Pakistan Sets for SL tour
May 25, 2012
After winning the Asia cricket cup crown, Pakistan cricket team led by energetic Misbah ul Haq ready for the cricket series against Sri Lanka as Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) refuse to change the slot but for the first time, PCB has selected different teams for the three formats while including six uncapped players.
The national cricket team started preparations for their upcoming Sri Lanka tour starting this month-end session under Australian coach Dav Whatmore as training camp is on the top at National Cricket Academy Lahore in which all players selected for the tour will take part in training, lectures and warm-up matches.
The Pakistani team will leave for their six-week tour to Sri Lanka May 29 and will start their tour after a couple of days when both teams will play a Twenty20 International match in Hambantota June 1.
On the very first day of training, the Pakistani team had to face an unpleasant news when doctors ruled out left-hand opener Nasir Jamshed from the team for more than six weeks because he broke his finger during a practice match.
Dav Whatmore, Pakistan's head coach, has said that his team will be sternly tested during their tour of Sri Lanka which begins on June 1.
With temperatures in Lahore touching 40C, Whatmore said he hoped his players would find it easy to acclimatise themselves to similar conditions in Sri Lanka. "It's pretty warm out here as well but it will be easy for us to acclimatise (to Sri Lankan conditions)," Whatmore said. "We're lucky to do a bit of work in the heat in the morning and a little bit in the afternoon.
"Some of the bowlers and batsmen have been working out in the heat to ensure we are prepared. I think we have to prepare properly for a series against a strong opposition."
Pakistan announced separate teams for each format for the upcoming tour and Whatmore said he was satisfied with the selection process.
"I am happy to see that players are being selected based on their suitability to a format. As far as leadership is concerned, it's not up to me and I will support what the PCB decides."
He also backed the inexperienced players selected for the tour. "There are one or two changes in the squad and that's a good thing as by keeping exactly the same squad we would be marching on the same spot, but we must move forward all the time."
Whatmore, who has had two stints as Sri Lanka's coach in the past, said he was expecting batting-friendly pitches in Sri Lanka. "We are not expecting anything different. The limited-overs pitches [in Sri Lanka] are good for batting."
He said that was good to have separate teams for all the three formats and the selectors had chosen the best suitable players for each format. “We have great expectations from our youngsters as they are talented and future of the country. The seniors’ presence in the team will also assist them to perform well and encourage them to play some big innings.” Replying a question regarding bowling coach, he said that selection of bowling coach was a responsibility of PCB and coach finding committee so they would do it. “My work is to run the team towards success.”
Whatmore said that fitness of all the players was tested six weeks ago and now again the tests of players would be taken to check their fitness level. To a query regarding IPL match-fixing, the head coach said: “Whatever happened in the IPL is very sad incident. In my era when I was coach of Kolkata Knight Riders, no such incident was reported. Such incidents should not be tolerated and stern action should be taken against the fixers.”
On the other hand former chairman of Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) selection committee Salahuddin Sallu raises question over the selection of Faisal Iqbal and Imran Farhat for inclusion of test squad for Sri Lankan tour.
He said that the appointment of a new captain for the T20 team can be seen as a forward-looking approach but other selections have raised valid questions which potentially negate the progressive nature of these decisions.
Faisal Iqbal, the 30 year-old batsman has been chosen for the Test squad based on his recent domestic performances. He makes a comeback into the Pakistan squad after an absence of almost 2 years. Similarly, Imran Farhat, made his last appearance for Pakistan in the summer of 2010. Their inclusion doesn’t sit well with Sallu who feels that both players have had their chances and the selectors need to look further.
“Even in my time [as part of the selection committee] these players have been utilized a lot already and been given ample opportunities. Both Imran Farhat and Faisal Iqbal have received many chances to impress selectors. It will be better if they [the selectors] bring in more youngsters who can be a part of Pakistan's future. The selectors should have opted for youth over tried and tested failures," Salahuddin said.
