Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Letter Of The Day

From The News (courtesy Wasay).
It is indeed shocking to know through an article which appeared in your newspaper on Sept 27 titled "The Taliban and the Salarzais" by Farhat Taj that I am dead and that the ISI is responsible for my killing. It is to bring to the notice of all that I am very much alive and can be contacted on telephone no 0300-7044755. It is highly regrettable that the news of someone's death is published without verification. The writer must apologise for the trauma caused to my family and well-wishers.

Malik Munasib Khan

Spokesman, Salarzais Lashkar

Bajaur Agency

I love that he gave his cell number. That killed me.

Anyway, this video is a dedication to Mr. Malik Munasib Khan.

Orwellian Denial Of The Day

I'm actually beginning to really enjoy Rehman Malik.
Rejecting US complaints that the Afghan Taliban led by Mullah Omar were operating from Quetta, Interior Minister Rehman Malik has said there is no “Quetta shura” in Pakistan.

“Over and again this topic has been coming up. But according to us the Quetta shura does not exist in Quetta,” he said.

Anyway, on a somewhat related note, you guys should check out the excellent profile of Richard Holbrooke in this week's New Yorker. It is unfortunately not available online, except for subscribers, but I highly recommend paying the price of the magazine just for that article. Though I just realized that today is Monday, and so it has become last week's New Yorker. Try to get your hands on it anyway.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Questionable Ethics From Pakistan's Premier Media Conglomerate (Updated Below)

Look at the beautiful picture below.

Warms your heart, doesn't it? Puts you in a festive mood? Makes you think of family, and all the good times you've had with them?

Well, you wouldn't be alone. Evidently, Geo News thought all these things too. In fact, they thought them to the extent that they used the picture in their telecasts and slide-shows and whatnot, all during the Eid holidays. And really, you can't blame their taste -- it's an incredible photograph.

Here's the problem, though: it didn't belong to them. They stole it. They took it from one of our readers, Nadir Siddiqui, a photographer who had taken it and put it up on his Flickr page, and didn't credit him or Flickr. They just used it for commercial purposes, one instance of which you can see at 0:11 of this video:

This, in the civilized world, is called stealing. In Geo's world, it's called another day at the office.

I wish I had the time to dig up all the times Pakistani media organizations have treated other people's intellectual property as their own, but I don't. We've talked about this a bunch of times, but perhaps the most relevant example here is when photographer Fayyaz Ahmed's stuff was stolen by the Daily Times completely shamelessly.

Of course, this is not exactly new for the Jang Group/Geo. In my opinion, they have truly jumped the shark in the last year. They have given an op-ed column to A.Q. Khan of all people, who used the space to spout off all sorts of nonsensical opinions on Pakistan and the world. And he was evidently bitten by the plagiarism bug while working there, to the amusement of many (including us).

The News has also given space to nutty conspiracy theorist and irresponsible fool Shireen Mazari, among others. They include on their reporting staff people like Ansar Abbasi and Hamid Mir, people who regularly either make things up, or pass off their own warped opinions in the guise of news behind the cloak of anonymous sources. And this is setting aside the sensationalist and wildly inappropriate news shows and news reports one regularly finds on Geo (though they are hardly alone in this regard).

In short, Jang/Geo steal, lie, exaggerate, and bullshit as a matter of course. If they were a person in real life, you'd hate their guts, and they would have no friends. And yet somehow despite their antics, or perhaps because of their antics, their conglomerate remains the biggest in Pakistan, when you consider the combined readership of The News and Jang, and the viewership of Geo. Their empire is built mostly on the work of their employees -- most of whom are hard-working, I am sure -- but also the work of people like Nadir Siddiqui, who are neither credited nor compensated. The only possible way such blatant cheating will end is if they are named and shamed, but even then, I won't be holding my breath.

UPDATE: On the subject of Geo, anonymous sources and irresponsible "journalism", check out the Water Cooler on Shahid Masood.

Cartoon Of The Day

Reader Annie sent me this cartoon (from xkcd) and told me it reminded her of me:

Hilarious, no?

It's funny though. I mean, I've been blogging with these guys for more than three years now, and I've seen a bunch of blogs rise and die in that time. I may be wrong about this, but I think the reason that so many blogs die is the frustration bloggers get with a lack of interaction on their blogs. In other words, they don't get loads of readers first up, they get bored because they'd like people to read their stuff and comment on it, and eventually give up after a few months. Again, I could be wrong, but I think that's the major reason for the high turnover.

I know that, personally, we never really wrote for our readers. That may sound mean or ungrateful or whatever, but it's the truth. We didn't even have readers our first year, except for our close friends. In our second year, we got a few more but by no means that many. It was only in our third year where a more sizable community of people started reading us, and commenting on our posts. Seriously, just go through our archives, and notice the number of comments.

The basic point I'm making is that if you're writing for the sake of other people reading you, or other people commenting on what you have to say, you're going to end up giving up pretty soon. That's just the nature of the enterprise. I know for a fact that the three of us basically started blogging just because we liked sharing our views on public issues with each other. By the middle of our college years, all of our emails stopped being personal, in the sense that we suddenly discovered that none of our emails ever mentioned girls or families or college stories. This may sound nerdy, but our emails basically looked a lot like the blog posts you read today: some controversial broadsides on the hotbed issues of the day (I wish I could reproduce my exchange with NB on the Danish cartoons thing in 2006, but I'd rather not right now), some making fun of Shoaib Akhtar's receding hairline, and random articles from newspapers and whatnot. Eventually we thought: why not just make this stuff public?

Do I love the fact that people actually read us now, and take time out of their day to click on Rs.5. and contribute to the debates here? Absolutely. But I'd be lying if I said that's why I (or we) do this. It's a real slippery slope when you start trying to appeal to (and for) readers. I mean, if it's just readers we want, wouldn't it make sense to put up pictures of Megan Fox every day? I just think it's easier, in the long run, to just write what you think about things that interest you, and let the readership stats take care of itself.

I also can't overstate how much I love writing. I love writing. Many times, it helps me organize my thoughts. That may sound backward to some -- aren't you supposed to write once you already know what you think? Maybe so, but not always, at least for me. For me, writing often helps bring some of my unstated assumptions to the surface, forces me to confront the logic of my arguments in a serious way, and brings nuance to my ideas. In short, writing helps form my ideas just as much my ideas form my writing.

And one other thing: blogging four or five times a week has helped my academic writing immensely. Again, that may sound strange when you consider that the two styles of writing are completely different. But what blogging has done is forced me to write more simply, dispense with jargon if it is unneeded, and try to get my point across in as few words as possible. And you only get better with practice, irrespective of what you're talking about -- music, sports, Scrabble, writing.

I don't know where I'm going with this. I guess the take-home point would be there's no right or wrong reason to want to blog, but there are reasons that are more amenable to longevity in blogging, and there are reasons that are not.

As a somewhat related matter, it's always funny when people confuse why I'm studying Political Science. The most common question I get from people is, "Oh, so you want to become a politician?" Let me ask you a rhetorical question: how many politicians do you know who have PhDs in Political Science? From anywhere in the world? Yeah, that's what I thought.

There's a hilarious Facebook group for Political Science PhDs and PhD students called "No, I do not want to 'go into politics'". As some of the commenters there have mentioned, does anyone ever ask paleontologists if they want to become dinosaurs? Did anyone ever ask Jane Goodall if she wanted to become an ape? Do med students get asked if they want to become AIDS? Then why us? Why don't people get it? Why are we destined to politely say at weddings and parties and get-togethers, with a quiet laugh, "no, probably just teach and research instead"? Ugh.

I suppose there's bigger problems out there to worry about. Still, it's pissing off. So, for the sake of clarity, let me say once and for all:


(Now watch me end up as foreign affairs adviser to Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in fifteen years. That'll teach me to talk big).

UPDATE: For the record, while the cartoon is obviously from xkcd, the reader who sent this to me first saw it at Xebiliciouss.

Photograph Of The Day

For some reason, when I saw this picture on the Guardian's website, I didn't stop giggling for a solid five minutes (via Tazeen).

He looks like a kid at some museum with his parents, while on summer vacation abroad.

Photo credit: Lawrence Jackson/The White House

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Video Of The Day

This is absolutely brilliant. It is the story of Ukraine's experience in World War II -- told through sand. Yes, sand. Just watch this.

Via Greenwald.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Live Blogging Pakistan Vs. India, Champions Trophy (Indian Innings)

11:17 a.m. For the 1765383803218838th time in the last twenty years, the following words have to be said: Sachin holds the key.

11:18 a.m. I wouldn't have said that if Yuvraj was in the team, mind. Anyway, I'm popping off to get a quick bite. See you guys in about twenty minutes.

11:41 a.m. Ah. There's nothing like Lays Flaming Hot chips. I think Lays invented them for South Asians, who need spice. Anyway, eating them for breakfast might not have been the brightest thing I've ever done, but we'll see about that in four hours. If you know what I mean.

