After overcoming the “nightmare at Adelaide”, die-hards must be gearing up for the next encounter of Team Pakistan.
A match where our team will be meeting its equal ….In unpredictability and inconsistency of performance that is!
These two teams undeniably have been on a slippery slope over the past few years and their current world cup squads are no exception.
While “Team Green” would be searching for their maiden victory in this world cup quest, the Caribbean superjocks would be going into this match well aware of the thin ice under their sledge.
Their not so shocking defeat, considering their recent form, at the hands of the deceptively able “minnows”, Ireland, has put their quarter-final hopes into jeopardy.
A victory for team Pakistan would mean a revival of its claim as one of the possible dark horses of this World Cup campaign and give Misbah the much deserved lift for the remaining matches.
Both teams can boast of a few crowd pullers who, on their day, can destroy any opponent. Unfortunately, the world cup expedition is not about sparks of genius but rather, persistence of resolve.
The “presumed” showdown:
The much hyped clash between Afridi and Chris Gayle is being pitched by major sports media houses as the “cardinal bout” determinant of the eventual winner. Surely, both of these players are key strikers for their respective teams and how these two shape up against each other might become the most important driver of viewership amongst neutral quarters.
Afridi might have a slight edge over Gayle with his crafty leg breaks, which allow him to stay influential in the match regardless of the length of his unpredictable stretch at the batting crease.
Gayle can also bowl slow left armers but his “wicket-taking” ability is highly dependent on the frivolous “wicket-throwing “ ability of the opposition batsmen. Something, unfortunately, team Pakistan has no deficiency of….
I feel it’s nothing more than a turf war for the “best slogger” spot which might not weigh significantly on the net result of the match. Whatever the outcome, successful hard hitting by either will be a treat to watch for the nonpartisans.
The “more important” contest:
West Indian team is full of big hitters in addition to Gayle .Key players like Sammy and Samuels have fairly reliable batting averages and might prove hard to counter for a fairly young Pakistani bowling line up. Yasir Shah, if encouraged to give more flight and attack, can prove pivotal in countering a possible onslaught by the In-form Indies hard hitters.
Misbah, Shahzad and Sohaib will be the likely key batsmen for the greens . They will expectantly regain their form in time, if we are to reach a respectable final tally.
Misbah is probably our best bet when chasing a sizeable total, to anchor the innings, while others bat around him.
However, with all due respect, i do feel that someone needs to make him realize that “anchoring the innings” means stopping the “fall of wickets” and not the “flow of runs”…..
Javed Miandad’s gameplay during the 1992 World Cup campaign is possibly the best homegrown example of how to simultaneously stabilize a wobbly batting lineup while rotating the strike and consequently, the scoreboard.
Misbah has also played in the Caribbean Premier League with and against some of the members of the current West Indian outfit which might help him strategize and explore their weaknesses.
He will need to use his ace strike bowler, Muhammad Irfan (if fit), judiciously at pivotal moments in the match to break partnerships before they become meaningful.
The “actual” key battle:
I feel that It would not be unfair to say that volatility of both these squads makes them their own worst enemy .They are equitably erratic group mates and of the two whoever overcomes its flagrant “jitters” will eventually triumph in this encounter .
The recent setback and its impact:
Recent reports emerging out of the camp indicate that team Pakistan has now lost support of its fielding coach, over a disciplinary issue, in addition to that of millions of its TV thrashing fans, following the drubbing at the hands of our arch-adversaries.
Such news of coaching staff officials jumping ship can only be detrimental to the already bleak hopes of a miraculous turnaround of the team’s fortunes. It, definitely, does not send positive vibes to the enduring supporters.
Eventually, we are all well aware that both these teams are composed of individuals with ultra high egos, albeit a meager “steadiness index”. The stats of these players don’t mean much and the team better able to control its fickle will come out as the eventual victor.
I, for one, feel that Misbah’s men might just come good for us or maybe it’s the Pakistani in me who is just hoping…..