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Ineffectual speedsters

Wahab Riaz and Muhammad Amir failed to challenge any of the Indian players

Ineffectual speedsters

Anybody who follows cricket would agree that Pakistan is the most unpredictable team in the world. It never fails to surprise.

Against India at Birmingham, Pakistan team once again proved that it is incapable of playing modern day cricket. It was a terrible performance from the Green-shirts in all departments of the game. Pakistani bowlers conceded 102 runs in the last 10 overs which gave India control with 319-3 at close of innings.

Wahab Riaz and Muhammad Amir failed to challenge any of the Indian players.

But in the second game, against world number one South Africa, when nobody expected a different result, the Green-shirts outclassed the Proteas, restricting them to 219-8 and winning the match on D/L method. This kept Pakistan alive in the Champions Trophy.

Pakistan has an impressive history of producing great fast bowlers. Not a long time ago Pakistan had the most lethal bowling attack with Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Shoaib Akhtar and Saqlain Mushtaq.

Even after the retirement of these greats, Mohammad Asif, Umar Gul and Saeed Ajmal helped Pakistan win a number of matches.

But now we don’t have consistently striking bowlers. Occasionally a bower performs well, but there is no real threat for the opposition.  In the first match, four Indian players made fifties, which shows that our bowling is toothless.

Our bowlers neither keep the run rate down nor do they pick up wickets.

Despite the performance against South Africa, Pakistan cannot be expected to bowl out any strong batting line up twice.

In his last 12 ODIs, Wahab has conceded 667 runs, taken only nine wickets at a very high average of 74.11. During this period his best performance was 2-28 against West Indies in Abu Dhabi. Overall, his ODI average is 34.34 in 79 matches with 102 wickets.

Wahab’s ineffective bowling is a major concern. He’s got pace which is 142-145km with the odd one going to 147-148. But he holds the Pakistan record for conceding 80 plus runs in an innings on most occasions in one-day matches. His figure of 0-87 against India at Birmingham was the fourth occasion when he conceded 80 plus runs in ODIs. He conceded 110 runs against England last year — the second highest in ODI history.

It was a surprising decision to select Wahab for a high-profile tournament. Fast bowler Sohail Khan’s omission remains a mystery. Sohail would have been a better choice.

According to some reports, Sohail was not considered because of some issues with bowling coach Azhar Mahmood during the West Indies tour.

Amir is not looking as effective as he was in his early days. He has lost his early wicket-taking ability. Since his return, he has played 19 ODIs and taken 25 wickets after conceding 872 runs, averaging 34.88. In these matches, he conceded more than 70 runs on three occasions.

Pakistan’s attack comprises Amir, Wahab, Junaid Khan, Hassan Ali and Shadab Khan. This is one of the most inexperienced attacks in this Champions Trophy.

A side that had the capability to defend a total of 249 in the 1992 World Cup final against England is now unable to defend even 300.

Hasan Ali, a young fast bowler, is a ray of hope. He has good line and length and is usually more effective in the death overs. His passion and his hunger to perform well can make him a star. His performance was excellent against South Africa in the Champions Trophy as he took 3-24 and received the Man-of-the-Match award.

In his 18 ODIs, he has taken 33 wickets at an average of 25.90.

Champions Trophy is not the end of the world. The board and the management should sit together, make plans and assign the task to regional academies to find new talent, especially fast bowlers.

NOTE: All statistics are updated up to June 7, Pakistan-South Africa game.

Khurram Mahmood

Sports Khurram Mahmood

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