Misbah Ul-Haq

Azhar ALI Set To Be Appointed Pakistan Skipper

Azhar Ali is set to become the new captain of Pakistan's ome day side. The 30 year old replaces Misbah Ul-Haq who retired from one day internationals after this world cup.

Azhar Ali is set to become the new captain of Pakistan’s ome day side. The 30 year old replaces Misbah Ul-Haq who retired from one day internationals after this world cup.

The ongoing cricket world cup has not only been one of the best in living memory, it’s also going to the be end of some of the greatest players careers. Kumar Sangakarra, Mahela Jayawardena, Michael Clarke and Pakistan’s Mr reliable Misbah Ul-Haq are to name some cricketing greats who will no longer be operating in the one day arena after this world cup.

To replace such players is always going to be tough – but in Pakistan’s case they will need to replace Misbah Ul-Haq in more ways than one. The 40 year old who has overseen test wins over England and Australia on ‘neutral’ soil deserves a lot of credit in his time as captain of Pakistan’s one day team.

Although Misbah will be still playing in tests the 40 year old leaves a void in the middle of the Pakistan one day batting line up batting, he also leaves the Pakistani’s with an experienced player short with leadership qualities in the middle order of their batting.

Often criticised for his captaincy, Misbah Ul-Haq took his beleaguered side into the tournament – and did well. Opening defeats to India and West Indies never helps – but the way they roared into the quarter finals, which included a thrilling win over South Africa deserves huge credit.

In life you can never keep everyone happy – and Misbah will know that – but having scored 5,000 with an impressive batting average, it’s fair to say that the people who criticise the Pakistan captain are being harsh.

All good things must come to an end they say – and with Misbah Ul-Haq no spring chicken at the ripe old age of 40, the need to replace Misbah was always inevitable. Many replacements were touted such as Umar Akmal and Ahmed Shazhad – but with both of these players they have gone missing when their country has needed them the most.

Although both of these players are destined for greatness – and the argument is that if either Akmal or Shazhad are made captain it will improve their game with the responsibility, Pakistan have intact gone for 30 year old Azhar Ali.

A surprising choice may say considering Ali hasn’t been involved in the Pakistan one day squad for two years – but the calmness he ensues is the main factor what seems to have swung the opinion of the Pakistan cricket board.

Ali has scored hundreds against England and Australia – so the 30 year old does possess the temperament and skill when play against the top sides. In fact Azhar Ali does posses a very impressive average of 41 in one day internationals despite only playing 14 one dayers.

Selecting players as captain who have been in the international wilderness isn’t something unheard of. Players such as Rashid Latif and Waqar Younis have been selected as captains of the national side after being in the wilderness on the international scene.

As a matter of fact England indeed did the same trick with Alistair Cook – and initially that appointment was a master stroke as the three lions topped the one day rankings.

In Azhar Ali’s case he has captained the likes of Wahab Riaz and Nasir Jamshed in the U19 world cup – so is seen as a popular choice by Pakistan’s players themselves. The main reason Pakistan opted for Ali was due top the fact that both out going captain Misbah Ul-Haq and coach Waqar Younis are both impressed with Ali’s calm persona. It’s not as if Azhar Ali is being thrown at the deep end as Ali has captained plenty of sides domestically – but the Pakistani captiancy will be a test even for the ‘calm’ Azhar Ali.

Pak To Their Best?

Pakistan's Sarfraz Ahmed raise his bat aloft after helping Pakistan to a seven wicket win. over Ireland. The win against Ireland means they will now play hosts Australia in the quarter final.

Pakistan’s Sarfraz Ahmed raise his bat aloft after helping Pakistan to a seven wicket win. over Ireland. The win against Ireland means they will now play hosts Australia in the quarter final.

1992 World Champions Pakistan overcame the brave challenge of Ireland to earn the right to face Australia in next weeks quarter final with a seven wicket win over the associate nation.

In a highly anticipated game which would have seen the winner progress to the quarter final stage – and the loser eliminated, it was Ireland who won the toss in this crucial match and opted to bat first.

