Here are all my cricket-related articles to date that have been published on various sports forums and media outlets: LIST OF ARTICLES

The Willow Talk by AK: December 04, 2005

Friday, December 09, 2005

Ganguly's inclusion a mistake

Akays tour diaries

The first test between India and SriLanka was a dissappointment not just because of three-and-a-half days of heavy downpour, but also because the Indian team-management got bogged down under pressure to include former captain Saurav Ganguly in the line-up. It was clear that public pressure had alot to do with this inclusion, as many cricket-lovers in India are avid supporters of the once dashing left-hander.

Over the years, his game has fallen from grace quite spectacularly. For one of the leading one-day scorers in the game, Ganguly's apparent nervousness at the crease in recent times is just very sad. He needed more time outside international cricket then he got. He needed more time to play at a consistently high level before being re-inducted into the test roster.

His place was given to Yuvraj Singh, who looks like he's finally understood his role in the team and is maturing into a really useful bat. He has tempered his stroke-play a tad, doesn't fish outside his off-stump as often, and plays more ground strokes now then ever before, and all these signs can only be good news for Indian fans. As a result, he had a highly successful ODI series against South Africa and was infact adjudjed player-of-the-series for his consistent scores. But what does he get for that? A no-confidence vote for the tests. Go figure that out....

© Adeel Khan

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Just next to PC Lahore, where the England team are staying, is the Aitchison College. Andrew Miller calls it as the "Eton of Pakistan", and I wouldn't beg to differ! Posted by Picasa

Dissappointing squad for first 2 ODIs

Akays England Tour Diaries

The first game is starting on Saturday, December 10, 2005. The final XI should be very closely similar to the one played in the last ODI series. However, the squad overall is quite dissappointing when you consider the names being left out. Bazid Khan, Hasan Raza and Umar Gul all find themselves from the outside looking in. On the other hand, Mohammad Sami (the oustanding failure), Arshad Khan (the eternal drinks carrier) Yasir Hameed (the bygone) are very much in the mix of things. The recent form and performance of the three do not need further mention. It is imperative for Pakistan to ensure that they get a chance while they are at the peaks of their relative careers.

Pakistan's official squad: Inzamam-ul-Haq (capt), Salman Butt, Shoaib Malik, Yasir Hameed, Mohammad Yousuf, Younis Khan, Abdul Razzaq, Kamran Akmal (wk), Yasir Arafat, Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammad Sami, Danish Kaneria, Mohammad Asif, Arshad Khan.

Adeel's ideal squad: Inzamam-ul-Haq (capt), Salman Butt, Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Yousuf, Younis Khan, Hasan Raza, Bazid Khan, Abdul Razzaq, Kamran Akmal (wk), Yasir Arafat, Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, Shoaib Akhtar, Danish Kaneria, Mohammad Asif, Umar Gul.

© Adeel Khan.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Slippery Stuff Posted by Picasa

Kaneria should be in ODI team

Akays England Tour Diaries
December 2, 2005
He hasnt been tried enough for people to hop on the bandwagon and lable him as failure in ODIs. His main problem is at times, both in ODIs n tests, he doesnt know which line of attack is the best. Either he's bowling too many variations or is flighting too much is is too flat at times. He got that right on day 5 when he settled into balling a lot of legspinners. He similarly needs to settle down in ODIs. I cant help but say that when he knows what he wants from his bowling in limited overs cricket, he will be a regular in lineup. As for the imediate future, I have no doubt in my mind that he shd play, esp now that we can always use an extra bowler as a supersub. There is a gd chance that he might trouble England in the ODIs as well.

© Adeel Khan.

Sami gets another life

Akays England Tour Diaries
Originally recorded on November 30, 2005

I seriously feel Sami shoud be dropped and shd spend a year or two outside intl cricket and evaluate himself. He has speed, but sadly not much else! I bash sami alot and hell he deserves every bit of it. A person with greater self-respect for himself maybe would have sidelined himself like Lehmann did earlier this year.

I have always also said that the guy has serious potential and is tries hard. At times I do feel sorry for him as well, like when Inzy went upto him yesterday after the over he gave 3 lollipop boundaries. Inzy had a serious word with him it looked and then akhter came and patted on his back to carry on. He works hard, but hs been an absolute struggle for the last 16 months. I think if we persisted with Asif or Gul in that period, they would have solidified themselves as the 3rd seamer. Sami on the other hand has failed spectacularly.

© Adeel Khan.

