed 4 fifties, all of them match-winning A reason behind this small tally of fifties could be his batting in late order. Three of his 50s have come when he batted at Number 3 or 4. Each time he scored a half-century, he was Man of the Match.

Since he bats down the order, so even if see his scores of 30+ in Twenty20s, only once out of 8 times Pakistan lost the match. Following we take a look at his fifties.

1. Semi Final against South Africa in World T20 2009

Pakistan lose first wicket in second over. Shahid Afridi is sent at one down to rescue the innings. Soon Kamran Akmal goes back too and Pakistan are 28-2 in third over. Afridi from there has partnership of 67 off 56 balls with Shoaib Malik. He ends scoring 51 off 34 balls, that is his first ever international fifty in T20 cricket. [Let alone hitting the first ball, Shahid Afridi didn't hit any six in whole innings yet managed Strike Rate of 150.00. Most of his shots were risk free]

2. Final against Sri Lanka in World T20 2009

In chase of World T20 Final, Shahid Afridi comes to bat at start of 8th over when Pakistan lose their first wicket and soon have another partnership with Shoaib Malik, this time even better than the previous one – unbeaten 76 off 57 balls. He leads Pakistan to glory of World T20 2009. [Arguably his best ever knock for Pakistan beside his Test century in Chennai 1999]

3. Only T20 against Sri Lanka in 2009

Pakistan 35-2 at end of fourth over. Shahid Afridi scores his third consecutive fifty in Twenty20 internationals that earns him 3rd consecutive Man of the Match award too. [In his 13-year career, it was his first ever match as Pakistan captain in any format of the game]

4. Second Twenty20 against Sri Lanka in 2012

Pakistan in deep trouble at 41-4 after 10.1 overs. A must win match for them to draw the 2-match series. Shahid Afridi batting at sixth number ends with scoring unbeaten 52 off 33 balls, that helps Pakistan to add 81 runs in last ten overs and take them to a total of 122 on a tricky Hambantota pitch. [This too date is Shahid Afridi's last fifty in international cricket]

Trivia: The Hambantota Twenty20 was the last time Shahid Afridi hit a six in international cricket. Since then, he has played 13 matches.

It is up to the readers to decide whether the performance of one player affects the outcome of the match or not

By Mazher Arshad on October 13th, 2012

Criclens is grateful to Ammar Ashraf for providing all these stats which he collected bit by bit during ICC World Twenty20 2012. 

We have put various aspects of ‘numbers’ of the batsmen and the bowlers. Michael Hussey and Dale Steyn, one the best Test players, have shown how the basic skill matters even in the shortest version of the game. The former has stunning percentage of singles which proves his sedulity while the latter was hard nut to crack for batsmen willing to get off the strike.

Batting

While Luke Wright and the two reputed T20 willow-wielders, Brendon McCullum and Chris Gayle, lead the chart, Ross Taylor is the odd one out in the following batsmen with best Strike Rates, for he didn’t bat as opener or in Power Plays. The batsmen of upper order have luxury of field restrictions to have a go at bowlers and deal in boundaries. That is why most of the batsmen seen here are openers. Wright opened only once in World T20 but, due to England’s poor openings, he appeared to bat inside Power Plays in every innings.

Rather than having a look at lowest Strike Rates, we look for batsmen with highest percentage of dot balls faced – however it does not mean these batsmen have poor strike rates as Chris Gayle and Imran Nazir would suggest. Johnson Charles leads the way, his innings in Final of World T20 would add more to the notion that how he struggled to rotate strike.

Chris Gayle and Imran Nazir might seem as surprise package in the table above but, certainly, not in below. The duo dealt mostly in boundaries. Gayle, Nazir, Charles, Warner, Jaywardene are found in the both the tables ( percentage of most dot balls played and runs scored in boundaries).

The stat that Michael Hussey has the best percentage of singles scored vindicates his diligency while at the crease. He also adds to the belief how rotating strike is important even in Twenty20 Cricket. Barring Dilshan, every else is from the lot of middle-order batsmen who work through nudges and dabs in open fields. Second is JP Duminy who played on such innings in game against Pakistan and forestalled a batting collapse. Pakistan’s Nasir Jamshed perhaps has a lesson, for his fellow batsmen, to work through singles if boundaries are not coming.

