T20: the title-defence gets underway!

Express May 01, 2010

Just over nine months after lifting the 2009 World Twenty20 beating Sri Lanka, Pakistan launch their title-defence against the weaker Asian opponents — Bangladesh.

Pakistan’s arrival in the West Indies was preceded by a tumultuous last few months on and off the field. The surprise act that was winning a tournament set an ugly precedent for Pakistan for the months that followed. However, more matches were lost than won in the coming months and the whitewash on the tour of Australia resulted in bans and fines for the players involved and kept the fans in a state of misery.

Umar Gul’s injury and subsequent pull-out from the tournament dented Pakistan’s hopes and so did the warm-up loss against lowly Zimbabwe on Thursday. However, that should not worry the players, or the fans, much as prior to Pakistan’s victorious campaign last year, they were thrashed in both warm-ups – including a nine-wicket drubbing at the hands of India. Pakistan’s batting woes A shaky top-order that threatened Pakistan’s campaign last year threatens much of the same this year as well.

Kamran Akmal looks set to be promoted up the order, as in the warm-ups, in a ploy successfully adapted as the uncertainty grew in the camp last year. The Pakistan team management has decided to rest fast-bowler Mohammad Asif from today’s match following unimpressive performance in the two warm-up matches. Asif went wicket-less in both matches and gave away 55 runs off the seven overs bowled.

Shahid Afridi, following his ascent in status will also move up the order in yet another successful move from England. And with the turning tracks bring joy to the spinners, Pakistan may well employ Saeed Ajmal, Mohammad Hafeez, Afridi and even Fawad Alam early in the field. Toothless Tigers? Bangladesh, needless to say, can not be taken easily despite losing all their three Twenty20 internationals against Pakistan.

An explosive, yet care-free, approach at the top of the order may prove vital against the new ball and Shakibul Hasan, the captain and saviour, will need to remain prominent throughout both innings if Bangladesh were to shock the defending champions. However, history, form and the bookies all point to Pakistan, the most-successful Twenty20 team, setting off their campaign with maximum points


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