The Irish came into this with all their key players available ( Both Openers and the explosive Kevin O’Brien). As for Pakistan who triumphed in 1992 when the tournament was last in Australia their team showed two changes, Harris Sohail returns after injury in place of Younus Khan and Ehsan Adil replaces Mohammed Irfan to make his first appearance of this world cup.

Ireland who can say they have beaten Pakistan in the past, would have every right to have been optimistic here- but the initial optimism decreased as Paul Stirling was dismissed by Adil with just 11 on the board. The worst possible start for the associate nation who knew that there was a lot riding on this game.

That early dismissal brought former England batsmen Ed Joyce to the crease – and at first it looked like the Sussex captain and Ireland’s captain William Porterfield had helped their side recover from the initial loss of Sterling. Sadly though Joyce was second out after being caught by Umar Akmal who would go on to take four catches in the game.

Through out Ireland’s innings players made ‘starts’ but could never truly cash in. Despite Portefield’s brilliant hundred which was the highest score by an associate nation’s captain, Ireland were all out for 237. After the Irish skippers heroics the next highest scorer was wicketkeeper Gary Wilson who scored 29. Ireland were at least 30 runs short we felt – but Pakistan’s disciplined attack never allowed Ireland’s score to get out of their control.

With the 1992 world champions just needing 237 to win to secure their place in the quarter finals, the Pakistan openers combined to put on their best opening stand in this tournament, by some distance. Ahmed Shehzhad and Sarfraz Ahmed who hit a superb 49 against South Africa, put on 120 for the first wicket. Even when Shehzhad was dismissed off the bowling of Stuart Thompson for a well played 63, Pakistan always seemed in control of this one.

However there was time for some late drama, or so Ireland thought.The recalled Harris Sohail was dismissed six runs later after a horrible mix up with Sarfraz Ahmed which lead to the run out of Sohail. If Ireland thought that dismissal was a chance for them to seize a potential advantage, sadly they were mistaken. Pakistan captain Misbah Ul-Haq was in next – and that was just what Pakistan needed as their captain effectively ended this one as a contest with a breezy 39 0ff just 46 balls which included two big sixes.

When Misbah was out for 39 after treading on his stumps, there was only 30 runs needed, so it was fair to say the game was effectively over. Pakistan eventually did secure the win with a four down the ground from Umar Akmal.

So Pakistan secured their place in the quarter finals after winning this game by seven wickets. The main reason for this win was a well disciplined bowling display and a very patient maiden century from wicket keeper batsmen Sarfraz Ahmed who anchored the run chase. Although Pakistan only closed the game out in the 47th over, they were never really troubled in this one.

Pakistan will now face Australia in the quarter final which will be on Friday 13th March. As for Ireland although they are eliminated they can go home proud of their achievements.

The Three Musketeers Help Boost Pakistan World Cup Hopes

Mohammed Irfan celebrates taking a wicket in Pakistan's 29 run win over South Africa.

Mohammed Irfan celebrates taking a wicket in Pakistan’s 29 run win over South Africa.

Pakistan produced a brilliant performance to win against all the odds against one of the pre tournament favourites South Africa. Pakistan in typical Pakistan fashion insisted on doing it the hard way – but this win by 29 runs via the Duckworth Lewis method sees the 1992 world champions on course for the quarter finals.

The 2009 and T20 World champions came into this match showing two changes, one was enforced and was tactical. Nasser Jamshed who has excelled for Pakistan at the top of the order in the past, has sadly struggled in this tournament, wicket keeper batsmen Sarfraz Ahmed took his place at the top of the order.

The other change sees the injured Harris Sohail miss out, with veteran Younus Khan back in the side and at number three in the batting order.

As for South Africa they just showed the one change, Farhaan Behardien makes way for the returning JP Duminy who was injured in the last match.

It was South Africa who won the toss and unsurprisingly opted to out Pakistan into bat. Proteas captain AB Devilliers appeared to have made the right choice, as this was the pitch which produced the low scoring thriller between the two hosts New Zealand and Australia.

Pakistan who have evidently struggled in the first 10 overs this tournament, seemed much more determined to bat better than what they have done in the first 10 overs of previous matches. The Green shirts as they are also known, Pakistan were very circumspect in the first 10 .

