KARACHI: More than half of the Pakistan team that will take on Zimbabwe in a five-match one-day series at home next month will consist of rookie players.
‘The News’ has learnt that the decision to induct fresh legs in the Pakistan squad on an ‘experimental basis’ is a part of a planned drive by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) which wants the team to recover quickly from a disappointing tour of India.
And they believe the best way to go about it is by getting rid of some of the relatively experienced players, who have been giving a below-par performance in recent outings. According to a top PCB official, the Board chairman Nasim Ashraf has given clear instructions to the national selection committee to start looking for junior players good enough to graduate into the big league.
The official, who requested anonymity, also revealed that the PCB top brass has made up its mind to carry out a thorough post-mortem of the team’s performance in India where it lost the one-day series 2-3 and also failed to give the hosts any worthwhile fight in the three-match Test series, which it currently trails 0-1.
“The PCB chief will soon be calling an emergency meeting to discuss the reasons why Pakistan were unable to live up the expectations in India,” said the official. “The meeting will be attended by some of the Board’s top officials, the national team management and the coaches working for the National Cricket Academy (NCA),” the official added.
He said that the meeting is also aimed at finding a solution for the current shortage of reliable bench players. “Everybody saw Pakistan’s performance in India and it was hardly impressive, apart from a few success stories,” said the official.
The PCB, which was expecting Pakistan to show more improvement after a forceful showing at the inaugural World Twenty20 championship in South Africa this September, is quite concerned over the fact that their team flopped against South Africa at home, where it lost both the one-day and Test series, and then against India in the away tour.
Top Board officials are particularly unhappy with the performance of some of the experienced players and now want youngsters to be given a bigger role. They want the national selectors and the team officials to work together and find more reliable openers and are also calling for a substitute wicket-keeper as regular stumper Kamran Akmal continues to spill catches.
“We are all convinced that there is a need to bring in more youngsters in the side. And we also believe that the series against Zimbabwe will be the perfect event to give ample opportunity to newcomers,” the official explained.
PCB officials are pleased with the impressive performances from players like middle-order batsman Misbah-ul-Haq, medium pacer Sohail Tanvir and all-rounder Fawad Alam in India and are of the view that the team needs more new blood in its preparations for next year’s Champions Trophy in Pakistan and more importantly the 2011 World Cup to be held in the sub-continent.
BANGALORE, India (AFP) — Misbah-ul-Haq relished India’s attack with a second successive century to boost Pakistan’s hopes of forcing a draw in the third and final Test here on Tuesday.
The middle-order batsman followed his second-Test 161 with a brilliant 133 not out as Pakistan warded off a threat of follow-on to post 537 in their first innings in reply to India’s 626.
India were strongly placed to clinch their first Test series against Pakistan at home since 1980 after reaching 131-2 in their second innings at stumps on the penultimate day for an overall lead of 220.
The hosts lead 1-0 in the series, with the final Test heading for a draw.
India lost openers Gautam Gambhir (three) and Wasim Jaffer (18) before former captains Sourav Ganguly (63 not out) and Rahul Dravid (35 not out) steadied the innings with an unfinished 105-run stand for the third wicket.
Ganguly, who smashed a maiden Test double-hundred in the first innings, raced to his half-century off 57 balls with a six off leg-spinner Danish Kaneria and nine fours.
The hosts needed a couple of early wickets in the morning to raise victory hopes after Pakistan had resumed at 369-5, but had to wait for two sessions to wrap up the innings on a track where the ball sometimes kept low.
“Our first target was to avoid the follow-on and we did that. If India set a target then we will go after it. The pitch surprises me as the odd ball keeps low, but it’s getting better and better,” said Pakistan’s coach Geoff Lawson.
“I think this needs to be a five-Test series. It’s little unsatisfactory to have three Tests because it’s tough to come back after losing the first. India and Pakistan deserve a five-match series.”
India also earned a dubious distinction of conceding a record 76 extras in a Test innings, surpassing the previous highest of 71 by the West Indies against Pakistan at Georgetown in 1988.
The sundries were the third-highest contributor in the innings after Misbah and stand-in captain Younis Khan (80).
