Tuesday, April 20, 2010
All time Pakistan team
Just like cricinfo I thought of picking an all time Pakistan team. Pakistan have produced some great players, so it was tough to select just 11 players but here is my team
I went for Anwar and Hanif. It was tough to leave out Sohail, Mudassar, Majid Khan and Sadiq as all were said to be fine players, but I couldn't look beyond either Anwar or Hanif. Of course Hanif's concentration prowess are legendary and all cricket enthusiasts would know about his great knock against the Caribbean team at Barbados in the 50's when he played a marathon knock of 337 to save the game. Saeed Anwar was a beautiful player to watch. He didn't have great footwork, but had good balance and his ability to play late made him a joy to watch. I can never forget his near perfect century at Brisbane. Yes, he was dropped of all people by Mark Waugh( it can be said that number of catches dropped by Mark in his test career can be counted with fingers) but leaving that lapse in concentration Anwar was just sublime. The Aussies tried everything from bouncers to bowling it a touch wide of off stump to lure Anwar to playing a false shot, but he was unstoppable. He played some wristy shots and timed the ball beautifully. It was one of the best knocks I have seen in test cricket. I won't leave either Anwar or Hanif, but I also have a soft spot for Sohail. Yes, his temperament can be questioned, like who can forget him sledging Prasad in the 96 world cup and as a result losing his concentration and his wicket. Sohail never had the talent of Anwar either, but he was a real fighter. I have to mention Majid Khan as well. He was known to be a very elegant player and played some fine knocks in his career, but having grown up watching Anwar I can't leave him out and I don't see anything wrong in picking players one has actually seen and Anwar himself was a very good player. Majid Khan also underachieved as a batsman as he ended his career with an average of under 40.
I went for Miandad, Yousuf and Haq. All three were world class players and got big scores. Miandad was the sort of in your face character who could annoy the opposition. He was a real fighter and gave some sleepless nights to Pakistan's arch rival India. I don't think any Indian fan would forget that match winning knock at Sarjah so many years back when he took Pakistan from a hopeless position to a sensational victory by hitting the last ball of the match for six. He also guided the young Haq in that unforgettable match against the Kiwis in the 1992 world cup semifinal. His class can be seen by the fact that he scored over 8000 test runs at an average of over 50.
The recently retired Yousuf was another world class player. Old-timers would perhaps say Z.Abbas was better, but again having grown up watching Yousuf, I was influenced by his lazy elegance. The high back-lift and the great wrist work was just great to watch. I would never forget his hundred at Lords against England as it was a innings oozing with class or his century on a seaming track at Capetown in South Africa, when he was able to do well against his nemesis South Africa. I know that Abbas was world class, but having seen Yousuf bat I can say that he was world class as well and when it came to choosing between two world class players I went for the player that I saw and admired. I don't think there would be much debate about Haq being in the line up. His concentration prowess was amazing as even if he got beaten all six balls in a over, it never seemed to worry the big fat guy lol. Everyone of course would remember his knock in the semifinals against the Kiwis in the 92 world cup, but one can't forget vital knocks like his crucial fifty against Australia at Karachi in 94 when he helped Pakistan to win a thrilling test match by just one wicket or even helping Pakistan chase down the target against the minnows Bangladesh in 2003. Pakistan looked like they would lose against the minnows of world cricket, but Haq saved Pak. from blushes by coming up with a heroic last wicket partnership with Mustaq to help Pakistan win again by one wicket! He scored over 8000 test runs and that itself shows how good he was.
Others like Salim Malik was good too and I can never forget his glorious knock on a pitch that assisted seamers at Headingley in 92. He was also one of the best players of spin I have seen. Ijaz was successful against a very good team like Australia. Yes, he had a unorthodox technique, but it doesn't take away the fact that he was a fine player, but unfortunately everyone can't be selected!
