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Rashid Latif

Moin is the brain of the Pakistani unit

March 10, 2004

I look at this series as a make-or-break one for the two captains.

Inzamam-ul-Haq is not a dynamic captain. He is a routine leader who makes changes by rota. It is Moin Khan behind the stumps who has brains and actually effects changes. Also, Inzamam is in very poor form. He has scored only 100 runs or thereabouts in his last five innings together. He just cannot afford a slip-up.

Similar is the pressure on Sourav Ganguly. He has scored only eight runs in his last four innings. If he does not do well in Pakistan, he could lose his captaincy. This series is being held after 15 years. Both captains cannot afford a flop show.

Captains come under pressure when they are failing and men around them are performing well. Same is the case with Inzamam and Ganguly. I hope they don't make the mistake most captains do under pressure -- asking the rest of the guys to step up their performance. You can't ask a cricketer to go beyond his limitations. If you ask somebody like Anil Kumble to hang around at least for two hours and score 20 runs, you are putting pressure on others.

When on song though, both Inzamam and Ganguly are world-class batsmen.

Ganguly will be helped by the lack of bounce in our pitches. Inzamam, if he gets past the first 10-15 minutes, will be difficult to stop. In the initial moments, he is not sure of his movements. Steve Waugh always used to have a short cover for him for those spooned drives. His running between the wickets is diabolical, but once he is set he does not rely on it, he hits mostly fours and sixes.

In my view, Yousuf Yohana is our best batsman. He uses soft hands, has great technique for a number three batsman, and quickly shifts gears. He could be defending one moment and clouting fours and sixes the next. He also has tremendous power. He has matured and understands batting better.

One of the finds for us has been opener Yaseer Hamid. He is close to 1,000 runs in 26 games, which is as good as Zaheer Abbas or Basit Ali. But he doesn't have stamina. He tends to throw his wicket away when well set.

Imran Farhat is a great talent, but I don't think he will get the chance. I think Shahid Afridi will be the other opener. Afridi is a craze in Pakistan because he hits fours and sixes. He also takes a heavy toll of new-ball bowlers, as he used to do against Javagal Srinath and Venkatesh Prasad.

Afridi could be severe on Irfan Pathan because, from what I have seen, Irfan tends to bowl a line outside the off stump. Afridi loves to cut as do other top Pakistan batsmen. That's why Irfan may not be able to control wides, but you can't blame him because even the great Wasim Akram used to struggle in this area. It could be a general problem with left-arm fast bowlers.

Younis Khan is another of our top players. He is a very positive batsman. His running between the wickets is astounding. Along with Shoaib Malik, a good all-rounder, he can rattle the opposition.

A lot of players in Pakistan are all-rounders. This is a positive on subcontinental wickets. In places like Australia, you need more specialists, but not on our pitches. The Indians too have a lot of boys who can turn their arm over, men like Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Hemang Badani and Yuvraj Singh.

I think Pakistan's bowling attack will be in the hands of the three S's -- Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammad Sami, and Shabbir Ahmed. The support cast could be Afridi, Shoaib Malik and Abdur Razzaq.

The wicket at Karachi is a batting wicket, but the moisture in the morning could help the fast bowlers. I have also noticed that it helps spin later in the day. So chasing a total could be a problem. That is why it is important for bowlers to keep things tight in the morning. Otherwise the game might just run away from them.

Even though the Indians start as favourites in the one-day series because of their batting depth, I have a feeling that Pakistan will win the first game. If that happens, Pakistan will acquire a momentum that may be difficult to stop.

Previous Column: Less pressure when you are touring
Ramiz Raja: Threat from the left for Pakistan

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