T20 World Cup 2012

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

Weather of Sri Lanka is as unpredictable as performance of Pakistan team. Though there is no alarming forecast of rain during Semi Final’s timings on Thursday, but in case it rains and match is washed out (No Result) Sri Lanka will qualify for Final on grounds of keeping better Run Rate than Pakistan throughout this World T20 (including group stage).

The rules say that if the Semi Final is No Result then the team with most number of wins in the tournament shall have the right to play Final. Since both Sri Lanka and Pakistan have same number of wins (4) in this tournament so the equation then falls on Run Rate (including of Group Stage). Sri Lanka are ahead of Pakistan when it comes to overall Run Rate, thanks to their 82-run win against Zimbabwe.

But if it comes to Run Rate, there would be a bizarre situation before it. Sri Lanka on record have won 3 matches, one of their win have come in Super Over against New Zealand. A win on Super Over gives team 2 points but in official records the result is recorded as tie. In case of Semi Final between Pakistan and Sri Lanka resulting in wash-out, there might occur a controversy on Super Over, which is already under severe criticism in non knock-out matches.

If second Semi Final between Australia and West Indies gets washed out, equation will be simple in favour of Australia who have 4 wins as compared to West Indies’ 2 wins in this World Twenty20.

By CricLens Staff Report on October 3rd, 2012

Pakistan spinners bowled as much as 18 overs in their previous match, effectively a Quarter Final, against Australia on Tuesday. If that move is anything to go by, it tells how overly they are relying on their spinners. Their bowlers’ rare failure came at the hand of the two subcontinent teams India and Bangladesh for they are adept in tackling the spin.

Then Pakistan’s both the wins in the Super Eight have also come on strength of their spinners but if it gives them any edge it will be blunt by the fact that Sri lankans, whom Pakistan face in first Semi Final of World Twenty20 2012 on Thursday, are as adept to play spin as any other batting team of world.

By the knowledge that both Sri Lanka and Pakistan have played two bilateral series (6 Tests, 10 One Days, 3 Twenty20s) in last one year, most of their tactics and players would be exposed to each other and both the teams could get benefited from all this experience. In addition to that Pakistan players were also part of the recently concluded Sri Lanka T20 Premier League.

One department where Pakistan will hold advantage tomorrow is they will be playing at the same venue – Colombo RPS – for the fourth consecutive time whereas Sri Lanka, albeit its their home ground, play there for the first time in this event. Last year both the teams locked horns at this venue in 50-over World Cup where Pakistan prevailed as the home struggled to play spin of Shahid Afridi.

Raza Hassan, one of the emerging stars and the most economical bowler of this tournament, hasn’t yet played a game against Sri Lanka, nor he was in SLPL, so he is the only bowler who is not exposed to the opposition. But knowing how well Sri Lanka play spin, Hassan will be having one of his toughest outings tomorrow.

Final of World Twenty20 2009 will be on mind of both the teams. Pakistan beat Sri Lanka, who were then the unbeaten team of the tournament. This time, in Semi Final, Sri Lankas are again ‘almost’ unbeaten, for they did not lose any game in the Super Eight, and only one they lost in Group Stage was a match reduced to 7 overs.

Watch out for Pakistan vs Akila Dananjaya

Sri Lanka have kept their idiosyncrasy of unleashing mystic bowlers. Pakistan will be up against for the first time against Akila Dananjaya, a bowler whose versatility gives him off-spin, leg-spin, googly, carom ball et al. But Pakistan were arguably the best team to play Ajantha Mendis when he was unleashed some 4 years ago. Mendis went wicket-less in 2 matches of World T20 2009 against Pakistan despite having 12 wickets in five other matches from the tournament. If Pakistan batsmen can decipher the mystery of Dananjaya would be unveiled tomorrow.

X-Factor

Shahid Afridi may have been going through an indifferent patch of his career. In the past, whenever he needed to hit form, he was put up against Sri Lanka. Three out of his 7 Man of the match Awards and three out of his 4 Twenty20 fifties have come against them. In addition to that he has 11 wickets at economy rate of under 5.00 in 34 overs he bowled against Sri Lanka in T20 internationals.Last time when Afridi gave an overwhelming performance and won Pakistan a match single-handedly it was also against Sri Lanka some four months ago at Hambantota.

