Posts Tagged ‘ Shoaib Akhtar ’

Can Pakistan Tame Australia?

By Will Davies for The Wall Street Journal

Saturday’s Group A match between Pakistan and Australia is a tough one to predict, as is generally the case when Pakistan plays. One team – Australia – epitomizes consistency and solidity, while the other – Pakistan – is about as well-adjusted and reliable as a moody teenager.

On its day, Pakistan is one of the best sides at this World Cup, but on other occasions the team looks disorganized and uninterested. That’s one of the reasons why Pakistan is such a fascinating team to watch – you never quite know what you’re going to get.

This unpredictability can work in its favor as opponents struggle to form and stick to a game plan. Of all the sides at the World Cup, Australia is the most capable of dealing with Pakistan’s maverick approach, but it will have to tread carefully and blow off the rust that has tinged its performances thus far.

If the likes of Shahid Afridi and Shoaib Akhtar – two players who are such fun to watch – perform well, then Pakistan is in with a chance of upsetting Australia in Colombo and ending its incredible 34-match unbeaten run in World Cup cricket.

Australia has been prowling quietly but menacingly on the verges of this tournament, snapping up victims, while other teams – particularly in Group B – struggle to gain momentum and avoid upsets. But the Australians aren’t the threat they once were, and their World Cup record looks more vulnerable than in previous tournaments when the team boasted superstars like the Waugh brothers, Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Adam Gilchrist.

Australia’s captain Ricky Ponting is out of sorts with the bat and angry in the field. It looked like he was ready to thump Steven Smith when his teammate bumped into him as he took a catch in Wednesday’s match against Canada.

Smith is looking increasingly at ease in the Australian squad, but he’d do well to tread a little carefully, particularly when near Ponting’s toes. The Sydney-born youngster is a player of great promise and is now a regular in the Australian team, but he is yet to really shine. He needs a big performance, otherwise he risks slipping into nearly-man territory.

Pakistan has had its ups and downs this World Cup, from the heights of beating Sri Lanka to the lows of collapsing against New Zealand and a Ross Taylor batting onslaught. Australia beat New Zealand convincingly, while the match against Sri Lanka was cut short by a huge thunderstorm, an unfortunate outcome as the game was shaping up nicely and Australia, for once, looked like it had a tough opponent to deal with.

The weather forecast for tomorrow isn’t promising, but hopefully the rain will stay away from Colombo as matches between teams like Australia and Pakistan are the big occasions that make the World Cup so special.

Pakistan plan to spread the grief

As reported by Agence France-Presse

Pakistan are still reeling from the cricket corruption scandal that has dogged the side since last summer, but Shoaib Akhtar has warned that he and his teammates plan to take out their frustrations over the affair on their World Cup opponents.

Salman Butt, Pakistan’s then Test captain, and the bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer were banned by the International Cricket Council (ICC) last month, after being found guilty of spot-fixing, which depleted Pakistan’s bowling options just two weeks before the start of the World Cup.

But Akhtar said the loss of the trio has helped unite the squad and galvanised them to push for a second World Cup victory to replicate their 1992 success.

“We are a hurt side so we are here to hurt others,” Akhtar said yesterday. “It’s better that it happened to us because every time a controversy happens it gathers us together and what better situation than before a World Cup?”

Pakistan beat co-hosts Sri Lanka by 11 runs in their last match after seeing off Kenya by 205 runs in their opening game.

Akhtar, 35, admitted he was missing Aamer and Asif but said others have stepped up.

“Obviously without Aamer and Asif we have suffered badly, they were the best with the new ball, it’s unfortunate what happened to them. Had they been with us it would have been the most lethal bowling attack,” he said.

“But the way [Umar] Gul and [Abdul] Razzaq have been bowling, the way [Wahab] Riaz is bowling, we can still do a much better job as we have variety in our attack.”

Akhtar, who has taken 246 wickets in 162 one-day internationals, said he had changed his bowling style to maintain his fitness, concentrating on accuracy rather than the pure pace that in the past regularly saw him bowl in excess of 100mph.

“I left this race of bowling at 100mph a long time ago,” he said. “I am nearing 36 now and am more mature, so I am focusing more on getting wickets now than bowling fast. But I crossed 98mph the other day.”

He said he is enjoying the chance to perform on the world stage after injury and discipline problems left him sidelined four years ago.

But he warned his teammates – who next face Canada in Colombo on Thursday – not to be over confident after beating Sri Lanka. “We have to move on and we shouldn’t get complacent,” he said.

Cricket World Cup: England Breeze Past Pakistan

By Will Turner for The Sport Review

England cruised to a 67-run win in their final ICC World Cup warm-up match against Pakistan in Fatullah. Stuart Broad sparkled again, taking five wickets after Paul Collingwood and Kevin Pietersen struck half centuries as England set Pakistan 274 for victory.

Collingwood also contributed with the ball with his three wickets helping dismiss for Pakistan for just 206.

