| Irfan Pathan
Calcutta: One nine-wicket haul in an under-19 one-dayer against Bangladesh has earned Irfan Pathan a ticket to Australia. Wasim Akram feels Pathan hasn’t done something that deserves so much attention.
“I got nine wickets in under-19 matches, but no one talked about it,” Akram said in a programme organised by a sports channel in the city on Wednesday.
Sourav Ganguly, Ashish Nehra and Zaheer Khan were also scheduled to come for the programme, but didn’t turn up due to personal reasons. Presenter Harsha Bhogle and former India off-spinner Erapalli Prasanna were present.
Akram felt some players are getting too much attention before doing anything substantial. “The hype created around the under-19 team that won the Asia Cup in Pakistan was uncalled for. These players should be left alone and allowed to improve their game properly.”
The former Pakistan captain also made it clear that Pathan should not get the nod in the playing XI during the forthcoming tour Down Under. “He should play in the side games to get the necessary exposure for the bigger stage,” Akram added.
He felt India should be playing with three seamers in the form of Ashish Nehra, Zaheer Khan and Ajit Agrakar, and one spinner. Discussing Nehra and Zaheer’s chances in the series, the master of the craft said: “Variation will be key. They will have to get the ball swinging into the right-hander.”
He felt the left-armers will have to discover the weaknesses of the batsmen and work on that. Akram felt both Zaheer and Nehra have the necessary talent and aggressive intent that are such important ingredients of a bowler’s armoury. “The thing is they have to channelise it in the right direction.”
Along the course of the programme, Akram and Prasanna got into a debate about the likely combination of the team. While Akram felt it’s necessary to have three medium pacers, Prasanna felt India should go in with two pacers and two spinners.
Both agreed on the point that India should always look to win and go in with a positive frame of mind. “For that, India should be playing five bowlers. It’s all about taking 20 wickets and that can be achieved only with five bowlers,” said Akram.
The paceman noted if India have to go in with four bowlers, captain Sourav Ganguly will have to take the extra responsibility of bowling on a regular basis. Akram added adapting to situations will be a key factor for India. “The Australians plan the tour schedule in such a way that a visiting team never gets to acclimatise to the conditions properly.
“The heat in Brisbane is not the kind Indians are used to. The ground will be hard and the ball will be flying around the nose. It’s better the Indian players gets into their groove right away, otherwise things can become a bit uphill. “Mental toughness is another key element and the Indians must not lose heart if they go for runs on a certain day.”
Getting the ball to reverse swing is also important and Akram felt all the team members should take the responsibility of keeping the ball in the right shape so that it reverses later.