India put it in forward, Pakistan in reverse

Written by: Sunil Vasudeva
Published: Saturday, March 6, 2004, 17:20 [IST]
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One can always debate endlessly the composition of the Indian team for the ODIs against Pakistan, but, with the choices given it looks like a decent line-up. The workload again falling upon the five: Sehwag, Dravid, Laxman, Tendulkar, and Ganguly. These players have proved their worth time and again in the ODI realm of the game.

However, the bowlers will have an interesting venture. Even though inexperienced, the only way the 'in'experience can come out is through matches played. So it will be the relatively experienced Indian bowling trying to match the much experienced pace battery of Pakistan.

India is trying to move forward and give new players a try. Pakistan is going in reverse, as in reverse swing that has been their weapon of choice against India. It was the Pakistanis who invented the concept of reverse swing with Sarfraz Nawaz being the pioneer and they never gave it up.

We all remember Imran Khan uprooting stump after stump in the 1982-83 series tallying up a record 40 scalps in a fine all round performance. The secret behind reverse swing lies with the Pakistanis. However, remember too the brave batsmen who defied Imran that season, Mohinder Amarnath and Sunil Gavaskar. So reverse swing can be played, otherwise Jimmy would not have scored close to 600 runs that series and Sunny close to 450.

So does India have it in them to do it? Why not? The recent lessons learnt from the tour Down Under should not become distant memoirs. Sehwag, Dravid, Laxman, Tendulkar, and Ganguly all scored big in one match or more Down Under. This series is in the subcontinent in conditions suitable to them. What remains to be seen is if India's front line bowlers heal quickly enough to make a match of it in the Test series.

Zaheer is on the up, Agarkar has a feather in his cap from Down Under, Kumble was the leader of the band. Pathan and Balaji did well in the ODIs as did Bhandari. Ashish Nehra continues to be a bit of a bother with injuries. He must, however, not forget the big heart he displayed in the World Cup 2003 where he did well in almost every game after injuring his ankle. Find that big heart Ashish! And find it quick! You'll need it in Pakistan!

Can India master reverse swing? How about viewing videotapes and ascertaining how the ball is held for such deliveries? Is it really all that secretive an art? With modern technology at their disposal, reverse swing won't be such a mystery anymore. So move on forward India! However, don't dismiss going in reverse, swing that is!

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