Archive for the ‘Pakistan in New Zealand’ category

Day 2, Napier

December 15, 2009

New Zealand needed a good start and McIntosh knew this was his last chance to perform. He played each and every ball to it’s merit. With him batting, Pakistan could have started with Aameer. Gul tested Watling with good pace and tight lines but the young debutant played as sraight as possible. That was one big positive with Watling. He presents a straight bat as far as possible. The bowlers gave nothing away, the first half an hour producing just 13 runs. And with the initial hard work done, Watling gave it away with a loose slash on the off side which went straight to gully. Both bowlers bowled testing lines on a pretty flat day 2 wicket.

There was a rain delay for about 10 minutes in the middle of the first session and the groundsmen were strolling in the park instead of rushing to cover the wicket. I know it’s a laid back country but the rain was quite thick and any groundsman would have rushed to cover the pitch.

I was looking forward to Kaneria’s bowling in this pitch. The bounce was there to be exploited and his googlies were always going to be unknowns to the Kiwi batsmen. He had to be played very positively and that’s how Guptill started off. Two wonderful drives on the off side off the front foot but Guptill never took off from there. His backlift was too high to face Kaneria and the bowler knew how to exploit it. He delivered a googly which was a little high on pace and Guptill was plumb in front. He was never going to bring his bat down on time.

This was a great opportunity for Ross Taylor to put ip a big century. He was finding the sweet spot very consistently and was playing Kaneria with due respect. There was no gap between bat and pad and played Kaneria very straight. And all of a sudden, he tried to whack the ball over mid wicket without fully getting to the pitch of the ball. I know there was no necessity for that shot but thats how Taylor plays. Can’t complain. He’s too gifted.

If theres a problem with Flynn, its playing spin. Kaneria is too good a bowler for the likes of Flynn. Now that he’s failed again, he would be the man going out on the return of Jesse Ryder.
McIntosh meanwhile was well set. The time he had spent in the crease had to be used up to make a big century but an attempted sweep shot of Kaneria got him. I wondered if McIntosh would have ever practiced playing the sweep.
In came the new Mr.Cricket. Or rather the king of cricket as Ian Smith calls him. Best bowler, selector, captain, coach apart, he has turned out to be the best performing batsman. He’s matching Ross Taylor for the most runs scored by a Kiwi in a calender year. Thats also a measure of the strength of the so called batsmen.

Both Dan and McCullum knew they had to score runs to move ahead in the game. McIntosh took the life out of the bowlers with a very valuable and patient knock but the score was just 136 when half the side was lost. And the way they did it was terrific. Both of them shuffled to the off stump at the time of the delivery. They were ruining the lines of the fast bowlers. The bowlers ran out of ideas. And the timing was so sweet they managed 180 odd runs in one session  post tea at five runs an over. Bad balls were induced and were duly punished. McCullum shifted to the off side and when he saw the ball on good length on on his body, he simply defended it. Had it been a limited overs game, he would have had to whack it anyway. Since he had the time and the responsibility to play a long knock, he simply respected the delivery. And on seeing a loose ball after shifting to the off stump, he punished it anyway. The running between the wickets was top class. Pakistani bowlers were clearly outplayed. They would have never dreamt of such tactics by this pair. And the captain was too new to react.
It took a great ball to end that great innings from McCullum. Gul pitched it shot and the ball came in sharply at McCullum’s chest. He could only fend that behind to offer a simple catch.Very valuable knock that was. Gul was trying to reverse the ball. He gave his heart out even atthe fag end of the day. Some bowlers trying to bowl inswing with the old ball try to hide the ball using their non bowling hand. I wonder if that can just alter the rythm and take some pace away. I’m not sure but the non bowling hand could lend a lot more support and enhance the balance and the pace (if not used in covering the ball).

I did expect NZ to take the lead by stumps. At lunch, it didn’t look easy. At tea,it looked more difficult and at stumps, the lead was there!, with 4 wickets  still in the bag. Long live Daniel Vettori!

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O’ Brien breathes fire

December 11, 2009

The fluctuation continues. At one point, I thought Pakistan were saying   ” We’ll match your ninety nine”  but NZ could not finish things off. Yet again, bowling to the tail lacked penetration. From 5 down for 55, you should not allow the opposition to get away to 223.
Both sides are extremely unpredictable and the beauty of the sine wave of this series was on show again today.

