SERIES LOSS AND "DEFENSIVE VICTORS"

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?

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  1. #1 by amit. p on December 13, 2007 - 6:49 AM

    Finally the dullness is over .. but i am afraid about future indo-pak series .. they seem to hit back the reboot button of 90s where almost every test lead to draw. Look at srilanka-eng ongoing test match … srilanka is more concern ab’t maintaining the 1-0 lead rather than pushing for further and if stories are to believe they delay declaration due to master spinner Murli!! .. Where aus, eng are trying to make test matches alive, sub-continent teams are more concerned abt taking moral victories getting from drawn test matches. Last indo-pak series was like this too.
    Coming to the bowling performances u cant suggest nething out of these dull pitches. If a batsman goes into defensive mood its pretty hard for ne bowler to take wicket on these pitches. If kaneria was disappointment so was kumble and harbhajan. If sami and tanvir didn’t pose much threat so did zahir and company.
    But for batsmen if nething was to be tested here, it was their concentration. Guys who put their concentration in place, have looked like unbeaten .. examples are Misbah and Laxman. But my admiration goes for ganguly and akmal .. they played their shots quite frequently while scoring big. These kinda game help them to get in confidence. I am not sure ab’t Laxman performance in coming aus series though he looked unbeatable in this series .. but there is more chances of ganguly to score on aus pitches.
    Having said all tht … if aus were playing on these pitches results were inevitable .. reason is simple .. they got pace. Three bowlers bowl above 150 kmh.. and two out of these occasionally touch 158+ mark. They have everything to win a test match.
    Pakistan on the other hand look miserable in every dept. Previously they had good bowlers and they put inspiring performance against aus. But now neither do have quality bowlers nor quality batsmen. Yousuf and younis are exception … but then they shud play their best games against aussies.
    Its pathetic tht ind-pak cricket boards are more concerned about sponsorship and putting discipline on the players … and ignoring the basic problem of cricket … how to produce good quality cricketers?

  2. #2 by Mohamed Anfaal on December 13, 2007 - 7:44 PM

    I quite agree with you khansaab,the tittle of your post hits nail on the head, It’s sad to see, but Pakistan cricket seems to be in shambles right now.
    I also agree with what Mr.Imran khan had to say to an Indian TV channel he made two points, both pretty valid:
    1) If it wasn’t for Misbah the score line could have been 0-3instead of 0-1
    2) Kumbles decleration was delayed.

    Now Mr.Gavaskar has made a statement that it seems Karthik’s 50 was more important than going for a result.All these reiterate your point “defensive victors” but as Imran Khan said this disease seems to plague subcontinental teams we want to win but without the risk of loosing involved,but in this game I dont think that there was any risk involved, when India went for lunch the lead was already 330 where was the need to bat again and I dont think Pakistan would have gone for the target or gotten any where near it, even if attempted.
    But I dont agree about the positives you talk about the series victors, sure India look good and they were the better team in this series and they played better cricket but probably they should have won this series 0-2 if not 0-3.
    All these positives can evaporate quite quickly in Australia,not becoz we all know that aussies are not known to be good hosts,but mainly because when they were in India last they were given a torrid time on the feild, especialy Andrew Symonds and abviously they have not liked it and are eager to give it all back.
    I sincerely hope Pakistan cricket gets back on it’s feet, we want to see a contest out there not dull drab one sided affairs,
    Maybe handing over the reins of Pak cricket to Imran Khan and let him build from scratch that might help,The first name he can put down on his list Misbah Ul Haq.

  3. #3 by Samy on December 15, 2007 - 3:50 PM

    I think India were far too defensive in the 2nd test. I think the declaration was far too late and the batsmen batted very slowly in the 2nd innings, despite promoting Dhoni up the order.
    In the 3rd test, however, I think India were a bit unlucky as the light at Bangalore was pretty good throughout the match except on the final day, when Pakistan were in real trouble. I think the spinners could have dismissed the tail in the 12 overs that were not played, especially after dismissing Misbah.
    About Misbah, i feel the Man of the series award could have been shared between Ganguly & Misbah, since Misbah was the real reason why the result was no 2-0 or 3-0 in India’s favour, more than the late declaration. But probably Sourav’s bowling gave him the edge.
    I think the Zimbabwe series will be a great chance for Pak to regain some of their confidence, before playing Aus.

