WELL TO start of with it is actually quite absurd that a sub-continent team playing in sub-continent won’t have that much pressure to perform. The reasons are obvious, ravaged by spot fixing scandals and infighting, the Pakistan cricket fraternity is on a recovery mode. And no one really expects them to give that much of a fight. With Salman Butt, Mohammed Asif and Mohammed Amer suspended, the first choice bowling attack of Pakistan is gone. With the captaincy issue yet to be resolved, the team morale won’t be that high. But still a sub-continent team in sub-continent cannot be ignored.

THE SQUAD

Shoaib Akhtar, Muhammad Hafeez, Kamran Akmal, Younis Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq, Asad Shafiq, Umer Akmal, Shahid Afridi, Abdul Razzaq, Abdul Rehman, Saeed Ajmal, Umer Gul, Wahab Riaz, Sohail Tanvir, Ahmed Shehzad.

THE YOUNG BLOOD

Out of the 15 chosen, 8 are those who have never been part of an event of this importance. Clearly the Pakistan selectors did not have an option and leaving out Imran Nazir reaffirms the fact that they wanted to start afresh. If we start taking the replacements for the suspended tainted trio, Ahmed Shehzad is in for Butt and Shehzad is clearly a fire brand if there was any.

He has a distinction of playing at the highest level and then going back to represent Pakistan in the Under 19 World cup. He only has one gear and that is to clear the in-field any how, he is not afraid to take on the fastest of the bowlers and even on bouncy wickets he has played some magnificent shots on the rise. He wont get that pace in sub-continent and moreover his 7 match experience might not be enough.

Umar Akmal, a prodigy in the making, probably a complete batsmen Pakistan have produced after the era of Saeed Anwar. Though Younis Khan is probably the best Pakistan has got at the moment. This would be the make or break tournament for Umar. And to utilise his complete ability he must be slotted at No.3 nothing below that.

Wahab Riaz, is the replacement for Mohhammed Asif and to be fair on him he is a decent catch from the bowling factory. He has not exactly filled in the shoes of Asif but his approach ahs been commendable and as with Umar it would be make or break trip that he would be making to India.

THE WORRIES

One the other hand there is Mohammed Hafeez, Pakistan selectors does seem to have a blind faith on this chap. With an average of 22 in 62 ODIs, how the hell he made it to the squad, only reason I can think of is, he is not swashbuckling as Shehzad so they assumed he would be the calmer and wiser partner.

Mohammed Amer could have been the potent weapon for Pakistan instead they had to content themselves with the old potent weapons, Shohib Akhtar. As an old war veteran, it is not his pace or form which has made him survive this long, its probably his never say die attitude. And this never say die attitude unfortunately looks good on paper or say a blog only.

Being hit for an economy of more than 8 and again coming back to bowl the full quota of overs to end up with run rate of 7 does not fit the bill for never say die attitude. That plainly is poor bowling but Pakistan selectors as I mentioned earlier tend to assume a lot of things.

Kamran Akmal, putting Kamran in the slot is just because of the poor form he is in; he tried his hands as an opener then at number 3 with no effect. In recent times, he has been very successful in the sub-continent primarily against India and his being in form would be of prime importance. He is more like Suresh Raina of Pakistan, unpredictable yet assuring figure.

Inspirational Misbah Ul Haq, is a player of calibre but I doubt his big match playing credentials.

Abdul Razzak is more of confusion; unpredictability has hovered all around his cricketing career. Not as strong a bowler he used to be but he is the variation guy of the team. He can pack a punch and on a given day could be more barbaric than Yusuf Pathan, but its all about him clicking or not. Not exactly a worry but wont put him in chances section as well.

CHANCES

Here chances have to be read as Umar Gul and Shahid Afridi. Gul is the strike bowler, best exponent of death bowling and Shahid Afridi along with Saeed Ajmal, I think is the best spinning duo in the world cup. Classic ODI spinners, with one having the knack of picking up wickets and other choking down the batsmen.

Younis Khan just cannot afford to have a bad day at the office as he would be the spine of Pakistani batting attack.

Semi-final could be the maximum they could reach but again unpredictability is what Pakistan cricket lives with.

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