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  1. #1
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    "Mohammad Amir needs to strike a bit more for us with the new ball" : Azhar Mahmood

    In his latest blog for PakPassion.net, Pakistan's bowling coach Azhar Mahmood writes about his impressions of Pakistan’s performances during the recently concluded tour of Zimbabwe, Fakhar Zaman’s work-ethic and courage, Faheem Ashraf’s hunger to improve himself with every game, the selfless attitude of the younger players, reasons for the exclusion of Mohammad Hafeez from the ODI side in Zimbabwe, Virat Kohli’s excellence in batting and Sam Curran’s potential as a good fast-bowling all-rounder for England.




    Pakistan's skill levels are right up there with the very best

    We had an excellent tour of Zimbabwe which didn’t start that well with a defeat against Australia in our second game of the Tri-Series tournament, but the remarkable manner in which the team made a comeback by winning all their remaining matches by putting in some excellent performances was absolutely brilliant. They were outstanding in their batting, bowling as well as in their fielding especially against a top team such as Australia. It was great to see that the skill levels of this team in all aspects of the game were right up there with the very best and I am convinced that with the blessings of the Almighty, we are heading in the right direction.


    A player like Fakhar Zaman in the national side is a great sign for the future of Pakistan cricket

    The manner in which Fakhar Zaman has become the quickest batsmen in history to reach 1000 runs in ODIs in only 18 innings speaks volumes about his talent and skills. He is a batsman who wants to learn every day and his work ethic, whether it is to improve or practice his batting or fielding is simply brilliant which is something you need to succeed at the top-level. This is exactly why we also picked him recently in the Test squad. On top of that, he is a brave player and if you want proof of that, you simply need to look at the number of times he has been hit on his body and how it’s not affected his drive to take on fresh challenges. To have a player of his calibre in the national side is a great sign for the future of Pakistan cricket.


    There is a real hunger in Faheem Ashraf to become a better player

    Faheem Ashraf is another name which readily comes to mind when we speak of players who are eager to learn and improve themselves with each passing day. There is a real hunger in Faheem to become a better player as he is always looking to fine-tune his abilities. This is exactly why we were very happy to use him in all 3 Tests that we played this summer in Ireland and England. That is also why he was asked him to bowl with the new ball against the likes of the very aggressive Aaron Finch who we wanted to deprive of room at the start of the innings when we recently played Australia in the T20I Tri-Series in Zimbabwe. He continued to impress us all with his desire to improve himself when he bowled superbly in the 3rd ODI against Zimbabwe, picking up 5/22. I think it would be fair to say that Faheem Ashraf and Shadab Khan have both improved tremendously during the last year. In fact, it would not be wrong to say that the best things about the current group of Pakistan's younger players is that they play for the team and not for themselves and that they just want to keep on learning and improving. To me, this is exactly what we need from our youngsters.


    Usman Khan Shinwari’s eagerness for working hard is the typical attitude you find in all our younger players

    Usman Khan Shinwari’s eagerness for working hard is the typical attitude you find in all our younger players who want to improve and are all level-headed guys. One thing I always emphasise to all our players is that yes, it's fine to celebrate your good performances but then you need to forget about this for the next day so that you go out and repeat and better what you did the day before. What I instil in the players is that there is no need to look at what others are doing, but to look within yourself and to remember to compete with yourself. For example, if you have a 5-fer one day, then you must look to beat your own achievement in the next game with say a 6-fer to your name. With The Almighty’s blessings, using this philosophy, all our youngsters in the team are improving day-by-day. Players such as Usman Khan Shinwari and to be fair, all our youngsters such as Faheem Ashraf, and Shaheen Shah Afridi who has a lot of potential, provided we manage his workload and fitness in the future, continue to impress everyone with their work-ethic and talent which to me as their coach is very pleasing and satisfying.


    Mohammad Amir needs to strike with the new ball for Pakistan

    As we know, Mohammad Amir had some fitness issues during the tour of Ireland and England, but he improved after being treated by our physiotherapist. With that help, he was able to play all 3 Tests but the fact is that in his case, there is still hard work to be done to improve his fitness. We have to remember that he has come back into international cricket after an absence of 5 years and we are all working hard to improve his fitness. There is no doubt about the quality of skills that Mohammad Amir possesses and whilst he is very good with the older ball, what he really needs to do is to strike a bit more for us with the new ball. He may have been a little unlucky with dropped catches off his bowling, but we do need him to be more effective at the top of the innings. If he can strike consistently with the new ball, then it eases the pressure on the other bowlers and allows them to perform well. Needless to say, Mohammad Amir is working hard to improve his performances. Currently, there is a slight issue with his wrist position which we are looking to fix and hopefully, with this month-long break before our next assignment, he will come back as a different and more effective bowler.


