Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Who will win the captaincy race (Afridi or Misbah)?

Pakistan cricket board (PCB) is likely to announce a captain for the world Cup within the next few days. Indications, for the moment, lean towards the Test captain Misbah-ul-Haq taking over from Shahid Afridi who is the current ODI skipper of the national team. Misbah’s performance is so enchanting since he got test captaincy and now he is doing well in one day too.
The PCB announced a 15-man World Cup squad in January and it is too much surprise for everyone, they did not declare skipper for the tournament. Afridi has been Pakistan’ ODI captain over the last year but just before the New Zealand tour started, a number of key players and team management officials raised the concerned with the board over his captaincy, so ultimately, they forced to delay the announcement.
It is very harsh decision over Pakistan team, many players slapped over this verdict like Inzamam-ul-Haq, even the coach Waqar Younis also surprised over this decision. The board and the chairman Ijaz Butt have no real issue with Afridi remaining captain, but such are the nature of the concerns the players and team management have, that the board has found itself having to choose sides.
It is understood that players are mostly unhappy with Afridi's regular and very public assessments of his side's performances, mostly when they have been critical. In addition, Afridi's statements to the ICC with reference to the spot-fixing case involving three Pakistani players have also been felt by some players in the current squad to have been incendiary and unnecessary. Though local reports suggested that a group of senior players had thrown their support behind Afridi, players such as Kamran Akmal and Misbah still hold reservations.
On paper, Afridi's record as captain is not hugely impressive, with eight wins and 10 losses in 19 games (and one no-result). He averages nearly 36 with the bat in that time, including two hundreds in Sri Lanka, and well over his career numbers. And though the 25-ball 65 against New Zealand in Christchurch on Saturday was his first fifty in 12 ODIs, he has, on five occasions, made scores between 24-49, which given the way Afridi bats and the position he bats at, are often vital hands.
His bowling has not been as incisive, taking only 17 wickets in that span and generally going for runs. But in pushing ODI series against England and South Africa to the final game each time, in overseeing several fightbacks in tough circumstances Afridi would seem to have built up some credit.
Misbah's case for captaincy, on paper, is weaker. He has not been part of the ODI set-up for much of the last year; in fact, he only played two ODIs in 2010 and was dropped midway through the series against South Africa. His often poor strike-rate also works against him, and if Younis Khan is in the playing XI, robs Pakistan of some power in the middle. But he has built up momentum from his Test exploits, where he has been in exceptional form with the bat and has just led Pakistan to a drought-breaking Test series win.
"The team has gelled well. Whoever is the captain, everyone will play for the team and for the country," Misbah said. "I think Shahid Afridi is doing a good job. We have no problems and whoever is the captain, we will go out there and play our game.
"Everybody is in good form. That's a good thing for the team. Everybody's contributing and getting scores; even the bowlers are doing well, so these are good signs [for the World Cup]." Awesome Misbah’s performance, said Afridi.
Now both are appreciating each other regarding their performances and not focusing on captaincy, but the decision is pending!

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