11:44 a.m. Alright, we're set to go. Sachin and Gambhir to open. I don't need to remind anyone what happened the last time Sachin batted against us at this ground, chasing a challenging total. Aamer to open.

11:45 a.m. Two slips and a gully. Gambhir to face up.

11:46 a.m. And straight away there's some bite, as Aamer bangs it in and it whizzes past Gambhir, who leaves it well alone.

11:47 a.m. Man, Aamer's really ended Sohail Tanvir's career, hasn't he? Poor guy, he barely got started and now it's already over.

11:48 a.m. And India are off with a nudge down to fine leg. Sachin to face up for the first time.

11:48 a.m. Played safely to point. Sachin has seventeen thousand ODI runs. Think about that for a second. For fuck's sake.

11:49 a.m. Ooooh. Brings it back a touch there, Aamer, and Sachin leaves it. Good first over, thus far.

11:50 a.m. Ok come on, umpire. That wasn't a wide. Whatever.

11:50 a.m. First runs for Sachin, as he works Aamer down to fine leg off his hips. 3-0 after the first over, and Rana will open the bowling from the other end.

11:51 a.m. You get one of those, Rana. A slow, short, wide ball outside off, which Sachin leaves alone. The next one's going to the boundary.

11:52 a.m. Better. Some shape away.

11:53 a.m. Again shaping away, and Sachin firmly plays it back. Rana gets a hand to it, and no run. Something's about to give here.

11:53 a.m. Ooooh. Sachin tries to work Rana off his pads down the ground, but it straightens and catches the edge. All along the ground to third man for one.

11:54 a.m. Quick single from Gambhir. Manjrekar calls Yousuf "lethargic". That's being kind.

11:55 a.m. Short, some width, four. Sachin's away. 9-0 after two.

11:56 a.m. Oh dear. Aamer drifts on to Gambhir's pads, who nonchalantly flicks him for four to deep square. I'm getting flashbacks. It's not going to happen again, is it?

11:57 a.m. Aamer struggling with his line here, drifting into Gambhir's pads again. Leg-bye brings Sachin back on strike.

11:58 a.m. And now a wide down the leg-side. As Waz says, someone just needs to calm him down. He's a good bowler. He just needs to bowl.

12:00 p.m. A single to finish, and India off to a solid start here. 17-0 after three.

12:01 p.m. Quick single to point from Gambhir. See, these are the things we simply did not do. It's the professionalization of cricket -- good young fielders, quick singles, not getting too high or too low -- that has seeped into Indian cricket in the last three or four years. We sort-of got that under Bob Woolmer but it's now back to usual for us.

12:03 p.m. Better line from Rana in this over, as he's getting closer to Sachin's off-stump.

12:04 p.m. Full toss, and Gambhir gratefully accepts. 23-0 after four, and really, India don't look too bothered by this score right now.

12:05 p.m. YEAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!! Aamer gets Sachin! Good line, moving away, great length, Sachin didn't know whether to come forward or back, played an indecisive shot, and gets a nick through to Kamran Akmal. What a wicket!

12:06 p.m. Phew, what a relief that is. Dravid in.

12:07 p.m. Two slips in, and Dravid almost chops on to his stumps first up. Aamer with his tail up now.

12:09 p.m. I definitely heard something there. Why didn't anyone appeal? I could've sworn I heard something.

12:10 p.m. Aamer settling down now. By the way, going back to the Sachin wicket, I'm amazed that Kamran Akmal didn't drop it. Anyway, Dravid smacks Aamer behind point for four, as India move on to 28-1 after five.

12:11 p.m. Some real nice shape here for Rana. I wish he wouldn't experiment with his slower balls and whatnot so much early on. Just keep doing what a regular new ball bowler is supposed to do. You're getting some swing man.

12:13 p.m. Rana continues to feed Gambhir just outside off-stump. That's the line for Gambhir. Anything even close to his pads, and this guy will murder you.

12:14 p.m. This Rana is a real clown. Now he bounces Gambhir, and bowls it so short it goes over Akmal's head for four. I knew we should've played Asif in this game. Anyway, it's 37-1 after six. I'd bring on Gullee for Rana. Don't let them get away right now.

12:16 p.m. A no-ball from Aamer, as he gets one to jump up at Dravid. Stupid free hit.

12:18 p.m. Well after much tinkering and discussion in the field, Gambhir hits it for four anyway. They don't look in the slightest bit of trouble, India. I mean, even with Sachin gone.

12:18 p.m. Ufff, Yousuf with the good stop!

12:21 p.m. 45-1 after seven. I really don't want Rana to keep bowling. But he is.

12:22 p.m. Calm down bhai. It pitched four feet outside leg stump. Maybe he was just excited that it was a dot ball.

12:23 p.m. Better over from Rana, keeping Gambhir relatively quiet. But I'd rather have Gullee, as would Bob Willis. I hate it when people I hate agree with me.

12:24 p.m. Sigh. Gambhir. Rana. Covers. Four. Idiot.

12:25 p.m. Ok, I'm confused. The score at the end of the last over was 45, there was a boundary scored, and yet the score currently stands at 48-1. Huh? Anyways, that's the score after eight overs. Aamer to continue.

12:26 p.m. Dravid works a single, before Gambhir gets caught in an ungainly pull which hit his gloves. Still races to fine leg for four. They're racing away, India. We're losing this game. I know it. We're done. Cooked. Finished. I should switch to the Barca game in half an hour.

12:27 p.m. And another no-ball from Aamer. Excellent.

12:28 p.m. Gambhir smashes the free-hit for six. And guess what? It's another no ball. Or at least that's what Steve Davis called. I'm putting this off.

12:30 p.m. It'd be nice to have a real opener like Gambhir in Pakistan, wouldn't it?

12:30 p.m. I think it's fair to say Aamer would much rather bowl to Dravid.

12:31 p.m. Dravid has now almost played on four different times. Anyway, India are 62-1 after nine overs. Please, Younis, bring in Gullee.

12:32 p.m. Rana continues, unfortunately. Ugh.

12:33 p.m. Dravid looks really uncomfortable out there, it has to be said. Can't blame him, to be honest.

12:35 p.m. Dravid, bless his heart, is the type of player all bowlers want to bowl to in ODIs (not so much tests). He gives them some respite, and allows good balls to be dot balls. Rana's fifth over is done, and India are 65-1 after ten. Gullee replacing Aamer.

12:37 p.m. Short, wide, four. Nice start, Gullee. Gambhir is going to win this by himself, he is.

12:38 p.m. Two more. Luckily the Barca game starts in 22 minutes. I wonder who Pep is going to play, what with Messi and Xavi needing a rest, and Ibra's injury.

12:39 p.m. Another no ball. Excellent.

12:40 p.m. Well, then. That's out of the ground, isn't it? Gambhir's 50 is up, from 36 balls. This has been an incredibly shoddy bowling performance from us.

12:41 p.m. They're doing this in a canter, India. Dravid's just rotating the strike and Gambhir, well, he's just smashing everything everywhere. They're 81-1 after eleven. 18 minutes to go for the Barca game. I wonder if Iniesta finally gets a start? He's had three games as a substitute. I'd play him in place of Xavi, who we'll need to start against Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League midweek.

12:43 p.m. Cricket is an incredibly stupid sport. It really is.

12:44 p.m. Wow. Gambhir actually beaten by Rana. Probably means the next one's going to the cover fence.

12:45 p.m. Gambhir looks like he's batting against an u-16 team. Even when he's not scoring.

12:47 p.m. Harsha's making fun of Rana's hair transplant. Low blow, Harsha. Or should I say that's harsh, Harsha. Hahahahaha. Anyway, just the two off the over. 83-1 after 12.

12:49 p.m. Ajmal into the attack, in the power play. Against Gambhir. This should be fun. Fielders scrambling everywhere. Ravi sounds pumped. Shut up, Ravi.

12:50 p.m. Quiet to start, as Dravid plays two dots into the leg side.

12:51 p.m. Single brings Gambhir on to strike. I can't watch.

12:51 p.m. Oooh, nice, Ajmal. Quicker, and he gets some bounce and turn, beating Gambhir. Almost a mixup on the next ball, but no harm done. Good over, just the one off it. 84-1 after 13.

12:52 p.m. Gullee on from Rana's end. Dravid gets a single, and turns it over to Gambhir.

12:53 p.m. Pads, four. This has been pathetic bowling from us. I mean, have these guys not bowled to Gambhir before?

12:54 p.m. Charges Gullee, and misses. That's the only way we'll get him, with him doing something really stupid.

12:56 p.m. GONE! Gambhir's run out! Younis with a direct hit from mid off, as Dravid calls him first, and then sends him back. What a moment! What a wicket!

12:57 p.m. You know what reminds me of? Remember Bangalore, 2005? Third test? India were chasing something huge in the fourth innings, but it actually looked like they might get there, as Sehwag flayed us to all parts. And then, very similarly, he was called from the non-strikers and then sent back, and run out from a direct fit from mid off. Actually, now that I think about it, Gambhir -- in a fit of irony -- might have been the guy to run him out. Can anyone confirm this for me?

