The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Pakistan will struggle to plug the leaks

Pakistan blundered on most fronts in the Calcutta Test. They chose the wrong team, bowled badly and batted with frail techniques. India were far too superior. What they couldn't do in Mohali, they managed in Calcutta.

The team selection was wrong. They clearly did not do their homework. Everyone knows that if you are playing on Indian pitches, the track would help spinners from the third day onwards. Still they went ahead with only one spinner.

Arshad Khan was badly missed in the second Test. Instead of an experienced cricketer like him, the nod was reserved for a youngster who is still to find his feet in international cricket. Mohammed Khalil wasn't impressive in his first Test against Australia in Perth. He was blooded in a match as big as an India-Pakistan Test and at an imposing theatre like Eden Gardens which can unnerve even the best.

I have nothing against youngsters like Khalil or for that matter Taufeeq Umar. But the basic technique of our cricketers is not as sound as that say of the Indians.

Even Mohammed Sami, who has been around for a few years now, keeps overstepping the line. His no-balls already number 30 in the series. He does not seem bothered by this excess which is distressful.

How beautifully Indians, on the other hand, stuck to the basic. Lakshmipathy Balaji was a prime example of it. He clearly bowled within himself, tried to keep it within the wickets and pitched up to gain whatever movement he could get on an otherwise flat pitch. In batting too, Indians showed extremely sound technique.

They have their basics right. Unfortunately, we in Pakistan are not producing players with basic techniques. Mere talent is no good if your basics are messed up.

Inzamam-ul Haq and Danish Kaneria are the leading lights in batting and bowling but both had an ordinary game. Kaneria suffered from lack of support at the other end.

You do not win Tests without good combinations. Once in a blue moon you might win but it would not be on a regular basis. He is being made to bowl 40-50 overs in every innings and a bowler could get overused.

Inzamam is also drawing flak as a captain but he is not getting the right material within his team. If you do not make 400-500 runs regularly or have not got a good bowling attack, a captain is bound to face pressure. He now has only the Bangalore Test to salvage what appears to be a lost cause. All-out aggression alone is the key but I doubt if Pakistan can plug the leaks in a matter of four days.

As for the Indians, what a joy it was to watch Rahul Dravid in action. He is the backbone of the team, a batsman who unfailingly comes good when his team requires it.

He does it against all oppositions on all kind of wickets. I still rate Sunil Gavaskar as the best Indian batsman ever but it does not lessen my admiration for the Bangalorean.

I would also not forget Dinesh Karthik who played a critical knock in a looming spell of crisis. He batted freely and kept the score rattling even when Dravid had fallen silent for a stretch of period. He allowed Indians the extra time to have a go at the opposition in the second innings.

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