Pakistan is the opposition, Kumar Sangakkara has always enjoyed playing against. Even though his Twenty0 record against them is not as overwhelming as his Test record but in World T20 Final 2009, when whole of their batting collapsed, Sangakkra still managed unbeaten 64 out of total of 138.

Stats and Trivia

In head to head clashes, Pakistan hold edge over Sri Lanka by 6-3 in nine Twenty20 matches they have played.

In World Twenty20s, both the teams have played thrice with Pakistan winning 2 and Sri Lanka 1.

8 times Sri Lanka have been made to chase target in Twenty20s at their home and only once they chased it successfully, last week against West Indies in Super Eight match.

Sri Lanka have never won a Twenty20 at Colombo (RPS), 4 times they played there.

By CricLens Staff Report on October 3rd, 2012

Despite winning 3 consecutive matches in the event, situation for Pakistan to qualify for the Semi Final looks bleak. Even if they beat Australia tomorrow, a win would not guarantee them a place in the Semis and they will have to rely on India and South Africa’s match later in the evening.

Best chance for Pakistan to qualify is beat Australia by margin of 42 odd runs or chase the target inside 14 overs, it would take their Run Rate above all other teams and they will qualify for the Semis irrespective of the result of India’s match. Or beat Australia and then hope India does not win their match. Contrary to that, Australia have their one foot in the Semis and their place is guaranteed unless they lose to Pakistan by a massive margin.

Australia is the only team of the event which have not tasted defeat yet and their batting has been such formidable that they lost only 7 wickets in four matches they have played. For that they owe to their spearhead Shane Watson, who has scored most runs, taken most wickets, hit most sixes and earned most Man of the Match awards in this World Twenty20.

If Pakistan are to go to the knock-out stage of the event, they need to overcome two forces tomorrow: 1) Australia. 2) Shane Watson.

Pakistan’s problem and vulnerability is with their batting, which was exposed in their last two games. If their top three perform, they tend to do well. But in case of a collapse they dont have any batsman of accumulating skills who can drag them out of trouble. In the past, batsmen like Younis Khan, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Misbah-ul-Haq and Mohammad Yousuf have carried their middle order in limited-over cricket when the top order used to get failed.

So they need to bring in a batsman who has ability to stick to the crease in case the wickets are tumbling. Asad Shafiq seems to be the only option in the current squad who have the patience to stay. For that they will have to leave out either Imran Nazir or Shoaib Malik. In case, they are not leaving out Nazir and picking Shafiq, they must bring Malik to at least at Number 4 so he could carry the middle order.

Another debatable slot is of an all-rounder in the late order. Yasir Arafat’s selection in the playing XI seems to be questionable when Abdul Razzaq is busy warming the bench. Arafat has neither impressed with bowl nor with bat so far. It is likely that Pakistan will bring in the experience of Abdul Razzaq, who also adds depth in the batting, to counter Australia. Also they need to stop experimenting with Shahid Afridi as floater and let him stay in the late order, even below Abdul Razzaq.

Less than a month ago, both the teams also squared up in UAE where they played 3-match Twenty20 series. Pakistan won it by 2-1. Hence, when they play on Tuesday, Australians would be familiar of Pakistan’s tactics and of their spinners. If there was anything which Pakistan saved for this match and didn’t use it in UAE, it could be unveiled in Colombo.

Watch out for Shane Watson vs Raza Hassan

Raza Hassan played only two matches in this World Twenty20 and in those gave he a tough time to the top order. In match against South Africa, he bowled as much as 8 consecutive Dot Balls to batsmen as good as Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis while against India he didn’t only start off with a wicket but also bowled strangling line to Virat Kohli, who was forced to play 4 consecutive dot balls.

Shane Watson on the other hand has given tough time to all the teams he faced and seems to have carried all the burden of Australian batting on his shoulder. Therefore, Watson vs Hassan would boast an entertaining show. It would be interesting to see if the young Hassan has the nerves and skills to trouble the best batsman of the tournament.