12:58 p.m. Kohli in. 91-2 after 14, and we're back in this.

12:59 p.m. Ajmal continues, and is worked around the corner for four.

1:00 p.m. By the way, thanks a bunch, Dravid! We owe ya!

1:01 p.m. In my excitement, I forgot the Barca game started. I love the new pink uniforms. I just ordered a Pique jersey.

1:05 p.m. Gullee with another no ball, and the free hit is safely deposited by Dravid over midwicket. If we lose this game, that'll be the difference. Shoddy indiscipline. Gullee's gone for 29 runs in less than three overs.

1:07 p.m. 105-2 after 16. They need 198 in 34 overs. Easy peazy.

1:10 p.m. Sorry, my feed disappeared for an over or so there. They got five off that over. 110-2 in 17.

1:11 p.m. Well, Afridi's loosening up. Will it be his day with the ball? Well, India have always played him better than any other team, but the guys left wouldn't have played him too much (Kohli, Yusuf Pathan etc). By the way, if Yuvraj and Sehwag were playing, wouldn't this game already be over?

1:13 p.m. Who said Dani Alves can't defend? Oops, sorry, wrong sport.

1:13 p.m. Kohli works Gullee fine for four to third man. Sigh.

1:14 p.m. Ooh, almost another run out there. This time, Dravid would've been the victim. All safe though, as they close the over on 116-2 in 18. Ajmal continues with just four in the ring. This is a bad field. They're just going to milk him all day with this field. Ajmal is a good bowler bhai. Have some faith, Younis. Give him five or even six.

1:15 p.m. Tch. Two singles to start.

1:16 p.m. Well, at least Younis gives him a slip against Kohli. But what about Dravid? He hasn't looked the most assured out there, has he? Anyway, 120-2 after 19.

1:17 p.m. Afridi replaces the dreadful Gullee. Spin twins.

1:19 p.m. Ufff. Afridi beats Dravid all ends up. Good start here, with just a single off the first four.

1:20 p.m. And a good stop from Younis to keep it down to two for the over. For the first time in a long time, the required rate goes above six. 181 needed in 180 balls. The next ten or so overs will be key, with Ajmal and Afridi bowling in tandem. Will Younis give Malik a couple?

1:21 p.m. Hahaha. Messi's so cute when he gets angry.

1:22 p.m. Good over from Ajmal, just the three off it. Just pull it back, kids. Pullllll it back. 178 needed in 29 overs.

1:23 p.m. Our spinners will outbowl their spinners, but I certainly didn't expect our quick bowlers to bowl such shite.

1:24 p.m. And he's gone! Afridi gets Kohli! Gullee does a heart-stopping juggle at long off, but holds on at the end. Rush of blood there from the kid, when they really didn't need it. The game's in the balance again. Dhoni in.

1:25 p.m. Afridi beats Dravid again. Man, what a bowler Afridi's become.

1:27 p.m. Anyway, two from the over, as Pakistan put the breaks on. India need 176 more in 28 overs.

1:28 p.m. And Akmal drops a catch! Dhoni edges Ajmal, and it bangs off Akmal's pads. It was a touch catch, but Rashid would've taken it. Akmal, sadly, is no Rashid.

1:30 pm. Ajmal is a real classical off-spinner, relying on flight and guile and subtle changes of pace. Older Indians will have their hearts warmed by him, I think. Anyway, four off the over. 131-3 in 23.

1:31 p.m. Man, Dravid looks really out of sorts. Then again, I said the same about Malik about three hours ago.

1:32 p.m. And Afridi gets Dhoni! That's plumb! Dhoni walks down the wicket, misses, gets hit on the ankle in front of middle. Things falling apart for India here, as the spinners take control. Massive wicket -- Dhoni averages 50 with a strike rate of above 80. What a hero Afridi is. 133-4 now, as Raina walks in.

1:34 p.m. By the way, Malaga are a bunch of fucking thugs. And that's a goddamn penalty, ref!

1:35 p.m. And to a respond to a reader comment, yes, Afridi and Malik did indeed kiss on the pitch after that.

1:36 p.m. Malik replacing Ajmal. Strange move, since Ajmal was bowling well. Well, it's not a worse move than the Fawad Alam over in the T20 semi, so I guess it has that going for it.

1:36 p.m. 169 needed in 26 by the way. Pakistan have their noses in front now.

1:38 p.m. Our spinners are bowling a lot slower, and a lot fuller, than the Indian spinners. It's paying off. 165 needed in 25.

1:39 p.m. Finish that, Ibra! Come on man.

1:39 p.m. He finishes the next one, does Ibra. 1-0 Barca. What a ball from Messi. That's five goals in his first five games in a Barca shirt. Messi has five goals and four assists in this season so far, in about 200 minutes. Seriously, look up the numbers.

1:40 p.m. Anyway, back to cricket. Three singles in three balls this over. Come on Afridi. Turn the screws yaar.

1:41 p.m. "It looks a bit tough now, Harsha," sniffs Sanjay. Chill, yaar. Plenty of cricket left. That idiot Rana still has to bowl five more overs.

1:42 p.m. Beautiful bowling from Afridi. I say we play him as a bowling all-rounder in test cricket. They need 160 in 24 overs.

1:43 p.m. Well done Malik. A bloody no ball.

1:44 p.m. Haha. Dravid can't get it away. Poor guy, I feel really bad for Dravid.

1:44 p.m. Messi's being beaten up like one of guys in "Fight Club".

1:45 p.m. Well, this has been a goodish over for India. Seven off it, without taking any risks either. 153 needed from 23 overs. They're still very much in this, India, especially with Yusuf Pathan to come. They just need to play sensibly and not let the spinners get to them.

1:49 p.m. Afridi to continue. I really would like to see Younis have a slip in for Afridi, since he's turning it across the right-handers. He's usually an attacking captain -- I wonder what he's thinking?

1:51 p.m. Five off the over without any risks whatsoever. I hate it when fielding captains take the pressure off like this. I'm not saying go Steve Waugh gung-ho here, but have five guys in the ring yaar, for fuck's sake! They're struggling to hit boundaries and Afridi's been the best bowler on display all day. What do you think is going to happen?

1:52 p.m. Gullee back into the attack. Come on, Gullee. No no-balls this time.

1:53 p.m. Ok, that doesn't mean you bowl wides instead. Fool.

1:54 p.m. Well, that's the first boundary in more than ten overs, as Raina slices Gullee behind point for four. Gullee's been shambolic all day. It's ok, it happens to the best of them.

1:56 p.m. Stand. Deliver. Six. Hey, Younis, please take Gullee out of the attack. Permanently.

1:56 p.m. One good over, and suddenly India's task is a lot more achievable: 137 needed in 21 overs.

1:57 p.m. Oh, dear. There's dew around. Afridi continuing.

1:58 p.m. Yaar, come on Younis. Put five in the circle. They're milking your best bowler.

1:59 p.m. And Raina beautifully drives it past extra cover for four. Alarm bells, people. Alarm bells. Bring back Aamer?

2:00 p.m. Eight off it. 129 needed off 120 balls. Suddenly it's easy peazy again.

2:01 p.m. Gullee carrying on. Single to Raina off the first ball, beats Dravid outside off with his second. I don't believe Dravid is still there, by the way. Credit to him for sticking it out.

2:02 p.m. ANOTHER no ball (though replays suggest the umpire's wrong). Yaar, please Younis, take Gullee out of the attack.

2:03 p.m. Predictably, Raina hits the free hit for four. This partnership is touching fifty, in double quick time. India back in front. Well, say this for this game: it's had its far share of ebbs and flows.

2:05 p.m. Short delivery almost leads to a caught and bowled. Anyway, 122 needed from 19 overs. The last ball reminded me: why the hell aren't we bowling short to Raina?

2:06 p.m. Dravid's fifty. It'll be funny if he ends up with a hundred, won't it?

2:08 p.m. Four off Afridi's over. Quiet enough, but the Indians weren't really trying. 118 from 108 required. We need a wicket really badly.

2:09 p.m. Well, it's the drinks break, so let's take a moment to catch our breath. And while we do that, we might ponder about some of the decisions Younis has taken in the field, from persisting with Rana early on to the field placements for Afridi once Dhoni went.

2:11 p.m. We might also consider the extras. I don't remember India bowling a single no-ball. We've bowled at least half a dozen, from memory. Anyway, Shoaib Malik back into the attack.

2:12 p.m. Good start, with two dots.

2:13 p.m. Shut up, Waz. He begins talking about a maiden after two bloody balls. Raina smacks the next one for four through midwicket.

2:14 p.m. The next one is inside out, and its four more. So much for Waz's maiden. Idiot.

2:14 p.m. And that's literally out the ground. Slog sweep, and the sound from Raina's bat was beautiful. Well, not for us. But you know what I mean. 14 off the over, and India are firmly on course here. 199-4, with 104 needed off 102 balls.

2:16 p.m. Hahaha. Pique scores his second goal of the season with his first touch of the game. 2-0 after 58 minutes. At least that's going well.