    Mohammad Hafeez was asked to make way for a younger batsman

    No one can question Mohammad Hafeez’s abilities as a cricketer which have seen him put up some excellent performances for Pakistan in the past decade. However, the management felt that we need to move forward with the younger players and are treating Mohammad Hafeez as a back-up opening batsmen behind Imam-ul-Haq who has performed exceptionally well to have scored 4 hundreds in 9 ODI innings. Now, we cannot drop a player who has played so well and give his slot to Mohammad Hafeez simply as a way of giving a game to the experienced player and also, the management want to see where we stand as a team as we progress towards the 2019 World Cup. There was no other reason for Mohammad Hafeez’s exclusion from the ODI side on the Zimbabwe tour.


    Hardik Pandya has the potential to be a good all-rounder

    Having played in that role, I know that an all-rounder is always a handy option for a side in any format of the game as that gives a balance to the combination. This is especially true in Test matches. So, Pakistan use Faheem Ashraf as our all-round option who fills the slot of the 5th bowler and is also useful with the bat, very much the role that Shadab Khan also plays for us. For India, Hardik Pandya has the potential to be a good all-rounder but as he must have realised by now, it’s not easy to fulfil that role in Tests compared to the shorter formats of the game. Test match cricket is a hard format to play in, but age is on Hardik Pandya’s side and he definitely has the potential to be a good player for India in the future in all formats.


    The England versus India Test series promises to be a closely contested series

    In my view, no discussion of the ongoing Test series between England and India can be complete without a mention of Virat Kohli’s excellent batting performance in the 1st Test of the series. To me, Virat Kohli is a champion player and one of the best batsmen in the world and I was a little dismayed at the reaction of some on social media who instead of praising Virat Kohli’s special innings of 149 harped on about his catch being dropped by Dawid Malan when he was on 21! India’s problem is that like England, their batsmen are suspect against the moving ball. Of course, it is easy now to say that the rest of the Indian batting is weak but if the conditions are good for batting then the Indian batting has enough potential to ensure that this will not be a one-sided series. I do feel that once the conditions are right, this will be a tough series which is what the followers of the game want. Watching Tests in England is something special for the audiences and I hope that Virat Kohli who is a fighter will have a chat with his team, gather them and that India will come back harder and stronger in the remaining matches. Looking back at the first Test, there were mixed fortunes for both teams and no one really knew how the match would end. One does wonder what the outcome would have been had Virat Kohli stuck around in the second innings. To me, if there is one thing that the first Test has shown to all is that this will not be an easy series to win for any side and it does promise to be a closely contested series.


    Sam Curran needs to improve his pace to succeed outside England

    I have great admiration for Sam Curran who I feel has great potential. When he started his stint at Surrey, I played alongside him in a second XI game and I can tell you that he is a player who is always eager to learn. His talent was visible to all when he debuted for England against Pakistan and in the way he played against India at Edgbaston to become the youngest player to get a Man of the Match award for England in Tests. As I explained to Alec Stewart when he asked for my opinion about Sam Curran, I feel that to succeed in international cricket, he needs a to work a bit more on his pace. He bowled around the 85 mph mark in the recent game but if he can up that speed then it will help him immensely in his future games for England. I am sure he is working hard on this aspect of his game and the more cricket he plays at the top-level, his pace will improve. He is only 20 years old at the moment and whilst his current bowling speed is good for bowling in England, he will need to improve that to be a threat to the opposition when he plays away from home in places like Australia.


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  2. #2
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    Seems Hafeez will keep his place in the squad as a 3rd opener, then.


    Hai yeh Josh-e-Junoon, hai yeh apna yaqeen, ke jo tum mein hai dum, woh kisi mein nahin!

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Square Drive View Post
    Seems Hafeez will keep his place in the squad as a 3rd opener, then.
    Well this is as direct as they can get: hafeez is a back up opener.

  4. #4
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    Lots of interesting insights from Azhar.

    Everything he said about Faheem Ashraf's hunger to up his game got me really excited and I am hoping he does wonders with both bat and ball in the future. It's also great to see that the hunger is there for Usman, Shaheen and Amir as well.

    Even though he's overall played relatively meh opposition so far post CT and will play tough opposition pretty much for the rest of the year and going into 2019, so far Fakhar Zaman has been a revelation for us as an opening batsman. He doesn't get phased at all, very composed at the crease and plays a positive style of cricket. I know it's still early to say, but I can see him being a bit of a template for young, up-and-coming Pakistani cricketers in how to be a proper, productive batsman.