To their credit, Pakistan were batting really well and there was no need to panic as far as Pakistan are concerned. Sarfraz Ahmed in particularly was playing with purpose as the 27 year old was playing out of his crease at any given opportunity, maybe to just look to unsettle the South African attack.

South Africa though were on the whole very well disciplined – but didn’t bowl many short balls considering this pitch did have extra bounce in it. Pakistan and more in particular Ahmed Shehzhad after weathering the initial storm if you will but began to play more expansive .

The Pakistani opener played some beautiful straight drives as he looked to move through the gears – but Shehzhad’s innings would come to an end due to a brilliant catch from one of the South African players you would least expect.

Dale Steyn who is famed for his bowling took a quite brilliant catch to remove Pakistan’s opener. Ahmed Shezhad who was starting to gain a bit of confidence after those drives, decided to take on Kyle Abbot – but managed to only find Dale Steyn who quite brilliantly dived backwards to catch a ball in midair.

After that setback Shehzhad’s opening partner Sarfraz Ahmed exploded and hit 23 of a JP Duminy over which included three massive sixes. Ahmed seemed well set to get a 50 – but rather needlessly ran him self out when trying to chase two runs for his 50, it was poor judgement from Pakistan’s wicket keeper who tried to take on one of South Africa’s better fielders in David Miller.

After Pakistan lost their second just before the 100 came up, Younus Khan and captain Misbah Ul-Haq looked to regroup and consolidate their ascendancy. The Pakistani’s plan at that point was working – but when Younus Khan unforgivably lost his wicket for 37 playing a nothing shot off the part time bowling of De Villiers, Pakistan were again on the back foot at 132-3.

In came Sohaib Maqsood, a very capable middle order batsmen – but just like Khan, Maqsood also played a careless shot, South Africa at that point were looking to turn the screw. When Umar Akmal came in, a player who has performed reasonably well this world cup, the Green Shirts must have thought that any threat of a middle order collapse were dispelled.

Sadly however just like the other batsmen before him, Umar Akmal played a needless shot which De Villers gladly caught with out knowing to much about it due to the bad light. Soon after that dismissal the rain came and the players had to go off – but thankfully there was no detriment on the game, which made Akmal’s dismissal all the more unnecessary.

After being in a position of utter dominance, Pakistan contributed to their own down fall. When the players did come back out, the Pakistani’s crumbled from being 175-5 after Akmal’s dismissal, Pakistan were all out for 222.

The 1992 world champions in a game they could do with winning looked to have made a score which was at least 25 runs short of a par score.

South Africa in a match which was made to 47 overs a side due to rain interruptions, came out to bat knowing that if they successfully chase this total down, they’re all but through to the quarter finals – and that’s when the drama unfolded.

The Proteas couldn’t have got off to a worse start, Quinton De Kock who is struggling for form with the bat, also struggled for runs today. De Kock departed for a duck to leave South Africa in deep trouble at 0-1.

It was left to the experienced pair of Hashim Amla and Faf Du Plessis to rebuild the innings, and that they did superbly. Amla and Du Plessis put on 67 for the second wicket – but when Du Plessis was caught behind by Sarfraz Ahmed off the bowling Rahat Ali, Pakistan’s left arm seam trio of Mohammed Irfan, Rahat Ali and Wahab Riaz got to work and essentially blew South Africa away.

Hashim Amla soon followed Du Plessis. Riley Rossouw who has impressed in South Africa’s last two games where they have scored 400, sadly for South African fans failed to make a big contribution as the RCB player just made six.

Rossouw wasn’t the only player to get a low score as Duminy and Miller were both dismissed cheaply, the latter being dismissed for a duck. In fact in South Africa’s lower order it was Dale Steyn who got the highest score with 16.

South Africa after doing brilliantly to restrict Pakistan, looked like they had quite clearly pressed self destruct as the Proteas managed to slump to 172-8. The South African’s hadn’t done just yet – and still had AB De Villiers at the other end of the ensuing carnage
When De Villiers was ninth man out for a well played 72, you knew the game was up for South Africa. The game did duly end when Imran Tahir was demised two runs later to hand Pakistan a 29 run win via Duckworth Lewis method.

Pakistan with this win have most definitely reigned their hopes of a quarter final place. As for South Africa despite losing today their superior run rate gives them an edge of their rivals. Group B draws to a climax on Thursday 12th and Sunday 15th March.