Shoaib a changed man

Akays England Tour Diaries
Originally recorded on November 17, 2005

Anyone supporting shoaib in the past year for his attitude and performance was wrong. Because he dint do anything positive in that time period. Deserting a team in the middle of a test match was an obvious lack of commitment. As was taking cheap-shots at fellow players. Not listening to coach/captian comes in the same category. He was rightly criticized then. He was the most damaging influence in the team. Which is why his change in attitude has been all the more delightful. Overall though, great attitude by Shoaib this series. All credit to him for finally realizing the importance of playing as a team-player and keeping team ahead of oneself. The positive results are a testament to that. Inzy n Bob also deserve alot of credit for that. I think Shoaib has become a touch religious as well listening to his interview. I think that perhaps more then nething else has changed the man. Good stuff Shoaib!
© Adeel Khan.

Tough Choices ahead of first test

Orginally published March 12, 2005

With the first test looming, the Pakistan side has to make some "tough choices", as rightfully projected by Coach Woolmer. The batting order, though inexperienced, is filled with batters who are almost equally talented and it is anyone's guess what the composition of the top and middle order will be.

Will Yasir Hameed, someone whose showed glimpses of a return to form, get a place ahead of either Salman Butt or Taufeeq Umar? Or will the team management stick with the combo of Taufeeq and Salman that they tried out in the lone side match before the test rubber? Ideally you'd like to have a left-right opening combination but it would seem harsh to drop either Taufeeq or Salman. But it would be equally unfair if you drop a man who scored two half centuries in his last outing against the most fearsome attack in world cricket. In the writer’s opinion, the same pair that played the side game should feature in the first test because both the lefties have good potential and looked good in their short stay at the crease.

Who will figure in the 3-spot? Will Younis Khan get the nod ahead of Yasir? It will be a rarity if the vice captain gets benched. Younis is a courageous cricketer and has been improving as a batsman and he should have been given some time to establish himself further.

Then, what shape will the middle order take? Will Malik, essentially the MVP of the Pakistan team last year, get a chance ahead of Kamal, a genuine test batsman? Asim Kamal had a decent outing in the warm-up game and has been good with the willow of late. On the flip side, Malik has not done anything wrong to face the axe but at this stage of their careers, Kamal is a better test batsman then Malik.

Since test cricket is a game of specialists, a player should be able to seal his place in the team on the basis of batting or bowling alone. This is why the author thinks Abdul Razzaq and Shahid Afridi do not make a final eleven. Abdul Razzaq rescued Pakistan in Dharamshala but few would argue that Shoaib Malik and Asim Kamal are better then both the all-rounders. If Inzy or Bob decide to play them as strike bowlers, then the Pakistan team is destined for failure. The bowling lineup, which already looks weak on paper, will also look horribly shallow.

The bowling is lineup is a little less tough to decide. Rana Naved, Mohammad Sami and Danish Kaneria are obvious selections. That leaves us with two specialists in Khalil and Arshad. Logic says that Arshad should be the obvious choice since Khalil is nothing more then a medium pacer who cant swing the ball any which way. Also, Arshad will help out Kaneria by bowling in tandem for long spells.

Tough choices? Yes. But the team management has to make them. And it is these very choices that might as well be the difference between winning and losing.

© Adeel Khan.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Day 1, Test 2: Pakistan vs England

Originally published on December 20, 2005

The elegance of Yousuf, the dependability of Inzamam, and the ferocity of Afridi, is all a Pakistani cricket lover needs to witness when Pakistan is batting in an international match. And witness they did. The Big Three combined for 225 runs together, as Pakistan seized the initiative on the first day of the second test match in Faisalabad, by ending it well-placed on 300-4.

The morning started as Pakistan won the toss and chose to bat first on a typical sub-continental track, devoid of grass and offering little assistance for pace and bounce. The hosts made two changes as they brought back popular all-rounder Shahid Afridi and fast-bowler Rana Naved-ul-Hasan in place of Hasan Raza and the reported Shabbir Ahmed. England just made the solitary change as Michael Vaughan, not 100% fit in his own words, decided to risk himself in what is an extremely crucial match for the visitors. England has won six test series on the trot and would not like any result less then a win in this match.

Pakistan started the morning briskly, as Shoaib Malik and Salman Butt played their strokes freely all over the park in front of a vociferous capacity crowd in Iqbal Stadium. As a result, Giles was quickly introduced into the attack, with Vaughan hoping his ace spinner will break the tempo of the confident start by the hosts. That was not to be as Giles was knocked out of the park for a six each in his first two overs by Malik and Butt.