Pakistan chose to bat and rightly so. One would have expected Jeetan Patel to join Dan for Napier but the 4 fast bowler theory paid off. Tim Southee is a much improved bowler than what he was while getting dropped last year. He started with a couple of balls short and wide of the of stump. Salman Butt despatched them for boundaries but Southee came right back. He pitched one full and around the off stump, the pace and swing found the gap between bat and pad and uprooted Butt’s middle stump.
Happy Birthday Tim Southee!

Cometh the hour, Cometh the man.. they say. “Get his wife a job here, we can’t let him go now..” were the words of Ian Smith on commentary.Iain O Brien produced a perfect spell of test match fast bowling. Mind you, the pitch was very good for batting. The bounce looked true and there was good pace in the wicket. There was a hint of seam movement but by no means was a totally bowler friendly one.

Faisal Iqbal was set up beautifully for the short one on his throat.He was never going to keep that one down.
Mohammad Yousuf had no opportunity to open his account. He survived a run out when young debutant Watling showed his class on the field.And when he tried to get off the mark with a slash on the off side off a ball not wide enough for that, he managed to edge the ball to second slip. McIntosh plucked that out of thin air.
Next came Umer Akmal. The law of averages caught up with him. After scores of 129, 75,46 and 52,he played a poor shot steering a wide one straight to gully.
Misbah was done in by a beauty. Absolute ripper. And at one stage,Iain O Brien’s figures read 4.2 overs, 4 maidens, 3 wickets for 3 runs and those figures exactly represented his rythm. This (courtesy Cricinfo) should give you a fair idea. Very sad he’s retiring now.
Quite warm in Napier, not much breeze either. A clean shaven Iain O’Brien charges in

10.1  O’Brien to Faisal Iqbal, no run, starts with ball in the channel outside off, defended towards point

10.2  O’Brien to Faisal Iqbal, no run, nice line again, just outside off, left alone this time

10.3  O’Brien to Faisal Iqbal, no run, wider outside off, batsman is happy to leave it to the keeper, that was a 143kmh delivery

10.4  O’Brien to Faisal Iqbal, no run, 141kmh this time, but doesn’t bother the batsman as it is well outside off

10.5  O’Brien to Faisal Iqbal, OUT, O’Brien strikes in his first over! a 138kmh short ball, rises sharply, Iqbal looks to defend, gets it on the splice of the bat and lobs towards Guptill at gully

10.6  O’Brien to Mohammad Yousuf, no run, finishes with a length ball just outside off, 144kmh, steered towards backward gully by Mohammad Yousuf

12.1  O’Brien to Mohammad Yousuf, no run, good start to the over from O’Brien, full and just outside off, blocked by Yousuf

12.2  O’Brien to Mohammad Yousuf, no run, slightly wider outside off, shoulders arms

Three slips in place

12.3  O’Brien to Mohammad Yousuf, no run, on off this time, 140kmh, Yousuf gets behind the line and defends

12.4  O’Brien to Mohammad Yousuf, no run, testing over from O’Brien so far, a 143kmh bouncer now, Yousuf is quick to get under it

12.5  O’Brien to Mohammad Yousuf, no run, short of length on off, Yousuf opens the face and guides it towards gully, Guptill onto it

12.6  O’Brien to Mohammad Yousuf, no run, back of a length, angling into off, Yousuf gets forward and defends towards point, and that’s drinks

14.1  O’Brien to Mohammad Yousuf, no run, length ball on off, Yousuf defends to the leg side after walking forward

14.2  O’Brien to Mohammad Yousuf, no run, superb delivery from O’Brien, a stifled appeal from the keeper for caught behind, that one squared up yousuf who was fishing for it outside off, beaten, 140kmh

14.3  O’Brien to Mohammad Yousuf, no run, much better from Yousuf, a confident leave to a delivery just outside off

14.4  O’Brien to Mohammad Yousuf, no run, short ball from O’Brien, outside off, Yousuf sways out of the way, 143kmh

14.5  O’Brien to Mohammad Yousuf, no run, full and just outside off, Yousuf blocks it towards gully

14.6  O’Brien to Mohammad Yousuf, OUT, O’Brien has got Yousuf for a duck, massive breakthrough, Yousuf looks to slash a back of length ball outside off, away from the body, outside edges it to the left of second slip, where McIntosh latches onto it

