Reviews, Opinions, Analyses, Stats and Numbers

ICC fixing 'the India-Pakistan tie'

ICC has admitted fixing draws of 2017 ICC Champions Trophy to put India and Pakistan in the same group. Although, it had been suspected for some time but this is the first time that the governing body has admitted intentional maneuvering, publicly. 

While explaining the situation, the ICC Chief Executive Dave Richardson said, “No doubt we want to try to put India versus Pakistan in our event, it’s hugely important from an ICC point of view. It’s massive around the world and the fans have come to expect it as well. It’s fantastic for the tournament because it gives it a massive kick.” To achieve this objective, ICC went on to apply a special seeding formula to place India (seeded No 2), South Africa (No 3), Sri Lanka (No 5) and Pakistan (No 8) in one group. Richardson, further, denied that this had a negative impact on the integrity or fairness of the tournament. “What we try and do is make sure that when you add up the rankings of the different groups, they all add up to the same number of points. You can do that in a number of ways. So long as the pools are balanced, it’s silly to avoid [the fixture] when you can fairly cater for it.” [Source: The Telegraph – UK]

"The massive kick", that Richardson has mentioned, clearly points at the financial benefits of such arrangement both for the hosts and ICC. At a glance, it looks to be a win-win for everyone with just a gentle twist of the norms and assumed laws, in fact, looks a noble act of going out of the way to give what the fans as well as the broadcasters and the hosts of the event want. However, in principle, if there is any reason that has forced ICC to facilitate such a fixing of some events in the long chain, it may fuel the curiosity and the questions about similar steps and measures ICC have taken in the past or usually take to facilitate other anticipations, expectations and desires of the fans, broadcasters, sponsors and the hosts.

It would be naivety to assume that the fans, broadcasters, sponsors and the hosts of ICC events manage to limit their wishes and desires only to scheduling of an India-Pakistan match. There are always some other wishful permutations and probabilities as well that majority of the fans, sponsors and the hosts desire for in an ICC event, including the results of the matches and final standings of different teams at the end of the event. 

On the face of it, ICC has done no wrong. But in essence, it has probably violated the very spirit of the game that ICC itself holds dearer to any other thing in the sports. The same spirt that says that the game, its laws and its outcomes carry the highest sanctity and all 'players' must maintain it under all circumstances. Having stretched the rules and norms of the game to accommodate wishes of the few, now, can ICC expect the players not to follow the suit? Why should a player respect the limits defined by the spirit of the game when he sees the governing body itself indulging in 'manipulation and fixing' of things to facilitate some wishes and desires, and also to make some extra money? 

Coincidentally, spot-fixing also stands as 'harmless manipulation and fixing' of few 'events' under the control of 'the player' to facilitate specific 'fans', 'sponsors' and 'the hosts’ that, by definition, does not impact the outcome of a game. Should that also be seen as ‘acceptable fixing’ in greater interest of the game? Hope we are not heading in that direction.  

Its high time for ICC to consider its decisions with the long-term view instead of aiming for short-term monetary and temporary gains. Such out of the box twisting of the norms and practices will only result in short term gains and long term scars. Although, the intentions behind this facilitation are good but it may end up damaging the integrity and grace of the game. It may caste long term doubts on the governance of the game that ICC may not be able to get rid of in the long term. 

Fawad Alam - The Latest Enigma of Pakistan Cricket

He is deemed unsuitable for ODIs and T20Is because he is more of a Test player but he has played more ODIs (38) and T2OIs (24) for Pakistan than Tests (3). He is seen as someone physically weak and fragile, bound to collapse any time, but he outperforms all contemporaries in the toughest fitness Test.