Rohit Sharma is surprise appearance here but he faced only 63 balls.

Bowling

Dale Steyn and Raza Hassan are the only bowlers who leaked runs at less than 5 per over, but Steyn also grabbed 6 wickets in contrast to Hassan’s three. Steyn and Angelo Mathews are the lone pacers, rest of the eight are spinners. Mendis appears to be most promising as he also took 15 wickets, the most in one edition of World Twenty20.

Steyn is to bowling what Hussey is to batting. While his Economy suggests that he didn’t let the runs flow, in addition to that he didn’t allow batsmen to rotate strike. Steyn’s Dot Ball percentage is 57.8, next best is 51.8 by Sohail Tanvir. Tanvir, however, bowled only 54 balls. Ajantha Mendis bowled 144 deliveries in this World T20 and half of those were Dot Balls.

Tanvir had Economy Rate of 7.66 notwithstanding his Dot Ball percentage of 51.8 while Zaheer Khan’s Economy is 7.23. That also shows how batsmen prefer to score runs in boundaries at start of the innings rather than going for single. [For that reason, Gayle and Nazir despite having high percentage of dot balls still managed better strike rates].

Gayle and Akila Dananjaya have the worst Dot Ball percentages, but concern here is for Shahid Afridi who delivered 144 balls and could produce only 42 Dot Balls.

Ravichandran Ashwin shows how tough it was for batsmen to have him for boundaries. The 95 balls he bowled, only on 6 occasion batsmen managed to clear the rope. Sunil Narine bowled 148 balls, the most by any bowler in World T20 2012, and just 11 times he was hit for boundary.

All the 10 bowlers below are spinners.

Jacob Oram seems to be the easiest pick for batsmen to look for boundaries as his Ratio nearly 4 is depicting here. Pat Cummins bowled 144 balls, 27 of those were sent for boundaries.

Save Marlon Samuels, 9 of the bowlers in this table are fast bowlers. But the speed at which Samuels bowled in this World T20 despite being a spinner, you could be forgiven for considering him a pacer too.

The names appearing in the table below are quite similar to the above.

PS: The stats are not extracted through any online available filter. They were taken in bits through matches and scorecards. The statsman kept note of batsmen’s and bowlers’ dot balls, boundaries, singles etc. A slight or no difference can be expected in some tables as the Leg Byes in the stats are accounted for Dot Balls too.

Ammar Ashraf is a Cricket junkie, he tweets here.

By CricLens Staff Report on October 8th, 2012

No team from this Group 2 (Pakistan, Australia, India and South Africa) has been knocked-out yet or has qualified for Semi Final. Even South Africa can still make into the Semi Finals, and Australia can be knocked out. Pakistan may qualify for Semi Final even after losing to Australia on Tuesday, and may not qualify even after winning it. We put scenarios for all the teams below.

Tuesday Fixtures: Pakistan vs Australia at 3.00pm PST; India vs South Africa at 7.00pm PST

Pakistan

Best chance for Pakistan to qualify is to beat Australia and then hope India lose to South Africa. In that case, Pakistan and Australia will go through to Semi Final irrespective of Run Rates.

If Pakistan and India both win on Tuesday then three teams (India, Pakistan and Australia) will get tied on 4 points each, top 2 teams with better Run Rate will qualify.

If Pakistan lose to Australia by a close margin like 2 or 3 runs, then they must hope that South Africa beat India by a close margin too. In that scenario, Pakistan and Australia will be through to the Semis.

India

Best chance for India is: Pakistan lose to Australia and then they beat South Africa, without Run Rate coming into play, India and Australia will be through to the Semis. If Pakistan beat Australia, then India will have to beat South Africa by a margin that takes them above Pakistan or Australia in Run Rate.

India can also qualify even after losing to South Africa. That is possible if Australia thrash Pakistan by a good margin, and India does not lose to South Africa by a bad margin.

South Africa

They are not out yet as there is backdoor entry left for them. Their only chance to qualify for Semis is: Australia beat Pakistan, and then they beat India by a margin which is enough to take their Run Rate above India and Pakistan. If Pakistan win on Tuesday, South Africa will be knocked-out straight away.

