This series has been a remarkably dull one, for both Pakistani and Indian fans. India have a tendency to be too defensive in their strategy. They had a chance to thrash Pakistan 2-0 and they lost it. However the other way of scrutinising this criticism is, that Pakistan have a tendency to be unpredictable and possess players like Yousuf who can turn things around. Could it be that Kumble was attempting to be too “safe” in his approach?
As far as the series victors are concerned, they have many positives to take with themselves to Australia. Their batsmen are in pristine touch and their spinners are actually SPINNING the ball (as opposed to Kaneria who has struggled to spin the ball profusely this series). However the Indian team in the past has seen its performance plummet when playing against Australia. The team is confident which is a good sign but my guess is India would struggle to grapple with the might of the Aussies.
As far as Pakistan are concerned, this series has unearthed some new problems and some old problems have returned to haunt the wounded Pakistanis. For the first time since Malik took over captaincy his batting has looked vulnerable and his captaincy has looked pathetically lacklustre. Kaneria, who is known as the only world class spinner in Pakistan has struggled with his length and more worryingly has struggled to spin the ball. Kumble who is not a big turner has surprisingly spun the ball more than Kaneria! Butt has shown promise but it must not be forgotten that there is a world of a difference between his performance against India and performance against the rest of the cricket playing nations. The other opener, Hameed has looked out of character which has not surprised anyone. The master batsman Yousuf has struggled and the master bowler Akhtar has bowled only a handful of overs.
Worryingly, arguably for the first time in a long while weaknesses of the Pakistani team have been exposed in all departments. Everything has had a black spot over it- the opening (Hameed), middle order (Yousuf), pace attack (Akhtar/Sami) and even the spin attack (Kaneria).
The only positive in my view in this series has been Misbah who has really made his mark as an extraordinary pressure-handler. I hope he will be able to replicate this form against Australia in a few months’ time.
A series against India is always a catalyst for concrete measures to be adopted. With so many problems, it remains to be seen whether a major, overwhelming upheaval would take place or would the PCB turn a cold shoulder and hope for better luck next time?