World Cup 2011: The batsmen must click
Afridi asked for captaincy and got it, but he can't control his instincts and failed in the last three World Cups.
With the World Cup taking place in the subcontinent, batting will play a key part in how Pakistan fares in the event.
The duo of Mohammad Hafeez and Ahmed Shehzad performed reasonably well in New Zealand. Shehzad is quite raw and inexperienced but remains talented and has an array of strokes at his disposal. However, whether he stands tall to pressure at the biggest stage in world cricket remains to be seen. If he manages a big innings early in the tournament, I believe he should have a good World Cup.
Hafeez has been around for quite some time without cementing his place. However, his batting, of late, has shown increased consistency and maturity. The duo is definitely not an ideal choice for Pakistan but, in my opinion, the best among the available lot.
Under-fire Umar Akmal might not have performed very well recently but he’s capable of coming good in the mega event. He’s now a senior player and has an excellent strike-rate. We need experience and class in the middle-order and that is where he can help.
There are calls for Asad Shafiq to replace Akmal but while Shafiq is a promising batsman, he remains very inexperienced. His recent performance has also not been very good and that is why I’m hopeful that Akmal’s potential and his experience would stand him in good stead in the World Cup.
Coming to Shahid Afridi, the captain. He is boom boom but only on his day. I have never regarded Afridi as a batsman. He’s a hitter. Some opine that if he’s pushed up the order, with the added responsibility of the captaincy, Afridi would do better. However, I’m averse to this idea.
He can’t control his natural instincts. He has never been able to do that in his career. Moreover, Afridi was a failure with the bat in all his three previous World Cup appearances. He did hit a wonderful century in Sri Lanka against the hosts in last year’s Asia Cup but remains inconsistent as ever. Even as a hitter, I rate Abdul Razzaq higher than him in terms of reliability.
Having said all that, I earnestly hope that Afridi bats with lot more responsibility. He asked for the captaincy and got it. Now the onus is on him to show maturity and, for once, plan the innings as per the match situation. A captain has to lead from the front especially since our batting is very inexperienced as compared to most teams.
The way Misbahul Haq batted in New Zealand should be a lesson to all our batsmen. He clearly demonstrated that even in ODIs, it is important that at least one batsman should strive to stay as long as possible. Here’s to hoping the rest learn from him.