While watching our cricket team play against Sri Lanka today, there were many thoughts which fluttered through my mind. The vigor in the team, the unity and the passion was just unbelievable. I came to notice how each player had his own role to play. I started to see how the Pakistani team’s game-plan involved every single player to do what he did best and win the matches not based on individual performances but rather team effort. Each player complimented other’s efforts and they formed a deadly combination together.
The 19 year old lad Ahmed Shahzad is brought in at such a big stage and put against the opposition right from the start. Not scared of what will come his way, Shahzad comes in with the mindset of what he will send the opponents’ way. His aggressiveness along with the experienced Mohammad Hafeez’s calmness and elegance make for an excellent opening pair. Following them is Kamran Akmal. A man who has been in the spot light for all the wrong reasons lately. Accused of spot-fixing and shoddy work behind the wickets, Kamran has come back to the side with a new intent. He wants to turn things around for himself and for his team and establish his place as a good wicketkeeper-batsman. He has talent and he wants to show it!
Then come two of the most experienced batsmen present in the Pakistani camp right now. They act as the backbone of the Pakistani team’s batting line-up. Younus Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq. Both offer great stability. Younus Khan comes in with the maturity and the smart mind of working the ball away for singles and doubles and staying in the middle for a long time frustrating the opponents. Misbah-ul-Haq, on the other hand is here to prove something. He feels his talent and class hasn’t been given due credit. He’s also here to show he knows how to finish things off. After going down to India in the last over of the first T20 world cup, Misbah-ul-Haq will make sure he takes Pakistan home this time around.
Once the middle-order has batted out most of the overs, in comes Umar Akmal. A fiery youngster, who had a great start to his career and looked promising until he fell to his own hype, Umar Akmal wants to start things afresh and bring his old form back. After him is the captain. Shahid Afridi. A man who can take on any side single-handedly on his day. He will make any bowler’s bowling figures look like a laughing stock. Things don’t finish here. Pakistani batting is not done yet. After Afridi is a man who is the most dangerous player to be on the Pakistan team. Abdul Razzaq won’t show his emotions to you. He will stay quiet and let his bat do all the work. Doesn’t matter if he faces a couple of balls or a couple of overs, he will dispatch more than half of the deliveries he faces to the boundary. On most occasions in the form of sixes!
One would have thought after the suspension of Asif and Amir by the ICC tribunal, Pakistan’s bowling line up would fail to impress. Our bowlers have proved that to be incorrect. Shoaib Akhter is back in the team. This time without the injuries and out of field drama. It’s been impressive to see him bowl at around the same speed he used to bowl at the start of his career. He always had the raw pace, now he brings an excellent line and length with him. He will be a treat to watch in this World Cup since this is most likely the last big event he’s going to be playing at. He wants to leave a mark and shut all his critics up. Along with Shoaib is Umar Gul. With the ability to bowl consistent un-playable deliveries at the end of the innings, he will have an important role to play. More importantly, in Asif and Aamir’s absence, a lot of responsibility falls on his shoulders and he will gladly accept it.
Our third seamer, Abdul Razzak, might be without pace but he can tease the batsman with his amazing line. He has loads of experience on his back and with the new-ball, he’s very likely to get Pakistan early break through. Afridi is likely to have Razzak share part of the 10 over quota with Hafeez. Hafeez has shown he can break crucial partnerships and put Pakistan in the game. The only specialist spinner in the team is Abdul Rehman. Wickets or no wickets, Abdul Rehman will finish his overs quietly putting Pakistan back in the game by squeezing the flow of runs. The final spot in the bowling line-up is that of Shahif Afridi. Already the leading wicket-taker in the tournament, Afridi has started to make impact with his bowling than with his batting for which he was originally known for.
Granted, our team has been hit by many controversies in recent times. Granted, we have entered the World Cup with two of our leading bowlers not in the team. Granted, our team has been embarrassed by playing as a guest in a tournament they were supposed to be co-hosting. Granted, our team hasn’t had the best of fielding record in the recent past. However, the Pakistan team has come out strongly from all the controversies and embarrassment. The team has found a combination which can beat any side. The team has found a captain who’s ever involved in the game. A captain whose eyes show a fire burning inside him. A captain whose voice shows the intensity he is playing with. A captain who’s leading from the front. The captain has found a team which shares his hopes, his fervor, and his belief of giving something to the nation in these dark times. We have found a team which can once again bring back the memories of 1992 and get us another World Cup!