2:17 p.m. Dravid's just been Dravid, man -- sensible, keeping it ticking, not giving it away. Anyway, four off Afridi's over. 100 needed off 96.

2:23 p.m. Arggh, fuck! My internet started acting funny, so I had to restart the browser, and in the meantime Ajmal apparently got Raina. I'm thrilled, but pissed I missed it. What the hell happened?

2:24 p.m. Ok, apparently it was LBW. Good on Ajmal. Anyway, the situation now is 95 needed off 85. Yusuf Pathan in.

2:26 p.m. Aamer back into the attack. Meanwhile, over in the football, the ref just booked three or four players in one go, like a yellow orgy of sorts.

2:27 p.m. This bloody Wall is still there.

2:28 p.m. Oooooh, almost. Aamer's ball stops on Dravid, whose defensive shot loops through the covers. Anyway, it's safe. Good comeback over from Aamer so far. Nothing untoward...as yet.

2:29 p.m. Good captaincy from Younis, putting a slip in for Yusuf Pathan.

2:30 p.m. Good over, Aamer. 91 needed from 78. The game's in the balance now. 50-50 as they say. By the way, have I cliched myself into Rameez Raja land? If yes, let me know, and I'll stop.

2:31 p.m. Afridi continues from the other end. I think this is either Afridi's last or second last over.

2:32 p.m. Three of three thus far.

2:33 p.m. Continue to knock it around, as it ends with six singles. Afridi ends up with the quite sterling figures of 2-39 off ten. What a stud. 85 needed off 72. Close, close.

2:34 p.m. Aamer continues. Good first ball, no run.

2:35 p.m. And he's gone! Aamer gets Yusuf Pathan, swishing outside off, as Misbah (the sub) takes a good low catch. Good on Younis keeping a slip in, and now Pakistan should win this game. 85 needed from 70, but no real big hitters left.

2:36 p.m. Harbajhan in.

2:37 p.m. Can we stand and applaud Aamer for just a second here? It would have been easy for him to completely lose the plot. Dude's 17, and was tonked around early on, and kept getting no-balled. And yet has come back beautifully in these two overs, keeping it tight and picking up a vital wicket. And don't forget Younis, who had enough faith in him to give him a slip. Kudos all round. Anyway, the equation is now 83 from 66.

2:39 p.m. Rana replaces the brilliant Afridi.

2:41 p.m. Two singles to start. Younis won't mind that. Neither will I. Again, barring anything monumental from here, this is our game.

2:42 p.m. Not if Dravid can help it. He works Rana behind square for four. This might be a close game yet.

2:43 p.m. Straight red given in the Barca game. Bunch of thugs, Malaga. I guess they're still smarting from the last time the teams met, a 6-0 thumping at the Camp Nou.

2:44 p.m. Nine off the over. Our senior pacers (Rana, Gullee) have had pathetic performances. They really have. I think we're going to see Asif against Australia. The question is: for whom? Anyway, the equation is 74 off 60. Still in with a shout, India.

2:45 p.m. That's the third shot that Dravid has simply scooped up and its fallen safely. Lucky bastard.

2:47 p.m. Brilliant bowling from Aamer. His second spell thus far 1-7 in 2.5 overs.

2:48 p.m. And just the three from that over. 232-6. 71 needed off 54.

2:49 p.m. And India take their power play. "Not a moment too soon," Harsha tells us. Rana to bowl. Yikes. India might still win this, now that I think about it.

2:51 p.m. Two to start, as Dravid drives down the ground. Followed by a single.

2:52 p.m. For some reason, Fawad is on the field. How many subs do we have out there?

2:52 p.m. Good full ball from Rana. Dot to Harbajhan. Swing and a miss to follow.

2:54 p.m. Single to follow. And complete mayhem to end. That was an easy two. It was most definitely not three. And poor old Dravid is run out. I have no idea what they were thinking there, but Dravid is not only out, but also down. He's not getting up from the ground after diving to get in. It's either cramp or a muscle pain. He finally walks off, a forlorn figure.

2:56 p.m. I love Dravid. He's such a heroic figure. So hardworking and genteel.

2:57 p.m. RP in.

2:58 p.m. My only explanation for what Harbajhan just did is that he really, really likes Gambhir (are they roommates?) and wanted to take revenge on Dravid. So he pulled a Dravid against Dravid and ran him out. That's the only possibility. That was one of the dumbest things I've ever seen in cricket.

2:59 p.m. Ajmal back into the attack.

3:00 p.m. Good over from Ajmal, just the three off it, but to be fair, he's bowling to crap players. 241-7 with seven overs to go, and this is all over bar the shouting.

3:01 p.m. Rana continuing.

3:03 p.m. This is torture, for both sides' spectators I suspect. We just want it to be over. The Indians also, presumably, just want it to be over. Harbajhan is swinging like a rusty fence, as David Lloyd would say, but not connecting. Well, at least it's slightly comical.

3:04 p.m. Uffff! Yousuf with a running catch! Now I've seen everything. RP goes, swinging Rana over to midwicket, only for Yousuf to pouch it. Well done, Maulana. Well done.

3:06 p.m. Ishant in. Harsha says India have three number elevens, but Nehra is the "elevenest" of the elevens.

3:06 p.m. Gone! Rana gets Ishant, and India giving up without much of a fight here. They need to get close to our total for NRR purposes, but it doesn't look like they'll get there. 244-9, with Rana looking to clean things up.

3:08 p.m. I think I'm going to stay away from PakPassion for a day or two. It's going to be so obnoxious that even I might find it suffocating.

3:09 p.m. Ajmal is smashed through the covers by Harbajhan. Alright, you can have that. Teri maa ki.

3:09 p.m. And Ajmal finishes things up, bowls Harbajhan who's trying to reverse sweep an off-spinner. There's a crowd invasion a la England circa 2001, and Harsha's worried about player safety. Calm down, yaar.

3:11 p.m. Well if India lose to Australia, they're out (unless we beat Oz too). Even if India beat Oz, they might still be out, especially given this is a pretty heavy defeat, by more than 50 runs.

3:12 p.m. Bowlers of the day: Afridi and Ajmal. Again. They had 4-70 between them in 20 overs. Genius stuff. We need Asif back against Oz, because what I saw from Gullee and Rana today really worried me. Don't be fooled by Rana picking up cheap wickets at the end. He bowled crap.

3:14 p.m. So well done to Pakistan, who continue the good run they started at the end of the SL tour. India have yet more questions, as they struggle with the balance of the side (what exactly is this Kohli chap adding?) and injuries to key players. Pakistan are basically though, barring some sort of mathematical miracle, and India have to beat Oz (and the Windies, who have proved to be a difficult out) and hope for the other results to fall their way. Anyways, that's it from me, I hope you've enjoyed our coverage. I will be back for our semi final (assuming we make it for sure) right here, and hope you can join me again. Thanks for tuning in.

Live Blogging Pakistan Vs. India, Champions Trophy

Hello and welcome to Rs.5's coverage of this crunch match between Pakistan and India. As always, all times are local (i.e. Chicago).

7:13 a.m. The teams: India are going with Gambhir, Sachin, Dravid, Raina, Dhoni, Kolhi, Yusuf Pathan, Harbajhan, Rp Singh, Ashish Nehra and Ishant. Pakistan's team is Imran Nazir (yikes!), Kamran, Younis, Yousuf, Umar, Afridi, Rana, Aamer, Gullee and Ajmal. On paper, India is a better team, even without Yuvraj and Sehwag. But the game's not played on paper, is it?

7:19 a.m. Pakistan have won the toss and decided to bat. I have no idea why, given India is a most assured chasing team. Maybe Younis was worried that if we had to chase, Kamran and Imran would get us off to a rollicking start of 10-2 after 3.3 overs, effectively ending the game? Who knows?

7:21 a.m. Ok, I'm getting sound on my stream but no video. What the fuck? This better get fixed quickly.

7:24 a.m. Why is the Pakistani national anthem being sung in an Italian accent?

7:25 a.m. Ok, we'll go over some rules of the road for the benefit of the Indians reading this. I'll try to be nice. But let's face it: this is Pakistan-India. You're lucky the guys I hate the most have either retired (Ganguly) or are injured (Yuvraj) are aren't being considered (Sreesanth). But try not to get offended when I get offensive.

7:27 a.m. Kashmir is ours. Nehru had an affair with Mountbatten. Vajpayee is fat, and Modi is a goddamn fascist. There.

7:28 a.m. Ravi Shastri sounds suitably pumped. "It's been a long time since there two teams met." Not really, it's just been over a year. His commentating partner is old boring and cranky Bob Willis. What, Boycott wasn't available? Imran Nazir and Akmal to walk out. Again, we get a start better than 10-2, and I'll be thrilled. Willis calls their averages "modest".

7:29 a.m. Nehra to Imran to start. Butterflies, kids. Butterflies.

7:30 a.m. And we're off! Quiet enough start, with Imran looking to work Nehra on the on-side. No run.

