| RAMEEZ: Prefers specialist ’keeper
Centurion: Former Pakistan captain Rameez Raja is convinced the Indians will “grow in strength” and they have it in them to go the distance in this World Cup.
“Your pace attack has changed the very profile of the team and, for the first time, as a Pakistani, I felt wobbly before Saturday’s game... With three quality pacers, every Indian must be expecting good things to happen regularly.
“The trio (Jawagal Srinath, Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra) has injected that feel-good fervour,” Rameez told The Telegraph during the India-Pakistan match at SuperSport Park.
Rameez, however, feels Sourav Ganguly should play both spinners (Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh) and do away with a batsman. “Look, if six chaps can’t see you through, then I don’t think you should be looking at batsman No. 7... In fact, my personal view is that India must field a specialist wicketkeeper too.
“A specialist, after all, comes as a safety net... Moreover, Rahul Dravid isn’t the chirpy sort and so can’t lift the team — something that’s very important as fortunes can swing wildly in a one-dayer... Indeed, the ’keeper must be the hub of activity. To my mind, Dravid is concerned about not making a mistake. Well, as ’keeper, he needs to be doing much more.”
Though Sourav failed to lead from the front (against Pakistan), Rameez gave him high marks as captain. “It’s evident that the players respect him and he comes through as having a mandate and a game plan. However, the batsman in Sourav has changed. He’s no longer the free-flowing type and appears a bit tight. I’m not sure whether it’s the pressure of not having got enough runs of late, or... Still, he has a superb one-day record.”
Rameez, of course, was all praise for giving an opener’s slot back to Sachin Tendulkar. “He’s your best batsman and, more important, wasn’t comfortable at No. 4. At this moment, getting him to open with Virender Sehwag is the most sensible move. Actually, even Sehwag is such a fine addition...”
A much-in-demand commentator nowadays, Rameez lauded the teams’ gesture of publicly shaking hands before the game. “It sends the right message... That the agenda is cricket, not war... It was also nice that the captains exchanged the team tie.”
Rameez, of course, has always favoured regular cricket-exchanges between the neighbours.