Pakistan in India

The Pakistan tour of India is almost going to start – as usual, we have the normal controversies surrounding any tour – television rights, travel arrangements, changes to the itenaries etc. This has kind of become a practice with the BCCI to leave things hanging till the very end. I wonder why BCCI, one of the richest organizations in the country, cannot hire the best managers in the country to run the organization – anyway, that is not what I want to talk about. To talk about BCCI and how it can improve will probably need a separate cookbook altogether !

The Pakis have arrived sans their strike bowler Shoaib Akhtar. I don’t think that will make too much of a difference – India treated him without respect the last time these two teams met. The one bowler to watch out for in the Pakistan team is Danish Kaneria – he is a wily leg-spinner who seems to be getting better with every match. In the batting department, of course, the main people that India will target are Inzi and Youhana. That does not mean that the others are not good – it is just that many of them are inconsistent and also young and inexperienced. For all you know, this series might see the blossoming of Salman Butt, Taufeeq Umar, Yasir Hameed, Naved Rana etc into world class players.

The Indians have their own set of problems in the bowling department. Zaheer Khan is far from his best, Pathan/Nehra/Balaji are all coming back from injury, Harbhajan is still smarting from his suspect-action accusation. The only bowler who seems to be reliable is the old warhorse Kumble. It will be very interesting how Kumble will bowl to the Pakis – actually, it also depends a lot on the type of pitches that India will offer. In the batting department, I thought Kaif was unlucky to have been dropped – but then, such is the batting strength of India that it is tough to get in. Hopefully, the famed batting line-up will live up to its reputation.

Mohali and Kolkata, the venues for the first 2 tests, are definitely going to assist seam and pace – in fact, Shoaib would have been a great advantage in Mohali. But Bangalore is a square turner – that is for sure. I don’t know whether this is a good strategy – India’s strength is spin and so, they should play to their strength. Put up a healthy score and leave it to the spinners to do the damage.

It is going to be a very closely fought series. Pakis have just returned from Australia after learning a trick or two from the World Champions. Indians are fresh after a good break (and hopefully not rusty). I am sure both the teams must be raring to go after each other in the cricket field. So what’s the wait for – BRING IT ON !