Category: Pakistan (page 1 of 24)

With the Ashes decided, England and Australia will look to determine which has the better ODI second XI

England v Australia ODI at the Riverside (CC licensed by Steve Parkinson via Flickr)

England and Australia fans who enjoy answering the question “so why isn’t this the Ashes then?” will be delighted to hear that the two sides are going to do that thing where they follow the Test series with five don’t-give-a-toss one-day matches six months later in the other country.

The news comes as part of the ECB’s announcement of England’s 2018 summer fixtures.

Pakistan will turn up first in a somewhat forlorn bid to try and breathe a bit of life into the springtime two-Test non-series.

After that, it’s a one-dayer against Scotland and then five against Australia, during which both sides will doubtless make an attempt to ‘blood some exciting new talent’.

Then it’s India for the main event. After three T20 internationals and three one-day internationals, the tourists will play five Tests: three in the South-East and two in the Midlands.


Shahid Afridi made a T20 hundred yesterday

And everyone is, as usual, missing the point.

Shahid Afridi is the least T20 cricketer to have ever graced the format. Here’s why.


Peak Pakistan

Virat Kohli makes the least of his reprieve off Mohammad Amir (via ICC)

Scrape into a tournament through being ranked eighth in the world, throw in a few debutants, win the thing.

Quite often you get to play Pakistan. Occasionally you have to play Pakistan. India suffered the latter.

How in blazes?

If we were to imagine that winning a cricket tournament involved repeatedly writing the word WIN on a piece of paper, then Pakistan do not issue their players with pens.

The Pakistan approach is to take a whole bunch of magnifying glasses and then throw them into the air hoping to hell that the sun’s rays strike them at such an angle and at such a moment that the refracted beams scorch the letters into the page without incinerating it. This normally results in a lot of broken glass, but not always.

Fakhar Zaman, the opening batsman who made a devilishly effective hundred in the final, made his one-day international debut last week. Shadab Khan has played five first-class matches. Pakistan also managed to shrug off dropping the finest one-day batsman in the world in the time it took Mohammad Amir to walk back to his mark. Somehow it all worked out and India were not just beaten but positively monstered.

How do you win a one-day tournament in 2017?

The narrative ahead of this competition, at least in the UK media, was that modern one-day cricket is all about hitting sixes and making 400 on flat pitches. This storyline coloured perceptions to such an extent that the national team felt hard done by when they were asked to play a semi-final on a used pitch.

‘That’s not the way one-day cricket is supposed to be,’ they seemed to say, as if there were an official diktat about such things from the governing body. ‘Make the version of the game that we’re good at the only permissible version,’ they added.

But it turns out modern one-day cricket can be many different things.

In the end, the team that won the Champions Trophy was the one that cobbled together the most effective bowling attack, as is so often the case.

Pakistan may well have aspired to build their game around heavy run-scoring, but that never really became an option. A friend of ours maintains that using moisturiser makes your skin “lazy”. Similarly, we wonder whether Pakistan’s bowlers have actually benefited from knowing the value of a run.

Which isn’t to say the Pakistan batsmen didn’t switch it on in the knockout stages, despite suspicions that they lacked the switch, let alone a power source. The truth is that the team – the unit, if you will – did a lot of things well. This was a three dimensional win.


Video: Virat Kohli dropped off Mohammad Amir… Virat Kohli caught off Mohammad Amir

Virat Kohli makes the least of his reprieve off Mohammad Amir (via ICC)

Pakistan often lunge enthusiastically towards the ridiculous in the firm knowledge that this is their best hope of rebounding to sublime cricket – but even for them this moment was something else.

There is a strong argument that Virat Kohli is the finest one-day batsman there’s ever been. He is not a man you can afford to drop in the final of the Champions Trophy.

Oh no, turns out you can.


Nine things to watch out for when India play Pakistan in the Champions Trophy final

There are all sorts of India v Pakistan previews out there, but this is currently the only one on this website that goes up to nine.

1. Jasprit Bumrah’s bowling action

Jasprit Bumrah’s bowling action (via ICC)

Evidence, if it were needed, that the “hey, what’s that over there?” bowling ploy can work just as well at international level as it can in the back garden.

2. Jasprit Bumrah’s name

We’ll literally never tire of it. This is why.

3. Hasan Ali

Who’s been taking all the wickets and not going for runs? Hasan Ali, that’s who.

4. Azhar Ali

Azhar Ali plays a textbook wild hoick (via ICC)

No-one has scored more runs at a lower strike-rate in this Champions Trophy. Not too many people have scored fewer runs at a lower strike-rate either. Yet Pakistan are still in the final, so can anyone really quibble with his approach thus far?

5. Virat Kohli’s anger level

Misfield by team-mate – angry. Lack of effort by team-mate – very angry. Hugely pleasing individual or team performance – positively enraged. Never mind measuring bat speed or the distance covered by fielders, what we’d really like to see is some sort of videogame-style graphical representation of Virat Kohli’s fury levels; a sort of gradually filling bar that turns red and glows once it’s completely full.

6. Virat Kohli more generally

He’s only been out once in the entire tournament. For a duck.

