The Web


Home > Cricket > India's tour of Pakistan > Column > Ramiz Raja

Ramiz Raja

Threat looming on the left for Pakistan

March 09, 2004

The countdown for the Samsung Cup has begun with both squads having assembled for conditioning camps before the first one-dayer in Karachi.

There is plenty to be excited about from the point of view of Pakistani fans. The selectors have chosen a team that has plenty of aggression and firepower. Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammad Sami, Shabbir Ahmed, Abdul Razzaq and Iftikar Rao will be the ammo that Inzamam-ul-Haq will have at his disposal to quell the in-form Indian batting line-up. The team's thinktank feels that pace is the best way to counter the Indians, and there will be some juice left in the wickets to make batting a little more challenging than it usually is in the subcontinent.

I am very pleased that Shabbir has been cleared in time for this series. He was sent to the University of Western Australia after his action was found to be less than perfect. A team comprising Daryl Foster, among others, discovered that due to his hip position, Shabbir's bowling arm was straightening at an angle of 20 degrees, while the acceptable angle is 10 degrees. A considerable amount of work was done with Shabbir to correct this arm position, and right now his bowling arm is finally straightening at 10 degrees. Foster then went to the ICC for approval immediately so that the young speedster should not have any problem in the future.

The comeback boy in the squad is definitely Shahid Afridi. After being omitted from the team after the World Cup, he has played first-class cricket in South Africa and England. At 24, he seems more mature than he has ever been in his rollercoaster career. In fact, he was quoted as saying that from now on he will play for himself rather than for the galleries. While I don't really know what that means, I hope he is going to be more responsible this time round.

Cricket needs charismatic players like Sachin Tendulkar, Shoaib Akhtar, Virender Sehwag and Afridi. They are great marketing tools for the sport since they have the flair that make channel-surfers stop and watch them when they are on television, and make the crowds throng to cricket venues whenever they take the field.

As far as the batting goes, Imran Farhat had a very good 2003, and I am sure he will be looking to carry on the good work on home turf. The other player who is an exciting prospect is Yasir Hameed. He drives beautifully and has a fantastic array of strokes. No doubt that batting is the lesser of our strengths in this team, but there are some veterans like Inzamam and Yousuf Youhana who give the middle order a lot of strength.

The Indian team is a little underdone in the spin department, but the left-armer brigade is being viewed as a possible threat. There is great respect for Zaheer Khan and the others in Pakistan and our team has been practising with left-arm net bowlers to prepare for them.

But it is the batting that everybody in Pakistan is most curious about. Personally, what impresses me most about this line-up is the variety that is on display. Each player is unique and provides a different dimension to Sourav Ganguly's resources.

This is not a robotic line-up where every player is a replica of the other. Tendulkar's genius and Sehwag's impetuosity are tempered by the solidity of Rahul Dravid and Mohammed Kaif. In between, you have the flair of V V S Laxman, the timing of the captain, and the flamboyance of Yuvraj Singh. It is a batting line-up worth coming miles to watch, and the spectators in Pakistan hope that they will give us a glimpse of their talent. It is this combination and variety that Pakistan's batting lacks at the moment.

Fortunately, Karachi has bounced back from the disappointment of not getting a Test. Sixty thousand people turned up to buy the 32,000 tickets that were up for sale. The interest has been overwhelming so far, and will only increase once the Indian team lands on Pakistani soil.

Article Tools
Email this article
Print this article
Write us a letter

Related Stories

'Steve Bucknor is useless'

Saqlain, Afridi in ODI squad

Laxman looks forward to Pakistan


India's tour of Pakistan: The Complete Coverage | More Columns

Copyright © 2004 India Limited. All Rights Reserved.