Pakistan and Sri Lankan cricket teams are busy in the Test series, but the two teams battled it out first in the limited-overs format last month. The Pakistan cricket team may have won the ODI series against Sri Lanka 3-2 but the result could have been 4-1 (in the hosts’ favour) had they played with a plan. The ODI series was Dav Whatmore’s last as Pakistan’s coach and he was anxious to end it in a befitting manner, but many factors seemed to be working against him -- including the C, D and T Factor: Captaincy factor, the Dew factor and above all, the Tanvir factor!
The ‘So-Hail Tanvir’ factor:
In the first one-day of the series, he went for 69 runs off his 10 overs; yet Sohail Tanvir kept bowling at the death in the second match and gave away 58 runs in his nine overs. The first one we won; the second one we lost the moment he was retained in the final XI. I agree that the captain liked to retain the winning combination but when you have a loser in the side, there is no point in retaining him! He hasn’t done much to justify his place and it is about time that ‘Kukri’ should be sent back to domestic cricket where he can feature in as many matches in a day, as far as possible from the national side!
Captain Cool and his ‘brilliant’ captaincy!
When the whole world was calling for his axing, Misbah ul Haq showed faith in Sohail Tanvir and that’s when he lost the plot in the second match. Instead of going in with a better batsman Anwar Ali (who can also bowl and proved his worth in the final match of the series), Misbah showed faith in Tanvir and must have felt face-palming himself for that. We have rarely seen Captain Cool shouting on a player but that’s what he did in the match since in the first one Saeed Ajmal couldn’t field the ball in the last overs (don’t give me the DEW factor, OK!) and in the second Tanvir couldn’t bowl well (even if his life depended on it). Giving Shahid Afridi the last over of the match was like handing the other team a victory on a golden platter since Boom Boom doesn’t bowl the final over; he likes to make merry with the bat while others are bowling the last over!
When taking a catch isn’t appreciated!
The ball is up in the air --who would you prefer should take the catch -- the fielder who isn’t Jonty Rhodes or the wicket-keeper even if he is an Akmal? I would bet on the Akmal brother since he has the gloves to support his call. That’s what happened in the third ODI of the series where Umar Akmal was greeted by an angry ‘stand-in skipper’ Mohammad Hafeez as if he had dropped the catch! Hafeez should realize that cricket is a team game and that before this series, Umar Akmal was considered a better batsman than him. Instead of staring at the ‘keeper, he should have been celebrating the dismissal of Angelo Matthews, which eventually lead Pakistan to a victory. Bad time to show your dark-side, Professor!
‘Peshawar Express’ derails!
Fans of the game might not agree, followers of Umar Gul might label me a non-believer and those with short-term memory might bombard me with hate mails, but even then I would side with the selectors. Gul wasn’t fit before the series and even though he is being treated as a king since his return, he isn’t match fit, says Waqar Younis, the former coach of the national side. Fellow speedster Shoaib Akhtar also believes that Gul should play selected matches, and he could have opted out of the last one, especially since the series was already won.
He also hasn’t bowled under lights since his return and giving him the ball in the penultimate over cost Pakistan the match. It must be noted that the ‘Six’ hit by late-order batsman Ajantha Mendis was his first in One-day Internationals and he should thank Gul for providing him with that opportunity.
And yes, before injury sidelined him earlier in the year, he wasn’t Pakistan’s safest bet either! He used to go for runs whenever the team needed them the most (the opposition that is!) and the whole nation was calling for Gul’s ouster during the ODI series in South Africa (68 runs off 10 overs, 37 runs in five overs). Those who follow the game from the mind -- rather than the heart -- still haven’t forgotten the ‘real’ Umar Gul, who it seems, is now back in the game!
The ‘ugly’ spat that could have been avoided!
The series turned ugly when in the second match of the series, Ahmed Shehzad tried to be over-smart and was fined 50 percent of his match fees! It was his fault from all angles yet the media defended him as if he was a saint, and Tillakaratne Dilshan was a sinner. I am not a Dilshan fan, but his bat only touched Ahmed Shehzad after the latter became physical and even tried to kick his leg for no reason. The hot headed Pakistani needs to realise that his record doesn’t support his ‘innocence’ as he has been fined on countless occasions for going over the top in domestic cricket, and if he needs to play a long innings, he should check his attitude. It was also very interesting to see Shahid Afridi playing the peacemaker, considering he has been there, done that. Gautam Gambir would agree!