Imtiaz poses 'guardian angel' for Parthiv

Published: Saturday, April 10, 2004, 23:50 [IST]
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Lahore :Indian wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel, who has shown a marked improvement both with the gloves and bat in the ongoing cricket series, got a big vote of confidence from former Pakistan skipper and stumper Imtiaz Ahmed.

The 76-year-old veteran believed Parthiv needed to be groomed and not pulled down for "some poor performances" as he was still young and learning.

He, however, had hardly any kind words for regular Pakistan keeper Moin Khan.

"In recent days, Moin has lost his edge and sharpness. Given a choice he should leave the national team with some respect and allow the youngsters to get some exposure," he said.

Imtiaz wanted the critics to give more time to Parthiv Patel to bloom and asked them to be more patient.

"For someone so young, there is bound to be some poor performances, missed catches or stumpings, but we have to show some patience and give him the chance to grow at the international level. Constant criticism will not help," said Ahmed.

Praising the 19-year-old's authoritative unbeaten 62 in the second innings of the Lahore Test, he said Parthiv should ignore discouraging remarks and concentrate on his game.

"He should be handled differently as he is very young and critics should not pull him down for a couple of poor performances. He is still in the learning process."

Ahmed said considering Patel's age, he was certainly a very good prospect and had the ability to be a permanent member of the Indian cricket team in both forms of the game.

The Baroda wicketkeeper broke into the national team at a very young age as the selectors tried to find a good replacement for Nayan Mongia who was the regular wicketkeeper for a long time.

The Indian selectors tried as many as five wicketkeepers - Vijay Dahiya, Saba Karim, M S K Prasad, Ajay Ratra and Deep Dasgupta in recent times - but none of them could hold on to their place in the team for long.

Patel had a disappointing tour of Australia recently but has put in much improved performance during the ongoing series against Pakistan.

Ahmed advised Patel to work hard and stick to the basics. "A lot will be said to demoralise him. So he has to ignore discouraging words and move on in life. A wicketkeeper should only follow his own instincts."

But the veteran was also against too much praise. "Patel has just started his career and so there should be less of praise about his keeping. He should be told to improve everyday and in my opinion he is improving with every match."

Asked whom he rated as the best wicketkeeper in contemporary cricket, Ahmed said: "Adam Gilchrist is the best man in the present set up. He is an opener like me and quite impressive behind the stumps. At the same time, Gilchrist is also very consistent and technically very sound. He is a lesson for all the 'keepers in the world'."

"If you follow the basics of the game, it is simple enough to understand that the stumpers are supposed to be good batsmen and should be set to play their shots from the very first ball of their innings. It is because they constantly get the opportunity to gauge the pace and bounce of the wicket," Imtiaz said.

"When I was playing for my nation, I preferred to open the innings rather than coming down the order. I always thought that I could score those required runs. Besides that, one has to remember that wicketkeepers are not born they are made through hard work and dedication," he said.

Asked to compare Sachin Tendulkar and Inzamam-ul-Haq, he said: "Tendulkar does not need any praise from me because the issue is already addressed by late Don Bradman. And regarding Inzamam, he did not do a great job for his country in the recent past. But in the ongoing series, he has showed his true class.

All praise for the conduct of the current series, Imtiaz said "what excites me is the way the Indians and Pakistanis are playing their cricket. What excites me is the behaviour of the Pakistani fans," he said.

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