In a Cricketing encampment where the convenient excuse for under performance has been the changing batting number – although, that excuse was never needed for Younus, Misbah or Azhar Ali – he was asked to open the innings, for the first time in his life, in his very first Test and he became the first Pakistani batsman to score a century on debut away from home. Six years on and he is yet to be considered good enough to play his 4th Test.
That’s Fawad Alam for you and that mysterious territory is Pakistan Cricket. With a First Class average of 56.71 in 125 matches and crossing the 50 mark in 75 times (24 hundreds, 51 fifties) out of 203 innings, he is still made to search for what he can do more to represent his country in Test Cricket.
He can’t play limited overs Cricket because he is a Test player and he can’t play Tests because he has a weak limited overs resume. He doesn’t seem physically fit to play and comes out as the fittest player. It can’t get any more mindboggling than this.
Perhaps, he has become the latest enigma of Pakistan Cricket, a mystery that the Pakistan Cricket Board is either unwilling or unable to resolve.

Net Ranking of Cricketing Nations

In case of Cricket, ICC’s Rankings stands as the established and indisputable standard to ascertain the standing of any team or a player in a particular format, therefore, its safe to use the same in order to ascertain the overall status of different Cricketing Nations. ICC maintains Rankings of players and teams for each format separately but does not maintain an overall standing or ranking across the formats. There can be a couple of options that can be applied to calculate the overall standings.

Method 1: Comparative Ranking Method

Every team is awarded Comparative Points equal to the number of teams that that team is ahead of in that particular format. Then Comparative Points of a team across all formats is simply added to find out cumulative Comparative Points of each team. Applying this method reveals the following:

About this method, its worth noting that since the ranking is comparative in nature, the more teams a particular team is ahead of, the more Comparative Points 
it will earn. For Example, New Zealand is ranked number 1, currently, in T20 rankings while Australia is ranked number 1 in Tests. But since, New Zealand is ahead of 16 other teams it will earn 16 Comparative Points  while Australia will earn 9 Comparative Points  for being number 1 in Tests. 

Method 2: Cumulative Ranking Points Method

Instead of Rankings which are comparative in nature, Ranking Points earned by each team in ICC Rankings across the formats are simply added to give Total Ranking Points earned by each team across the formats. Applying this method reveals the following:

At a glance, Cumulative Ranking Points Method looks better, however, Comparative Ranking Method has its own strength as it also factors in the competition each team faced to earn its ranking spot. Regardless of the method, the listings tell a pretty common story. Australia, India and New Zealand are the top Cricketing Nations at the moment while, after some fair gap, South Africa and England stands within the band of good competitive teams.

Interestingly, Pakistan still stands at number 6 overall in the world which looks a surprise considering Pakistan's current T20I ranking (7th) and ODI ranking (9th). This goes to show how extra ordinary Pakistan Test side has been as compared to its ODI and T20I sides.

Similarly, this overall ranking tell a different story about the state of Cricket in Caribbean. West Indies just recently became Men's T20 Champions, Women's T20 Champions and Under-19 Champions. However, their performance in Tests and ODIs is nowhere near of being champions; they stand 8th both in Tests and ODI rankings. 

Another overall ranking that catches attention is of Afghanistan. Afghanistan clearly stands at 'Giants amongst the Minnows' and stands at number 10 ahead of Zimbabwe - a Test Playing Nation - that tells a lot about the rapid and solid progression of Afghanistan Cricket. For a Sports desperately struggling for expansion of the game across the game and raising the competitiveness across the teams, the rise of Afghan Cricket is good news. 


Pakistan Cricket and Competence Debate

To establish a competence and excellence based environment the methods need to be uniform and fair for everyone. The administrators and facilitators should also follow the same path to prominence as the players. Players and administrators are two wheels of the same cart and the cart can fly not when either of them performs at optimum level but only when both of them are in-tune and synchronized with each other. 

After every few years, Pakistan Cricket goes through structural and administrative changes. Almost nearly 20 years now, Pakistan Cricket has been going through such 'drastic' changes ranging from dissolution of board, removal of Chairman, ad hoc setups, captaincy musical chair, appointment of local stalwarts as coaches, induction of foreign coaches, early departures/ removal of coaches, musical chairs of Team Managers, shuffling, disbanding and reformation of selection committee etc etc.