India Get Their World Cup Off To A Flyer After Defeating Pakistan

Virat Kohli scored a brilliant hundred which helped India crush Pakistan by 76 runs.

Virat Kohli scored a brilliant hundred which helped India crush Pakistan by 76 runs.


India and Pakistan renewed their intense rival as they started their World Cup campaign on Sunday with a win against arch rivals Pakistan . In a match that was reportedly watched by 1 million it’s India who dominated this one, the defeat for Pakistan meant that they still haven’t beat their arch rivals in World Cup cricket.

After winning the toss defending world champions India decided to bat first. When the normally explosive Rohit Sharma fell for just 15, one might have been forgiven for asking if batting first was the right choice. Sharma’s dismissal meant that Virat Kohli was next into bat which is always a very ominous sign for the opposition . The vice captain Kohli who does have a good record against the arch enemy, improved his record here with a brilliant and well composed hundred.

Kohli and Shikar Dawan enabled a India recovery as the second wicket pair out on a stand of 129 which enabled India to rebuild. Shikar Dawan who reigned his attacking instincts for the team was the next wicket to fall via a Misbah Ul Haq run out.

Such is the strength of India’s top order that when a team gets rid one quality a player another quality player follows. The next man in was Suresh Raina, Raina a 28 year old batsmen who is very destructive at his best, was in destructive form here.

As he is known for over the years the Chennai Super Kings player likes to settle into the crease and play his way in, and Raina didn’t change his method here. Pakistan who were using spinners at this stage got that tactic wrong as Suresh Raina is some one who is well known to have a weakness of the short ball.

The unusual tactic by Pakistan captain Misbah- Ul Haq, allowed Suresh Raina to get settled and that lead a typical Suresh Raina like innings. Raina and India’s vice captain put on 110 for the third wicket. The third wicket partnership was broken when Virat Kohli was caught behind from a wide ball which he shouldn’t have hit – but the 25 year old Kohli must have been understandably tired after hitting another century, this latest century was the 22nd in a career which the Delhi man keeps breaking records.

This century which as we know was Kohli’s 22nd, meant that the RCB captain has got 22 centuries quicker than anyone else in the history of the game. When Kohli was out from the bowling of Sohail Khan that’s where India seemed to lose their way in this one.

A middle order collapse ensued their after. Suresh Raina who played beautifully for his 74 of 56 balls was the next man to go, closely followed by Ravi Jadeja, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Ajinkya Rahane. In fact three Indian wickets fell with out a run being scored as Pakistan got a team hat trick if you will.

At one stage India were probably thinking 300-325 is a score they would want to set, in the end the two time world champions had to settle for a scorecard which read 300-7. The main reason for that score was due to the brilliant death bowling of Wahab Riaz and Sohail Khan who with his variations of pace took five wickets for 55 runs.

Ideally India would have wanted more – but 300 was still a good score to defend never the less.

Pakistan went out to bat knowing that despite conceding a high total, it was crucial that they didn’t be to aggressive from the start. The 1992 world champions opted for a different opening partnership by promoting Younus Khan to be Ahmed Shazhad’s opening partner.

That move backfired however as Pakistan got off to the start they were dreading. Khan a World T20 winning captain got a unwanted glove on a very well directed bouncer by Mohammed Shami to depart for just six. With that early set back, Pakistan opted to promote all-rounder Harris Sohail up the order. The 26 year old player from Sialkot didn’t disappoint either as he and Ahmed Shehzhad went about rebuilding the run chase.

To their credit both players went about their task well and for the opening overs of Pakistan’s chase they were actually near enough equal to India’s score at the same stage of their innings. Patient and intelligent cricket by Sohail and Shehzhad kept Pakistan in the hunt – but when Sohail fell to the spin of Ashwin, Pakistan’s chase spiralled out of control.

After being 100-2 at one stage, Pakistan lost three wickets and were soon wobbling at 103-5. Maqsood, Sehzhad and Umar Akmal in controversial circumstances all departed cheaply. The Pakistani’s would have felt aggrieved to see Akmal given out and for their referral to be ignored, even when TV replays didn’t conclusively show contact.