Australia

It is crazy to see that Australia are still not confirmed for the Semis. If they beat Pakistan, they will be through. But if they lose to Pakistan by a huge margin, like 50 odd runs, then they must hope South Africa beat India or India does not win against South Africa by a huge margin.

If it rains on Tuesday.

If both the matches are washed-out then Pakistan and Australia will qualify for Semi Final. If this happens, India will regret not chasing the target against Pakistan just 1 ball earlier.

Mazher Arshad is a freelance Cricket writer, he tweets here.

By Mazher Arshad on September 30th, 2012

Parted just sixty-five years ago, both the teams seem to have rivalry as antique as of the Mongooses and the Cobras. And the pugnacity is akin to the roommates tussling for getting into bath first in a typical morning of a dorm.

So India and Pakistan’s arch-rivalry has come full circle over again on the backdrop of another ICC event. The protagonists from both the countries are holding their breath as they wait on another high-octane encounter to unfold on Sunday, a perfect day for all the razzmatazz. If the censuses are anything to go by, there will be 20 percent of the world population behind it. It could be viewed as Cricket’s El Clasico.

There isn’t any regret in saying Cricket is played between them amidst hostile environments. The hostility, however, for the goodness of the game and the countries, is not as grievous as to spark a football war. If not for this fragile harmony how could these contests be this much looked for? As the late Peter Roebuk once said: The Melbourne Cup might stop a nation. India versus Pakistan in the World Cup stops a subcontinent.

Although parted just sixty-five years ago, both the teams seem to have rivalry as antique as of the Mongooses and the Cobras. And the pugnacity is akin to the roommates tussling for getting into bath first in a typical morning of a dorm.

For both the teams, hell hath no fury like losing a match let alone in a world tournament. So spare a though for Pakistan who tasted defeat all the 7 times they locked horns. For some respite, they have won couple of times in the Champions Trophy but, like World Cup and World Twenty20, that tournament doesn’t have the W’ in it. Every Test playing team, apart from Pakistan, has defeated India in World Cups. Even Bangladesh defeated once, Zimbabwe too.

Come Sunday, Pakistan get one more chance to get into unconquered territory of India and take some stains out of its blemished record in the World Events. It is not that Pakistan had not been competitive enough to beat India. Beside their overall better head-to-head record, many times, such as in Bangalore 1996 and Manchester 1999, Pakistan started off as clear favourites yet they were also-rans. Even tomorrow, if we don’t look teams on papers, Pakistan would be in a pole position, for they have won 6 out of their last seven Twennty20 Internationals (the one they lost was a dead-rubber) and have the winning momentum with them – they hitherto are the only undefeated team along with Australia in this World T20.

Also spare a thought for Pakistan’s marquee players, Wasim Akram and Saeed Anward for example, who could never defeat India in World Cups three times they played. Or Inzamam-ul-Haq, who played four times. Even Shahid Afridi whose losing streak reads as 5 consecutive matches in the World events. Afridi now crossroad of his career may well be playing his last such match against India as next high-prolific Indo-Pak encounter isn’t possible before 2014 and it remains to be seen if Afridi can add two more years in his international career. Contrary to Pakistan players, Sachin Tendulkar played 5 World Cup matches, he saw India winning it all the five teams and for good measures he was Man of the Match in 3 times.

But, tomorrow, India will be under a lot more hot water. They face an elimination threat for the third successive time in Super Eight Round of World Twnety20s since winning it in 2007. If  they lose tomorrow and Australia beat South Africa, they will be knocked out even before playing their last match. Pakistan though won’t have any such threat at least in game against India.

There will be lot of eyes set on players for this marquee clash, and there will be some IPL buyers lined up too. As the governments of both the countries have gone less hawkish to each other lately and the deadlock seems to be at end, it is likely that players from Pakistan will be featuring in the next IPL. It just took one hostile spell of pace and a bruised finger of Ricky Ponting at the WACA to fetch Kemar Roach a whopping $720,000 IPL deal. It is just as likely that a player like Nasir Jamshed or Raza Hassan may go on to emulate Roach’s bank statements with successful show against India.

