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Pak bowlers need 'extra' help

Faisal Shariff in Lahore | March 22, 2004 15:10 IST

In the end Indian batsmen exposed the inconsistent Pakistan bowling.

Mohammad Kaif showcased his ability to close out games for India at number seven.

With yet another innings that illustrated his character, Rahul Dravid proved once again that basics surpass flair anytime. Undaunted by the mountain of runs that lay ahead, he stitched partnerships and kept getting close to the total without taking undue risks.

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Dravid said that batting down the order and anchoring innings has been an interesting challenge. He also admitted that having Yuvraj Singh and Kaif below him makes things easier.

The momentum in this series has shifted often -- India won the first ODI in Karachi, and Pakistan roared right back with victories in Rawalpindi and Peshawar. With Sunday's win in Lahore, India has again grabbed the initiative. But all that will count for nothing when the final is played on March 24.

Pakistan, in their attempt to break through the Indian top order, gave away too many runs and that made it easy for Dravid, Yuvraj and Kaif to finish the game without much fuss.

Dravid pointed out the importance of that brisk start.

"The guys [at the top] scored at scorching pace and made it simple for us. Kaif played a superb knock and ran well between the wickets. There was no pressure on us because the asking rate was not high," he said.

The 132-run unbroken partnership between Kaif and Dravid ensured that India got home with five wickets and five overs to spare.

An interesting statistic is that after the first ten overs, which fetched 75 runs, the Indians kept scoring at six an over.

Dravid revealed that over the last couple of years the team had worked on several aspects of their game and chasing was one of them.

Pakistan skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq accepted that his bowlers let the side down. He blamed the high number of extras as the principle reason for the defeat and subtly warned the bowlers that they need to improve, or face action from the management.

Pakistan conceded 37 extras while India 30. If you break that up the reason for Pakistan's defeat becomes apparent: India had only six wides and five no-balls, with the remaining being leg-byes and byes. Pakistan, on the other hand, bowled 19 wides and nine no-balls, nearly five extra overs. What looked like a simple 45-over chase could actually have been a last over finish.

Shoaib Akhtar gave away 14 wides in his nine overs, which cost 63 runs, and Shabbir Ahmed gave away 62 runs in seven.

Despite taking wickets at regular intervals the Pakistani bowlers threw in the towel way too early. Dravid said that they gave up the fight when they were still 25 runs short. In an international match, that attitude should ring alarm bells.

Dravid had a dig at the Pakistani bowlers when he said it was all about putting the ball in the right area, and not pace.

Former Pakistani pace bowler and current under-19 coach Aquib Javed said that throughout the innings, the Pakistanis did not bowl three consecutive deliveries at the same spot.

He also emphasised the need to bowl on one side of the wicket. "After all you only have nine fielders. But the Pakistanis bowled on either side of the wicket as if they had 20 fielders on the ground."

The captain, coach (Javed Miandad) and manager (Haroon Rashid) are all batsmen and the bowlers have no one to turn to for guidance, former captain Imran Khan said, adding that it was time Pakistan got a specialist bowling coach.

Unlike India that is one area that Pakistan won't have to look too far; there are few better than Imran, Wasim Akram, Aquib or Sarfraz Nawaz to coach the current crop.

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