7:31 a.m. Great cricket. Imran smashes Nehra, gets stopped by Raina brilliantly in the covers, who almost runs Imran out scampering to the bowler's end. India will beat Pakistan by 15 runs at least in the field.

7:32 a.m. And again, though no run this time.

7:32 a.m. Nehra darting it in here. Pakistan not really getting it in the middle, and it's 1-0 after the first over.

7:33 a.m. Creedence Clearwater is playing in the background for some reason. Anyway, RP Singh from the other end. Crazy Imran to face.

7:34 a.m. Imran calmly pushes RP down the ground for four. I give him two more overs, at best.

7:35 a.m. Good running by Akmal, getting crazy Imran off strike. The less he bats, the less he can get out. Right?

7:36 a.m. And now Akmal drives RP wide off mid off for four more. I am more awake than RP is right now. He's just ambling in.

7:37 a.m. Dangerous, dangerous. Akmal slices RP through the covers, could easily have gone to any of point or cover. Anyway, two more.

7:38 a.m. RP follows with a wide. "It's worth remembering this is India's first match of the tournament," Willis gently reminds us.

7:39 a.m. Bang! Nehra serves up a long hop, and Imran smashes him off the back foot through the covers. Four more. Could this turn out to be an inspired selection? (No)

7:41 a.m. Ooooooh. Close, there. Nehra gets Imran swinging across the line. Just missing leg in my view. But mighty close.

7:41 a.m. Of course, crazy Imran tries an audacious, some would say batshit crazy, hook shot. Sigh.

7:42 a.m. Eventful over, five off it. 18-0 after three, and we've already exceeded my expectations. Well done guys. Seriously, no sarcasm there. Well done.

7:43 a.m. Oye, hoye, hoye! Crazy Imran played a forward defensive shot! Bloody hell. I'm impressed. Who taught him that shot, and when?

7:44 a.m. Wow dude. Imran punches RP down the ground, off the back foot, for four. Whisper it, but that was Sachinesque. Hardest shot in cricket to play, the backfoot drive.

7:45 a.m. Works RP off his hips for two behind square. Well, you can't really complain about this start, can you?

7:46 a.m. Readers who are aware of places to get streams should please help their fellow readers floundering aimlessly in the comments.

7:47 a.m. And now through the covers off the back foot. This might just be Imran's day. 10 off the over, and we move on to 28-0 after four.

7:47 a.m. There was a very enterprising email exchange prior to this match. Suffice it to say if Crazy Imran continues like this, I will owe apologies to Farooq, Faraz and Raza.

7:48 a.m. Hahaha. Stupid Crazy Imran, trying another crazy shot. Holes out to mid-on. Predictable as the sun rising in the east, that. Idiot. Dumbass. Dipshit. Choot.

7:49 a.m. Younis in.

7:51 a.m. So things settling down here, which allows me to broach the Crazy Imran debate. Proponents will argue that because he scored a quickfire 20, he's valuable. I would argue if you put a guy like Malik, who's more likely to score a sedate 30, you're less likely to be a wicket down in the fourth over. "He's blown a golden opportunity," Ravi tells us. Not really. Crazy Imran never has golden opportunities to score, because Crazy Imran is crazy. Anyway, we're 33-1 after 5. Younis hasn't faced yet, but will now face up to Ishant, who's replacing RP early.

7:53 a.m. And straight away on target, cramping Younis up. I'm very, very impressed by Ishant, I have to say. India finally have a real fast bowler -- pace, bounce, swing. It only took them 60 years, but congratulations guys. Seriously, well done.

7:54 a.m. Needs a haircut though.

7:55 a.m. And Younis gets off the mark, as Ishant serves up a gift, and Younis accepts, glancing him fine for four. Well, the runs are still flowing.

7:56 a.m. And four more, this time through the covers off a long hop. I have to say, this is a good pitch, yes, but India have bowled absolute crap so far. Short and all over the place. Eight boundaries in six overs so far. That won't get it done.

7:57 a.m. Oooooh. Younis drives uppishly, and just gets it past Dravid at short cover. Ravi almost came there. Calm down bhai. Anyway, 42-1 after six.

8:00 a.m. Ok, my stream has disappeared for a second. Nothing exciting better happen.

8:01 a.m. Ok, apparently Akmal pulled Nehra for four.

8:01 a.m. Akmal looks good. He's middling it, placing it, timing it, and -- most importantly -- is displaying good shot selection. The whole aggressive vs. smart dichotomy is a false one, set up by Crazy Imran types and their followers. You can be both. Anyway, we're 51-1 after seven. Harsha and Waz into the commentary box.

8:04 a.m. Harsha points to the fact that India have only four frontline bowlers, and will rely on Yusuf Pathan and Raina to bowl ten between them. As he says, what that means is that none of the frontline bowlers can have an off day. World, meet RP Singh. Anyway, quiet over from Ishant, just the one off it. 52-1 after eight.

8:07 a.m. Waz sounds genuinely depressed because of Crazy Imran. I would too, but you can't be depressed if you have no expectations.

8:09 a.m. So things settling down here, as Ishant and Nehra hit some good lines, as they say.

8:10 a.m. And he's gone! Against the run of the play, that. Akmal tries to cut Nehra, and plays on. On this pitch, where it's staying a touch low, that will be a valid form of dismissal throughout the day. Big wicket there, Kamran was honestly looking pretty good. 53-2 after 8.5, and suddenly, we're one wicket away from a very dicey situation. Malik in.

8:11 a.m. Quick poll: would you have sent Yousuf out here? Or, to be really ballsy, Umar Akmal?

8:12 a.m. "The gunslingers have gone now," Harsha states the obvious.

8:13 a.m. For those looking for streams, some readers are filling up the comments with suggestions.

8:14 a.m. Oh God. Harsha and Waz are talking about the last time these two teams met on this ground. One of my worst memories ever. To be fair, when a champion player like Sachin plays like he did that day, there's not much you can do. That's one of the three or four greatest ODI innings I've ever watched when you consider everything -- the opposition bowling, the bigness of the game, the pressure, everything.

8:16 a.m. Hey guys, why don't you just talk about Bangalore 1996 instead? Bastards. Anyway, things really slowing down here, as Ishant bowls a maiden to Younis. 53-2 after ten.

8:18 a.m. We've scored two runs in the last 3.3 overs. For whatever it's worth.

8:19 a.m. Nehra bowling well here, keeping it tight. Anyway, let's talk about the type of score Pakistan would be happy with. Given it's India, and given they're an awesome chasing team, I say we need at least 315. Odds are, we won't get there. So say we get 270 odd. Would you bet on our bowling or India's batting, sans Yuvraj and Sehwag? Hmmm.

8:21 a.m. You know who I really miss? Abey Kuruvilla. Anyway, 54-2 after eleven. Ishant to continue.

8:24 a.m. Alright guys, it's all very well to be safe, but you need to at least look for singles. I'm surprised I have to tell Younis and Malik this, since they're the two best in our team at getting quick ones and twos, but there you go.

8:25 a.m. You can see Malik starting to get edgy. Another maiden from Ishant, and it's 54-2 after twelve. Slowed to a crawl here. The run rate has dropped to four and a half.

8:26 a.m. If you want to see the definition of "not getting a joke", please read reader Sandy's comment to this post. Anyway, we're 3-1 in the last five overs. Good times.

8:27 a.m. Ah, RP's back to relieve the pressure! A wide and a two to deep square to start. Thanks, RP!

8:29 a.m. Great fielding from Raina in the covers. Stops a certain boundary. Why the hell are young Indians SO much better in the field than young Pakistanis?

8:29 a.m. Ooooooh. Younis almost gives a dolly back to RP. They're trying weird shots here because they can't get singles. If one of them throws away their wicket here, this will be the self-inflicted wound to end all self-inflicted wounds. Anyway, three off the over. 57-2 after 13.

8:31 a.m. People, please keep it relatively clean in the comments. I really don't have the time to police the comments, I'm already struggling to keep up with everything. Just be nice, ok?

8:33 a.m. Number of overs it took to get to 50: seven. Number of overs we stayed in the 50s: six.

8:35 a.m. India are bowling well, but come the fuck on man. Doesn't mean you can't get four an over just by being smart and running hard.

8:36 a.m. Younis carves Ishant to point for four. Ok, it's a boundary, but I'd still like to see more tap-and-runs here. Anyway, we're 64-2 after 14. The partnership is a rollicking 11 off 32 balls.

8:39 a.m. And RP Singh, of all people, gets Younis, who feathers a touch to MS Dhoni behind him. That's what pressure does to you. That was a nothing delivery -- what got him was the slowed scoring rate, and the fact that they couldn't rotate the strike. Bloody hell. Trouble now, as we're 65-3 after 14.4. Real trouble.

8:41 a.m. If we lose a wicket in the next fifteen overs, we're losing this game. Mark my words. Anyway, Yousuf in.

8:42 a.m. I really shouldn't have made fun of RP earlier. I think I deserve some blame for Younis' dismissal.

