Quaid-e-Azam Trophy Team of the Season

Kamran Akmal finished as the top scorer in the Quaid e Azam Trophy . Salman Butt was also a star performerPakistan’s domestic first class competition has today come to an end following the final between Habib Bank and Water and Power Development Authority in Karachi. WAPDA’s overall victory, thanks to their first innings lead, concludes what has been a dominant season for the club, suffering just one loss. The year’s competition has provided a range of star performers, from veterans of the Pakistan Test side, too youngsters, hoping to make a case for selection over the winter. What follows is not a definitive team of the season, there were some excellent players who do not make the cut. Those who have been chosen have been selected based on their roles as match winners over the course of the season. The side is:

  1. Imam-ul-Haq
  2. Salman Butt
  3. Usman Salahuddin
  4. Asif Zakir
  5. Kamran Akmal (wk)
  6. Imran Farhat
  7. Iftikhar Ahmed
  8. Khalid Usman
  9. Mohammad Abbas
  10. Tabish Khan
  11. Mir Hamza

Imam-ul-Haq, Habib Bank Limited, 11 mat, 20 inns, 848 runs, 49.88 Ave, 3 100s.

Imam-ul-Haq, nephew of Inzamam, has had a superb season opening the batting for Habib Bank. The left hander turned 21 during the tournament and such a strong season at such a young age surely bodes well for his hopes of following his uncle into the Test arena. Imam first appeared on the international stage at the U19 world cup in 2014 and he has clearly pushed on from his success at that tournament. Immediately recognisable at the crease thanks to his spectacles, Imam has been impressively consistent for an opener, beginning the season with three scores of over 40 in his first four innings. Following a slight dip in form, Imam really began to make his mark from the Super Eight stage in mid-November. The first match of the Super Eight round saw Imam make his maiden First Class century against National Bank which he followed up in the next game against Khan Research Labs with a second innings 86, top scoring in another victory. A second hundred followed against United Bank although this match was tragically cut short due to the terrible hotel fire which left 11 dead and dozens more injured (including 2 United Bank players). Imam stared in the final and, despite losing out in the end, his 200* and opening partnership of 303 with Fakhar Zaman changed the game and put Habib Bank in the driving seat after they had conceded a first innings lead. Overall, Imam’s heroics throughout the Super Eight stage and in the final give him a deserved place in the team o the season. In the 2014 U19 world cup he opened alongside Sami Aslam, how long before they will partner up again, this time at Test level?

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Who will become the next dominant force in Test cricket?

testmaceICC CEO Dave Richardson has been heading all over the cricketing world to present his large mace to the alleged number one team. The frequency of his presentations, recently to Misbah-ul-Haq, Steve Smith and Virat Kohli has made a mockery of the ICC’s Test Rankings as it is clear that no team can currently claim to hold the top spot. It is quite unusual for there to be such an equality between so many sides but this is what we are seeing at this current time. There are no great teams that can compare to the Australia side of a decade ago or Graeme Smith’s South Africa in its pomp, but this equality can produce a superb series, as was seen by England and Pakistan in the summer of 2016.

Of the ten Test nations, five find themselves within 13 rating points of each other (the relative value of these rating points is pointlessly complicated and it is not worthwhile attempting to understand how they work. It should just be known that between the top five teams it is incredibly close). At the time of writing, before the 4th Test between India and England, the rankings read as follows:

India – 115.

England – 105.

Australia – 105.

Pakistan – 102.

South Africa – 102.

So where does the balance of power move from here? It is perhaps ominous that the current top three are the so called ‘big three’ that control the revenue of the sport and over the next few years it would be difficult to bet against India becoming, for the first time, the dominant force in Test cricket.

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