Stats and Trivia

Kamran Akmal has 303 runs against Australia – most by a Pakistan batsman against a particular team. In doing so, he has 3 fifties and was also out on duck (0) twice.

Saeed Ajmal has 15 Wickets against Australia – most by a Pakistan bowler against a particular team.

In 10 Twenty20 Internationals, both the teams have won 5 times each – Pakistan won one on Super Over.

Pakistan and Australia have played 3 times in World Twenty20s, Australia lead the way with 2-1 (including a Semi Final heist in 2010).

Umar Gul has taken wicket of Shane Watson 3 times in ODI Cricket and twice in T20 Cricket. Including once last year in 50-over World Cup at the same venue (Colombo RPS)

By CricLens Staff Report on October 1st, 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

ICC World Twenty20, Group F, Super Eight Round: Shane Watson and David Warner put on a merciless display of batting to steer Australia’s chase of 141 and had it completed as agonizingly for India as 31 spare-balls would suggest. It was not expected to be a such one-sided encounter because minutes earlier Pakistan and South Africa had contested a low-scoring thriller on the same wicket, where Pakistan were made to work hard in chase of 134.

But Watson and Warner started off with highest ever opening partnership, 133 off 81 balls, for Australia, and broke-up only when the remaining target was 8. Watson, who earlier had taken 3 wickets, raced to 72 off 42 balls in one of the most scintillating fashions as his 7 sixes in the innings would depict. Twice he hit successive sixes; first off Harbhajan Singh and then off Irfan Pathan.

Warner on the other end was no different but he mainly worked through fours (7) rather than sixes (2), and was unbeaten till Australia chased 141 with ease. India used 8 different bowlers, but none of them threatened ‘the batting Ws.’ MS Dhoni at the end rued the rain, which came for a while at start of the 2nd innings, for lackluster show of his spinners.

Earlier India went in with a Sehwag-less playing XI and opened with Irfan Pathan & Gautam Gambir. Pathan however ended the innings as highest scorer (31 off 30 balls) for India but it didn’t hold much weight. Suresh Raina was next best batsman with 26 runs. India was restricted to a paltry total of 140. It was such poor display of Indian batting that even Virat Kohli, a batsman in fine form, could not score more than 15. Pat Cummins, who had wickets of Kohli and Dhoni, was pick of the bowlers; his final figures were 4-0-16-2.

Shane Watson was named Man of the Match for 7th time in Twenty20 Internationals, he now has joint-most awards with Shahid Afridi.

By CricLens Staff Report on September 28th, 2012

ICC World Twenty20, Group F, Super Eight Round: It was one of the craziest heist in Twenty20 Cricket as the the unlikely batting hero Umar Gul exploded 32 off 17 balls to see Pakistan through for the third successive time against South Africa in the World T20s. Gul joined his namesake Umar [Akmal] – they were to have after partnership of 49 off 27 balls - when Pakistan needed 58 from 33 balls with only three wickets in hand and ended up, after doing all the damage, leaving Pakistan needing 9 off last 6 balls.

Gul’s cameo had three huge Sixes, including two consecutive off Jacques Kallis, both on the leg-side – a flick to square-leg and a heave to mid-wicket – in the 16th over. The next over saw him hitting one more off Albie Morkel, it was to go with two fours. That was the moment when Pakistan started to believe they are still in the game after they reduced the target from 58 off 30 balls to 22 off 18 balls. Gul holed out on last ball of the penultimate, which was bowled by Steyn, but by then the damage had been done. Dale Steyn’s impressive spell (4-0-22-3) was to go in vain.

Umar Akmal rather played a rare composed innings, 43 off 41 balls, and didn’t rush off like other batsmen earlier in the innings. With 9 needed off last over, to be bowled by Morne Morkel, Akmal started off with a dot ball following it with a match-winning six, a tonk off his legs to deep mid-wicket off a full toss. The fist pumping celebrations defined how much needed was that six. Ajmal came on strike when 2 were to score off 3 balls, and he swished a delivery, that took outside edge of his bat, to give Pakistan four runs and a thrilling win.