Mohammad Hafeez tomorrow steps into the territory where four titans of Pakistan – Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Shahid Afridi – chanced their arms as captains and returned defeated. Hafeez might not much legacies of his predecessors but he is a strong part of Pakistan’s unit. Strong enough that, tomorrow, he will be playing 100th consecutive international match since making his comeback in 2010.

Those who started to follow Pakistan Cricket in the late 90’s, they had two big hopes from their team. First: to beat India in a World Cup match. Second: to win a Test against Australia. The second hope fulfilled two years back in Leeds. Can Mohammad Hafeez fulfill the first in Colombo?

Mazher Arshad is a freelance Cricket writer, he tweets here.

By Mazher Arshad on September 29th, 2012

Since 2000, Bangladesh have played against 17 different international teams and, save Pakistan, they have beaten all [16] at least once.

While it is surprising that they have not won in 13 years and 37 international matches, what’s more surprising is never even once there came a possibility of No-Result (like rain) to end Pakistan’s constantly growing winning streak. When these teams meet on Tuesday in last group match of ICC World Twenty20, Bangladesh would hope to halt Pakistan’s run in such a way that their Run Rate go better than Pakistan’s to take them into Super Eight, otherwise only a win will not guarantee them a place in the next round.

Numbers, however, don’t depict that it hasn’t been a cakewalk for Pakistan lately when they were up against Bangladesh. In both the matches of Asia Cup this year, particularly in the Final, they were made to work hard so much so that, in Final, Bangladesh were just an inside or outside edge away from beating and ending their reign.

Pakistan has the history going in their favour, and they would want it is not re-written. They are astute enough to avoid complacency factor, but even then, playing at their full strength, a concern remains for Pakistan with their fast bowlers, a department which has not developed ever since rattled the by happenings of 28-8-10.

A decade ago, or even before departure of Aamir and Asif, it would be laughing matter to bother about Pakistan fast bowlers. Today, it is hard to even think of one pacer who looks a certain pick in the eleven, not even Umar Gul. The bowler, Junaid Khan, who had shown lot of promise recently is not part of the squad.  Sohail Tanvir rode his early success on his unusual action which, apparently, is picked now, and he has lost pace since knee surgery. Yasir Arafat does not enjoy the luxury of seaming tracks, like those in England that have yielded him wickets in county cricket. And for Mohammad Sami, only a man with mass prize-bond awards would risk his selection.

Eight of the 20 overs, which are more often than not spin-less, remain fear-factor for Pakistan, and considering it Pakistan’s Achilles heel, that’s where oppositions could target them, like Ross Taylor nearly did the other night. It is unlikely against Bangladesh though, but as they move into Super Eight and fast bowling problems don’t get fixed, it is just as possible that Pakistan bring in their fourth spinner, Raza Hassan, by replacing a fast bowler like Tanvir or Arafat.  And there is option of a part-timer spinner, Shoaib Malik, too without going for the fourth specialist.

Since fast bowlers are not delivering, it also exposes Pakistan’s weakness in depth overs. Ajmal would handle one end, the other remains vulnerable unless Umar Gul finds his trait back, the Yorkers.

When the things unfold, it will also be interesting to see how Bangladesh handle Pakistan spinners, Saeed Ajmal in particular, who is going to be tackled by insights from Bangladesh’s bowling coach Saqlain Mushtaq, the discoverer of Ajmal’s weapon [Doosra]. Bangladesh would depend a lot on their key players such as Tamim Iqbal, Abdur Razzak and Shakib Al-Hassan, two of them failed to make an impact in their last game, so they would hope such performances are not repeated.

Stats and Trivia

- Since 2000, Bangladesh have beaten every Test playing nation in International cricket but Pakistan.

- Pakistan have won 24 consecutive ODI Matches against Bangladesh, the most by any team against a particularly opposition.

- Highest score by a Pakistan batsman in Twenty20 Int.  is 87, and it was against Bangladesh by Misbah-ul-Haq in Karachi 2008.

- Pakistan’s highest partnership  for any wicket in Twenty20 Internationals is 142 (between Kamran Akmal and Salman Butt),  it came against Bangladesh in last ICC World Twenty20.

