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Ramiz Raja

Latif's 'fixing' claims in poor taste

March 24, 2004

The tremendous performance put up by India, when under pressure, must have instilled a great deal of confidence in the side. Their batting soaked in the pressure, put up by a challenging total and a formidable attack, admirably, to reach victory with five overs to spare.

This means that both sides now go into the last game with everything to play for. The side that handles pressure better will win the game.

With all this excitement on the field it is truly disappointing to see a few people who are involved in Pakistan cricket making unnecessary and pointless accusations. The Board is fully behind Inzamam-ul Haq who ticked off a journalist at the post-match conference for asking if the match was fixed.

Such show spoilers have their own agendas and need to be put in their place. Even more disappointing was the fact that a seasoned cricketer like Rashid Latif made the same accusation. Rashid has always been a bit of a loose cannon, but his desire to remain in the news at any cost has reached ridiculous limits. There are many cricketers like Rashid Latif and Zaheer Abbas who are outside the loop of cricket in Pakistan and, therefore, cannot bear to see any successful cricket event being staged in this country.

Coming back to the game, I think the captain who soaks up the pressure and makes some tough decisions will be the one who will take home the Samsung Cup. The most crucial decision for the team management is whether they should bat first or bowl first. The Pakistan bowlers were badly exposed by the classy middle order batsmen of the Indian team in the last game. We still don't know how much of their poor performance can be attributed to bad bowling and how much can be attributed to the dew factor. If the late evening dew is a factor, then teams will prefer to chase.

The other decision the teams will have to decide is what total can be considered safe on these wickets. 293 was a reasonable score, but the Indians overhauled it effortlessly.

From the Pakistan point of view their bowlers must avoid the waywardness that marked the last game at all costs. Intensity is required at the nets and they must try and simulate match situations to ensure that they minimize on the extras even while going all out.

As far as the batting is concerned, there is a good chance that Shahid Afridi will have to make way for Taufeeq Umer at the top of the order. There is a popular demand for the latter as he is seen as a batsman who has the application to bat through the innings.

For the Indians, they will hope their bowlers will once again bowl in a disciplined manner. The main burden however will have to be taken on by the batsmen, and I think the top three will have to fire big time if they are to create history on Pakistan soil. The Indians have done all the hard work to get to a final-like situation once again. They have not been too successful in finals over the last one year, and it remains to be seen whether they will be able to break that jinx on Wednesday at the Gaddafi Stadium.

Previous column: The hype in Lahore is unbelievable

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