All these changes were carried out with the objective of betterment of Pakistan Cricket but unfortunately, it has yielded everything except betterment of Pakistan Cricket. As a result, Pakistan Cricket has gone down and down with every passing day. In the early stage, it didn't seem to have effect on the performance of Pakistan Cricket, primarily, because the system still had enough supplies in the pipeline from the past that kept Pakistan Cricket afloat till mid 2000s, though not ideally but still with some degree of respectable performances. 

Since then, it has all been a downward slide. Its not that nothing has been tried. In fact, this is the period in which probably the most things have been tried and the least things have looked to work. As a consequence, Pakistan Cricket has found itself in yet another meeting with its close friend of last 20 years, that is, the need for change, revamp and corrections. 

Like always, the objective at this point is also looking to be the same, that is, to fix the issues at the superficial level not at the fundamental layer, change the wrapping not the quality of its content and bring 'drastic' and 'brave' changes to the faces of Pakistan Cricket rather than the system of Pakistan Cricket. 

Like always, the familiar debate has resurfaced. Who should be the coach of Pakistan? Who should be the selectors? Who should be the Chairman? etc. There are countless names going around who all seem to be more than willing to 'serve' the nation by getting hired at the top most level of Pakistan Cricket. That is not only resulting in more supply than demand but also in making the decision of appointment difficult and prone to be criticised by majority as all of the contenders can never be facilitated and as a result there will always be more disgruntled souls than the ones content with the process and result. More than the fans, the most of the noise is also coming from ex-Cricketers and ex-administrators of the game and there is no sign of it to go down in the near future. 

In theory, Chairman of the board, like head of any organization, should be the one to take the most of the responsibility for the performance of the organization he is leading - Pakistan Cricket, in this case - but as funny as it can get, not only the Chairman but the whole of the board administration has been seen to be taking the position that considering the challenges and situation at hand, the Chairman and the board did not only accomplished satisfactory but exemplary and praiseworthy job and its the players who failed not the board. 

Needless to say if such argument and excuse of top executives could have been accepted in any for-profit organization or corporate anywhere in the world. In case, the board administration is neither responsible nor accountable for the primary objective of the board, that is, the performance of the team then nothing worth understanding more than what the administration is responsible and accountable for? What is their mission statement? What are their short term and long term objectives and what is the KPI - Key Performance Indicator - to measure their progress against those objectives? 

Another interesting argument that keeps coming back to haunt Pakistan Cricket is that job related competence, expertise and experience is of least value when it comes to administration of Cricket. It means that the coaches don't necessarily need to have any coaching certification, the selectors don't need to have any experience of the job and to top it all, the Chairman and top officials don't need to be a Cricketer by themselves or need to have any prior experience of running Cricket at any level. In other words, there is no need for any criteria, pre-requisite or screening mechanism to assess the competence, expertise and experience of anyone for any job and anyone is capable of doing any job. 

As irrational and unconvincing as it may sound but let's accept it for a while. There might be some benefits of that. Let's accept for a while the usual argument as well that all over the world, it is not necessary for Cricketers to be the best administrators as playing is one specialised job while administration is another specialised job and the probability of someone specialising both in playing and administrating the game is very low. Let's accept all that for a while and move on.

The point is, if we are following the international standards and norms then why we are failing to deliver in comparison to the same standards? Keeping the on-field performances aside, why Pakistan Cricket administration is failing to groom the players to be the respectable ambassadors of Pakistan and why the administrations is failing to prevent Pakistan Cricket from the usual scandals, controversies and power-tussles within the team? It probably highlights that if you have to adopt the international standards and norms, it will not bring the fruits until it is done in pick and chose manner and we might have to adopt few more of standards and norms of International Cricket. 