8:43 a.m. Safe enough start, as Yousuf knocks RP (coming round the wicket) to square leg. No run.

8:43 a.m. And that's the over. 65-3 after fifteen. Safe to say, I think, that India are bossing this game at present.

8:44 a.m. Goddamn, Ishant is one ugly dude.

8:45 a.m. Is that Malik's first boundary? Don't recall him hitting one earlier. Anyway, he late cuts Ishant fine to third man, first for four, then for one.

8:48 a.m. Yousuf looks so assured at the crease, man. I mean, I don't want to curse him or anything, but he always looks so safe.

8:50 a.m. So this game is really going India's way now. 71-3 after 16, as they put the stranglehold on. The one saving grace for us is that their backup bowling, as mentioned earlier, is thin. But will we have the batting left to take advantage of it? One more wicket here, and we're fucking doomed.

8:51 a.m. Bloody RP has his tail up now. Yaar, he was feeling shit about himself and had given 21 in his first two. Now he's darting it in and bowling quicker. Brilliant. This is what you did, Younis.

8:53 a.m. Four dot balls to start. Fuck me.

8:54 a.m. This is genuinely painful to watch. Malik has no idea what he's doing.

8:54 a.m. And another maiden. 71-3 after seventeen. Are we aiming for 200? No, seriously, is that the score that was discussed in the team meeting before? Or have we thrown this game for money?

8:55 a.m. Virat Kohli? Um, ok. If he gets a wicket here, Dhoni is a genius. If he releases the pressure, I'm sending Dhoni a thank you card.

8:56 a.m. This guy's bowling like Saleem Malik. Anyway, Nick Knight and Sanjay Manjrekar posit that he's bowling now because this is time to get your crappy bowlers out of the way. My view on this is that when the opposition is struggling, and you need just one more wicket to really have them in trouble, you don't take your foot off the throat.

8:58 a.m. Solid enough, with five singles. I'll take that, and I suspect, so will Dhoni. 76-3 after eighteen.

8:59 a.m. Yusuf Pathan in from the other end, while Harbajhan chews his nails. Well, it's an interesting move, that's for sure. If Pakistan somehow end up with a good score, Indian fans will look at this double change -- Kohli and Yusuf -- as the turning point.

9:01 a.m. Of course, Malik is in no mood to score runs today, so it's working out okay for Dhoni.

9:01 a.m. Well played Malik. Really solid. You take your time with this one. You take your time. Choot. 77-3 after 19.

9:02 a.m. "They're allowing part time bowlers to bowl," Ravi tells us. Yup.

9:04 a.m. Well a goodish shot from Malik that should have gone for two to extra cover goes for four because RP is a bad fielder. Whatever. I am not going to celebrate Malik's runs. I'm just going to state calmly for the record what happened, and move on. Idiot.

9:05 a.m. Nine off the over. 86-3 after 20.

9:06 a.m. Well played, Malik! Keep blocking a part time off spinner to the inner ring! Shabaash yaar. What a player you are. What a hero.

9:07 a.m. Aha! The classical forward defensive shot. What grace you are displaying under pressure, Malik! What a superstar you are!

9:08 a.m. One off the over. 87-3 after 21. Yusuf has given two runs in two overs.

9:08 a.m. Yousuf picks Kohli up over midwicket for four. Yousuf is playing well, and pacing himself. Malik is a goddamn choot. Big difference there.

9:09 a.m. Hahaha. Ravi calls Akram "Waz" who returns the favor by calling him "Shaz". Remember their godawful show on ESPNStar, called the Shaz and Waz show, when they went around grounds like a couple of old hornballs, chatting up ostensibly hot women who were actually nothing but? Yeah.

9:10 a.m. Seven off the over. 94-3 after 22.

9:12 a.m. I hate Shoaib Malik. From the bottom of my heart, I hate him. May his balls be crushed by an alligator's jaw.

9:14 a.m. 99-3 after 23. Just knocking bloody part-timers around.

9:14 a.m. RP brought back, replacing Kohli, who was hit around a little bit.

9:15 a.m. Again, Yousuf looks good. I just wish he had a real partner here. This is basically the cricket equivalent of the Portia de Rossi-Ellen Degeneres lesbian relationship, where one partner is basically on another planet.

9:17 a.m. Four singles off the first five. Ok, not bad. Ravi, by the way, thinks 260/270 will be competitive. I'm not so sure. Didn't we say the exact same thing six years ago, on that fateful day?

9:18 a.m. That bloody annoying Black Eyed Peas song is playing in the background. Ugh. Anyway, four off the over, and we move on to 103-3 after 24.

9:19 a.m. Yusuf Pathan continues. To be fair to him, he's bowled well. But Malik has played him absolutely terribly. I mean, really.

9:20 a.m. Ufff! Malik advancing down the pitch against Yusuf! Of course, he doesn't actually get a run off it, because he's a terrible player and a terrible person. But at least he looks like he's woken up.

9:21 a.m. Five off the over, as these two just knock singles around the open areas. Typical middle-overs stuff here. 108-3 after 25. What say you, readers? Can we get 280? I say no.

9:22 a.m. Harbajhan in. Teri maa ki!

9:22 a.m. Where's Symonds when you need him?

9:23 a.m. First one stays low. Yousuf refuses an easy single. Good times.

9:24 a.m. Quiet start. Two off the first four balls. By the way, why don't we just take the power play now? Dhoni wouldn't want to bring his pacers on, trying to keep them for the end. The batsmen have settled in a little bit. Isn't this the absolute right time to do it, and get some momentum going? I mean, we'll score off the last ten anyway (if we have wickets in hand that is). Anyway, four off the over. 112-3 after 26.

9:26 a.m. Malik continues to treat Yusuf Pathan like Jim fucking Laker.

9:27 a.m. Anyway, the fifty partnership is up, off 72 balls. Ok, not terrible when you see the numbers like that. It's just that they've been facing average bowling for the most part, and should have done more. Anyway, if they bat until the 35th over, then it would've been worth it. Five off the over, 117-3 after 27.

9:28 a.m. Harbajhan continues. Kohli stops a certain four off a Malik sweep, at short fine. These bastard guys. Field like us for a while, will you?

9:30 a.m. Waz tells us that he was once in a team with nine former captains. We're Pakistan, and we're proud.

9:31 a.m. Ah, we needed that. A wide down the leg side, and it goes for four byes too. By the way, India have been very disciplined. I don't remember a single no-ball, and I think there's been only one or two wides. Anyway, 8 off the over. 125-3 off 28.

9:32 a.m. Goddamn Kings of Leon playing "Sex on Fire" on the PA. One of those bands that sound good until you hear them more than five times. Then they're boring and one-dimensional. And their vocalist has an annoying voice.

9:33 a.m. I wish I had something to describe here, but this is typical middle-overs-of-an-ODI stuff. The batsmen are content scoring five an over. The fielding side is content to concede five an over. And so there's an equilibrium. Anyway, four singles off this over, and we move on to 129-3 off 29. We need at least 280 to have a chance against this batting lineup.

9:35 a.m. Harbajhan continues. Alright, from India's perspective, I'd think about bringing Nehra or Ishant back for a quick two-over spell. If one of them gets Yousuf here, they're firmly on top. As things stand, we're working our way back into this game, being helped of course, by Harbajhan bowling two wides in a row.

9:38 a.m. I really don't understand why we don't take the power play right now. If you're waiting for Afridi, understand that a guy like him would score quickly with or without boundary fielders. But the marginal value added of no boundary fielders is enormous for a guy like Yousuf. Come on, Younis. Think out of the box here, yaar. You don't have to take it in the last ten, you know that right?

9:40 a.m. Anyway, Dhoni agrees with my previous suggestion and brings back Nehra. We've moved on to 134-3 after 30, by the way.

9:41 a.m. Yousuf just gently caresses Nehra behind point for two. What a beautiful player to watch, Yousuf. Does he ever look like he's trying?

9:42 a.m. Oooh, Yousuf slashing at one too close to him. That was close. By the way, Bob Willis informs us that Malik's strike rate is below 50. Good times.

9:43 a.m. Who do you think is hated most in Pakistan right now: George Bush, Asif Zardari or Shoaib Malik?

9:44 a.m. Five off the over. 139-3 after 31. Time to switch from third gear into fourth gear, folks. We have Umar Akmal waiting.

9:45 a.m. Yusuf replaces Harbajhan at this end, and immediately bowls a dot ball to Malik. Malik then follows by charging him and trying an ungainly pull, which goes for one to deep midwicket.

9:46 a.m. That's how you bat, Malik. God, Yousuf is orgasmic. Four to third man with a delicate late cut, giving us our first boundary in more than ten overs. For some reason, Harsha calls Yousuf's batting "very polite, acceptable...very middle class". I have no idea what the fuck he's talking about. Anyway, eight off the over, and we're 147-3 in 32.

9:47 a.m. On the subject of class, I'm sure our Indian readers who are less aware would like to know that Yousuf in fact grew up desperately poor. His father was the sweeper at the rail station in Lahore.

