India and Pakistan start another chapter in their cricketing history when they play a short limited overs series over the next few days. Cricketing contests between the two countries have always been at the mercy of the powers that be and have been invariably used as a propaganda tool, but when they take place the intensity is sizzling to say the least. The next ten days should be no different as the traditional rivals go full tilt at each other looking to score not just on field victories, but brownie points off it too.
The teams look well matched as they usually are with batting being India’s strength and bowling being Pakistan’s firepower. Pakistan’s batting has slipped a bit from the lofty standards that it had in the 70s till the start of the century and the consistency that was a hallmark of the batting is not there now. They have some really fine players in the skipper Mohd Hafeez, Umar Akmal, Ahmed Shehzad and Shahid Afridi is capable of turning the game both with bat and ball.
The Indians will have to watch out for Umar Gul, Sohail Tanvir and ‘the magician’ Saeed Ajmal. Watching Ajmal bowl is almost like a replay of seeing Abdul Qadir. Qadir was one of the characters of the game and he was never tired of trying a variety of deliveries and then staying on after the follow through to see the expression on the batsman’s face.
If the batsman looked bamboozled then Qadir had a hearty laugh and if the batsman smiled his appreciation, then Qadir went back with another spring in his already springy step. But he was also quick to applaud a good shot by the batsman as if encouraging him to play more while he changed his line or his length just a little bit to defeat the batsman’s next shot.
Ajmal is like that and his theatrical way of expressing his anguish when a fielder lets a ball go or the batsman plays and misses is worth going miles to see. He like Qadir is a true magician with so many tricks under his sleeve that sometimes he himself forgets which one he should be trying on the batsman.
The one aspect that India should be better is the fielding, though those who saw the effort at Wankhede stadium may not agree. Kohli, Raina, Sharma, Rahane and Jadeja are as good as anybody else in the world and the keeper Dhoni is never short of energy on the field.
India need to think a bit more about their batting approach when they are batting first for they seem to look to score too many too soon and thus lose wickets. If they can temper that then they should with the batting depth that they have get a huge score.
The series starts on Christmas day and we will soon see what gifts Santa has brought for the fans.
Professional Management Group