First of such norms would be the setting up of a "Cricket Committee" comprising of the most experienced and successful Cricketers the country has produced. The objective of the committee should not be to run Cricket but to assist the administration in aligning their plans and its practicality with the realities of actual experience of playing Cricket at International level. It should serve as the advisory and monitoring body to assist the board in formulating and execution of its plans. 

Then, the next step should be to prohibit the induction of any individual directly at the board or national team level. All competent and interested individuals should come through a system that should start at the grass-root level - whether in Pakistan or outside. Be it the coach, selector, manager, support staff or even Chairman of the board or the administration team, they all must start at the grass-root level and make their way up to the top after spending ample time at every step of the ladder. Whether its progressing through to the top as a Cricketer or as a top professional in any organization, there is no short cut to the top and every individual has to go through a certain growth path and progression process. That's how top Cricketers and top professionals are produced instead of parachuting someone at the top. 

There should be no restriction on anyone to serve Pakistan Cricket in any capacity but to make a lasting impact, they should be asked to follow the same path as a Cricketer himself does. Anyone aspiring for the role of Head Coach of the National team or Chairman of the board should be encouraged by facilitating them to get associated with any of the Cricket administration at the level lower than Pakistan Cricket Team level. Pakistan Cricket Team should not be the test lab or learning project for anyone to experiment. Instead, it should only be given in the hands of people who have already experienced the lower level of Pakistan Cricket and have proved their performance and competence. 

If the objective is the performance and the target is competence then Pakistan Cricket has to follow the already established and successful methods of doing so that are in practice all over the world. But if the objective is just to use the International norms as a convenient excuse to justify and facilitate the incompetence and dominance of opportunists in Pakistan Cricket then it may continue to mark "All-OK" and go back to what they are doing for decades now. But then, the fans and supporters of Pakistan Cricket should not expect any difference of results in the decades to come either.

As they say, you reap what you sow and if you expect oranges from an apple tree, you only have yourself to blame for it. 

WT20 2016 - Pakistan's Campaign Review

1.   Team Combination

a.     In general, team selection didn’t look up to the mark. From selection of the squad to selection of playing eleven for the matches, there were many things that could have been done in a better way.

b.     Going to India with no big turner of the ball was a mistake. There were 4 spinners in the squad (Afridi, Malik, Imad and Nawaz) but none of them is known for big turn that could have caused difficulty to opponents.

c.      In the game against Bangladesh, going with 3 left arm pacers, 1 left arm spinner and 1 right arm leg spinner against a batting line that had 3 left handers in top 4, didn’t make much sense. Considering the over all composition of the bowling attack, Pakistan should have included a right arm pacer. Had the batting not scored heavily, it might have proved costly mistake against Bangladesh as well.

d.     In the game against India Hafeez batted at number 7 after Imad. If that was part of the plan then Imad should have played in place of Hafeez who could have also been the 3rd spinner on that pitch.

e.     In game against India, decision to drop Imad made no sense. Pitch reading is always a risk and anyone can make a mistake. Dhoni misread it as well but he didn't take the unnecessary risk by going with 4 pacers. To say the least, it was not a 4 pacers pitch by any means. It looked like Pakistan was hoping the pitch to be pacer friendly rather than reading it with caution. That mistake proved costly for our campaign.

f.       In the game against New Zealand, decision to drop Wahab Riaz instead of Irfan didn’t look right. It looked a slow-ish pitch with not much pace and bounce in it and Irfan’s natural bounce made it even easier for New Zealand batsman to score off him. With his slingy action and skiddy nature of his bowling, playing Wahab on that surface would have been better as it turned out in the game against Australia.