16.1  O’Brien to Umar Akmal, no run, Umar Akmal gets forward and opens the face to get his first ball towards gully

16.2  O’Brien to Umar Akmal, no run, short ball, O’Brien keeping the pace up, 143kmh, not too far outside off, Akmal drops his wrists and sways out of the way to let the ball go

16.3  O’Brien to Umar Akmal, no run, another short one, gets behind the line and defends, bottom hand comes off as he plays

16.4  O’Brien to Umar Akmal, no run, a late decision to leave the ball, it was a lot fuller this time, just outside off

16.5  O’Brien to Umar Akmal, no run, back of a length, into offstump, 146kmh, Akmal walks across defends towards the leg side

16.6  O’Brien to Umar Akmal, no run, length ball into off, gets well forward and blocks towards gully

18.1  O’Brien to Imran Farhat, 3 runs, a bit of width, Farhat throws his bat at that, mistimed but enough on it to beat fly over extra cover, brings up the fifty

18.2  O’Brien to Umar Akmal, OUT, O’Brien, why are you leaving? short ball gets Umar Akmal this time, short ball 144kmh, Akmal prods at it and gives catching practice to Guptill at gully, another duck, 4.2-4-3-3 are O’Brien’s figures, a dream spell

18.3  O’Brien to Misbah-ul-Haq, no run, 145kmh, length ball outside off, Misbah lets it go to the keeper

18.4  O’Brien to Misbah-ul-Haq, no run, has Misbah fishing outside off at that one, nearly getting the edge

18.5  O’Brien to Misbah-ul-Haq, no run, fired in full towards middle stump this time, played towards square leg

18.6  O’Brien to Misbah-ul-Haq, OUT, O’Brien saves his best spell for his last Test, a short of length ball that straightened, Misbah feathers a regulation catch to McCullum

20.1  O’Brien to Kamran Akmal, no run, into legstump this time, blocked off the backfoot towards the leg side

20.2  O’Brien to Kamran Akmal, no run, back of a length outside off, defended towards the off side

20.3  O’Brien to Kamran Akmal, no run, 144kmh, beats the outside edge outside off, Kamran Akmal pushes hard at a straight ball and doesn’t connect

20.4  O’Brien to Kamran Akmal, no run, short ball on middle and off, defended off the backfoot

20.5  O’Brien to Kamran Akmal, no run, nearly had another one, poor poor shot from Kamran Akmal, it was short and wide outside off, Akmal has a waft at it, there was a half-shout for a caught-behind, hang on, New Zealand call for a review, HotSpot didn’t show anything though there seemed to be a sound as ball passed bat, Kamran survives

20.6  O’Brien to Kamran Akmal, 3 runs, punched off the backfoot through covers to get off the mark

Kamran succumbed to a quick climber from Martin and all the while, Imran Farhat was flashy outside the off stump and was very unconvincing with the short stuff. He carried his bat but never deserved the century he ended up with, especially as he showed no sense of responsibility with wickets tumbling at the other end. Don’t tell me he was trying to counter attack.

Tuffey looked easily negotiable. He was short on pace and gave the impression that age was catching up with him. I thought Vettori should have come into the attack half an hour into the secod session as Aameer and Farhat weren’t broken through.

Im praying for a big total from the Kiwi batsmen tomorrow. If there was a time for them to deliver, it’s now. Bat your lives out, for O Brien deserves a grand farewell.

P.S. Kiwi fans have some good news. O Ber has admitted he hasn’t received good news on his UK visa and that his departure could be delayed by months. The Australian visit is round the corner.

Day 2, Wellington

December 7, 2009

Iain O Brien is the most down to earth fast bowler today. He’s a gentleman cricketer and all his aggression lies in his bowling. He puts his heart out every single ball and any captain will be pleased to have such a dedicated resource. His bouncers have been really quick and the Pakistan batsmen have struggled to cope with them. With such intensity, a slower ball could be an extremely effective weapon in his armory. I was shocked to see the news of his retirement and NZ cricket will severely miss his services.

After 161 for 6 overnight, Dan would have badly wanted to skittle Pakistan out for less than 200. Fair expectations but Kamran got going. And when the tail wags, there is increased frustration in the fielding team. Here is where a coach should plan a ‘demolish the tail’ package. The fielding team expects the tail to fold up instead of actually attacking the lower order batsmen. Vettori himself was delivering two quick balls per over out of frustration. I have never seen him do that.

