Yuvraj Singh is a captain in the making

Published: Friday, April 2, 2004, 13:27 [IST]
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The defeated Pakistan team coach Javed Miandad has been as defensive and negative as he was as a captain during his salad days. One of the mistakes Miandad regularly makes is to advice the youngsters with his own brand of cricket.

After the heavy defeat at Multan, Pakistan will have no option but to go for a greentop in Lahore. It is a do or die game for them. They need to go for the jugular, opt for the difficult road and hope their fast bowlers, who remain their most potent weapon, would come good.

There is little to choose between the two sides in terms of talent -- for, the batsmen of one side are being neutralized by the bowlers of the other -- but India appear streets ahead in the matter of discipline and perseverance.

The intensity of the winners is what Pakistan should aspire to inculcate within themselves quickly, for the time indeed is running out fast. Indians have taken the observers' breath away with their discipline and planning. They are looking so cohesive and they seem to have done a better job with details of Pakistan team.

The Pakistan camp of today isn't like the Indian unit where a Virender Sehwag or a Yuvraj Singh is given a free hand to showcase their talents. No wonder there is a feeling that the unit appears shackled, not its usual self.

One of the reasons for India's excellence in the last couple of years has been that nobody acts up like a superstar. Sachin Tendulkar, the seniormost cricketer in international cricket, seems perfectly at ease in the company of youngsters like Irfan Pathan and Laxmipathy Balaji. He is today approaching his job like a 9 to 5 occupation - batting has become such a routine for him. He remains simply the best.

You can't help but start with Virender Sehwag for a triple century is not seen everyday in world cricket. It was the innings of his life though for the purists, and certainly for me, you cannot compare it with VVS Laxman's 281 - or for that matter Sachin Tendulkar's unbeaten 241 in Sydney and the double centuries of Sunil Gavaskar and Rahul Dravid. Sehwag has a very limited defence but he attacks with ferocity and that in a way covers up for his flawed technique. He was surely the master blaster of this Test.

I have also been very impressed with Yuvraj Singh. He has the making of a perfect cricketer -- solid batsman, outstanding fielder and a handy bowler. Mark this young lad, he has the making of a future Indian captain.

Anil Kumble has been a magnificent performer for India an he continues to draw upon his huge experience to trouble batsmen even on bland pitches.

Pakistan batting, but for Inzamam-ul-Haq and Yousuf Youhana, is young and inexperienced and keeping Kumble at bay isn't going to be easy for them.

And then there is Pathan whose rapid strides in international cricket convey India at last seems to have found a genuine fast bowling material.

Yasir Hameed played one good knock but he regularly needs to convert his 60s and 70s into big scores. A youngster can have only so much licence about his age. Sooner than later, Yasir would have to perform to his potential.

Both the teams made the mistake of going with a spinner less in the first Test. Saqlain Mushtaq would himself admit he needed to bowl more at the off-stump. Now it would be pace diet only as Pakistan would pull out all stops to beat India.

It would not be easy since India appear more hungry, and are definitely more united. They help each other out and it shows nowhere better than in the field.

Well as their bowlers bowled, India would have to depend on their batting to keep their superiority going in this series. This is the time for their batting to stay at the top of their form.

Pakistan would do their best to strike back and hope Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Sami would be able to live up to their hype. In all likelihood, they would get the wicket to their liking but if Indian batsmen are able to withstand them, Pakistan would be left with no escape route.

To me, the series is far from over.

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