The recent selection announcement has also seen the emergence of three separate keepers for each format - Shakeel Ansar for T20s, Sarfraz Ahmed for ODIs and Adnan Akmal for Tests. However, Sallu felt that there were too many wicketkeepers.
"Sarfraz Ahmed should be in the Twenty20 and ODI format. Look, he is a natural keeper. Among the Akmal brothers, Adnan Akmal is the best. Sometimes they play Umar Akmal as a keeper, which not only results in mistreating Umar but also the keeper he replaces. Sarfraz Ahmed is excellent in my opinion as he uses his feet."
Apart from the introduction of 3 wicketkeepers, some have questioned the exclusion of Umar Akmal from the Test side. Touted as being highly able and talented, Umar Akmal, while considered pleasing to watch, has also received criticism for showing a lack of application with the bat. Sallu, while acknowledging Umar Akmal's immense capabilities was of the same view.
"Umar Akmal is a very talented chap, much like the amount of ability that Shahid Afridi, Imran Nazir or Ahmed Shehzad possess. He is okay for Twenty20 and ODI games however, for Test cricket, you need dedication, concentration and application. He doesn't have the 'application' component as he cannot stay at the wicket. A player in this format must have concentration and application, it is extremely important."
Prior to the squad selection for the Sri Lanka tour, a lot of talk was generated regarding the T20 captaincy role with names such as Shoaib Malik and Shahid Afridi being used apart from Mohammad Hafeez.
Salahuddin Sallu’s personal preference is for the appointment of Shahid Afridi whom he considers as an able captain with good leadership qualities
"There was talk that Shahid Afridi should be given captaincy. Afridi is a player of such caliber, that he was Man of the Match in the T20 World Cup semi final and final, and then in the quarter final match he got 4 wickets.”
“When Younis Khan was not captain anymore, Afridi took over and got that team together in trying circumstances. He had very limited resources and didn't even have a proper team - with that Afridi was able to take the team to the semi final of ICC World Cup. If our batsmen had played sensibly, it could've been a different outcome. Now, you are not giving this boy the captaincy role? He is recognized all over the world for his performances and is the sole player from Pakistan who has scored 5000 runs and also obtained 300 wickets."
After the PCB chairman, Zaka Ashraf had announced that Mohammad Hafez would be the new T20 captain and vice-captain to Misbah-ul-Haq in Tests and ODIs, the selectors dropped Misbah from the T20 squad.
Surprisingly fast bowler, Mohammad Sami who has been sidelined from national team since 2010 was recalled for all three formats of the game while another surprise was the recall of discarded batsman, Faisal Iqbal to the test side.
Interestingly allrounder, Shoaib Malik who was being seen as a top candidate to replace Misbah as the T20 captain has not been picked in either format.
Squad (Twenty20): Mohammad Hafeez (c), Khalid Latif, Ahmed Shahzad, Shoaib Malik, Umar Akmal, Shakeel Ansar, Shahid Afridi, Yasir Arafat, Umar Gul, Sohail Tanveer, Saeed Ajmal, Raza Hasan, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Sami, Hammad Azam, Nasir Jamshed.
One-day: Misbah-ul Haq (c), Mohammad Hafeez, Nasir Jamshed, Younis Khan, Umar Akmal, Sarfraz Ahmed, Shahid Afridi, Umar Gul, Rahat Ali, Saeed Ajmal, Abdul Rehman, Mohammad Sami, Asad Shafiq, Aizaz Cheema, Azhar Ali, Imran Farhat
Test: Misbah-ul Haq (c), Mohammad Hafeez, Taufeeq Umar, Azhar Ali, Younis Khan, Asad Shafiq, Adnan Akmal, Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal, Abdul Rehman, Mohammad Sami, Faisal Iqbal, Junaid Khan, Afaq Rahim, Mohammad Ayub, Aizaz Cheema.