 There was a huge off cutter by O Ber to Kamran and the overruled appeal was referred. After confirmation of NOT OUT, the batsman showed better body language and it looked as if it was a moral victory for the batsman.

The Pakistani lower order, for it’s part, didn’t expect so many runs out of itself and started playing too many aerial shots. They could have tried to occupy the crease more.

I admired the beauty of the sine wave of this series. Take this first innings for example. Farhat and Butt stayed together for 32 overs before stupid middle order batting brought them to 161 for 6. Kamran and Gul then helped Pakistan to 262.

And what followed that was shame. You practice there, it’s your fort, you know which strand of grass is longer, which one shorter and it’s criminal to get all out for ninety nine.

Full credit to the Pakistani bowling attack. The reason why Aameer’s picking regular early breakthroughs is his length. I love bowlers consistently bowling full lengths.

I thought Asif wasn’t quite running full steam. He was also a little slow on pace but very accurate.

People think Aameer is the man for the future and all that but we’ve seen enough ‘great prospects’ disappear all of a sudden. We cannot be sure. Due to the amount of cricket played today, almost every series needs a couple of new bowlers in the squads.

Day 1, Dunedin

November 24, 2009

Pakistan won the toss and rightly decided to bowl first. It’s early morning for viewers in India and the sight of that lively pitch swept away the residual sleep in my eyes.Mohammad Aammer couldn’t have hoped for a better start. Tim McIntosh would have hardly expected such a full first ball and that was an unfortunate dismissal for him. Also proved that you need to be off your toes right from the word GO. Both Asif and Aameer maintained a testing line and made good use of the seam movement that was available. They kept asking questions and made the batsmen play as much as possible. Usually, bowlers from the sub-continent while touring New Zealand get carried away by the zip on offer and bowl wide and erratic lines.
Daniel Flynn was a victim of that seam movement and any batsman needs good fortune to survive those deliveries. Guptill looked really determined for a long knock and both Taylor and Guptill ensured there wasn’t any further damage to the top order.
I cannot remember too many overpitched balls in the opening spell and cover drives were a rarety. Scoring opportunities were few and the odd push to the on side helped the score board tickle. It took a while for the straight drives to come out. Guptill left as many balls as possible. He takes all credit for saving NZ’s face today. Ross Taylor started off quite cautiously but did provide a few chances.

Umer Gul started off with a few short balls but soon hit back of a length consistently.Asif and Aameer were a little fuller and were always looking like taking a wicket. Guptill is one of the strongest pullers in the game and one rare short ball produced the shot he was probably itching to play.It was far from the middle of the bat and fine leg couldn’t latch on to the chance. Earlier, Imran Farhat dropped a difficult chance at slip off Guptill. I say difficult even in test level because the ball flew real quick in an awkward height and looked like it was swinging in the air.Apart from these two chances,
Guptill looked solid. He played as straight as possible and that was the order of the day. As expected Ajmal was picked ahead of Kaneria. He was on the money today but well set batsmen can negotiate him with ease in pitches like these.He was treated with caution though and was presented with the full straight bat for as much as possible. Guptill’s strong shot ( the pull) could be tested at test level and his strength could prove to be his weakness if not treated with
the required temperament.

As lunch approached Taylor exhibited some arrogant cuts and the run rate improved quickly. Taylor was uncomfortable with the short stuff and wasn’t watching the ball. He struggled with his timing early on but Im pleased he ended up making a significant contribution today. Gul’s tussle with Taylor from around the wicket with short pitched bowling was a treat to watch.

I thought the pitched eased out nicely after lunch and there was help for both batsmen and the bowlers. New Zealand would be disappointed it couldn’t build on tall from the Taylor-Guptill partnership.Fulton and Elliot missed out. McCullum and Vettori should prove to be tough nuts to crack for Pakistan tomorrow and the pair did well to see through to stumps. Dan already has 40 runs to his name and if these too can carry on for another hour or more, it’s
advantage NZ. Pakistan can’t afford to provide free runs to McCullum and they should try to stifle him. Anything above 350 would be a great cushion for Bond and Vettori. I expected Tuffey to make the eleven ahead of O Brien but that looked like good and sensible selection.

I’d say its honours even at stumps on day 1.Looking forward to 350+ from NZ and then some fire from Shane Bond.

The Kiwi squad

November 24, 2009

McIntosh and Guptill open. No problems there. Flynn and Taylor pick themselves. Ryder is injured and picking Peter Fulton is a backward step. Im afraid he’s been given a chance too many and he has failed to capitalise. Im sure there’s someone else in those islands who’d do better than Fulton.