9:49 a.m. I want to have a threesome with Yousuf and Lionel Messi. Just thought I'd throw that out there.

9:50 a.m. Speaking of Messi, Barca are playing Malaga at 1pm today. This is going to be very challenging.

9:50 a.m. And now Malik late cuts Harbajhan for four. India have problems here, in the sense that they allowed Malik and Yousuf to get away when they had them in their grasp. Seven off the over, and we're up to 154-3 after 33. The final drinks break.

9:54 a.m. There are 17 overs to go, of which 11 can be bowled by India's pacers. The other six overs will be the key. Harbajhan has looked off-key, and Yusuf Pathan and Kohli can't be relied to be super economical. Can they?

9:56 a.m. The first ball after the drinks break is delightfully late cut by Yousuf for four. What a player. By the way, my idiot friend Farooq wanted Yousuf to be dropped for this game. Seriously.

9:57 a.m. My stream's acting weird. Does Farooq have some weird karmic power with the internet gods? If so, I'm sorry dude. I shouldn't have called you an idiot in public. My bad.

9:55 a.m. 166-3 after 34, so ten came off that over. The sound's disappeared but at least I have video. And frankly, Bob Willis is not worth listening to anyway.

9:59 a.m. And Yousuf's fifty is up! What a player! Harbajhan continuing, by the way.

10:00 a.m. Quiet over, that. 169-3 after 35. Alright, Younis, can we PLEASE take the power play now? For the love of God man. This could be the difference between 265 and 285. Come on dude.

10:01 a.m. Ishant back into the attack, with the mandatory ball change. Key moment, this.

10:01 a.m. Short, wide, four. Alrighty, then. Malik has raised his 50 with that shot.

10:02 a.m. Short, less wide, one.

10:03 a.m. And now Yousuf gets a single. Keep the momentum going, guys.

10:03 a.m. Ok, then. Malik slashes a wide one for four more, similar to the first ball. Well played Malik. Seriously. No jokes, you've done well.

10:04 a.m. Ishant coming round the wicket, after ten have been taken off his first four balls here.

10:05 a.m. A couple of comments about the blog format have come in. One person asking for automatic updates. Fat chance. Another asking for reverse order blogging, so updates show up on top. To be honest, I tried that once, and it's really annoying and difficult to reversing it back when the game's done. Sorry guys, I wish I was better at this technology stuff. If any techno folks have suggestions, please email us at fiverupeesadminATgooglegroupsDOTcom before the next match, and I'll try to take care of it.

10:06 a.m. And another four to third man, and that's a big over. 14 off it, and we're suddenly at 183-3 after 36.

10:07 a.m. Harbajhan continues. Nick Knight sounds overawed by Yousuf. He's almost gushing. Yup, he's that good, kids. Pity about that ICL bullshit.

10:08 a.m. A good over by Harbajhan is ruined as Malik cuts him for four off the last ball. Seven off it, and we're 190-3 after 37. You know we're doing well once Waz starts yelling in the commentary box.

10:09 a.m. You can actually feel Waz's heart rate rise through the air waves. I love biased commentators.

10:10 a.m. RP replacing Ishant. Yousuf glances hard for two.

10:11 a.m. And now a beautiful pick up over mid-off for four. It's effortless, man. It's bloody effortless.

10:12 a.m. 300 is on the cards, gents.

10:12 a.m. India have bowled well for precisely one little spell in this game so far: from about overs 5-15, when Ishant and Nehra settled in. Other than that, they've been average. Their lengths have been all over the place, and they've bowled both sides of the wicket. Anyway, our 200 is up at the end of the 38th over. 32 balls for the last fifty runs. So yes, when I asked at 9:44 to slip into fourth gear from third, looks like they heard me.

10:14 a.m. Harbajhan to continue.

10:15 a.m. Two dot balls followed by a rubbish ball. Wide of off stump, and Malik cuts him for four more. He's been off today, Harbajhan.

10:16 a.m. Malik almost decapitates Yousuf, smashing Harbajhan down the ground after charging. Great fielding on the boundary keeps it to two. India have saved 15 runs in the field, easily. We'll leak 15 runs, easily. So we'll have to make up the difference with our batting and bowling. Anyway, eight off the over, and we're 208-3 after 39.

10:17 a.m. Before our fans start getting overly excited, this is a flat, slow pitch. Indian makes 350 on these pitches for fun. Just keep that in mind.

10:19 a.m. Bach gaya, saala. RP bowls short and wide, but Yousuf misses it. Should've been four, that.

10:19 a.m. I wasn't listening closely, but I am positive that Waz just said "this is the booty of this format."

10:20 a.m. Another short and wide one for no run, this time from Malik. That's two in this over now.

10:21 a.m. Aha! What an inventive shot from Malik. A full toss outside off would usually be driven. Instead, Malik guides it behind point, almost an open-face cut off the front foot. Needed that boundary.

10:22 a.m. Four more! Dhoni had put in two points for Malik, and he still gets it past them, and yet squarer than the sweeper on the off side. Nine off the over, and we've raced to 217-3. The 150 partnership is up. Bloody hell, that was quick.

10:23 a.m. Yusuf Pathen replaces Harbajhan. By the way, 83 have come off the last ten.

10:24 a.m. Hahaha. Waz is so excited. Bless his heart, Waz. He's out Sidhu, except he could actually play in his day.

10:24 a.m. And another cut from Malik from four. He's really peppered that off-side fence, between third man and cover. Eight off the over, and our score is 225-3. Nine overs to go.

10:26 a.m. The partnership is basically a run a ball, which is really saying something after the start they had. Nehra replaces RP.

10:28 a.m. Alright, let's take a quick stock of the situation. You'd back us to get 300 at this point, barring an almighty collapse. Will that be enough? Well, our quick bowling will be better than India's. But India's openers will be be, um, just slightly better than ours. If they get a good start, then that'll take the steam out of our attack, and they can canter. Or maybe I'm being too paranoid, and 300 will be enough. Who knows?

10:30 a.m. Nehra's bowled well here, coming back. Just four runs off the first five balls of the over. He's easily been India's best bowler today. Makes you wonder where the hell he went all those years.

10:31 a.m. What the hell was that? Nick Knight called it a "swat". I call it the worst hook shot ever played. Anyway, Malik gets a single to finish the over, and we're 230-3 after 42. Be honest, Pakistanis: you want one of these to get out now, don't you? It's time for Umar Akmal, isn't it?

10:32 a.m. Harbajhan back into the attack. Say this for Dhoni: he doesn't half keep things changing. Malik taps for one into the leg side. Harbajhan is coming round the wicket, by the way.

10:33 a.m. Judging by the dried up comments section, I would suggest that our readers are now actually captivated by the cricket itself.

10:34 a.m Quiet over so far. A wide and four singles.

10:35 a.m. ANOTHER cut behind point for four brings up Shoaib Malik's hundred. Would you believe it. Go back and read the crap I was saying about him two hours ago. I'm sorry, Malik bhai. I'm sorry.

10:36 a.m. 241-3 after 43. Crunch time here.

10:37 a.m. I want to have babies with Yousuf's drives through the off-side. That's four more, and suddenly Nehra's under pressure.

10:39 a.m. Ooooh. Chance there. Malik flays Nehra to Kohli, who had jump high to get a hand on it. Think Collingwood and Hayden from 2005, but this one didn't stick.

10:40 a.m. Man, I don't know what Malik had in that last drinks break, but he's gone insane here. Now he smashes Nehra down the ground for four more, giving us 11 for the over. 252-3 with six overs left. And a power play, don't forget.

10:41 a.m. Yousuf reverse-sweeps Harbajhan for two. By the way, won't it be hilarious if Younis forgets about the power play?

10:42 a.m. Harbajhan is serving up rubbish here. Rank long hop there, and Yousuf just deposits him over cover for four. I could have hit that shot. India will be disappointed with their bowling effort here, no doubt about it. I know it's a good batting pitch, but they haven't done their part.

10:44 a.m. Another reverse-sweep to end the over, for a single. Nine off the over, and it's 261-3 with five overs to go. I haven't yet seen the signal for the power play.

10:44 a.m. Ok, now I have. This is it, folks.

10:45 a.m. The partnership is touching 200. "Now the problem Dhoni has is: who is he going to use in the power play?" Ravi says. Yup.

10:46 a.m. Nehra to Yousuf, and it's a single first up. Ok, quick question: if we lose a wicket now, would you send in Afridi or Umar? I say Umar. He's a real cricketer, unlike Mr. Boom Boom.

10:47 a.m. Another single. Nehra mixing it up well here. Can you imagine what score we would have had with no Nehra?

10:48 a.m. Sorry, that last one was a two. My mistake. This ball is also a two, as Malik works Nehra to third man. 200 partnership is up.

10:49 a.m. Yousuf swivels and flicks Nehra to four to deep midwicket. Again, I would remind the Pakistanis out there: the Indians eat these pitches for breakfast. Don't think that 300 is super safe. Far from it.