By Mazher Arshad on September 25th, 2012

New Zealand from Group D have already advanced into Super Eight Round due to their superior Net Run Rate (+1.150) whereas Pakistan and Bangladesh are still not confirmed for the next round.

If Pakistan are to go in Super Eight, they must not lose to Bangladesh by margin of 36 or more runs when they play on Tuesday (September 25) in Pallekele. Or if Pakistan bat first then they must not let Bangladesh chase target before 16 overs. In other words, if Bangladesh win by at least 36 runs or chase the target in less than 16 overs, they will knock out Pakistan from the event and will go through along with New Zealand.

If the match between Pakistan and Bangladesh is washed-out (No Result) then Pakistan will qualify for Super Eight Round.

Pakistan’s current Run Rate: +0.650

Bangladesh’s current Run Rate: -2.950

Case I – Bangladesh score 150 and Pakistan are restricted to 114. Then the Net Run Rate will be as followed:

Teams Matches Points Net RR
New Zealand 2 2 +1.150
Bangladesh 2 2 -0.575
Pakistan 2 2 -0.575

In Case-I, Pakistan and Bangladesh will be having same Net Run Rate but Bangladesh will progress to next round on account of beating Pakistan in head-to-head match. Net Run Rate will not alter in a different scenario like: Bangladesh score 170 and Pakistan are restricted to 134 or Bangladesh score 190 and Pakistan are restricted to 154.

PS: If a team gets All Out before 20 overs, it will be considered they have played all their resources [20 overs].

Case II – Pakistan score 150 and Bangladesh chase the target of 151 in 15.5 overs. Then NRR will be as followed:

Teams Matches Points Net RR
New Zealand 2 2 +1.150
Bangladesh 2 2 -0.555
Pakistan 2 2 -0.695

In the Case II, permutations could be slightly different if target is above 150 or less than 150. But anything Bangladesh chasing in less than 16 overs will be threatening for Pakistan. For Example, if Pakistan score 130 then Bangladesh will still be needing to chase it down in 15.5 overs. A lesser target will have better chances for Bangladesh to go through.

Lowdowns from the previous events with respect to Pakistan.

It has not been a cakewalk for Pakistan to go in Super Eight Round in the previous two ICC World Twenty20s.

World Twenty20 2010: Pakistan and Australia had beaten Bangladesh in Group Stage, but Pakistan had to rely on game between Bangladesh and Australia. Bangladesh needed to chase target of Australia in around 19 overs to knock-out Pakistan. And the way game progressed, at one stage when Australia were reduced to 65-6 it looked like Pakistan would get knocked-out.

World Twenty20 2009: The Netherlands had beaten England and England had beaten Pakistan. So when Pakistan met Netherlands, only a win did not guarantee Pakistan a place in Super Eight, they had to win by margin of 25 Runs against Netherlands to go through. For good measures, Pakistan won it by 82 Runs.

World Twenty20 2007: Pakistan had beaten Scotland, and match of India vs Scotland was washed-out. Not a threat for Pakistan but had Pakistan chased India’s target of 142 in less than 14 overs then India would have been knocked-out.

Mazher Arshad is a freelance Cricket writer, he tweets here.

By Mazher Arshad on September 24th, 2012

The versatility of McCullum’s shots is beyond measure. He bats by the book, and for good measures, off the book, like that tennis forearm hit over the head at long-off, a shot even Roger Federer would struggle to play.

First time when Brendon McCullum came under the spotlight, it was not for good reasons. When New Zealand got eliminated from World Cup 2003, he was made scapegoat for dropping Rahul Dravid at one at stage when India were 22-3 chasing a trifling target of 147. It was not until end of 2005 that he caught the public eye for good reasons, by scoring unbeaten 50 off 25 balls in highest successful ODI chase (332) against then the world champions, and vindicated what his batting prowess is capable of. I regret missing that innings, for I was busy sitting in Gaddafi Stadium to watch another run-fest.

It is due to his aggressive batting abilities that today he is one of the frightening Twenty20 batsmen. One would argue on Australia being Number 8 in ICC T20 Rankings, but no one would on Brendon McCullum being Number 1, a fitting status for a batsman who has 214 runs in last 2 Twenty20 internationals, including an innings of 123, the highest ever of the format.

