Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Preparation of war is done in time of peace

The World hopes of Pakistan and India were dashed very early in the World Cup. My firned Muhammed Asif Khan has tried to find out reasons for the debacle of Team Pakistan. A contribution comes from a dear friend from across the border. Enjoy the story.


Muhammad Asif Khan, GEO TV,

The world saw the burly Inzamam-ul-Haq for the last time in the ODI arena. The poor captain of the Pakistan cricket team was under immense pressure due the dismal show by the team in the 2007 World Cup, but did he really deserve all the heat?

The defeat at the hands of Ireland was a shocker no doubt, but to me the loss to West Indies was the beginning of the end. Had Pakistan played to its potential the scenario could have been reverse. Was Inzi the only one responsible? The answer is a big "No".

Looking back at the match against the West Indies where Pakistan had to chase 242 which was not that difficult a target but as expected the opening pair did not provide us with the base that was required, then Younis Khan, the vice-captain, failed to take responsibility and played an unnecessary shot and the burden fell upon the shoulders of the captain, Inzamam and the highest Test runs getter in 2006, Muhammad Yousuf, both were playing steadily and the game was in Pakistan's control until Yousuf went crazy and threw his wicket away after getting settled at the crease with 37 runs, just to remind you all that it was not the first time Yousuf did so, he very seldom takes responsibly in crunch situations.

Anyway with the departure of Yousuf, the one man, Inzamam was encircled by the pressure to achieve the target. The asking rate was creeping all the time and Inzi was left with no other option but to attack and he eventually got out in his effort. Therefore, to me blaming him only, is totally unjust.

In the second match, again the openers failed and the middle order had to face the new ball on a challenging surface. The stiffness of the task reflected in the final score of the Pakistan team. Even after the minimal target of 132, Pakistani fast bowlers I believe bowled well, but they obviously had a slim chance. The surface with a lot of grass was blamed for Pakistan's defeat but the question arises that Why are we not capable of negotiating well with challenging surfaces? The answer is that we at home do not train our youngsters on such surfaces, therefore we should prepare different types of wickets at the domestic level to produce quality batsmen, because "Preparation of war is done in peace".

In both the matches the openers let us down. Along with the players the selection committee should share the blame for not picking the set opening pair for the all important event. Prior to the world cup at least 20 different opening pairs were tried and the selectors ended up with a completely new pair in the World Cup.

Imran Nazir, who had not played for years, was picked as an opener. Bringing him back during such a huge occasion so suddenly was unfair both to him and the team.

Now coming back to the great Inzamam who had called it a day right after the tragic defeat against Ireland, Keeping in view the tremendous agony of losing the coach as well as the pain of getting out of the World Cup which surely hurt Inzi a great deal, his decision seemed truthful but it is still a debatable issue.

Many believe that one should take retirement at his peak, but I disagree and would try to prove my point. Taking the case of Inzamam who has played 378 ODIs should stay at least for a year to give the morally devastated team a bit of support, moreover, with the amount of experience who could be better than Inzamam to guide a youngster, like Javed Miandad guided him.

Miandad, who could have left after the 1992 World Cup as he was at his peak then, but he stayed, many criticised him but I feel he was absolutely correct as his presence gave people like Inzamam the confidence and steadily Inzamam replaced Miandad. Therefore, Inzamam should take the leaf out of Miandad's book.

Whatever happened in the West Indies, we should not forget the services of Inzamam who is undoubtedly the best batsmen produced by Pakistan along with Miandad. He often is compared with Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara but I think his Test record suggests that he is far better than the two gentlemen when it comes to winning matches.

It's time now for the big guns of the past to sit together and find a way out, they should together draft a policy to pull the national side out of a deep hole. They all are giving statements individually on TV channels and forwarding names for captain and vice-captain, which is indeed not helping the Pakistan cricket, whoever would be appointed captain and vice-captain, I am sure these stars of yesteryears would criticise it too.

Therefore they should come up like India did after their team's dismal performance in the World Cup. Instead of passing comments in the media former Indian captains sat together to iron out the issues confronting the Indian team.


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