2.   Tactical decisions – batting and bowling orders

a.     Pakistan team planning was depending heavily on toss. Won the toss only against Bangladesh and won only that match. In other matches, they picked the team anticipating them to win the toss and as soon as the toss was lost, it looked like they lost the game and don’t have any plan B to handle the situation.

b.     In general, Pakistan team looked to have gone in with predetermined and predefined plans that lacked the flexibility to change according to the environment and match situation

c.      In the match against India, Sharjeel got out at 7.4 overs and by then, everyone had realized that the pitch is not as flat and it is not suitable for Afridi’s style of play. On that pitch batsmen who play spin well like Hafeez, Malik and Sarfaraz would have done better. Instead of Afridi promoting himself to one-down, Pakistan should have stuck with Hafeez at number 3 and if the innings needed an impetus, it should have been Sarfaraz who should have been promoted up the order. He is in form as well and he scored up the order in Asia Cup as well.  

d.     In the match against Australia, Shoaib Malik should have bowled at least a couple of overs instead of Sami. Sami bowled 2nd and 5th over and went for 21 runs in 2 overs and it was clear that he was struggling with his rhythm, line and length.
On the other hand Afridi himself gave away just 27 and Imad went for 31 off his 4. Considering the situation, Afridi should have slipped in a couple of overs from Malik to give him the flexibility of not bowling Sami any more. Pakistan lost by 21 runs and Sami gave away 32 runs in his last 2 overs. Better planning could have resulted in change of result as well.

e.     In the games against New Zealand and Australia where Pakistan was facing mainly left arm spinners and leg break bowlers and our Right Handed Batsmen were struggling to play freely, it might have been worth promoting Imad Wasim up the order to either make use of those angles or force the opposition alter their plans. 

3.   Team atmosphere and Management

Multiple controversies surfaced during the tournament that could have been avoided easily. Those incidents were bound to happen negative effect on the team atmosphere, unity overall moral and focus of the players. Those incidents included:

a)     Afridi’s controversial statement about getting more love in India. The intent looked right but the delivery was disastrous. If there was a diplomatic need for Afridi to use cordial words to ease out the security threats then he should have been briefed by media management team about which words to use. It was complete failure of media management team.

b)    Unnecessary press briefing and media talk of the chairman in the middle of the tournament, especially, talking about the future of the captain and the coach. It would have had only negative effect on the captain and the coach and might have forced them to think about their own future instead of team’s performance in the tournament. It would have served only to distract the focus of the coach and captain from the tournament.

c)     Turning of Imran Khan’s meeting with the team into a public event before the crucial match against India. There was already too much media attention about the match. It would have been in the best interest of the players and the team to stay away from excessive media attention before the match.
In case there were certain reasons and benefits of Imran Khan meeting the team before the match, it should have been kept low key in the media and it should have been done with certain level of privacy.
As it turned out, video leak of the conversation between Imran Khan and Umar Akmal worked as the seed for further media reports of infighting and conspiracies within the team. This could have been avoided.

d)    Waqar’s press conference after New Zealand match was inappropriate. Pakistan was still in the tournament and being the coach he should not have said all those things in public, especially, his taunting statement on Umar Akmal was inappropriate and linked to previous point as well.

e)     On return, team shouldn’t have split and Afridi being the captain of the team should have come with the team. The fact that different players landed in different cities and received different reception is not good for Pakistan Cricket overall. At Lahore airport, players were welcomed with “shame shame” while the captain of the team was welcomed in Karachi with “Zindabad”.
This approach is going to cause serious problems within the players and should have been avoided.

4.   Overall Performance of key players

Shahid Afridi

For some reason, Afridi looked completely lost. His usual confidence was not there and looked like he is just going through the motions not really thinking on his feet and not making decisions according to the situations. Most of the time, it looked like he was just following a predetermined plan and script that was given to him before the match. For example:

-         Playing 4 pacers in Kolkata against India. Pitch reading is always a risk and anyone can make a mistake. Dhoni misread it as well but he didn't take the unnecessary risk by going with 4 pacers. To say the least, it was not a 4 pacers pitch by any means. It looked like someone designed that plan more on weather conditions and even without looking at the pitch, gave the plan to Afridi and Afridi followed it as it is.