I’m a big fan of Grant Elliot and he’s going to be an asset to the national team in the coming years. He is most capable of taking that No. 6 spot after Oram’s retirement and ahead of James Franklin.The fast bowling has been strengthened by Bond’s return ( James won’t be missed) and Elliot is surely going to produce beter test output than what Jakes was producing. McCullum, Bond and Vettori are international class.

I can’t wait to watch a test spell from Bond. He along with Lee and Steyn offer an amazing variety to fans of fast bowling.
There’s a problem in the fact that there’s no back up batsman. Not even one. Chris Martin should be getting the nod ahead of Ian O Brien and Jeetan Patel and O Brien should be carrying the drinks.

Daryl Tuffey makes a return and he would be under severe pressure from Mills when the latter is fit. O Brien has been performing decently as well and Tuffey needs wickets to keep his place.

Im putting  all my money on Bond. He’s going to be the star of the series. And NZ are going to win.

They just need some big scores from Taylor, Guptill and Flynn. GO BLACK CAPS!

Don’t forget, this series is ‘hosted by Pakistan’!!

A test in November, for the first time in NZ!

November 24, 2009

The one day series in Abu Dhabi was a good enough warm up for Bond’s return to the test fold.Now that Mills is ruled out, Bond will be back, just as KP was brought back before schedule. One would expect the pitches to be lively as it’s early summer in Kiwiland and the battle between the fastmen should decide the outcome of the series.

Ross Taylor is long long due and he has to deliver this time around and if Flynn, Guptill and McCullum can put up big scores, Pakistan will be under pressure. Captain Mohammad Yousuf has already expressed concerns over the early summer tracks.

In case the pitches are going to be a liitle hard and offer turn, it’s advantage Pakistan. NZ batsmen’s handling of spin looked pathetic in Abu Dhabi.
Both Kaneria and Ajmal find a place in the enormous eighteen man squad. I think Ajmal will struggle to be effective  in New Zealand.Kaneria should be a bigger threat. None of the Kiwi batsmen had any clue to Shahid Afridi’s googlies in the one dayers.
In the 18 man squad, Asif, Gul and Aaameer are the only frontline pacers. Yasir Arafat and Abdur Rauf bowl medium pace and there’s no Rana Naved. The squad has 2 wicket keepers, 3 fast bowlers, 2 spinners and 8 batsmen. And Rauf, Malik and Arafat are the ‘allrounders’. Very interesting selection indeed!
Given this squad, this would be my eleven although I would have wanted Misbah in place of Shoib Malik, Younis Khan in place of Salman Butt and Rana Naved in Aameer’s spot.
Imran Farhat
Khurram Manzoor
Salman Butt
Mohammad Yousuf
Umer Akmal
Shoib Malik
Kamran Akmal
Mohammad Asif
Umer Gul
Danish Kaneria
Mohammad Aameer

NZ did very well to win the one day series 2-1. It was clear exhibition of the difference in attitudes between a sub-continental side and a side from down under. Sri Lanka to me is the most consistent Asian country. Pakistan couldn’t chase down 212 in the final one dayer and that’s a shame. Younis Khan looked in awful form but I’m sure there’s something apart from his batting that’s keeping him out of the side now. A three test series in New Zealand is huge for Younis and if he’s skipping that, the reasons have to be as huge. Only MSD can skip a three test series for the one dayers and the T20s.
There was no maturity shown by the Pakistan batsmen and they simply crumbled under pressure. Shoib Malik was playing as though it was a friendly inter school game.
Tim Southee showed good discipline in his comeback. He’s lost some pace though. Young fast bowlers shouldn’t be fed with too much of theory from the  coaches. The pace is coming down too early in their careers. Irfan Pathan is a fine example of that.
McCullum finally converted starts into big scores.It’s high time Taylor did that. I’m sure Dan is going to get a bunch of wickets with his arm ball. None of the Pakistani batsmen are picking it and there are a lot of LBWs in store for him.

Oh and I was listening to Boycott and Greig together from the box, after a decade.

The Umpire Decision Review system is making it’s debut here. The ICC has convinced the broadcasters to bear the extra costs involved and that’s an achievement. They have to force the other boards as well to implement the system. If NZ can agree to it, why can’t South Africa, Australia and India? They have much more money.