7. Kedar Jadhav’s right-arm filth

Kedar Jadhav’s round-arm shod (via ICC)

This is quite simply what cricket’s all about. Please give him a bowl in the final. Please. Apparently Jadhav doesn’t practise his bowling much in the nets. You’d never guess.

8. Fakhar Zaman

Most teams are keen to groom players for major tournaments in the hope of maximising what they get out of them when it matters. Pakistan pick debutants and see what happens. Zaman has so far made 138 runs in his 117-ball one-day international career.

9. Pakistan pakistanning

Whether it’s a feeble batting collapse, a crazy four-over whirlwind of wicket-taking that decides the match, or Mohammad Hafeez suddenly deciding he’ll bat like Shahid Afridi, you’ll know the moment when Pakistan start pakistanning and it will be (in)glorious.

 


There was a rumour that England had ‘solved’ one-day cricket

Ben Stokes finds a gap in the field directly above him (screengrab via ICC)

Ben Stokes finds a gap in the field directly above him (screengrab via ICC)

Not the case. It was perhaps true that they’d solved modern one-day cricket… but then they came up against Pakistan.

As we said the other day, Pakistan don’t care what year it is. They don’t care how other people are approaching one-day cricket these days, they just do their own thing. Pakistan’s thing is ‘bowling sides out for just over 200’.

England’s thing, by contrast, is buying wickets. They like inflation. With both bat and ball, they splash runs about with abandon and never really worry about the cost.

In the semi-final of the Champions Trophy, the purse strings tightened and England discovered that they had lost the ability to sniff out bargains.

The home team dropped 118 runs on Pakistan’s first wicket alone. Regardless of the opposition’s reputation for providing easily affordable wickets, from that point on they were only ever heading for bankruptcy.


If Jason Roy is “due” what will happen to all those runs he saved up?

Jason Roy edges two cricket balls (ECB via Twitter video)

Jason Roy edges two cricket balls (ECB via Twitter video)

Just because someone’s due, it doesn’t mean anything’s actually going to happen any time soon. Trust us on this.

Referring to Jason Roy, Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur alluded to the concept of dueness, saying: “We had a discussion in the bus this morning. I was particularly worried that Roy hadn’t fired yet because I think he’s very close to something quite good.”

Arthur went on to question Jonny Bairstow’s credentials as an opener, so it seems fair to assume that the opposition are in favour of England naming an unchanged side. Such is the nature of pre-match bullshittery.

Eoin Morgan deployed all of the ifs in his armoury when floating the possibility that England might make the change. They all paled in significance beside the fact that he was entertaining the prospect at all though.

If someone’s a marginal selection, standard practice is to talk them up and bolster them. Failure to do so rather implies that the decision has been made.

Assuming Bairstow plays, what happens to the great stockpile of runs that Roy has been painstakingly hoarding now?


Pakistan don’t care what year it is

Hasan Ali dismisses Suranga Lakmal (via ICC)

Hasan Ali dismisses Suranga Lakmal (via ICC)

“300-plus scores? No, thank you. We’ll just persist with our old approach of bowling the opposition out for slightly less than our own low score, if that’s all right with you.”

Pakistan held South Africa to 219-8 off 50 overs. Sri Lanka managed a whopping 236 all out against them. Pakistan being Pakistan, the latter was almost enough.

But it wasn’t enough.

Pakistan – supposedly the most crisis-raddled of all the sides – swan into the semi-finals like a swan that’s decided to walk even though it has a broken leg.


Video: Yuvraj Singh goes nuts against Pakistan

It’s nice to see that Yuvraj Singh’s nuts-at-the-end-going capabilities are largely undiminished because going nuts at the end has always been very much his thing.

For their part, Pakistan’s end-nutsiness is largely irrelevant these days because they can’t reliably manoeuvre themselves into a position where it would be appropriate to deploy the long handle.

As an England fan, we can offer hope that there may one day be an end to the familiar ill-timed run-outs and forlorn trying-to-raise-the-run-rate catches in the deep. Don’t ask us when though. All we’re willing to say is that it could happen.


India and Pakistan resolve to fulfil fixture obligation despite Abdul Razzaq’s retirement

Photo by Sarah Ansell

Photo by Sarah Ansell

The cliché is that cricket is a religion in India, which has always seemed to us to greatly overstate the importance of religion in a country where such things are basically ten a paise.

Pakistan’s pretty keen on the sport too. It’s good to find things you have in common.

As an outsider, matches between these two teams are a delight. They’re shorn of the tension borne of having any real preference who wins and yet are riddled with zillions of reminders that what is happening is A Big Deal.

And the fixtures are so rare too. You can’t often say that about international cricket.

If we’re to go digging for a cloud beyond this lovely silver lining – which of course we are – it comes in the form of team selection. No Stuart Binny for India and quite inexplicably no Azhar Mahmood or Abdul Razzaq for Pakistan.

The latter (again) announced his retirement from international cricket two days ago, which must rank as a particularly magnificent effort even by Pakistani standards.

The show goes on though. Our in-depth preview is that India have the better recent record but Pakistan have been in Birmingham for slightly longer, which surely must count for something.


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