Deep Backward Point

Blog against the machine.

Tag: pakistan

Why I Love/Hate India v. Pakistan

Hate.
  1. Jingoism masked as patriotism.
  2. Religious hatred masked as sporting rivalry.
  3. Patriotism masked as a love of sport.
  4. The poisonous “Zaheer Khan miyo chhe etle full toss naakhyo” (translated: “Zaheer Khan is Muslim, that’s why he bowled a full toss.”) I wonder if they say the same about Kaneria on the other side.
  5. If they win, Kashmir.
  6. If they lose, allege match-fixing, commence stone-throwing, effigy-burning.

In short, it’s just not cricket.

At the end of the guard changing ceremony at t...

Image via Wikipedia

Love.

  1. Javed Miandad’s last ball six off Chetan Sharma.
  2. Anil Kumble’s 10 wickets in an innings.
  3. Aamer Sohail bowled Venkatesh Prasad.
  4. Ajay Jadeja’s quick-fire 45.
  5. A 19 year-old Tendulkar and 33 year-old Kapil Dev on fire in Sydney.
  6. Aaqib Javed’s hat-trick of LBWs.

Ok, strike that last one. I hate that.

The First Among Equals

On paper, India is the best of the remaining teams in the World Cup. But on paper strength has never meant much. On paper, India should score 350+ every match. On paper, South Africa should have made the finals of every World Cup since ’92.

Not much separates the top eight teams in the world, mainly because the good teams are inconsistent and the average teams are tenacious. It’s a time of great turmoil, as many teams rush to replace Australia at the top of the world.

In such a tournament, there is no favorite. As the semi-finals are about to begin, there is no obvious choice. This is new territory– Australia have been favorites to win for over a decade now.

In such a tournament, the winner deserves to be the winner by virtue of having won. That is to say, if a team manages to win three knockout games in a row against top-8 opposition, they deserve to be crowned world champions.
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The act of winning the World Cup will be the only thing that differentiates one of the remaining teams. And that is the characteristic of a great tournament.

India v Pakistan

Miandad and More

Miandad and More

King Cricket sums it up:

It’s India’s two-and-a-half frontline bowlers against Pakistan’s two-and-a-half competent batsmen.

Only partly tongue-in-cheek.

Pakistan’s Weakest Link

Can a team with such a poor opening pair be contenders in the World Cup? Since the series against South Africa last year, here is the run of opening partnerships:

26, 8, 12, 6, 82, 7, 31*, 2, 43, 20, 14, 11, 28, 16, 5

Of those, the current pair of Messrs. Shehzad and Hafeez account for: 31*, 2, 43, 20, 14, 11, 28, 16, 5

Shehzad has a career ODI average of 27.50. Barring his one (exceptional) century, his average is 20.0 for his remaining innings. But he’s young, he’s only played 13 matches. Hafeez, on the other hand, has an average of 22.22 after 68 matches. That is untenable.

Today, however, their weakest link was Kamran Akmal behind the stumps.

 

Kamran Akmal: Oh no, not again

 

 

England: Producing Excitement Through Mediocrity

There have been two good and two great cricket matches in the World Cup so far:

  1. England v. Netherlands: Netherlands bats first, scores 292 on the back of a ten Doeschate blinder and England falter a bit before winning.
  2. Sri Lanka v Pakistan: Sri Lanka fail to chase a total within their reach against a never-say-die Pakistan bowling attack.
  3. England v. India: India bat England out of the game. Then England almost walk away with it. Zaheer brings India right back. And it’s a tie.
  4. England v. Ireland: England bat Ireland out of the game. Ireland collapses, before Kevin O’Brien walks away with it.

Do you sense a pattern? England was involved in three of the four games. They’ve produced exciting matches by vastly under-performing.

On the other hand, two teams produced excitement by over-performing: Ireland and Pakistan.

In fact, Pakistan and England have had diametrically opposite performances in the World Cup so far.

England: Top order fires, middle-order misfires and bowlers don’t show up to work.

Pakistan: Top order fails, middle-order rescues and bowlers save the day.

The 2nd-Most Awesome Thing Ever Said About Javed Miandad

 

Miandad and More

Miandad and More

There is a story, perhaps apocryphal, about Sunil Gavaskar’s wife. She was once asked who her favorite batsman was. Here’s what she said:

 

If I wanted someone to bat for my pleasure, I would ask my husband. If I needed someone to bat for my life, I would ask Javed Miandad.

This captures much of what I feel about many things. For example, the iPhone (or the Mac) for pleasure over Android (or Linux) for my life.

This is only the second-most awesome thing anyone has ever said about Javed Miandad. The most awesome was Rashid Latif in Outlook magazine. Latif claimed that, sure, Miandad fixed matches. But only to win them.

Which is patently ridiculous, but awesome all the same. Fixing a match to win it is worse than fixing to lose, because fixing to win means that all the other times you weren’t being paid, you weren’t putting in one hundred percent.

Remember Outlook’s series of match-fixing exposés? They were Tehelka before Tehelka. They were News of the World before News of the World.

Manoj Prabhakar, for his part, claimed that Kapil Dev fixed a match. This brought about the second-most famous incident of cricket related crying, when Kapil cried for Karan Thapar on BBC.

