No more flat-tracks please......

Written by: Sukhesh V
Published: Friday, January 20, 2006, 11:12 [IST]
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Apart from a dashing 254 by Indian opener Virender Sehwag, the benign track at Gaddafi stadium in Lahore was the only talking point during the opening Test between India and Pakistan. Both the team captains didn't mince words while denouncing the pitch. Cricket pundits and fans had no idea as to why Pakistan prepared a pitch like this, that too considering the fact that they had bowlers like Shoaib Akhtar, Mohd Sami and Rana Naved-ul-Hassan at their disposal.

As far as the pitch preparation was considered, Pakistan had two options; either to go for a green top or opt for a slower one, which would start turning from day three. It is quite obvious that Pakistan were in a defensive mindset and was a bit confused while preparing the wicket. Pakistan would have thought that their pace department headed by a transformed Shoaib has the wherewithal to bamboozle the Indian batsman in slow pitches with their speed. But, Inzamam and Woolmer were stunned to see Sehwag taking the Pakistan attack by the scruff of their neck

The idea of slow turner is not a good option against India considering the fact that the Men in Blue have two world-class spinners. And we all know how good the Indian batsmen are when it comes to facing spin. That makes the case for green top pitches even stronger after the first Test. Eventhough Indian batsmen are traditionally not that good against pace bowling, they have possibly the best batting line-up in the world (at least on paper) and all the batsmen have proved their mettle in the hostile conditions abroad. Also, no one in the world would believe that Pakistani batters are technically well-equipped than the Indians.

Indian pacemen like Pathan and Agarkar, who have the natural ability to swing the ball, can become deadly in favourable conditions. Eventhough home advantage is with Pakistan, it remains a problem area for them too causing a lot of embarrassment to Inzamam and Woolmer.

The animated discussion between Ganguly and skipper Dravid before the first Test has lead to immense media scrutiny. Eventhough, all of us have seen the visuals sans sound, how come the entire cricket community came to know that they were talking about Ganguly's reluctance to open the innings? The former cricketers, who were playing analyst's role for a private channel, had no doubt about the topic whatsoever. They were relishing the taste of sensational journalism despite knowing that such discussions are common in dressing rooms.

Taking into account his wealth of experience in international cricket and his recent performances in Test series against Sri Lanka and in the domestic cricket, Sourav Ganguly definitely deserved a place in the playing XI. Dropping one of the openers was the only option left for the team management. Dravid showed the way by taking up the challenge to open the innings and came up with a gritty knock.

After the Mayhem at Lahore, it's over to Faisalabad now. As far as the team composition is considered, it is unlikely that there would be any changes is both the playing XIs. But as far as the Indian camp is concerned, Sehwag's partners slot is still up for the grabs. Dravid has categorically stated that he doesn't fancy his chances of opening on a regular basis. Let us go for a horses for courses policy and stop talking about specialist openers.

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