Misbah, who had played just seven Tests before this series since his debut in 2001, was Pakistan’s find of the tour as he remained a thorn in India’s flesh with scores of 82, 45, 161 not out, six and 133 not out in five innings.
The 33-year-old played a key role in two useful partnerships to thwart India, adding 144 for the sixth wicket with wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal (65) and 93 for the next with debutant Yasir Arafat (44).
“It surprises me that he (Misbah) has not played much, but he has been outstanding in this series. It needs an unplayable ball to get him out. He concentrates hard and has shown he is a world-class player,” said Lawson.
India’s 19-year-old seamer Ishant Sharma, playing only his second Test, claimed the last four wickets to finish with 5-118, but Pakistan had already saved a follow-on at that stage.
Needing 427 to make India bat again, Pakistan achieved their objective in the second hour of the morning during the Misbah-Akmal partnership.
There was no stopping Misbah, who continued to frustrate the Indian attack with a solid defence and a flawless shot-selection. He hit 17 fours in his 322-ball knock.
It was the second successive time Misbah and Akmal helped their team avoid the follow-on, having already done so in the drawn second Test in Kolkata with resolute centuries.
With the pitch offering little help to seamers and spinners, India found wickets hard to come by as they got just one in the morning.
Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh was the lone wicket-taker in the morning, when he had Akmal stumped by Dinesh Karthik.
Akmal executed some handsome shots and added 33 to his overnight score of 32. He hit 12 fours in his eighth half-century.
India 1st innings 626 (S. Ganguly 239, Y. Singh 169, I. Pathan 102; Y. Arafat 5-161, D. Kaneria 3-168)
Pakistan 1st innings (overnight 369-5):
Fall of wickets: 1-59 (Hameed), 2-149 (Butt), 3-221 (Younis), 4-227 (Yousuf), 5-288 (Iqbal), 6-432 (Akmal), 7-525 (Arafat), 8-527 (Sami), 9-529 (Akhtar).
India 2nd innings:
Fall of wickets: 1-17 (Gambhir), 2-26 (Jaffer)
BANGALORE, India – Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik has been ruled out of the final test against India beginning on Saturday after failing to recover from an ankle injury.
Shoaib twisted his left ankle while playing soccer after the first test in New Delhi, which the hosts won by six wickets, and the injury kept him out of the second test after his foot was put in a cast.
Younis Khan, who led the team to a remarkable draw in Kolkata, will stand in as captain again.
“Shoaib Malik was sent to a local orthopaedic surgeon for evaluation of his injury. The surgeon has advised another five days of plaster. That means he is out of the third test match,” Pakistan media manager Ehsan Malik told reporters on Thursday.
India, 1-0 up in the series, will field a depleted pace attack after spearhead Zaheer Khan and Munaf Patel were ruled out with injuries on Wednesday.
Left-arm swing bowler Irfan Pathan was named in their squad along with the inexperienced Vikram Rajvir Singh and 19-year-old Ishant Sharma.
KOLKATA, India — Stand-in captain Younis Khan staved off a spin threat with a responsible century to help Pakistan draw the second Test against India here on Tuesday.
Younis scored an unbeaten 107 under pressure as Pakistan recovered from 78-4 to finish at 214-4 in their second innings chasing a stiff 345-run target off 81 overs on the fifth and final day.
Mohammad Yousuf played the supporting role and was unbeaten on 44 when the game was called off with four overs remaining.
Pakistan, trailing 1-0, now have a chance to square the three-Test series when they clash with India in the third match at Bangalore starting Sunday.
Younis, 29, reached his 15th Test century — fifth against India — in the closing session when he reverse-swept off-spinner Harbhajan Singh for a 13th four.
Indian spinners Anil Kumble (2-73) and Harbhajan made the batsmen struggle for runs on a slow turning track, keeping a tidy line and length with four men in catching positions close to the bat.
Pakistan were in trouble midway through the afternoon session when they lost four wickets for 78 in 40 overs, but Younis came to his team’s rescue as he added 136 for the unfinished fifth-wicket stand with Yousuf.