Pakistan’s top-order, impressive until this game, collapsed by playing careless and unnecessary shots. They started off briskly as Imran Nazir and Mohammad Hafeez put on 24 for the first wicket. Nazir was accounted for a slow short-pitch delivery from Steyn which he gloved only to be pouched by AB de Villiers behind the stumps. Hafeez in next over, after hitting six over long-off, tried to work on leg-side but didn’t read the turn of Roben Peterson and got stumped. In the same over, Nasir Jamshed emulated his skipper as he, too, moved down the pitch and was stumped.

Spin kept Pakistan troubling as two overs later Kamran Akmal, trying to cut, was cleaned up by Johan Botha. Shoaib Malik sticked to wicket for a while, to score 12 off 26 balls, and then was caught at third man off Kallis’ bowling. Two balls later, Shahid Afridi had his 5th Golden Duck of Twenty20 Internationals, when he left his crease trying to loft (inside out) JP Duminy over long-off but found a fielder installed there. And when Yasir Arafat got out in 15th over, Pakistan now 76-7 almost had their fans hopeless.

From there on, the two Umars, Gul and Akmal, pulled off a Dunkirk moment. There was some bizarre tactics by AB de Villiers which helped Pakistan coming back into the game, he did not use his two spinners Botha and Duminy – they leaked only 10 and 5 runs in 2 overs they bowled each - who combined had 4 overs left.

Earlier Pakistan spinners strangled South African batsmen that, barring JP Duminy (48 off 38 balls), no one looked like staying at the wicket. Hashim Amla was caught in second over by Shoaib Malik off Yasir Arafat as he tried work through cover. After strangled by miser spell of Raza Hassan, Richard Levi was bowled around his legs in reverse-sweeping Saeed Ajmal in 6th over. In next over, Kallis found a fielder in Afridi at short extra-cover off Mohammad Hafeez’s bowling.

AB de Villiers delayed his arrival at the crease and sent Farhaan Behardien instead, the latter had a sluggish partnership with Duminy and stumped out when he left crease to have Hafeez for a loft. Batting at Number 6, de Villiers’ stay was also short-lived when he was caught off a full toss from Gul after having smacked him a six on the previous ball.

Though wicket-less but pick of the bowlers from Pakistan was young Raza Hassan, who at one stage had 8 consecutive dot balls bowled at Amla and Kallis, and ended with spell of 3-1-15-0. Mohammad Hafeez grabbed 2 wickets for 23 runs in his 4 overs.

Umar Gul was named Man of the Match for his brilliant match-winning cameo.

Stats and Trivia

- Pakistan and South Africa have now 3 wins each in six Twenty20 matched. Pakistan’s all wins have come in World T20s.

- For the 5th time Shahid Afridi was out for Golden Duck in T20 Internationals. Four of those first-ball-ducks have come in the World T20s, including one in Final of 2007.

- Pakistan and Australia, so far, are the only undefeated teams in the event.

By CricLens Staff Report on September 28th, 2012

14th Match, ICC World Twenty20, Group E, Super Eight Round: West Indies added more weigh to notion that they are one of the favourites to win this event as they beat England by 15 Runs in their first match of Super Eight played at Pallekele. It was first victory of West Indies in this event, after having both of their group games washed-out and getting into the next round on base of Australia beating Ireland clinically.

The margin of 15 runs may seem to be close but nowhere West Indies looked like losing despite 107 runs partnership between Eoin Morgan and Alex Hales for the fourth wicket. But England will find some respite in believing they, after losing two wickets in first over, recovered from start of 0-2 to 164-4 at end of the match.

In the middle where Morgan scored 71 off 46 balls, Jonny Bairstow did 18 off 29 balls. Only if Bairstow had picked up some pace the result could have been different for England. Gayle leaked only 26 runs in his 4 overs and also grabbed a wicket, this bowling performance was to go with a fifty he scored earlier.

The tone of 180 target to England was set by Chris Gayle (58 off 35 balls) and Johnson Charles (84 off 56 balls), both had opening partnership of 103 in 11 overs. Stuart Broad was pick of England bowlers with spell of 4-1-26-2.

Johnson Charles was named Man of the Match.

By CricLens Staff Report on September 28th, 2012