It was Steve Harmison, however, who gave England the first success by removing Salman Butt as he tried to drive a ball angling away from him, only to be caught behind for 26. Younis Khan came and went in unimpressive fashion as he Flintoff delivery to midwicket. Pakistan was 63 for 2. In came Mohammed Yousuf, unconvincing in Multan and batting with a chip on his shoulder with something to prove yet again. He looked at ease on a pitch which by now lost whatever little moisture it possessed. But it was about time for another wicket to fall on another loose stroke as Shoaib Malik played an airy cover drive only to be stunningly caught by Andrew Flintoff in the cover region.

By this time Pakistan was 73 for 3, and it was once again up to the old guard to provide Pakistan with a solid platform for the likes of Afridi and Akmal to cut loose. A top-quality contest between bat and ball was to follow the lunch interval, as Flintoff and co. kept the pressure on the two seasoned campaigners by following the age-old mantra of line and length to perfection. The pacers bowlers a host of full-pitched deliveries on middle stump to both the batsman, knowing that both are typical slow-starters and lazy on reflexes early on in their innings.

There were some very loud shouts for lbw. And at least once each, were very lucky to be adjudged not-out by the umpires who all-in-all did a fantastic job on a pressure-filled first day. But after some nervous moments early on, it was all Pakistan as the two batsmen played some delightful drives and late-cuts off spinners and fast bowlers alike.

Yousuf was typically stylish caressing nine boundaries as he notched up a well-crafted fifty. Inzamam, on the other hand, played the sheet anchor’s role to perfection. The two guided Pakistan to tea as Pakistan looked well-placed at 189/3. The afternoon session was thankless and frustrating for England, as they toiled hard on a perfect batting deck. An added cause of frustration was the lack of any lbw shouts going in their favor, and some half-chances that went begging. Inzamam edged one of Flintoff’s deliveries to Strauss, and it fell despairingly close to being snapped as it felt just inches short. A second chance of Mathew Hoggard went down as Geraint Jones, standing up to Hoggard, failed to clasp on a difficult leg-side chance.

Immediately after tea, England cracked the bulging Inzamam-Yousuf partnership by sending Yousuf back to the pavilion in controversial fashion. Ian Bell bowled a full-pitched delivery as Yousuf played straight on only for Bell to dive to his right to take a brilliant-looking catch. Yousuf had his doubts but Simon Taufel was confident enough and did not find it necessary to refer it to the third umpire. However, replays showed that while Bell had the ball cleanly in his hands, the ball touched the ground as Bell dived on the pitch. Yousuf was slow to walk back but the decision was already be made. It would be interesting to see how the match referee reacts to this. In the not-so-recent-past Rashid Latif, the former Pakistani was banned for a similar offense in a game against Bangladesh.

Shahid Afridi then walked onto the pitch, received by a huge roar from the local crowd. The start was typical Afridisque, as he greeted Ian Bell with three consecutive boundaries. The party had just started as the Pathan took the English attack to the cleaners. He danced down the wicket, stood tall and swept savagely on his way to another enterprising half-century. England will be ruing the fact that their captain, not renowned for his catching, dropped a sitter when Afridi was on 35.

Pakistan batsmen are notoriously slow starters, and it is imperative for these two to play throughout the morning session. England, on the flip side, will have to devise a plan to end the madness of Afridi and the solidity of Inzamam, before they push England out of contention to win the game.

© Adeel Khan

Test 2 Preview: Pakistan vs England

Originally published on December 18, 2005

On Wednesday, November 16, Pakistan completed a famous victory by topping England by 22 runs in the first of the three test match series. It was a fascinating come-from-behind victory for a team full of young blood and a craving for fight-backs.

Pakistan will go into the next game leading the series one-up. Pakistani teams haven’t enjoyed many test series leads in the recent past. It is a situation which holds a different kind of pressure - pressure of increased expectations and hope. It is a pressure they will have to withstand in face of what will be a rather desperate England team waiting for payback. This present English unit has made a habit of striking back after defeats just like its opponents, and it will be interesting to see which team’s grit and determination proves to be decisive.

Both squads have certain issues to deal with heading into the second test match in Faisalabad. Micheal Vaughan has been passed fit to play, but in his own words is “a bit of a risk”. He did bat in the nets for the last three mornings of the first test and did a few laps of the Multan Cricket Stadium looking fairly comfortable. He has announced that he will be batting at his usual spot number 3 spot.

The batting has on this tour has been a worrying factor for the Poms. In Multan, stand-in captain Marcus Trescothick and Ian Bell scored more then half of the team’s total runs in the test match. In addition, their spinners, though steady, did not prove to be decisive on a pitch that did have some assistance in it for the spinners. Dropping Shaun Udal, then, in favor of James Anderson could be an option keeping in mind the success their fast bowlers recieved in Multan.