    Interesting in reading about Amir having a wrist position issue (I thought he had that on lock!). Hopefully that'll be fixed by Asia Cup. His bowling looks very defensive whenever I see him bowl. Some people on here question his hunger as a bowler but I for one still believe that Amir is THE bowler who has the capability to blow away sides. So hopefully, that'll be the case in future games to come.

    "Now, we cannot drop a player who has played so well and give his slot to Mohammad Hafeez simply as a way of giving a game to the experienced player and also, the management want to see where we stand as a team as we progress towards the 2019 World Cup." Reading that statement was sooo satisfying, even though Hafeez is still in the squad. Hopefully Imam has stellar performances against the top dog teams and stamps his place in the XI.

    Great read overall, and look I know we haven't faced a whole lot of tough competition but you can't deny that Pakistan cricket is in an exciting time with all of these hardworking, hungry-for-success, humble youngsters being in the fold and striving to prove themselves as cricketers. Makes the WC19 anticipation that much more crazy.

  5. #5
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    Don't think there is anything wrong with M Amir wrist position. Every time he talks about amir he says that there is some thing wrong with his wrist position and we are working on it.

  6. #6
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    Even he knows Amir is a useless bowler.


    Gangster rap made me do it.

  7. #7
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    Same issue with all these bowlers is the wrist position. End of.

  8. #8
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    Doesn’t have the ability. Performing consistently is the difference between a world class player and a decent player.

    A decent player can be world class on occasions, but they cannot produce world class performances regularly.

    Amir is elite on his day, but he has never been able to perform consistently at any point in his career.

    About time we come to terms with the reality - he is not the bowler we thought he was, and won’t reach the heights of Wasim, Imran and Waqar for Pakistan, although he can look as good on his day.

  9. #9
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    Hafeez should be discarded . We don't need a 37 year old as a back up. Liking what he said about Faheem. The next step is to improve his batting.

  10. #10
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    Azhar, as ever, is honest and considered in his views.

    Re Faheem, I hope he drumming into his head the need for better shot selection. Once he nails that, the sky's the limit.

  11. #11
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  12. #12
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    Azhar openly saying that Amir needs to start performing or he will be dropped. Hopefully, being the big game player that he is, the pressure will do him some good.

    Amir's selection rightly should not be automatic anymore. If we say that Hasan and Shinwari have booked their places to the WC, between him, Shaheen, Rumman and Junaid there's only two more spots up for grabs.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by hitthestump View Post
    Azhar openly saying that Amir needs to start performing or he will be dropped. Hopefully, being the big game player that he is, the pressure will do him some good.

    Amir's selection rightly should not be automatic anymore. If we say that Hasan and Shinwari have booked their places to the WC, between him, Shaheen, Rumman and Junaid there's only two more spots up for grabs.
    It's interesting that whilst Amir has stayed on an 'A' contract his name has slipped right down to the bottom of that particular list.

  14. #14
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    @Titan24

    Seems like Azhar agrees with you.

    If Amir is holding back then give Hassan and UKS/Shaheen the new ball for a couple of games and make Amir bowl first change. Watch Amir come roaring back.

  15. #15
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    Really need a big performance from him this season. Especially in South Africa. Having said that, we bowled South Africa out for 243 on the first day of the series when we were their last. We thing get rolled over for 45.

  16. #16
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    Yes his wicket column is not impressive. & needs to take more wickets.

  17. #17
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    Mohammad Amir is not the bowler he was back in 2010.

    Whether he reaches those heights again only time will tell.



  18. #18
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    Well if he does well in Asia Cup, we will forget all his problems in Tests....that's how it works


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  19. #19
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    are Pakistan missing Azhar Mahmood's presence for this game?


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  20. #20
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    Amur needs to be dropped.

  21. #21
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    Amir needs to go!!!!! He has totally lost it. Even Junaid will be better than him.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saj View Post
    Mohammad Amir is not the bowler he was back in 2010.

    Whether he reaches those heights again only time will tell.
    He was very lucky to be playing on supporting pitches in 2010. Extremely over rated and not as good as he is hyped to be.

  23. #23
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    Enough is enough. Drop him.

  24. #24
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    i feel sorry for amir, being a bowler in a team that can’t post a decent total and then the fans go after him! Not much you can do on a road defending 160!

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Savak View Post
    He was very lucky to be playing on supporting pitches in 2010. Extremely over rated and not as good as he is hyped to be.
    Well even on supporting pitches these days he doesn't look the same bowler.



  26. #26
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    Will Azhar Mahmood's absence affect Pakistan?