Younis, leading the side in the absence of unfit Shoaib Malik, never allowed the Indian spinners to dominate him as he took no risks during his 182-ball knock, patiently waiting for the loose deliveries to punish.
The tourists batted to save the match, making no serious inroads to achieve the target. They scored 37 off 20 overs in the morning and 89 off 32 in the afternoon.
Pakistan needed to survive 41 overs when Yousuf joined Younis in the middle, with only one specialist batsman (Faisal Iqbal) in the dressing-room. They were fortunate to find the right pair at right time to keep India at bay.
Leg-spinner Kumble, who shared the new ball with Zaheer Khan, raised visions of an Indian victory when he dismissed make-shift opener Kamran Akmal (14) and Salman Butt (11) before his side ran into a gutsy Younis.
There was no stopping Younis, who applied himself remarkably well on a last-day pitch to pull his team out of trouble after Misbah-ul-Haq and Yasir Hameed had fallen cheaply.
Misbah, who helped his side avoid a follow-on with an unbeaten 161, offered a sharp chance off the first ball off Kumble, but Dinesh Karthik failed to latch on to it at short-leg.
Misbah (six) did not last long as he was bowled by paceman Munaf Patel off a delivery which came in after pitching into the roughs.
India struck in the seventh over when left-arm seamer Zaheer held a return catch to dismiss opener Hameed, who drove a fuller-length delivery after making 14 runs.
Resuming at 141-2, India earlier batted 6.4 overs before declaring their second innings closed at 184-4.
Former captain Sourav Ganguly, playing on his home ground, completed 6,000 runs in Test cricket during his 46 before being bowled by fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar.
CAB leaves out former captain’s name from souvenir highlighting great performances at Eden Gardens, despite his stellar showings
kolkata : For Mohammed Azharuddin, his recent visit to his favourite venue, Eden Gardens, didn’t quite turn out to be the honeymoon he was expecting this trip to be.
The former Indian captain was invited by the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) as a special guest for the ongoing India-Pakistan Test.
However, after a spate of unsavoury incidents involving him, an irked Azharuddin cut short the camaraderie and the trip, and left the city in a huff, two days into the match.
It was learnt that 44-year-old Azhar was extremely offended to find that the CAB, despite having invited him as guest, didn’t make a single mention of him in the much-hyped souvenir that is being circulated among spectators, dignitaries and other high-profile guests.
Upset with this treatment despite his phenomenal record at Eden, Azhar had a serious word on this with the Board of Control for Cricket in India president Sharad Pawar, airing his displeasure at being ignored in the magazine entitled War of the Willows.
Pawar was present at Eden on the second day, on Saturday, when Azhar pointed out to him that he felt insulted with the CAB leaving him out of the souvenir. The magazine issue blew up a day after another embarrassment, when ICC’s anti-corruption officer NS Virk pulled up Azhar on the first day afternoon and cautioned him for talking to the Indian players in the dressing room.
Later on Saturday evening, the stylish Hyderabadi batsman of yesteryear left the city in a huff instead of sitting through all the five days.
A CAB insider told The Indian Express today that Azhar was livid when he flicked through the pages of the magazine but didn’t find his name. “Azhar was very upset when he saw they didn’t mention him at all in the souvenir. He straightaway went up to Pawar and told him that he has been insulted and that the CAB should have written at least something about him, considering his Eden connection. After all, Eden is where he has special performances, Azhar complained,” the CAB source said.
No wonder, the CAB top brass tried to play down the issue, and CAB joint-secretary Samar Paul later told this daily that Azhar was anyway invited over for only the first two days of the match.
A darling of the crowd here in Kolkata, Azharuddin boasts of a phenomenal average of 107.5 runs in seven Tests he’s played here, peppering his Eden chapter with five centuries. His last knocks at Eden, of 23 and 20, came against Pakistan in the infamous Test in 1998-99.
The CAB’s controversial souvenir comprises statistics of timeless performances at Eden from the past, and write-ups from cricketing bigwigs like Sunil Gavaskar, Ali Bacher, Sourav Ganguly, Michael Holding, Ravi Shastri and many others.