McCullum’s strength is: he knows nuts and bolts of Twenty20 craftsmanship. The versatility of his shots is beyond measure so much so that he bats by the book, and for good measures, off the book; like he showed us the other day, in game against Bangladesh, with that tennis forearm hit over his head at long-off, a shot even Roger Federer would struggle to play. He hardly mistimes a shot when on song as he was during that 123-innings or some years ago in the first ever game of IPL. So neat and clean hitting he does.

Pakistan are set to face New Zealand and, for that matter, Brendon McCullum in their World T20 opener on Sunday. The match, for many reasons, would be a contest to watch. The foremost strength of New Zealand is McCullum, of Pakistan it is Ajmal; while McCullum is Number 1 batsman is T20 Rankings, Ajmal is Number 1 bowler in the Rankings; while McCullum is leading run-getter (1566) in Twenty20 internationals, Ajmal is leading wicket-taker (60).

There has been contests, between leading run-getters and wicket-takers, in other formats in the past; Lara vs Warne in Tests, Tendulkar vs Akram in One Days. McCullum vs Ajmal would make it for Twnenty20s.

As for the contests between the two teams, until 2007 it was fitting to say Pakistan were scourge for the Kiwis as so often Pakistan had a way with New Zealand in World Cups. But things changed then. Now for the fourth consecutive year, Pakistan will be up against New Zealand in an ICC event, and on all the three previous occasions Pakistan tasted defeat – Champions Trophy Semi Final 2009, World T20 Super Eight Match 2010, Cricket World Cup Group Match 2011.

Last time these two teams played at Pallekele, the birthday boy Ross Raylor plundered a ruthless ton which Pakistan would be having on their minds. This time Brendon McCullum could be a similar threat, though he does not have birthday on Sunday but he wouldn’t mind celebrating it four days before.

Stats and Trivia

- Brendon McCullum when plays tomorrow will be only second player, after Shahid Afridi, to feature in 50 Twenty20 Internationals.

- Brendon McCullum has most runs (1566), most hundreds (2), most fifties (9), most sixes (64), most fours (150) in Twenty20 Internationals.

- Umar Gul was leading wicket-taker in ICC World Twenty20 2007 as well in 2009 – on both occasions he took 13 wickets. He missed the third edition in 2010 due to injury. He has 26 wickets in 14 matches of World T20s.

- Shahid Afridi in eight matches has 12 wickets against New Zealand, the most by him against any team in Twenty20 Internationals.

- Top three leading wicket-takers in Twenty20 Internationals are from Pakistan – Saeed Ajmal (60), Umar Gul (59) and Shahid Afridi (58).

- Shahid Afridi has seven Man of the Match awards in Twenty20 Internationals, the most by any player. Brendon McCullum is pursuing him with 6 awards.

Mazher Arshad is sub-editor at Criclens, he tweets here.

By Mazher Arshad on September 22nd, 2012

The following of Cricket will reach new summits in coming days during ICC World Twenty20 2012. We take look at few questions that randomly get in minds of the followers of the game.

1. Do teams carry points into Super Eight from Group Stage?

No, this may be a shocking answer but never did ICC have a rule of giving points to teams from Group Stage in ICC World Twenty20 events. It gets rather more bizarre with knowledge that even the teams’ standings won’t alter on basis of Group Stage [this rule is complicated but you would understand it in Question number 2].

South Africa suffered in ICC World Twenty20 2007 due this rule. They had won all the four matches before losing to India in last match of Super Eight, but just due to one loss against India they were knocked-out and couldn’t play Semi Final.

Technically the Group Stage is only a stage for minnows to qualify for Super Eight or it helps big teams only if Semi Final is no-result [See Question Number 9].

2. How will teams be seeded in Super Eight Round?

Teams will make the seeding based on their current standings in Group Stage, decided on performance of the previous edition of ICC World T20 in West Indies, and irrespective of their current performance in the Group Stage. For Example:

In Group D: Pakistan is D1, New Zealand D2 and Bangladesh D3. If Pakistan and New Zealand both qualify for Super Eight, Pakistan will enter as D1 and New Zealand as D2 even if Pakistan has points less than New Zealand in Points Table of Group stage. In case, Bangladesh qualify, they will take the seeding of team they have knocked out.

