Calcutta: Former Pakistan captain Ramiz Raja has called on India to “sharpen up tactically” in the third Test against England, which gets underway on Wednesday.
“It’s easy to blame captain (Mahendra Singh) Dhoni, but I’d blame the bowlers for giving away singles to the new batsmen at the crease... Also, India must read the situations better,” Ramiz told The Telegraph.
Speaking late on Monday, after travelling through the day from Lahore (via Wagah, Amritsar and New Delhi), Ramiz added: “Frankly, England’s comeback in Mumbai, after the nine-wicket loss in Ahmedabad, left me stunned...
“It’s not easy for visiting teams to recover so quickly in the subcontinent, yet England did so within days... They lost the toss, but did everything right to win so comfortably.”
Asked if he’d continue with an attack featuring three spinners and a lone quick, Ramiz said: “I’d prefer 2-2... India’s attack in Mumbai was spin heavy... I haven’t seen the Eden wicket, but I’d probably play Ishant Sharma in place of Harbhajan (Singh)...
“I’ve been following the drama over the wicket... I see little point in making such a fuss over it... If you want a square turner, ask for it quietly... All concerned should have reacted with restraint...
“Cricketers must back themselves on any wicket. I remember there were occasions when Imran Khan banned certain players from having a look at the 22 yards, for they’d get jumpy and unsettle the rest.”
Left to Ramiz, then, Harbhajan will have to wait for his 100th cap.
According to Ramiz, India should actually prepare good wickets which allow for “slow turn” as the Test progresses. “Ahmedabad worked out just fine for India,” he remarked.
“You have to bat well and have enough runs to give the spinners a comfort level... But, as important, you’ve got to read the situations well... From reading the wicket to getting the XI right,” Ramiz pointed out.
In Ramiz’s opinion, Kevin Pietersen remains the top danger man as India seek to regain the lead in the four-Test series.
“Alastair Cook, the captain, will remain solid... Play with character... But it’s Pietersen who spells most of the trouble for India,” Ramiz maintained.
Ramiz, by the way, believes the series is a challenge for young Virat Kohli. “He’s got to also prove himself on wickets which turn... It’s a test for him.”