Friday, December 14, 2007

A dull series ends finally

This is a very uncommon title for an India-Pakistan series. The two arch rivals whose duel is termed as Asian Ashes and more than the game, historical rivalries fire the imagination. Stop there. The historical rivalries are in fact marring the competence in this contest. I noted one thing which came to light only due to the fiasco by the KCA on switching the lights on. The teams had agreed not to play in artificial light before the start of this series. Now you can say what is wrong in it. Think again. This is a clever ploy to somehow avert a possible defeat. And it suits the purpose because in such a volatile encounter no team would like to lose and administrators along with players favor this defensive approach.
I vividly remember the 1999 series between India and Pakistan when the team led by Wasim Akram was termed a very weak team as it had lost the prior series to Zimbabwe at their home. They finally won two test matches and decimated India in one-dayers. That team had in its rank Aamir Sohail,Saeed Anwar, Ijaz Ahmed,Salim Malik, Moin Khan, Waqar Younis, Saqlain Mushtaq and Wasim Akram and were still termed weak. The next tour of Pakistan was in 2005 and the team was termed weakest despite having Inzy, Yousuf, Afridi, Akmal, Shoaib Malik and Younis Khan. The series was a draw. In 2007, again the team was labeled the weakest and Kiran More went to the extent of terming it weakest Pakistan team in 40 years. Still Indians prepared belters in the series and it was hard time for bowlers in the series. Even Anil Kumble bowled 44 overs and could pick only one wicket in the first innings of Bangalore test. This is the problem not only with Indians but Pakistanis also. Just remember the last series against Pakistan. Pakistan were clear favorites but instead of relying on their strength (that is pace bowling) they prepared docile wickets in first two tests. Finally good sense prevailed and in Karachi we saw a very good wicket on which Pakistan comfortably won.

It seems both India and Pakistan are afraid of losing and that is clearly affecting the quality of cricket between the two. I remember when a TV journo was going ga ga over Dada’s stamina after his double hundred, Aquib Javed commented that it were Pakistanis more than Dada who were responsible for his stamina. You have to agree with him if you saw Mohammed Yousuf or Sami or Shoaib Akhtar field. Even club level cricketers would be put to shame by the fielding standards exhibited by Pakistan. Indians on the other hand continued their catch-dropping spree. I am sure Australians would need only a few of them to annihilate India. And the bowling of Pakistan team was no better. Even Bangladesh attack is better if you discount those few spells by Shoaib. 3 bowlers bowling for 150 overs on a featherbed.You can’t help but feel for them. Indians would have been better prepared if they had played domestic cricket rather than this series.

I hope better sense prevails over the officials of the two countries and they have sufficient gap between these contests. The tour schedule should be such that players get more practice games and have some time to recover between two tests. The pitches should be of high-quality as we saw in 2004. Otherwise, there is no use of having such dull series every year. Please, please, please spare us of this boredom.