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Friday, July 30, 2010

Pakistan let England off the hook


Any sport is full of uncertainties, as who would have thought a player called Gomez can win a grand slam in tennis in 1990, Oliver Panis beating favourites like Hill and Schumacher to win the Monaco grand prix in 1996, Denmark and Greece winning Euro championship in football, or even Mcgrath scoring a test fifty in his career, but when it comes to cricket, I am certain that two things would never change and they are Kamran Akmal's atrocious keeping and Chris Martin's batting. My feeling is, if Kaneria gets the chance to select the all time worst team in the world, he would pick Akmal without blinking an eyelid as he has at least cost him 50 wickets.

If I have to think of yesterday's play, Pakistan had England in a spot of bother at 116 for 4, but lack of back up support for the opening pair Ameer and Asif as well as the hero of Sydney, Akmal again acting as the 12th man of the opponent team meant that England was able to post a very good score. Akmal's keeping though shouldn't overshadow the fact that both Morgan and Colly played very well.

As far as Morgan is concerned, I did say in one of my previous blogs that he reminds me of England's coach Andy Flower and should go onto become a very good test cricketer. His critics would always point to his mediocre first class average, but just like Trescothick, another player, who didn't had a good fc record when he came into the team, Morgan is made for international cricket as he has a steely temperament and a wide range of shots. He can be very unorthodox too and that can take the mickey out of the opposition bowlers. Yes, Butt's tactic of using spinners at both ends under overcast conditions was perplexing to say the least, but the credit has to go to Morgan for silencing his critics by getting a hundred. I have to say some good words for Colly too. He has long been overshadowed by others in the side, but just like he has done many times before, the admirable Colly came good when England was in a spot of bother by giving Morgan good support.

As far as Pakistan's bowling is concerned, both Ameer and Asif were good, but their back up bowlers Kaneria and Gul were disappointing. The young kid Ameer has huge potential as he can swing it late and Asif too is a very good bowler as he knows what is line and length all about. Both were at their best after lunch as they reduced England to 116 for 4, but Gul on a pitch that was assisting the quicker bowlers mainly thanks to the overcast conditions on view was again disappointing with the red ball. Kaneria's bowling has always been a mixture of some great deliveries that has the wow factor followed up by long hops and yesterday too he was the same old Kaneria. Time is running out for Kaneria and there is Ajmal waiting in the wings too.

One key point about bowlers though is, they need agile fielders and a good keeper to take wickets, but unfortunately, that isn't the case with Pakistan as they have Akmal as the keeper. As expected, Akmal yet again made couple of blunders. The only keeper, who I can think of being as bad as Kaneria is Baugh of West Indies, but even the Windies selectors have seen the light and have dropped him. Yesterday, he missed couple of chances which would have been taken by even a schoolboy keeper. Akmal isn't nimble footed like others and stands too far back. He never seems to be relaxed as a keeper either. Both Sarfraz and Haider may not be good with the bat, but it would be better to try one of them as Akmal can't continue to make so many mistakes as a keeper.

Yesterday also saw cricket fans again debating about UDRS. I am not averse to using UDRS, but it should be either used for every series that is played, or shouldn't be used at all. Secondly, the same technology should be used in every series. A few decisions given through UDRS were hotly debated and both involved KP. The lbw of KP was 50-50 and could have gone either way and as far as the caught behind decision is concerned, KP didn't seem to nick it. The key for any captain when using the UDRS is to perhaps go for it, when he feels a bad decision is given, but not for decisions that can be said as 50-50. UDRS surely helped both Trott and Morgan to escape from the clutches of Ashocker as both were clearly not out.

Anyway, coming back to the match on hand, it is clear that England now have the upper hand and Pakistan have a uphill task ahead of them. England would look for a huge score today and see how Pakistan's brittle batting line-up cope with it.

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