-         Then in the same game against India, the decision of Afridi coming to bat at one-down looked a pre-determined one as well that had not taken into account the pitch and match condition which was not suitable for Afridi’s style of batting.

-         In the same game, he did not utilize himself and Malik as the strike bowlers on that pitch. He used both of them as containing bowlers which was not the right approach on that pitch. On the pitch where Ashwin had caused all sorts of problems to Sharjeel right in the 2nd over of the match, no slip was given to Malik when he came on to bowl to Yuvraj and a catch went exactly through the slips. It was again a case of misreading the game situation.

-         Similarly, against Australia, Sami bowled 2nd and 5th over and went for 21 runs in 2 overs and it was clear that he was struggling with his rhythm, line and length. On the other hand Afridi gave away 27 himself and Imad went for 31 off his 4. Considering the situation, Afridi could have slipped in a couple of overs from Malik to give him the flexibility of not bowling Sami any more, but he didn't go to Malik for an over or two as backup plan. He followed the bowling order that looked more like decided before the game not according to the match situation.


Amir is struggling in the death overs. In the first two games where Pakistan bowled second, Amir had figures of 2/24 in 4 overs and 1/11 in 3 overs. In the last two games where Pakistan bowled first Amir had the figures of 0/41 and 0/39.

More alarming is how many runs he gave away in death overs. Against New Zealand he bowled 17th and 20th overs and gave away 11 and 16 runs respectively (2-0-27-0). In the game where Pakistan lost by 22 runs, those runs turned out to be decisive.

Similarly, in the game against Australia, he again bowled 17th and 20th overs and gave away 17 and 12 runs (+2 LB) respectively (2-0-29-0).
In the games where Pakistan lost with just 22 and 21 runs respectively, Amir leaking 16 and 14 runs in the last overs is a key area of improvement. He is struggling in death overs of first innings and this should be analyzed and addressed.


Sarfaraz has been under-utilized throughout the tournament especially in the game against India where the pitch and conditions suited his style of batting. He was in form and had good scores in Asia Cup, he could have been used better in the middle overs especially to rotate the strike rate and take singles and doubles.

Shoaib Malik

Shoaib Malik’s role in the team needs to be reviewed.

Although he is scoring runs but the lack of his utilization in bowling is causing serious problems with the balance of the team. Especially with M Hafeez not available to bowl, Pakistan needs to get one more all-rounder in Imad or Nawaz in the playing eleven to give it the balance, stability and flexibility.

Malik bowled only 4 overs in the tournament and didn’t bowl a single over against New Zealand and Australia.

Ahmad Shahzad

Ahmad Shahzad played a good comeback innings but he is still struggling to pace his innings.

In all four games, he threw his wicket away and more so because he looked to have run out of ideas to handle the situation.

Although he scored against Bangladesh but against India he had no clue how to deal with that pitch and bowling. Similarly, against New Zealand he played seriously strange innings where he failed to keep the momentum going even after Sharjeel’s start. Against Australia, he picked the wrong place and wrong shot.

It looks like he is either making wrong plans to pace his innings or the role he is being given or explained to him is not right. In either case, he needs to be worked upon.

From technique perspective, he got out to same shot in 2 matches, the new helicopter shot. He is playing it with wrong technique. He should be asked to stop playing it right away or improve it.  

Pakistan Cricket - A Nursery or Butchery?

Since 2012, in the space of 4 years, Pakistan Cricket team has crashed out before the knock out stage of an ICC event four out of four times. Before that, Pakistan had made it to the Semi Finals of all 6 ICC events between 2007 and 2012.

Failure is the closest companion of any sportsman. Defeats are as much a natural and common outcome as victories. Nothing wrong in getting defeated. What requires attention is the method not the result itself. If you fail less times than being successful, no need to bother much about it. But if failure starts to become your second identity, it warrants an indepth, focused and unbiased self assessment.