Pakistan, who opted to rest Abdul Razzaq and Shahid Afridi, elected to field and once again England captain Andrew Strauss fell cheaply, this time to the pace of Shoaib Akhtar.

Jonathan Trott was also dismissed in single figures however Pietersen looked solid alongside Bell.

Pietersen raced to his half century before Bell eventually departed for 39 which brought the out-of-form Collingwood to the crease.

But the Durham man appeared to find his touch, playing his way towards his half century despite the loss of Pietersen for 66.

Ravi Bopara offered good support to Collingwood with a quick-fire 35 before Matt Prior contributed with a late 24 before the tail folded with Wahab Riaz claiming three wickets.

Just as he did against Canada, Broad tore through the Pakistan top order with only Younis Khan offering any resistance.

The middle order all got starts but failed to kick on with Collingwood’s change of pace stalling a fightback.

Broad retuned to remove Khan for 80 and with his exit went Pakistan’s chance of victory, falling 67 runs short.

Collingwood admitted it was a relief to be back among the runs following his first 50 in any form of cricket for three months after the victory.

“On a personal note, it was nice to get some runs,” he afterwards. “It’s been quite a frustrating few months for me, not being able to contribute as much as I would have liked.

“Even though it was a warm-up game, I thought it was important I spent some time in the middle and tried to get that confidence going again – and thankfully, it worked out well.”

England now begin the preparations for their group opener against the Netherlands on Tuesday.

New Zealand Thrash Pakistan in Cricket ODI

As Reported by The Associated Press

A five-wicket haul for Tim Southee and a blistering 55 by Jesse Ryder saw New Zealand shatter an 11-match losing streak in style with a nine-wicket win over Pakistan in their one-day match Saturday.

New Zealand were so dominant in the opening ODI of the six-match series that they took just 17.2 overs with the bat to wrap up the match after whipping Pakistan out for 124 at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington.

Under pressure to perform after being whitewashed in successive series against Bangladesh and India, New Zealand rejigged their batting order with swashbuckling opener Brendon McCullum dropped down to number six.

The aim was to give New Zealand strength at the top and tail but McCullum never reached the wicket as his regular opening partner Jesse Ryder carved up the Pakistan attack in a whirlwind reply to an ineffective performance.

The only success for Pakistan was when captain Shahid Afridi won the toss and opted to bat, their day going downhill from there.
The Pakistan innings lasted just 37.3 overs and the outcome was almost inevitable once Ryder opened up in the fifth over of New Zealand’s innings, taking 17 off Shoaib Akhtar including two fours and a six.

He made his 55 in only 34 balls in a batting display which complemented the bowling of 22-year-old Southee, who assumed the role of New Zealand’s senior quick for the first time and claimed his first ODI five-wicket bag.

New Zealand skipper Daniel Vettori said it was good to snap the losing streak and full credit had to go to man-of-the-match Southee.
“It was a good win for us after a long time. Tim Southee set it up for us with his swing,” he said, leaving Afridi to rue an ineffective batting performance by his side.
“I think the pitch was very good. I don’t think that was a bad decision batting first. We were missing partnerships.”
Southee destroyed Pakistan in three spells in which he ripped out the top order, came back to break up the middle and returned again to wrap up the innings.

His figures of five for 33 from 9.3 overs were backed up by three for 26 for Hamish Bennett, playing in only his third ODI and first at home, and two for 33 by the veteran Jacob Oram. Only Misbah-ul-Haq produced an innings of substance for Pakistan, reaching 50 before he was bowled by Southee to end the innings.

But the New Zealand openers Ryder and Martin Guptill showed there were no demons in the wicket as they put on 84 in 10 overs before Ryder’s departure. Ryder brought up his 50 edging Abdul Razzaq for a single and in the following over took a single off Sohail Tanvir before attempting to pick up the pace again.

He smacked another four and then went for back-to-back boundaries only to pull the ball straight to Asad Shafiq on the mid-wicket boundary.
Guptill, averaging almost a run a ball, made an unbeaten 40 but it was Ross Taylor, promoted to number three in the new-look New Zealand batting line up, who stroked the winning single, finishing on 23.

Pakistan’s innings was shaky from the start with Mohammad Hafeez dropped by McCullum in the first over, but falling soon after when he edged an outswinger from Southee.

It was the start of a penetrating period for Southee in which he took the wickets of Kamran Akmal (eight) and Asad Shafiq (four) to take three for 16 from his first spell of six overs, leaving Pakistan 32-3.

Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq, who provided the backbone of each Pakistan innings in the Tests, set about repairing the situation but had added only 28 for the fourth wicket when Bennett struck.

He had Younis caught behind for 24 and then dismissed Umar Akmal with his next delivery, caught at second slip by Taylor. Shahid Afridi avoided the hat-trick but was dismissed by Southee in his second spell to have Pakistan 88-6 before the quick ended the Pakistan innings in his third turn with the ball by bowling Misbah. The second match in the series is in Queenstown on Wednesday.

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