10:50 a.m. And he's gone! Nehra bowls it in the blockhole, and Yousuf is bowled. Out comes Boom Boom, and the crowd, predictably, goes insane. This is make-or-break stuff.

10:50 a.m. Afridi walks to the wicket like he owns the fucking ground, like some seth in his village. Hahahaha. I love Afridi. Anyway, it's 271-4 with four overs to go. Yusuf Pathan to continue.

10:52 a.m. Two dot balls by Malik to start up. Come on, yaar.

10:52 a.m. A two and a single brings Afridi on to strike. Well, then.

10:53 a.m. Gives himself room, inside out, four over cover. "Boom boom on his way," Ravi says.

10:54 a.m. And now he's actually on his way. Hahahaha. I can't even describe that shot, but I can tell you Afridi is caught behind. Just the seven off the over, and Umar Akmal in. Three overs to go, 278 is the score. We need at least 300. Come on, guys.

10:55 a.m. Malik drives Nehra to cover for four. Follows with a hoik over midwicket for a boundary. This has been some innings from Malik. God, I can barely remember the player who poked and prodded for a strike rate of 25 in the early part of his innings.

10:57 a.m. Two to wide long on. 10 off the three balls here. Umar Akmal is a racehorse between the sticks.

10:57 a.m. A single brings Umar on to strike. "What a talent he is," gushes Ravi. Yup.

10:58 a.m. Ooops. First ball duck for Umar, as he tries to deposit Nehra somewhere in Madagascar, but succeeds only in getting a touch to Dhoni. Feel bad for the kid. I mean, what're you supposed to do with two bloody overs to go? Rana in.

11:00 a.m. Gets two off his first ball. 291-6 with two overs to go. Quick question: whose hair transplant is funnier, Nawaz Sharif's or Rana's?

11:01 a.m. Harbajhan to bowl the penultimate over. Malik gets a single down the ground off the first ball. Rana smashes the next one to mid off for four.

11:02 a.m. Good reply from Harbajhan with a yorker. Rana tries a slog sweep next ball, gets an edge, and gets two down to fine leg.

11:03 a.m. A single off the next ball gets Malik back on strike. Harbajhan bowls a wide, trying to get Malik down the legside. 300 up.

11:04 a.m. And Malik holes out to long on, trying to hit boundaries. What an innings. I feel really stupid for my comments earlier. I'm sorry, Shoaib bhai. I promise I won't talk bad about you again. Until the next match, this is. Gullee in, with one over to go and the score an even 300.

11:05 a.m. Ishant to bowl the last over.

11:06 a.m. An ungainly hoik gets an edge and ends up to third man for one. Gullee now on strike.

11:07 a.m. A swing and a miss. Gullee is such a cartoon with the bat. Malik made 128 by the way.

11:07 a.m. And now Gullee's gone, edging Ishant to point. We've had a really bad last three overs, no question about it. We should have ended up with 315-320. We'll be lucky to get 305. Aamer in.

11:09 a.m. Rana gets a single to deep square. Two balls to go, the score's 302.

11:10 a.m. And Aamer chips Ishant to mid-on. Bloody hell. We've lost 6 wickets in the last four overs.

11:11 a.m. And a dot ball to finish. So Pakistan close on 302-9, and set India a challenging score, but one they should get on this pitch if they bat well.

My synopsis of the innings: the first three got starts, but Crazy Imran played a ridiculous shot, Akmal chopped on, and Younis played a nothing shot. Malik was very scratchy early on, but Yousuf was silky good throughout. Slowly but surely, though, they picked up momentum and Malik in particular hit another gear. A 200 partnership put us in the box seat, before we lost our way in the last five overs. We might be about 15 runs light, but we shall see.

I will be starting a new post for the Indian innings, to ensure that you don't have to scroll down that far. You can click here for that post, or alternatively go to the main page for the blog.

Programming Note: Liveblogging The Pakistan-India Champions Trophy ODI

Remember, kids: I will be liveblogging the Pakistan-India game tomorrow. Make sure to tune in, it'll be fun.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Pondering The Three Selection Dilemmas Pakistan Faces On Saturday

From the team that beat the West Indies, there are eight guaranteed starters: Kamran Akmal (he's the keeper and opener), Malik (played ok but not spectacular), Yousuf (after Umar Akmal, looked the most assured of our batsmen before getting an atrocious decision), Umar Akmal (the most transcendent batting talent to come out of Pakistan since Inzi in 91), Afridi (the ultimate x-factor and now senior statesman), Aamer (whisper it, but he's our best quick bowler now), Gullee (the guy we'll need at the death to bowl yorkers) and Ajmal (a guy we'll need to strangle the middle overs on the pancake Centurion track). That leaves three slots: two batsmen and a bowler or bowling all-rounder.

The first issue is who goes out for the now-fit Younis Khan. Most sane and reasonable people -- such as myself -- would argue that it has to be Imran Nazir, a man who averages less than 20 outside the subcontinent when playing non-Bangladesh/Zimbabwe teams. He looked ridiculously shoddy in his brief stay against the Windies. He has no brain, no technique, no sense of shot-selection, no foot movement, and no idea, really, of how to bat at the international level. So I would drop him, promote Malik to opening, and put Younis at three.

There are a couple of objections to this change. The first is that Malik hasn't been particularly successful as an opener himself, so we're really not solving the opener problem and, furthermore, that Imran Nazir is more likely to come off on a batting-friendly wicket against a subcontinental team. To that I say: we can't keep waiting around for Imran Nazir to come good, and that there is no way Shoaib Malik will do worse than Imran, probabilistically speaking.

The second objection is more serious. The argument is that there are actually two completely useless batsmen in Pakistan's top six -- Imran Nazir and Misbah-ul-Haq -- but only one of them wastes a lot of time at the wicket being a bad batsman. In other words, Imran Nazir is crap, but at least he's quickly crap. To be honest, I am broadly sympathetic to this argument. Misbah looked really out of sorts against the Windies, as well as in Sri Lanka recently, as well as in the T20 World Cup. He doesn't look like scoring, and he can't even rotate the strike to let others do the scoring. So this then is the second dilemma: irrespective of Younis' fitness, what to do about Misbah?

I would bring in Fawad Alam. I don't understand why he's not an automatic starter for Pakistan in all formats of the game in the first place. He has a good head on his shoulders, can run quickly between wickets, is an outstanding fielder, and can even turn his arm over (as long as he's not given one over in a crucial time in a T20 World Cup semi final). Okay, he's not a massive hitter. No big deal. He can play the quiet accumulator role, and he can certainly do so better than Misbah. And we have plenty of guys who can hit boundaries, either with nice strokeplay (Younis, Yousuf) or crash, bang, wallop (Kamran, Afridi) or a bit of both (Umar Akmal). He should play at number five.

The third and final dilemma is probably the hardest: do we bring back Mohammad Asif? I have gone over this decision and changed my mind at least twenty times. In fact, I am confident I will change my mind as soon as I post this. Here are the facts: he hasn't played international cricket in 18 months, there's no indication he's in brilliant form or anything, the Indian batting -- even without Sehwag and Yuvraj -- is brutal to bowl against on batting pitches, and the guy he will ostensibly replace (Rana) has done nothing wrong. Again, no one can dispute these facts.

And yet...

I must admit, even as the most rational of rational observers, my heart flutters a little bit when I think about the new ball in Asif's hand. His record against India -- in both test cricket and tamasha cricket -- is excellent. More important than statistics and figures is the match-winning potential Asif holds. Bless his heart, but Rana is never going to turn a game. Asif has turned games for fun, in all formats.

I completely understand the objection that the past doesn't matter, simply because the past -- in Asif's case -- is so long ago. But understand this: there is something special about Asif. He is a rare talent. People like him come once a generation. Imran Khan called him the biggest quick-bowling talent in Pakistan since the Ws. He moves it both ways, swing and seam, his line and length is immaculate, and he's outrageously intelligent with the ball. Against a team we've never beaten at an ICC event, we'll need something special, something to put us over the top. My feeling is that Asif is that man. Will our tail be ridiculously long? Yes. We will have two number elevens (Asif, Ajmal) and two number tens (Gullee, Aamir) in our batting lineup. But be honest now: if our batting doesn't do the job on that pitch, then we deserve to lose. And how many runs would Rana score anyway?

My team to take on India on Saturday, which, incidentally, I will be live-blogging:

1. Kamran Akmal
2. Shoaib Malik
3. Younis Khan
4. Mohammad Yousuf
5. Fawad Alam
6. Umar Akmal
7. Shahid Afridi
8. Umar Gul
9. Mohammad Aamir
10. Saeed Ajmal
11. Mohammad Asif

Bring. Them. On.

UPDATE/CORRECTION: In comments, reader Zubair Sheikh points out that we have, indeed, beaten India in an ICC event before -- the 2004 Champions Trophy. My apologies for the error.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Quote Of The Day

This is why I love -- love -- Younis Khan:

If you want to play only fun cricket, play Twenty20. You cannot have one guy taking all the fun from all formats. You can't get married and have six girlfriends as well, because you will get stuck somewhere.