Thursday, February 02, 2006

Pakistan Report Card

Scale Used: A = excellent, B = good, C = average, D = below average, E = bad, F = failure

Kamran Akmal: A+. This boy was for my money the man of the series. Quite simply, he won the series for Pakistan. His keeping looks potentially top class, as does his batting. His temperament is already there. A long and glorious career awaits him.

Mohammad Asif: A. He could yet be another one of those one-Test wonders that litter the history books of Pakistani cricket, but he fully deserves his A for being the outstanding bowler on either side. His performance in Karachi was sensational, and the combination of off-cutter and occasional outswinger was simply too much for the Indian batsmen. I hope he gets a good run in the side - he will be an asset to world cricket.

Younis Khan: A. Led from the front, and batted with supreme confidence, as well one might when one averages well over 100 against this bowling attack. Sure, he had the best of the conditions, but boy did he take advantage.

Mohammad Yousuf: A. His conversion - from champion sledger to world class batsman - has been a revelation. Gone is the frustrating and often irritating Yousuf Youhana. Instead, we have a true leader of the middle order.

Abdul Razzaq: A. I wonder if we're seeing the re-emergence of a cricketer who once looked set to take on the world in a big way. He batted with guts and gusto, and he bowled with heart and verve, picking up key wickets. His first innings 45 and wickets in Karachi were crucial in turning the series to Pakistan. If his resurgence continues, he could comfortably have the sort of impact that more celebrated all rounders, such as Andrew Flintoff, have.

Shahid Afridi: A-. He brutalized India, plain and simple. He loses the half-grade because some of his on-field conduct was ugly and unneccessary.

Faisal Iqbal: B. He looked the part in the 2nd innings at Karachi, but you can't get an A on one performance. Pakistan have some serious and most welcome selection challenges ahead of them.

Shoaib Akhtar: C+. He didn't really do an awful lot, and I'm sorry, but his action is questionable at best. However, we shouldn't underestimate his contribution as the only bowler on either side with pace. There's no question in my mind that his presence helped earn wickets for his team, even if he did not claim those scalps himself. His batting was a revelation and a bonus and earns him the +.

Inzamam ul Haq: C. I know he scored a century, but he embarrassingly batted on and on just so that he could achieve the landmark. He is in brilliant form, and has been a great leader for Pakistan, but I just didn't feel that he had an impact on this series at all.

Imran Farhat: C. I've always liked him, and he has talent, to be sure. His half-century in the second innings in Karachi got Pakistan away, and he may just have done enough to oust Shoaib Malik from the first XI.

Salman Butt: C-. Looked good enough every time, but needs to turn that into results. His continued selection shows that while Pakistan have a surfeit of middle order batsmen, they are struggling to find someone to take on the new ball. Then again, do they care?

Shoaib Malik: D. Quite simply never quite looked the part.

Danish Kaneria: D. Another major disappointment for my money. I think the media has been a little too quick to celebrate his greatness - he has a long way to go. Certainly bowled some threatening stuff at times, and I know the pitches didn't help him, but ultimately that's no excuse. As long as Dean Jones doesn't keep confusing him with an Apple Danish, he'll be back.

Naved ul Hasan: E. He only played the one Test, but was for me the biggest disappointment of the series. Never quite got the pace or the swing right - and if and when he does, he can be devastating, as countless county batsmen found out in England last summer. Maybe he needs to learn how to bowl in unhelpful conditions.

Mohammad Sami: F. Why do Pakistan bother? I know he looks like he's a good bowler, but in 25 Tests he has 65 wickets at an average of 50. What's more, his stats are pretty much the same if you look at his last 5, 10, 15 or 20 Tests - there is simply no sign of improvement. Surely a waste of time.


laamakaan said...

I sense an undertone that all those who got F's should be dropped. Would you agree?

Fourth Umpire said...

I'd probably drop more than just the F's. Not sure that Ganguly or Zaheer should be retained for India, even though Zaheer's 10 wickets meant I couldn't give him an F.

Also, while Tendulkar appears to be in decline, it's hard to imagine him not having a big series against England at home. We do need to get Kaif and an opener in there, and Sehwag needs to sort himself out.