    I have heard that his nephew died and he has left for Pakistan. Do you think his absence will effect Pak bowlers as he has played on these wickets.

  27. #27
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    It seems like it is affecting them

  28. #28
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    I have heard he will be back soon . They need him for a couple of reasons

    Tell bowlers not to bowl short
    No ball issue

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by MenInG View Post
    are Pakistan missing Azhar Mahmood's presence for this game?
    Update: Fast bowling coach Azhar Mahmood has rejoined the squad in Dubai.


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  30. #30
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    Amir should be nowhere near the team unless he learns to swing the ball back into right armers consistently as much as he can take it away.

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Abdullah719 View Post
    Update: Fast bowling coach Azhar Mahmood has rejoined the squad in Dubai.
    Bad news.

    We need a proper coach who knows the ins and outs of fast bowling.

    Azhar isn't the man.

  32. #32
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    Time has come to kick him out from the team especially from Odis and tests though he can play t20is.He just doesn't look like he would pick a wicket whenever he bowls.

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hawkeye View Post
    Bad news.

    We need a proper coach who knows the ins and outs of fast bowling.

    Azhar isn't the man.
    Then who is 'the man'?

    By all accounts, Azhar has received warm praise for his work with the bowlers and his attitude and dedication are highly valued by the management.

    The only people I've generally seen opposing him are social media warriors (apparently Wahab conceding runs or bowling no-balls randomly is his fault) or the media 'journalists', who are, of course, the beacons of cricketing knowledge.


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  34. #34
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    Amir seems to have completely lost the ability to swing the ball.

    Problem has been here for a while don't know why he can't fix it. He doesn't come anywhere near the stumps over the wicket-which would help swing the ball back into right-handers. His seam presentation isn't all that good either...

    Think he should be dropped and Junaid should be brought in for remainder of Asia Cup and Shaheen Shah Afridi should play in the upcoming ODI series to be groomed for WC.

  35. #35
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    I wonder if he'll play the India game on Sunday..

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by FastBowlingAllrounder View Post
    Amir seems to have completely lost the ability to swing the ball.

    Problem has been here for a while don't know why he can't fix it. He doesn't come anywhere near the stumps over the wicket-which would help swing the ball back into right-handers. His seam presentation isn't all that good either...

    Think he should be dropped and Junaid should be brought in for remainder of Asia Cup and Shaheen Shah Afridi should play in the upcoming ODI series to be groomed for WC.
    Problem isn't that he isn't swinging the ball in the Asia Cup. The conditions are not there at all. I don't think any bowler will get swing here.
    Problem is he couldn't swing the ball or pick up wickets in NZ. Amir is better than that. Don't know what is happening to him right now.

  37. #37
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    Poor man's Ishant Sharma

  38. #38
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    I can understand giving a second chance to players like Amir after what happened in 2010, but to then give them VIP treatment like this where they keep their place despite lack of performances, that I don't understand.

    And you have this youngster Shaheen Afridi who looks like he wants a chance just to show his worth.. but he is on the bench while non performers sign autographs in the middle.

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Abdullah719 View Post
    Then who is 'the man'?

    By all accounts, Azhar has received warm praise for his work with the bowlers and his attitude and dedication are highly valued by the management.

    The only people I've generally seen opposing him are social media warriors (apparently Wahab conceding runs or bowling no-balls randomly is his fault) or the media 'journalists', who are, of course, the beacons of cricketing knowledge.
    No player would EVER say about any coach that he's bad or redundant.


    You judge things by what the players are doing, their performance, and the experience/skills of the coach.



    Bowling has been going downhill, consistently. The wickets Amir used to take, even those are dried up. Swing is effectively gone from all the bowler's arsenal. Shinwari is bowling wayward. No swing.

    Spinners are nowhere on the scene. Shadab is, but he has been ineffective so far, seems regressed.

    So, all that coaching or overcoaching is being wasted.

    He himself was not really a skilled bowler, but that can be ignored.

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hawkeye View Post
    No player would EVER say about any coach that he's bad or redundant.


    You judge things by what the players are doing, their performance, and the experience/skills of the coach.



    Bowling has been going downhill, consistently. The wickets Amir used to take, even those are dried up. Swing is effectively gone from all the bowler's arsenal. Shinwari is bowling wayward. No swing.

    Spinners are nowhere on the scene. Shadab is, but he has been ineffective so far, seems regressed.

    So, all that coaching or overcoaching is being wasted.

    He himself was not really a skilled bowler, but that can be ignored.
    Bowling was nothing special under Waqar either. I think its more the players rather than the coach

  41. #41
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    I think we're badly missing the presence of Azhar Mahmood


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