T20 cricketing strategics: Some advice for Captain Hafeez
Gul can shine if only Hafeez would give him the chance to do so! That's what Imran Khan would have done.
So far Pakistan has been doing well in the World T20, 2012. Having said as much, our batting has come to the rescue for the third time ─ if we add the warm-up match we played against India. My cause of concern lies in our bowling and I feel as though team Pakistan must reconsider their strategy.
Over the years, especially in the T20 format, our bowling has been our main weapon, however, we have been found wanting more in all of the three matches we have played in Srilanka.
I don't mind the same eleven playing in Super 8, but for this, our team management ─ comprising Hafeez, Whatmore and Muhammad Akram ─ should give confidence to Gul and Tanveer.
Afridi is improving which is a good sign. Ajmal, too, has been terrific, however, we are relying too heavily on him, don't you think? By law of averages, Saeed Ajmal is due for an off day - then what are we going to do?
All I can say is that I hope it won’t come in this tournament! On the other hand, Gul and Tanveer need to raise their game if we want to qualify for the semi-final.
My strategy would be to get either Tanveer, Arafat or Hafeez to open the bowling attack, with Ajmal or Afridi being first change bowlers. Alternatively, Shoaib Malik can also be utilised.
As for Umar Gul, he should be told that he will only bowl in death overs, starting from the 14th, and that he should restrict himself to bowling just yorkers - something he is known. This should work for Gul in the current format of the game. Our success in the inaugural World Cup and the 2009 World Cup are examples to support my claim.
Gul was leading with 13 wickets in each tournament, with an economy rate of 5.60, an average of 11.92 and a strike rate of 12.7 in 2007. Moreover, in 2009 his economy rate was 6.44, his average was 12.15 and he had a strike rate of 10.2.
This was all because he was allowed to bowl in the death overs. This point was absolutely key to his success.
If Hafeez can think on the same lines, then Umar Gul has the capability to show his true mettle because his mind will only be directed to bowling yorkers. If Gul plays too early in the game and gets a much expected hammering in his first over, there is every chance that his performance will not be up to par in his next overs because fast bowling is all about maintaining rhythm. An early jolt can shake up the rest of his game.
Furthermore, Hafeez's strategy should also include defining Sohail Tanveer's role in taking wickets. This was also the strategy Imran Khan employed for Wasim Akram when our juggernaut started against Australia in World Cup 1992, which led us to win our solitary ODI world cup.
Now I'm aware of the fact that both formats are different but with a few changes made, this has the potential to work for team Pakistan.
In a press conference after the game against Bangladesh, Hafeez clearly said that his main concern is his fast bowling unit. He further reiterated that Gul will stage a comeback, but I only see this happening if his role is clearly assigned.
Another aspect that we must put great emphasis on is our fielding. Good fielding can serve as a very powerful catalyst if the chips are down. A certain brilliance from the field won't just serve to lift the bowler, but will take the whole team a long way.
We need to pull our socks up quickly for the sternest test on September 28, which will be against an informed and well-prepared South Africa. Team Pakistan has only one option; to bring on their A-game!
A single odd blemish against this quality outfit might cost us the match. It is now up to Whatmore, Fountain and Akram to rightly motivate our players (especially Gul and Tanveer) into moving on and letting bygones be bygones.
The real tournament is yet to begin and so our team must start afresh.
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