I don't think one can ever look beyond the great man Imran Khan. He was a champion fast bowler who was superb at getting it to reverse. He also became a better batsman as the years went by and that helped him to prolong his career. He was also a great captain as he was able make sure that Pakistan's mercurial players played like a team and helped them to win a world cup in 1992. He would be the first name in the Pakistan's team sheet. Mushtaq Mohammad may not have been a very talented cricketer but did well as a all-rounder. Razzaq and Azhar occasionally came up with brilliant performances and even Afridi had some success in test cricket as a all rounder, but none of those three players can even hold a candle in front of the great Imran.
Bari was said to be Pakistan's best wicketkeeper, but as in my team Imran is batting at six I would go for the better batsman Moin Khan. Moin too was a fine keeper and was a better batsman than Bari. I don't think I would lose much as Moin Khan was a good keeper and him being the better batsman meant that I picked him. I can't have Imran at six and Bari at seven in my line up.
Latif himself was a fine keeper and I have to also mention the aggressive Salim Yousuf who for some reason is underrated. Akmal isn't considered as he is a substandard keeper. In the end, I can select only one keeper and looking at my team the best bet in my view was Moin Khan.
Pakistan have no doubt produced some great bowlers. IMO among those great bowlers, the first name that comes to my mind would be the most talented bowler I have seen Akram. He could do anything as who can forget those couple of deliveries he bowled in the 92 world cup to Lamb an Lewis.
Here is something from Wisden cricket about Akram's delivery to Croft,
"Halfway down the pitch towards the right-hander, the delivery seemed innocuous. Delivered left-arm from round the wicket by Wasim Akram, it had the usual slithery speed, and was up there in length - an attempted yorker probably, but too full. It began to angle down the leg side, a low full-toss just ripe for Robert Croft, the England offspinner, to flick away to fine leg for an easy boundary. Croft planted his front foot and began the process of turning the ball away. He missed, the ball thudded into his pad, and Wasim roared his appeal. Negative, said the umpire, and we in the press box nodded knowingly: missing leg by miles.
Then came the replay, in super slow motion, and it was so astounding it left mouths gaping. For in the last 10 feet or so, the ball ceased angling down the leg side and instead swung back the other way, eluding Croft's bat by six inches. Unquestionably it would have hit middle stump, but it all happened so fast and late that it deceived the eye of everyone, not least the umpire. The single most astonishing delivery that I have witnessed failed to produce a wicket"
It just shows how good he was! He also scored a double hundred as a batsman, but one gets the feeling that he underachieved as a batsman.
The tearaway quick Younis was Akram's partner for a long time in the 90's and he along with Akram terrorised the opposition teams. Younis was really quick and relished to get reverse swing and bowl those toe-crushing yorkers. As the years went by, he lost pace, but was able to bowl better with the new ball.
Pakistan have produced some fine spinners too, but I would go for the leg spinner Qadir. He was another magical bowler, but perhaps didn't have a good temperament for a spinner. Just for carrying on the art of bowling spin in a era made up of great fast bowlers I would pick him. Mushi was another fine spinner though, I thought that he used the googly too much. Saqlian too was a fine spinner as he founded the doosra, but he used the doosra so much that he lost his stock delivery, the off spinner.
The final slot in my line up would go to the ever consistent Fazal Mahmood. During his playing days he was even compared to the great Sir Alec Bedser. He was really difficult to face on matting wickets as he had the ability to get it to cut and seam at a decent pace. He can also be compared to McGrath, but Fazal likely bowled a little bit fuller than McGrath. Sarfraz was said to be a quality quick and not many would forget his magical spell against Australia at Melbourne, but his temperament wasn't said to be good. Fazal's partner, Khan Mohammad was another fine bowler. Shoaib Akthar of course can bowl at great pace and he is also a fine exponent of reverse swing, but I can safely say that he has wasted his talent. Asif can become a great bowler in the future, but for that to happen, he has to stop getting involved in drug controversies. In the end, I pipped for the consistency of Fazal. I have to say that any opposition team would be in huge trouble if they are facing a bowling attack of Younis, Imran, Akram, Fazal and Qadir!!
It was tough to choose just 11 players, but based on what I have seen and whatever I know about players that I haven't been able to watch live, I have selected the team.
I just hope that Pakistan would again start to do well as a team as world cricket needs a strong Pakistan side!