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Saqlain developing a 'teesra'

Abdul Waheed in Lahore | March 24, 2004 16:55 IST
Last Updated: March 24, 2004 17:07 IST

Saqlain Mushtaq, who introduced the off-spinners' googly or the "doosra" (the other one) to international cricket, is developing a "teesra" (the third one) in a bid to win back a place in the Pakistan team.

Saqlain, 27, said he hoped the new variation would help him return during a three-Test series against India, starting in Multan on March 28.

"I've realised it's necessary to keep on bringing variations into your bowling to survive in the hectic world of international cricket," he told Reuters on Wednesday.

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"There is no survival without variation."

Saqlain, who has grown a beard and leads the prayer congregations of the Pakistan team, has a haul of 207 Test and 288 one-day wickets but has played just one Test and one one-day international for Pakistan since September last year.

He says he is willing to bide his time because his renewed interest in religion has taught him to be patient. However, he stressed his hunger to play for Pakistan has not diminished.

"I've a strong urge to play in the Tests against India. I knew I'd have to come up with something different to surprise their top-class batting. Thus, the different ball," he said.

Saqlain declined to divulge what his new delivery would do. "I'm still perfecting it," he said.

"Shane Warne, Muttiah Muralitharan and Anil Kumble have also been successful and consistent because of the variations they keep introducing into their bowling."

Pakistan's chief selector Wasim Bari said Saqlain was being considered for the Tests against India.

"You can't just ignore a bowler of his calibre," Bari told Reuters. "I don't think he's been handled properly in the last one year since the World Cup. We are ready to back him when the time comes."

Saqlain has been in and out of the Pakistan team since the 2003 World Cup and has not played a Test since grabbing two wickets for 70 against Bangladesh in Multan last year.

In his last one-day appearance, against South Africa in October, he went for 52 runs in eight overs.

India, on their first Test tour of Pakistan since 1989-90, have never won a Test in 20 matches in Pakistan, losing five and drawing 15.

The last time the two countries played a Test series in India in 1999, Saqlain finished with 24 wickets in three matches including four five-wicket hauls.

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