After being under the hammer for the first two games, Misbah and his men announced their arrival in the World Cupby beating South Africa .The win not only gave us themuch needed two points, but also kick-started a fairly dormant looking campaign.
The South Africans successfully overwhelmed our threadbare batting lineup after the flamboyant Sarfraz self-destructed on 49.
The poor batting performance by our team proved to be a blessing in disguise. The sight of finish line proved too much for the “chokers”,who once again wet their pantschasing a fairly modest total.
ForMisbah, an old joke holds true where a CEO was asked how many people worked in his organization, and he replied “about half of them”.
That said,credit must be given to Sarfraz who took 6 catches to back the brilliance of Irfan and Wahab and helped us avoid defeat by the skin of our teeth.
Everyone always talks about the MCG in 1992, but it was at “Eden Park” where we won the thrilling semi final contest and secured a spot in the final as “Equals” rather than underdogs.
As we reach the final match of the first round; it’s time to knuckle down and shape up. Pressure is on the cornered tigers to perform. Careers are at stake as the two “shades of green” prepare for their final encounter!
We as a nation have every right to be apprehensive. Our teamhas a track record of going bonkers against much lesser sides than Ireland.
Pakistan Cricket Board must share the blame forthese inconsistencies.
Any organization like PCB without an effective leadership will experience an endless stream of crises. An analogy can be made to the turtle farmers, who put baby turtles in small tanks. These turtles, as a result, stop growing in the limited living space. Such suffocatingconstraints benumb all the potential for growth in organizations where the chairman’s opinion overrides all technical and creative input in favor of hunch, ego and arrogance.
If Pakistan bats first I will be extremely worried. Our batsmen lack the ability to judge a good total and with the likes of Sohaib, Akmal and Afridi not really firing on all cylinders,to put it mildly, we can’t afford a total like 250 against the flamboyant team from the emerald isle.
With Misbah and Younis likely to consume a major bulk of our overs, accelerating to a huge final tallythat we’ll probably need might be more difficult than we think.Bowling first with an aggressive mindset can see us bowling the Irish out for less than 200 which can help us pace our innings against a very basic bowling line up.
Batting second for Pakistan however has always been an issue and for such a high pressure match,Misbah and co might decide against it and go for a much simpler approach of batting first.This can be a mistake though!
Giving an opportunity to the O’Briens, Joyces and Porterfields to come out all guns blazing ,chasing a total around 300,is not a good idea on these pitches.
I believe our best bet is to get the Irish in first who are also fighting for a quarterfinal berth in the backdrop of talks of the next World Cup being a 10 team affair,making their chances of playing in it slimmer.The Irish team cannot be taken as one of the “also played” teams as they have shown their exceptional potential time and time again.
Batting first they will be indecisive against our fairly potent bowling lineup. The thought that their bowling is probably one of the weakest in this World Cup, willplay on their minds and might compel them to go for the “Hollywood shots” too soon.
Given our team’s recent performances, I am reasonably optimistic about our chances though.
Misbah has got most of his team combination right and swapping Younis with Sohaib,when Haris gets fit, seems about right.Haris can play a pivotal role in countering the left arm spin of Dockrell.
The tour selection committee, however, has to look beyond this match and if Yasir Shah is to play against the Aussies (our most likely quarter final opponents on this very ground) he must be given a chance tomorrow.That will come with its own price tag of playing two leg spinners against three in form left handed Irish batsmen .
For Pakistan, losing this match can mean curtains for it’s world cup dreams if Windies end up destroying UAE tonight.
A nation which has little else to look forward to other than a grim hope of reciprocation ofthe1992 World Cup winning parade.
Let’s hopethat the withering “Boom Boom” finally gets his act together, theticking “TukTuk” can for once explode and along with thecatapult-like“Lamboo” they can blitz us through to the quarter finals.
No matter how the match transpires, our best chance lies in ruthlessness, aggression and innovation.
Bowlingfirst and striking early with the “nukes” in our bowling arsenal can give us the best chance of exterminating the defiant Irish challenge.