If Pakistan and Bangladesh qualify, Pakistan will be D1 and Bangladesh D2. If New Zealand and Bangladesh qualify, Bangladesh will be D1 and New Zealand D2.

3. So does that mean schedule of Super Eight is already determined?

Yes, as long as a minnow from any group does not qualify for Super Eight, the schedule will not get altered. This rule has been part of all the ICC World T20 events so far and was also part of ICC Cricket World Cup 2007. The purpose of this rule is to facilitate fans so they could make travel pattern and buy tickets of their team’s matches.

4. Who would Pakistan face in Super Eight?

Pakistan, India, South Africa and Australia would be lined up in the same group. The matches are as followed:

- September 28: Pakistan vs South Africa in Colombo (RPS) at 3.00pm PST

- September 30: Pakistan vs India in Colombo (RPS) at 7.00pm PST

- October 02: Pakistan vs Australia in Colombo (RPS) at 3.00pm PST

Positive for Pakistan is they will be having all of their Super Eight and following matches at the same venue (Colombo RPS), it will not change even during Semi Final and Final. It is the venue where Pakistan beat Sri Lanka and Australia last year in Cricket World Cup 2011.

5. Are two wins out of 3 matches enough in Super Eight to qualify for Semi Final?

Yes is the answer in normal circumstances but it is not a guaranteed answer. A team may not qualify for Semi Final even after winning 2 matches in Super Eight. Take example of Pakistan’s group in Super Eight:

If South Africa lose all of their matches; Pakistan beat India, India beat Australia and Australia beat Pakistan. In this case 3 teams (Pakistan, India and Australia) will get tied on 4 Points each so Net Run Rate will come into the equation. The team with worst NRR will lose the Semi Final spot.

The same situation happened with South Africa in ICC World Twenty20 2007. South Africa, New Zealand and India had 4 points each but SA missed a Semi Final spot as their NRR was worst among the three.

6. Can only one win out of 3 matches of Super Eight take team in Semi Final?

Yes is the answer in abnormal circumstances but again it is not the guaranteed answer. A team may qualify even after winning only one match however its very unlikely scenario. Take Example of Pakistan’s group in Super Eight:

If Australia win all of their matches; Pakistan beat India, India beat South Africa, South Africa beat Pakistan. In this case, Australia will get into Semi Final with 6 points whereas three teams (Pakistan, South Africa and India) will get tied on 2 points each. So the team with better Net Run Rate among the three will qualify for Semi Final.

The same situation happened to Pakistan in previous edition of ICC World T20 in West Indies 2010. England had won all the matches and Pakistan, New Zealand and South Africa got tied on 2 points each. Pakistan due to better NRR made into the Semis.

7. What’s the criteria of evaluation of teams in Points Table in both Group and Super Eight stage?

Win shall count 2 Points, Tie or No Result 1 Point, Loss 0 Point. In case teams are tied on Points, the right to qualify for Super Eight or Semi Final will have the following criteria:

1. Team with most Number of wins.

2. If teams are equal in Points and Number of Wins then team with better Net Run Rate (NRR) will be placed higher

3. If NRR is also equal then winner of head-to-head match between the teams will be placed higher.

8. Will there be Bonus Point?

No, there will be no Bonus Point system. In fact, ICC has never endorsed the idea of Bonus Points in their events. It is found mostly in multi-team ODI tournaments, like Asia Cup or CB Series, which are not conducted by ICC.

9. What if Semi Final or Final is Tied or No Result due to Rain or any other unusual event?

If Semi Final is tied: Teams will compete in One Over Eliminator (also known as Super Over). If it is No Result or weather prevents the Super over then the team with most number of wins, including Group and Super Eight stage, will qualify for Final. If Number of wins is also equal then the team with better Net Run Rate from all the previous matches, including Group and Super Eight stage, will progress to Semi Final.

If Final is tied: Teams will compete in Super Over. If it is No Result or Weather does not permit Super Over then both the teams will be declared joint-winners.

Mazher Arshad is a freelance Cricket writer, he tweets here.

By Mazher Arshad on September 17th, 2012