What is the main reason of this recent trend in Pakistan Cricket? Is it a case of draught of talent? Is it the case that Pakistan is simply not producing the raw talent any more?
No its not the case. Even during this period from 2012 onwards, many Pakistani youngsters broke into the top scenes and made even International audience notice and applause for their talent and ability. But those rookie performers kept getting fizzled out of the scene and the team, leaving behind the usual names and faces that have stuck to Pakistani team sheets for quite some time.

It only leads to one conclusion. Its not the land that has gone infertile but its the system and setup that has reached to that level that it simply can not re-produce the world beaters any more. To put it into perspective, its not really a case of infertility but more of a case of miscarriage (of talent) due to handling of some 'quack doctors' ( quack administrators in this case).

Just like a wrongly or completely unqualified doctor would always almost end up quaifying as a butcher rather than messiah, the Pakistan board and its patrons are handling the fertility of this Cricket-rich land in the same way. As a result, the reproduction of Cricketing talent has simply stopped.

The Cricket setup in Pakistan is behaving more like a butcher of talent rather than a nurturer and care taker of it. It has to stop before someone else discovers the method in this madness and decides to act earlier than them. 

T20 World Cups - Runs Scored and Conceded Per Over by All Teams


India vs Pakistan Cricket - Contest beyond just Cricket

Growing up watching Miandad and Imran stepping into the peak of their careers and transforming Pakistan team from a 'good-contest' to a fierce competitor, I always considered myself lucky to have witnessed that transformation. Along the way, also came that fascinating period of total dominance of Pakistan over the arch rivals, India.

There was a time - that was the time - when Pakistan almost always had the psychological upper hand over the arch rivals and it was Indians who always looked nervous, unsure and mentally not ready to snatch a victory from Pakistan's grasps. On the other hand, Pakistanis simply looked more confident, sure and ready to win over India from any situation. That last ball sixer by Miandad seemed to have not only dented the hoarding in Sharjah Stadium but also the psyche and self-belief of Indian team as well. There were countless games after that Sharjah game where India could have won but when it turned from a game of Cricket to a game of nerves, Pakistanis seemed to make Indians blink first and lose the games from winning positions more because of panic and nervousness rather than Cricketing capability itself. 

Times have changed, situation has been reversed and tables have been turned. Being still a passionate supporter of Pakistan team and having the luxury of comparing 'that past' and 'this present' based on my personal experience and observation, I am left with no option but to acknowledge that Pakistan team of today has turned exactly into the Indian team of 80s. That Indian team of 80s didn't lack the quality, skill or individual brilliance either. They still had Kapil Dev, Gavaskar, Vengsarkar, Shastri and young Sachin but for one reason or the other, they didn't seem ready to put up a fight when it came to facing Pakistan team of that era. 

Since then - the exit of Imran and Javed - there have been many games in between where Pakistan also managed to win quite a few but when it comes to the peak of pressure and test of nerves, self belief and confidence, nothing can come close to India Pakistan games than at the World Cups and other ICC events. 

It all started, probably, in Benglore back in 1996 when Ajay Jadeja decided to take on Waqar Younus at his peak and managed to thrash him all around the park. Probably that's when, for a change, Indians showed the self belief on a pressure stage while Pakistanis succumbed to the pressure of the occasion. Saeed and Aamir, and later Miandad and Rashid did put up a fight but that was not enough. Probably that's when Indians announced the reversal of fortunes between India and Pakistan at the greatest stage of all, ironically, in the game that turned out to be the last of Miandad - the same man who dented their confidence some 10 years ago. 

From then on, it has been just one way traffic. The same theme and posturing of characters only with difference in faces and tactical details. Be it Misbah failing to score a single off last two balls in the first ever T20 clash between the sides back in 2007 or failing to score 5 off last 4 balls later in the finals of the same World Cup or Sachin and Sehwag blunting arguably the most ferocious pace attack of Pakistan's history in 2003  World Cup or Pakistanis spilling 4 chances of Sachin before going into a mystery nap while chasing at Mohali in 2011 World Cup or Pakistani team doing the repeat of 2011 World Cup in 2015 World Cup at Adelaide or even that game of 1999 World Cup where a weaker ranked Indian side nailed arguably the best ODI side of Pakistan's history that had the luxury of going on to beat everyone with someone like Waqar Younus warming the bench, there has been a common theme to the proceedings. 

