Mohali is set to host the second semi-final of ICC World Cup 2011, between India and Pakistan. Only one other match was played here during this year’s mega event, when South Africa took on Holland, in a league B encounter.
That match began under overcast conditions and the Holland seamers got some purchase, as the Proteas slipped to 58/2 in the 16th over. The wicket eased out as the game wore on, and Smith’s wards piled up 351/5, on the back of contrasting hundreds by Amla and De Villiers.
Interestingly, the spinners came into play when Holland chased under the lights and Imran Tahir took 3 wickets and Peterson 2, as Holland collapsed to 120 all out.
Clearly, spinners hold the key, and Pakistan must take that into account in their team selection. Among their fast bowlers are Umar Gul, Wahab Riaz and Shoaib Akhtar. Razzaq is also a seam bowling option that Afridi can fall back on. While Umar Gul has been outstanding, Razzaq has chipped in with the occasional wicket. Riaz has been less than impressive, while Akhtar appears to have fallen out of favour, after the hammering he took against New Zealand.
Pakistan have three frontline spinners, in Afridi, Rehman and Ajmal. Hafeez is the fourth, and Afridi considers the opening batsman as his team’s best all-rounder. Hafeez justified his skipper’s confidence in him, with a spell of 2/16 against West Indies in the quarter-finals. He followed it up with an unbeaten 61, in his side’s successful chase.
The following players select themselves: Mohd Hafeez, Kamran Akmal, Asad Shafiq, Younis Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq, Umar Akmal, Shahid Afridi, Abdul Razzaq, Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal.
That leaves just one player to be selected, from among Abdul Rehman and Wahab Riaz. Riaz took 0/29 off 6 overs against the Carribeans. He got 4 wickets from 3 matches earlier in the tournament; overall, in ODIs, Riaz has taken 26 wickets in 17 games and has an economy rate in excess of 5 per over.
There’s not much difference in the success achieved by Riaz and Rehman; the latter played in 5 of his side’s 6 league games and took 3 wickets. Rehman’s ODI career of 20 matches has yielded 15 wickets; where he scores against Riaz is in his economy rate, which is 4.31 overall and 4.42 at this world cup. But his world cup average of 66.3 per wicket contrasts unfavourably, with Riaz’s average of 37.33.
Pakistan will be aiming for wickets rather than containment against India’s batting powerhouse, and Rehman’s claim for a spot is thus weakened. Additionally, Riaz, with his left-arm fast medium, gives the team variety in its bowling armoury.
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Jinxatious is the Chief Editor of SportingAttitude.com
An avid writer, on an eclectic range of subjects, he brings to bear editorial experience garnered with a national newspaper in South-East Asia. He also has sportscasting experience, as a cricket commentator, and his passion for sport extends beyond Cricket, to Football, Tennis, and Olympic Sports.