Vantage point

Thursday, March 25, 2004


The cocky Pakistani coach, at the start of the series had said "Pakistan's lanes are full of Irfan Pathans". It is this very dismissive attitude towards the Indian bowlers that has probably cost the Pakistanis the series. Irfan has picked up 8 wickets at a staggering average of 17. It is evident that Irfan is not as good as all the commentators make him out to be. He is even better!

Very few bowlers, at any stage in their careers, have such admirable control over swing. If headhunters from the English county season have been watching the young Baroda lad, they must be queueing up to sign him on.

What is ironic, is that Irfan was actually on the bench for the first 2 onedayers. In one way, he was fortunate, because those 2 matches were very high-scoring. But, that is besides the point. The ability to bench someone of Pathan's calibre shows that the second string attack has really done well over the past injury-plagued years. Just consider the number of bowlers we consider "First Eleven" level - Zaheer, Nehra, Agarkar, Pathan, Harbhajan, Kumble and Kartik. Balaji is the latest addition to this list. Besides this, Powar and Bhandari are also said to be good quality.

The bench in batting is no less confidence inspiring. Despite leaving out Laxman, we reached the World Cup final. Even now, we have people like Badani, Gambhir and Gavaskar sitting out.

Some might say keeping is a problem. I do not belong to the "Relieve Dravid from ODI Keeping" School of Thought. I think that if he could do it for 2 busy years, he can do it full time. Another thing I have noticed is that his catching in the slips to slow bowlers in test matches has really improved since he started keeping in ODIs.

In general, the current crop of Indian cricketers is amazing. We levelled the series against Australia in Australia despite the absence of our 2 frontline bowlers. And now we have beaten Pakistan in an ODI series, without 4 of our frontline bowlers.

The amazing thing is no one from this team looks like he will retire before the 2007 World Cup. Very heartening.


Not from the team, stupid. Drop him from captaincy. Inzamam is, in my opinion THE best batsman Pakistan has ever produced (yes, I do not forget the Mohammads, Abbases and Anwars).....and this is an opinion I have held even before this series, much to the chagrin of my Inzy-hating friends. However he is also the WORST captain Pakistan has ever had.

One mistake people make is that of assuming that a captain's job is just to step up his own individual performance. So if a dude plays lots of "Captain's innings", he is considered to be a good captain. That is downright wrong. A captain's main job is drawing up strategies, then deciding on tactics, and then selling them to his teammates. A captain's job is also to motivate his teammates when the chips are down.

Inzamam, at least so far, has proven to be miserable on those grounds. He can not marshall his bowling resources, gets field placings wrong, and has not been giving his batsmen a plan to stick to. His plan seems to be "I will get the runs and Shoaib will blast them apart."

My advice to the Pakistani cricket board would be to make someone else the captain. The two likely candidates seem to be Moin Khan and Yousuf Youhana.