That common theme has been the nervousness, anxiety and lack of self belief in Pakistan team while facing India. On one side, from Sachin to Kohli, Indians have managed to step up their game during the contests carrying highest level of pressure in any game anywhere in Cricket, while on the other side, Pakistan has managed to display self-inflicted choke one  after the another. They have simply not showed up for a fight on the day of the duel and succumbed under the pressure again and again. 

The latest game between the two sides - Asia Cup encounter in Dhaka - has followed the same theme. The Pakistan team looked nervous, anxious, unsettled and unsure all throughout except for that spell from Amir. Amir and his individual performance can go the same way like the occasional individual performances of some Indian players back in the time of Pakistan's dominance - brilliant but not good enough. Even through that period of brilliance from Amir, the Indians looked more assured, confident, calm and settled as compared to Pakistanis. And, if we have to put it this way, Kohli casted the same effect on the game that Miandad used to do to Indians back in his days. 

It is now safe to say that from established best, Pakistan team has silently transformed into established second best. Reasons can be many but not all are Cricketing ones. The difference between India and Pakistan Cricket is, now, not Cricket but professionalism and self belief. 

Pakistan has simply surrendered to psychological dominance of India and they don't seem to be coming out of it any time soon. More than Cricketing skills, if Pakistan has to change the pattern of results, it will have to address the lacking in professionalism and self belief. Else, it will be just another day, another venue, another show but the same theme and the same results, that is, India dominating and outsmarting Pakistan yet another time. 

PSL 2016 - Players Impact Recap

With Islamabad United convincingly defeating Quetta Gladiators, PSL 2016 has come to an end. Here is a look at the performers in PSL 2016 based on T20 Performance Impact Method

TOP Players

All Players

Team Aggregates


PSL 3rd Play Off - More than just a Play-Off

One game away from the Final, PSL couldn't have pulled out a better competition than that of between Islamabad United and Peshawar Zalmi.

On the face of it, its just another game, another encounter between two competing sides to meet the Finalist. Beneath the surface, its going to be a battle of approaches, materialization of that hypothetical scenario that is favorite point of debate for all Pakistani fans, the debate that is never ending and that never got its deserving stage to be put under assessment. The bleak probability of this contest happening again, at a stage as big as this, is what raises the stakes even higher. Its more of a winner takes all and that too for once for all.

Its not just about Peshawar and Islamabad. Its not about being United or being Zalmi either.
Its about the team Misbah and the team Afridi. For years and years, these two immovable stalwarts of Pakistan Cricket have been seen not only just as players but a face to a playing strategy as well. They are seen as torch bearers of two approaches that fall at 180 degree offset of each other. Nothing can define the contrast more than the tag names itself - the tuk tuk and the boom boom

What we can expect? On one side, we can expect to see the classical fearless - at times, to the extent of senseless as well - sprint to the pole and on the other side we can expect the considerate walk to victory. If there was any possibility of creating the Cricketing version of "The Hare and The Tortoise" story, then it will never get a better opportunity to be materialized than tonight. 

Its going to be an All-Pakistani version of classic 'Flare versus Method' in all senses. Probably something very close to Pakistan vs South Africa Semi Final back in 2009 T20 World Cup. At that time, it was the flare that got better of the method. What happens here is yet to be seen. 

But whatever happens, it is going to be one most remembered and referred game in that Afridi vs Misbah debate for years to come. Who comes out on top and walks away with the bragging rights? The revelation is just a few hours away. Fasten your seat belts and get ready for the ride. 

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