After being frustrated by the gritty Pakistani batsmen, India finally dismissed Pakistan for 456 in their first innings, gaining a 160-run first innings lead. Misbah and Sami were India’s tormentors-in-chief in this session as India wiped off the tail effectively.
Mohammad Sami was the first of the wickets to fall in the post-lunch session, falling to part-time bowler VVS Laxman. This was Laxman’s second Test wicket. It brought an end to a defiant and a resilient knock from Sami. Laxman flight it up well, full and outside the off-stump, Sami’s eyes must have lit up as he went for a heave over mid-off, only to be caught at mid-off by Wasim Jaffer. Sami’s innings finally came to an end after occupying the crease for a little over 20 overs. Sami fell for 38.
Sohail Tanvir then followed, caught by Rahul Dravid off Anil Kumble at first slip. He went for the wrong’un from Kumble, which drew him forward and the couldnt manage the extra bounce as Dravid took a neat catch diving to his left. Tanvir failed to score. Shoaib Akhtar didnt hang around for long, as Harbhajan Singh struck two overs later, with Dravid snapping him up, once again at slip. And immediately after sending Akhtar, Kaneria followed him back to the hut, bowled by Harbhajan for 0. Misbah ul-Haq was left stranded at 161.
Pakistan successfully avoided the follow-on this morning, after a stodgy effort from their overnight batsmen. They succeeded in their bid to foil and frustrate the Indian bowlers. Misbah ul-Haq provided stiff resistance and also scored some runs as the Indians were falling short of ideas in their effort to break the partnership. Misbah was soon approaching his 150, while Sami was unbeaten on 24.
Mohammad Sami, at the other end dropped anchor and foiled the Indian attack, led by captain Anil Kumble. He also managed to launch a massive six off the Indian captain, as Pakistan inched closer to wiping off the deficit. The duo brought up their second fifty-run partnership of the series, at an agonizingly slow run-rate of 1.93. They had earlier added 87 for the seventh wicket in New Delhi.
Sami was lucky as Rahul Dravid dropped a tough one at slip when the Indian captain succeeded in producing an edge. The ball flew to Dravid at first slip, but by the time he could move, it struck his hands and the ball popped out.
Earlier this morning, on-field umpire Billy Doctrove was taken indisposed after he complained of some illness. Third umpire Amish Saheba took his place on the field, and got right into action as he made a brilliant decision when Dhoni caught Misbah, with the ball coming off his arm.
India looked lethargic on the field, the buzz around the bat was clearly lacking and totally short of a game plan. Zaheer Khan looked impressive for a while, but fizzled out as his spell came to an end. Pakistan’s strategy seems to be oriented around playing out time and force India to score quickly in their second innings, which could help them save the Test match with ease.
Panchkula : Unfazed by the Pakistan Cricket Board’s tough stand against the players participating in the Indian Cricket League (ICL), opener Taufeeq Umar on Sunday said he was still hopeful of making a comeback to his national side.
“If they call me, I am ready to play,” the 26-year-old told reporters after hitting an unbeaten 52 to give his side Delhi Jets their first victory over Hyderabad Heroes, which is led by former Pakistan skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq.
On the poor performance of the Pakistani team in both ODIs and now the Test series against India, Umar said the hosts were in pristine form and were helped to some extent by the injury woes of Shoiab Malik’s men.
“India has a good combination of youth and experience, which is firing well,” he said.
Former Pakistani wicketkeeper Moin Khan, who is coach of the Hyderabad Heroes, echoed Umar’s views and said the Pakistani team were going through a “rebuilding process”.
“Injury problems coupled with Mohammad Asif’s and Shoaib Malik’s absence is the main reason the team is not doing well at the moment. Once things settle down for them, they will have the right combination which can bring results,” he said.
On being associated with the ICL, Moin said the players should not be punished for participating in the league because they had not committed any crime.
“It’s not a crime to play for the ICL as is being made out to be by some Boards. I strongly condemn Boards like BCCI for trying to prevent players from practising in cricket grounds by using their influence. Such pressure tactics need to be condemned strongly by one and all,” Moin said.