| RAMEEZ: All praise for Zaheer
Centurion: With Jason Gillespie back home owing to injury, former Pakistan captain Rameez Raja has bracketed the Indian attack on a par with reigning champions Australia. The high marks coincided with another exceptional effort, at SuperSport Park, Friday.
“Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee are outstanding, but Andy Bichel isn’t in Gillespie’s class. And, so, the three-pronged Indian attack (Jawagal Srinath, Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra) is level with Australia,” Rameez told The Telegraph at the end of the New Zealand innings.
By then, the trio had taken its tally to 43 in this edition of the World Cup.
In Rameez’s opinion, the Indians’ ability to “regularly pick wickets” is making the difference. “Srinath brings that serenity to the attack and, because no one understands a fast bowler’s psyche better, is able to speak in the right language to Zaheer and Nehra. It helps...”
Rameez, of course, had much praise for Zaheer. “He’s phenomenal... Getting wickets in important games comes easy... What stands out is the way he varies his length. That’s a reflection of his maturity.”
Nehra, according to Rameez, needs to “handle” himself better. “His hustling run-up reminds me of the young Wasim Akram. He is fond of hitting the deck, but should watch out as he has that slight pause at the time of delivery... Unless he is careful, he runs the risk of injury.”
Describing the Pakistan attack (chiefly captain Waqar Younis, Akram and Shoaib Akhtar) as the disappointment of the tournament, Rameez spoke very highly of McGrath and Lee.
“McGrath is the mean type... He will stick to one length round the off-stump and, then, vary it just a shade to tease the batsman... Moreover, he is always in control which makes it more difficult for the guy facing him... As for Lee, speed apart, his accuracy is unbelievable. It’s an explosive mix.”
Rameez, though, rates Gillespie higher than McGrath and Lee: “I doubt if anybody can match the unplayable balls he unleashes...”
Incidentally, Rameez (chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board’s development committee) declined a comment on whether Akram and Waqar should be made to pack their bags. “There’s a case for encouraging a couple of young quicks but, till I return home and get a feel of things, I wouldn’t like to commit myself on anything.”
Busy with TV commitments for the past five weeks, Rameez should be back in Lahore in a couple of days. “Frankly, it becomes a little difficult — specially if you have been a cricketer — when your country is no longer in the World Cup,”he signed off.