The most famous incident of cricket related crying was Vinod Kambli at Eden Gardens at the World Cup semi-finals.

The rest of the country would have been crying with him, if they had looked up from the burning effigies in their backyard.

All the King’s Men

Imran Khan, on the the Pakistani musical chairs:

Mr. Khan said Pakistan cricket’s biggest mistake was changing the captains too often. “Tell me in which country is the (PCB) chairman or captain changed if a team loses. We make this mistake all the time, but we need to improve our system. Since I retired so many captains have been changed. It has served no purpose,” he said.

But former Test captains Aamir Sohail and Javed Miandad, who were also on the show, reminded Mr. Khan that in Pakistan the cricket system was different. “In no country was the board chairman nominated by the President nor did he enjoy the sweeping powers he enjoyed in Pakistan which led to unilateral decisions and problems in the team,” they said.

via The Hindu : Sport News : End ad-hocism, govt interference in cricket: Imran. (h/t Mitul)

On the Other Hand

The next Pakistan captain could be Shahid Afridi. Then again, it could be Misbah-ul-Haq.

Osman Samiuddin, tongue firmly in cheek:

Not least of Misbah’s achievements as captain – and this includes the series with South Africa – is that it went off without anybody being killed. No one ran away and no bookies have yet been sighted. Daniel Vettori even completed his press conference duties without insinuating anything untoward about Umar Gul’s fine fourth-evening spell in Wellington. It is a minor triumph.

via The latest chapter in Misbah’s extraordinary career | ESPN Cricinfo

He’s had quite a career so far, and has that innate quality Pakistani cricketers seem to have of being able to come back from the dead. Repeatedly. In my count from earlier this week, he may soon be #15 since Imran.

His name is Shahid Afridi

Kamran Abbasi makes the call:

The PCB has groomed a captain for this World Cup. His name is Shahid Afridi. He might have limitations, but, with senior colleagues around him, those can be overcome. The PCB needs to stop being precious about its own ego and start allowing Pakistan’s World Cup campaign to take shape. The longer any doubt lingers over leadership, the harder it will be for the team to gather any momentum before this year’s biggest tournament.

via Divide, rule, and destroy | Pak Spin | ESPN Cricinfo.

The Curse of the Pakistani Cricket Captain

Imran Khan & Javed Miandad

Let’s first get this out-of-the-way– in my opinion, Pakistan has been the most entertaining cricket team of my lifetime.

Ok. On to business.

Bumbai mei khelte hain, Imran se darte hain

As with all good filmi melodrama, this story begins with a Khan.

In 1987, after the World Cup, two subcontinental heroes retired from cricket– Sunil Gavaskar and Imran Khan.

Sunny ascended to the commentary box. Imran got a call from the General– Imran Khan returned to cricket in 1988 at Zia ul-Haq’s behest.

(Note: Zia is the first, but by no means the last ul-Haq in our tale.)

At the age of 39, Imran Khan led his scrappy team to their first World Cup victory and promptly retired. Again.

Musical Chairs

And Pakistan cricket was never the same again. Over the next three years, Javed Miandad, Saleem Malik, Rameez Raja, Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Moin Khan and Saeed Anwar had all been One Day International (ODI) captains. What’s worse, they all had to coexist on the same team. In the mid 90’s, Pakistan was a team full of former captains.

Here is the list of all Pakistan ODI captains since Imran (criteria: captained > 5 ODIs):

  1. Javed Miandad (’92-’93)
  2. Saleem Malik (’92-’95)
  3. Rameez Raja (’92-’97)
  4. Wasim Akram (’93-’00)
  5. Waqar Younis (’93-’03)
  6. Moin Khan (’95-’01)
  7. Saeed Anwar (’95-’00)
  8. Aamer Sohail (’96-’98)
  9. Rashid Latif (’98-’03)
  10. Inzamam-ul-Haq (’02-’07)
  11. Mohammad Yusuf (’03-’10)
  12. Younis Khan (’05-’09)
  13. Shoaib Malik (’07-’09)
  14. Shahid Afridi (’09-’11)

That’s fourteen captains in nineteen years. To contrast, Pakistan had played ODIs for nineteen years before Imran retired. In those years (’73-92), they only had ten captains— and only four that captained more than 5 matches, which has been our criteria so far. Four captains for the first nineteen years, fourteen for the next.

Compare with the rest of the teams in the same (’92-’11) period:

  • Australia: 8
  • India: 7
  • South Africa: 6
  • England: 11
  • New Zealand: 9
  • West Indies: 9
  • Sri Lanka: 6
  • Zimbabwe: 10

England comes close, mostly due to their post-Vaughan, pre-Strauss dithering.

And we haven’t even started to talk about Test cricket yet.

Except for short periods of stability, Pakistan has always had a captaincy crisis. The problem is even worse in Test cricket, where captaincy is generally a long-term anointment. Even in the long form of the game, Pakistan has had fourteen captains since Imran, while England has had seven, NZ and Australia five, Sri Lanka and India six. [Criteria for test captains is more than three tests as captain.]

And now, the Pakistan Cricket Board has announced a team, but no captain for the World Cup next month. Will it be Shahid Afridi? Or the third ul-Haq of our tale– the plucky Misbah? Perhaps, the PCB will decide they need a break from captains. Who could blame them?