It was a joy to watch Rahul Dravid in action

Written by: Javed Miandad
Published: Monday, March 21, 2005, 15:46 [IST]
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Pakistan blundered on most fronts in the Kolkata Test. They chose the wrong team, bowled badly and batted with frail techniques. India were far too superior. What they couldn't do in Mohali, they managed in Kolkata.

I have an issue with the team selection. They clearly did not do their homework. Everyone knows that if you are playing on Indian pitches, the track would help spinners from the third day onwards. Still they went ahead with only one spinner.

Arshad Khan was badly missed in the second Test. Instead of an experienced cricketer like him, the nod was reserved for a youngster who is still to find his feet in international cricket. Mohammad Khalil wasn't impressive in his first Test against Australia in Perth. He was blooded in a match as big as an India-Pak Test and at an imposing theatre like Eden Gardens which can unnerve even the best.

I have nothing against youngsters like Khalil or for that matter Taufeeq Umar. But the basic technique of our cricketers is not as sound as that say of the Indians. Even Mohammad Sami, who has been around for a few years now, keeps overstepping the line. His no-balls already number 30 in theseries. He does not seem bothered by this excess that is distressful. It was a wicket where the ball came at variable height and at all times bowlers needed to bowl within the stumps.

How beautifully Indians, on the other hand, stuck to the basic. Laxmipathy Balaji was a prime example of it. He clearly bowled within himself, tried to keep it within the wickets and pitched up to gain whatever movement he could get on an otherwise flat pitch. In batting too, Indians showed extremely sound technique.

They have their basics right. Unfortunately, we in Pakistan are not producing players with basic techniques. Mere talent is no good if your basics are messed up.

Inzamam-ul-Haq and Danish Kaneria are the leading lights in batting and bowling but both had an ordinary game. Kaneria suffered from lack of support at the other end. Too much is being asked from him without giving concession to the enormous task he is saddled with. After all he is bowling to best in the business without any support from the other end.

You do not win Tests without good combinations. Once in a blue moon you might win but it would not be on a regular basis. He is being made to bowl 40-50 overs in every innings and a bowler could get overused.

If Anil Kumble still bowls 50 overs in each innings even if he is past 450 wickets in Tests, it is a tribute to his resilience. But he also gets support from the other end. He is also vastly experienced and not bowling to his own batsmen!

Inzamam is also drawing flak as a captain but he is not getting the right material within his team. If you do not make 400-500 runs regularly or have not got a good bowling attack, a captain is bound to face pressure. He now has only Bangalore Test to salvage what appears to be a lost cause. All-outaggression alone is the key but I doubt if Pakistan can plug the leaks in a matter of four days.

As for the Indians, what a joy it was to watch Rahul Dravid in action. He is the backbone of the team, a batsman who unfailingly produces good when his team requires it. He does it against all oppositions on all kind of wickets. I still rate Sunil Gavaskar as the best Indian batsman ever but it does not lessen my admiration for the Bangalorean.

I would also not forget Dinesh Kaarthick who played a critical knock in a looming spell of crisis. He batted freely and kept the score rattling even when Dravid had fallen silent for a stretch of period. He allowed Indians the extra time to have a go at the opposition in the second innings.

Finally a word on the heat umpire Steve Bucknor seems to have generated in India. It is said the third umpire should now be empowered to reverse a decision given in the middle. By this rate, you do not need umpires in the middle. Technology would do just fine.

If I was Sachin Tendulkar, I would treat it just as a human error and leave it at that. He clearly benefited from an umpiring largesse in Mohali. If he was given out on 8 in Mohali, he might have struggled to regain his touch as he was coming off after a lay-off. That let-up might have allowed him to find his feet and he now has three fifties from three innings.

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