  4. #4 by Mohamed Anfaal on December 17, 2007 - 8:43 PM

    Khansahab,
    What are your thoughts regarding the India v Australia series. why do aussies have the Tests before the one dayers and not vice versa as is common practice every where else, do you see any sinister design in the scheme of things.
    whats your opinion on reasonings that it’s done so coz visiting teams take a while to get used to the conditions and by the time they do so they are already one down in the series and playing catching up thereon.And why just one 3 day practice game before such an important series.

  5. #5 by Khansahab on December 18, 2007 - 12:41 AM

    Mohammad Anfaal,

    As far as I am concerned it is common practice to hold Tests before ODI’s. I know it didn’t occur in the recent India Pakistan series but it has happened many times before.

    About the 3 day practice match, I think both teams are just too confined for time. I do not discern anything sinister. I think Aussies have the edge for various reasons- mental strength, fielding, home conditions, pace bowling et al.

  6. #6 by Hrishi on December 18, 2007 - 3:07 AM

    Mohammad Anfaal,

    When India toured Pakistan in 2006, the tests were held before the ODIs (India lost the test series 0-1 and won ODIs 4-1). Before then, when Pakistan toured India, it was the same order (Test series drawn 1-1 and ODI series 4-2 in Pakistan’s favor). As Khansahab says, this isn’t unusual.

    Hrishi

  7. #7 by Mohamaed Anfaal on December 19, 2007 - 12:01 PM

    Khansahab,hrishi,
    i submitted a post yesterday thanking both of you for your responce, but I guess somehow it got lost.
    I also wrote about Indias strength and weakneses on Aussie tour,
    As always in India’s case batsmen are expected to do well , bowlers now need to come to the fore for india to have any realistic chance of making a fight,
    But if the batsmen struggle to find their feet than I guess it will spell doom for India

  8. #8 by Hrishi on December 22, 2007 - 4:23 AM

    Khansahab,

    I think you should continue to post articles here.

    Are you also the owner of Khansahab.com?

    Hrishi

  9. #9 by Hrishi on December 23, 2007 - 6:05 PM

    Khansahab,

    I understand what you mean, but I can’t help being involved about such things. It’s not about whether they win or I win. After all, it matters little what folks like us think. For that reason, I never posted on cricinfo although I have followed comments by you guys on cricinfo for many months. I feel like I know your personalities. The discussion on cricketfiles was fun in the beginning, more like a friendly debate, but started spiraling into a free-for-all fighting. I will still read cricketfiles, but I probably will refrain from commenting.

    You should still write your pieces here and cross-post on cricketfiles. This blog may have had a slow start but who knows what the future holds.

    Chalo, hope everyone is having fun in the holiday season.

  10. #10 by Hrishi on December 24, 2007 - 3:47 AM

    I see that folks are already missing Javed. His comments and his manner of expressing his opinions may be controversial and often wrong, but he certainly is very entertaining and one of the reasons why people would read the comments section. I hope all is well with him. It may be that he is out of town during Christmas vacation. I hope he comes back in time for the first test.

  11. #11 by amit. p on December 25, 2007 - 5:51 AM

    are hrishi bhai, naraz kyon hote ho. Blog hota hi hai masala k liye, sometimes guys tend to cross the limit but leaving away from the site is not a good solution. You cant get moderate kinda guys all the time, btw its admin responsibility to look upon these matters. CF is a new blog so i think admin is reluctant of taking hard measures. Why u r taking such hard measure urself by not commenting there. Chill man!

  12. #12 by Samy on December 25, 2007 - 9:21 PM

    Khansahab, it will be interesting if you could review the year 2007 for the Pakistan and Indian cricket teams. You can write about how the teams fared, the events that grabbed the most headlines, the best and worst performances of the year etc, and what the readers feel about their team’s performances.
    And do keep updating the blog,the comments will come over time.

    Hrishi, I know you don’t like certain comments, but such people, with whom we tend to disagree, are there everywhere. They will not stop expressing their views, so you should not stop expressing yours. Just ignore those comments, and keep posting your views on cricketing matters.

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