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Team Pakistan?

June 12, 2009

So..a few thoughts have been brewing in my head over the past few days.

I want your opinion – what’s the best Pakistan XI for this tournament?

In the aftermath of the defeat to England, one criticism of Pakistan was repeated over and over again. No, not their lack of spirit and desire – it was the lack of any semblance of planning or ‘combination’. Not surprising as Younis Khan proudly declared that the only plan was to ‘have fun’. No, seriously.

These are his exact words:

“The planning is simple: play your role and have fun.”

Pundits on Pakistani TV channels kept repeating – ‘koi combination nazar nahin aa rahi hai’. So what do you guys think is Pakistan’s best combination?

Schedule:

Fri Jun 12 – Pakistan v Sri Lanka
Lord’s, London

Sat Jun 13 – New Zealand v Pakistan (D/N)
Kennington Oval, London

Mon Jun 15 – Ireland v Pakistan
Kennington Oval, London

Squad: Younis,Razzaq,(Ahmed) Shehzad,Fawad,Rao Ifti,Akmal,Misbah,Aamer,Ajmal,Butt,Afridi,(Shahzaib) Hasan,Malik,Tanvir,Gul

My pick: Butt, Akmal, Younis, Misbah, Malik/Razzaq, Afridi, Fawad, Tanvir, Gul, Ajmal, Aamer

I think this lineup provides the best mix – you have a very deep batting lineup with Tanvir (a domestic all-rounder) coming in at No. 8 and a great mix of bowling with three good pacers and three good spinners. That doesn’t include the Malik/Razzaq wildcard – because I’m not counting on either of them to really make it happen for Pakistan. Razzaq has been out for so long, doubts over his ability to perform on the international arena are completely appropriate. He may or may not be able to contribute effectively with either bat or ball. I don’t think domestic success is any reasonable indicator. Malik has been really really disappointing for me so far – I celebrated both times he got out, he seems to have come into a Twenty20 tournament with a Test mindset. His bowling was fairly atrocious against Netherlands except for a few deliveries where he seemed to out-think the Dutch batsman – which is nothing to write home about for the former captain.

Pakistan has a fairly easy ride to the semis, I think. Sri Lanka have always been somehow easy to beat for Pakistan (although I think we’ll lose within 24 hours) and New Zealand have similarly also failed to really trouble Pakistan over the years. They were fantastic against one of the best teams around (and my pick for winner), South Africa, but STILL lost. Wish I could say the same for Pakistan though 😉

As for justifying the lineup, I think Akmal, Younis, Misbah, Afridi, Tanvir, Gul, and Ajmal are no-brainers. That leaves four positions – potentially you could replace Aamer (but I think he’s done a good job so far), Butt, Fawad, and Malik. Malik comes in because he has experience and ability (although he’s doing his best to hide it – what happened to the Sialkot Stallions captain who seemed to be born for Twenty20?!). Fawad comes in because he’s a Karachi boy. No, okay, that was a joke. He comes in because he’s a great fielder, an energetic and very able batsman, and a decent spinner too. Butt is our only ESTABLISHED opener and hasn’t been too horrible with the bat, so I would back him.

Waiting for the responses now – what do you think is our best lineup?

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