Pakistan’s problems, on the other hand, are a bit more serious. Immediately after the game, seamer Shabbir Ahmed and all-rounder Shoaib Malik were reported for suspect action by the two on-field umpires. Judging by captain Inzamam-ul-Haq’s recent comments, it remains highly doubtful if Shabbir Ahmed will be further risked for the second test match. Malik has a less serious problem, according to the officials, and it seems his position in the team is safe – for now. Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, spearhead of Pakistan’s fast bowling in the 04-05 season, seems certain to grab Shabbir’s spot after being mysteriously dropped from the last test XI.

The hosts made a bit of a blunder by not including dynamite all-rounder Shahid Afridi. Afridi enjoyed what was, arguably, the finest year of his cricketing career. His exclusion can perhaps be accounted to Inzamam’s insecurity over the consistency of the batting lineup. He chose to play Hasan Raza, who was coming back into the national side after spending five years in wilderness. Disappointingly for him, he failed to click under two pressure situations and as a result may find his way out of the side, in favor of an all-rounder who enjoyed a brilliant comeback season in 2004-05.

In the 22 tests played here, Pakistan has won six and lost five, drawing the rest. Seven times the team batting first has won and only four times the team batting second has won. The last time a test match was played in Faisalabad, Pakistan were thumped by the visiting Sri-Lankans by 201 runs. Pitches in Faisalabad have usually been good batting tracks, with some help for the spinners. The track for this test match is expected to be of a similar nature.

Since March 2003, England has won all six test series that they have played. The next test match provides Pakistan with an opportunity to break this remarkable record, which makes it all the more intriguing for players and fans alike.
© Adeel Khan

The Genius of a Giant

Originally published on April 19, 2005
In the midst of internal ramblings within the Pakistani team, player grouping, match-fixing controversies, and frequent changes in coaches and captains, stands the colossal figure of Inzamam-ul-Haq. Inspite of the going-ons around him, he is like a giant unruffled by the presence of smaller creatures, a statement which can be taken almost literally!

This article will look at some of the statistical highlights of Inzamam-ul-Haq`s glittering career. While most agree that he would have had a better record if only he worked harder on his game and showed more hunger to score runs, none will deny his value and stature in Pakistan`s cricket history. Following are some intriguing statistics from Inzy`s cricketing career.


-Inzamam has a test batting average of 48.90 runs (nowe almost 50 after the India Series), brilliant by any standards. He has played 99 (100 with Bangalore) test matches since his debut in 1992 in Birmingham, England.

- He averages a shade under 45 runs in away matches. Lower then his career mean, but nontheless remarkable.

- His first 5 test centuries were scored on away grounds. - 15 of Inzy`s 20 Test centuries have come in matches won by Pakistan.

- His highest test score of 329 came against New Zealand in 2002. He batted for nearly 2 days! - Since 1999, when he became the most senior batsman in the side, Inzy has stepped it up a notch. From January 1999 to present, Inzy has averaged a staggering 55.10 with the willow.

- His average after becoming captain is a modest 41.15, but he has played some match-winning knocks during that time. A few cases in point being his 72* in the 4th innings in Wellington (2003), 118 against India in Lahore(2004), and 117 against Sri Lanka in Karachi (2004).


- The big man has an impressive average of 39.66 runs in a mammoth 336 matches played since his ODI debut in Lahore in 1991 against Malcolm Marshall and company.

- He has scored 78 fifties and 10 centuries in his ODI career so far. Of those 88 fifty plus scores, 31 have come at the opposition`s home.

- His average outside of Pakistan stands at a modest 37.12 runs.

- His highest ODI score of 137* came against New Zealand in 1994 in Sharjah, the happiest hunting ground of many Pakistani batsmen.

- His best innnings regarded by many, however, was his 122 against India in Karachi last year. Pakistan was chasing 350 but was only able to reach 344, thanks to a marvellous partnership of 135 between Inzy and Yousuf Youhana (73). This match was the 1st ODI of the friendship series between Pakistan and India, a match regarded by many as one of the most exciting matches ever.

Since being promoted as captain, Inzy has been on a tear in the game shorter version. He has scored 1701 runs in 48 internatonals @ 48.60. Such breathtaking numbers further justify the fact that Big Inzy is at his best when the responsbility is on his broad shoulders.

Over the span of his career, Inzamam-ul-Haq has showed that he has continually matured as a batsman. His batsmanship is like an old wine Pakistani fans are intoxicated with! This one`s hoping that he continues to excel in the sport that he has mastered for almost 15 years.

© Adeel Khan