'India will go from strength to strength'

Published: Saturday, April 17, 2004, 21:17 [IST]
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Islamabad:Former cricket great Imran Khan has predicted the Indian team would go from strength to strength after their maiden series win in Pakistan.

"They look in strong shape and this current team will rise further as their players are performing and have the knack of handling pressure well," Khan said on Saturday.

"India fought well throughout the tour and the 19-year-old Parthiv Patel's innings in the third Test displayed their fighting abilities."

Patel, a wicketkeeper batsman who was asked to open the innings, hit a fighting career-best 69 to solve a selection problem for India and help his team overwhelm Pakistan in the third and decisive Test.

With their innings and 131-run win, India also took the series 2-1 to jump to fourth position in the ICC (International Cricket Council) rankings.

And they won the preceding One-day series 3-2 to cap their remarkable first full tour across the border for 15 years.

"I can't say that this is the best Indian team ever but it has shown remarkable qualities and can be compared to India's all-time best teams," said Khan, now a politician and television commentator.

Khan said the Pakistani management needed to look into several areas to lift their cricket.

"Pakistan cricket officials need to ask several questions from themselves after this defeat, the structure needs to be overhauled and the vacuums left by some leading players need to be filled," said Khan, who played 82 Tests for his country.

"We had two match winners in Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammed Sami but the bowling resources could have been utilised better than this," said Khan, himself a fast bowler who took 362 Test wickets between 1971-1992.

"We have a batsman captain, a batsman coach and a batsman manager, so when things go wrong they don't have the plan B."

Led by Akhtar, Pakistan's much touted bowling attack conceded too many extras in the One-day series and barring Umar Gul's 5-31 during the second Test win in Lahore no other bowler could take more than three wickets in an innings.

Khan praised the Indian bowling and termed it "fast-maturing".

"Compared to Pakistani attack no one had rated them as outstanding but they performed more than their level while our bowlers failed because no one was there to take the input," said Khan.

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