To cling on to that moment as turning point though -to be fair would be a bit desperate as Pakistan collapsed quite spectacularly. Not even a cameo from Shahid Afridi could help Pakistan. The Pakistani’s despite a battling 76 from skipper Misbah Ul-Haq feel well short in this run chase and crumbled to 224 all out in 47 overs.

Although this defeat will be a bitter pill to swallow against their arch rivals, Pakistan shouldn’t actually feel to disheartened. The 1992 champions can take some positives out of this game such as their death bowling – and the performances of Ahmed Shehzhad, Harris Sohail and of course the captain Misbah Ul-Haq.

Pakistan face West Indies next which won’t be easy – but is most definitely winnable. As for the winners of this match India, they can take some positives – but they will be hoping their captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni can find some form with the bat. The defending champions next face South Africa so it’s crucial that India’s star players maintain their good form.

Can Pakistan Become The Number One Test Side In World Cricket?

Under Misbah Ul-Haq's captaincy Pakistan are now ranked third in test cricket . With the talent in the squad they could get higher.

Under Misbah Ul-Haq’s captaincy Pakistan are now ranked third in test cricket . With the talent in the squad they could get higher.

There is an old saying in the English language ‘the only way is up’. We take a look to see if such a scenario could be applied here for Pakistan’s cricket team. The Asian side under the leadership of Misbah Ul-Haq have had steady progress and after the 2-0 test series win over Australia Pakistan are now at the ‘dizzy heights’ of being third ranked in the world in test cricket.

In the case of the 1992 world champions is the only way up? Pakistan have been quite brilliant at their new ‘home ground’ Abu Dhabi. The Arab state has been their ‘adopted home’ of recent years due to the ploitical turmoil that has been happening in Pakistan, but never the less the South Asians have excelled here.

Wins against England when the English were the number one test side and most recently Australia being very impressive. Pakistan due to the political goings on haven’t been able to play as much cricket as the other nations, but on current form seem quite impressive.

A mixture of youth and experience leaves this team with a good balance. At the top of the order epitomises just that, Ahmed Shazhad and Mohammed Hafeez open the order. What’s been of slight concern is that this opening partnership has not scored heavily as of yet, which has lead oppurtunites for opposition to strike.

Unfortunately for Australia in the recent series there after it was a struggle, Younus khan, Misbah Ul-Haq and Azhar Ali all scoring heavily. To be fair to Ahmed Shazhad he did score a hundred in this series.

The batting line up then does seem very strong with Hafeez and Shazhad opening the batting, followed by Azhar Ali, Younus Khan and then captain Misbah Ul-Haq. Very impressive batting line up indeed and I haven’t even mentioned Sarfraz Ahmed yet! The wicket keeper batsmen had a brilliant series with the bat where others failed, at 27 Ahmed is at the peak of his powers.

The bowling is ‘just as good’ Zaulfiquar Babar was excellent as was Rahat Ali and Imran Khan. There are slight concerns that I have however with this Pakistan side, as good as it is to have experience in the side, there are players who are on the’wrong side’ of 30.

Zaulfiquar Babar as excellent as he was in the recent series win over the Aussies, in the longer term will need replacing, as will Younus khan and captain Misbah Ul-Haq. What Pakistan are blessed with is talented youngsters however, let’s not forget Umar Akmal has ‘talent in abundance’- but isn’t in the side at the moment.

As for potential replacements for Zaulfiquar Babar Pakistan do have some alternatives for Babar and even for Saeed Ajmal in the longer run, if the 34 year old is cleared to play any time soon (Ajmal has been banned for an illegal bowling action).

As far as the present is concerned, Pakistan will be preparing for the test series against New Zealand – who I am sure will present a different challenge. The Kiwi’s haven’t had the best record against Pakistan over the years – but having said that, this series could still be a tricky one for the ‘hosts’ as many will expect them to win.

Series like this one against New Zealand will be the challenge, many might expect Pakistan to win so let’s see how Pakistan embrace the ‘favourites’ tag.

Pakistan do undoubtedly have the potential to be the worlds best side in test cricket, but in the longer run will need to replace key players like Younus Khan. For now though they need to concentrate on the present which is against New Zealand, the series starts on Sunday 9th November.