Khansahab previews the much anticipated India vs Australia series starting October 9th and the T20 tournament featuring Pakistan in Canada which starts October 10th.
INDIA VS AUSTRALIA
Indian fans will have high expectations with this one. India fought back well against Sri Lanka after the Test series loss and won the ODI series. This series is crucial for many different reasons but the obvious ones are as follows:
1) India rise in world cricket and Australia’s newly discovered vulnerability means that both teams are on a level playing field, almost
2) Australia face a threat against genuine spin and Indian spinners particularly Harbhajan, have performed well against the Aussies of late
3) Ganguly has announced that he will retire after this series. Hence all eyes will be on Ganguly and his fans will hope he bows out gracefully
4) There is tremendous rivalry between the Indians and the Australians. Both teams have not been friendly to each other in recent memory. Sreesanth and Harbhajan have had trouble with the Aussies, Ponting was severely criticised by Gavasker for claiming a catch, and both teams have complained about the behaviour of the other. Perhaps the triggering incident of this animosity was when the Australian players rudely pushed the BCCI chief when they were having a photograph taken in a past series.
In terms of the pitches and climate, October is generally warm in India and the pitches are expected to play as standard- conducive to swing in the early overs but then favouring spin generally as the days progress. India’s biggest advantage will definitely be its spinners. Whereas Kumble has not been in prime touch recently, he has a great record inside India and Harbhajan has benefited from a resurgence of form.
There must be a mention of the Fab Four of the Indian batting line up. As stated earlier Ganguly has announced his decision to retire after this Test series. There have been reports from the BCCI circles that this is the last straw for the Indian Fab Four. Tendulkar has been granted an opportunity to break Lara’s record (he is just 76 runs behind) whereas the recent Wall built in Bangalore in Dravid’s honour seems like a subtle message to the legendary batsman to consider his retirement and exit from the game with some grace.
To conclude then, this is a very important series for various reasons and is being considered as a marathon battle between two cricketing giants. It will be great to see the Indian batting legends pile up runs and retire on a good note.
T20 TOURNAMENT IN CANADA
Although most cricket fans will consider this to be a meaningless tournament, it has gained some interest from Pakistan fans simply because of the absence of cricket in the country. A decent performance in this competition can provide some relief to the depressed Pakistan cricket fan.
The squad has been announced and is as follows: Shoiab Malik (c), Misbah ul Haq (vc), Shahid Afridi,Salman Butt,Shoiab Akhtar, Sohail Tanvir, Younis Khan,Kamran Akmal,Khalid Latif,Umer Gul,Anwar Ali,Abdul Rauf, Saeed Ajmal,Fawad Alam,Sohail Khan
Nasir Jamshed’s exclusion has been queried who has been replaced by Khalid Latif. Although Latif has been a prolific scorer in domestic cricket, he appeared out of form in the RBS domestic T20 Cup. Nasir was out of form too, but deserved a chance in this tournament. Disappointingly Malik is still captain.
A surprising name in the squad is that of Shoaib Akhtar who performed poorly against Surrey and then did not pick many wickets in the RBS Cup, although he was economical.
There have been many calls to drop Shahid Afridi although he was brilliant with the ball and effective with the bat in the RBS Cup. Afridi is in form and there will be enormous expectations from him.
This T20 Cup will not do much to alleviate the Pakistan team’s hapless standing in world cricket, but it will provide some entertainment to the cricket starved Pakistan cricket fans.