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|January 17, 2000||
Tournament wide openWasim Akram
We have reached the middle of the tri-series, but I still feel that the tournament is wide open Though India has yet to win a match, they still can make it, winning the next five matches -- after all, our hosts had a similar streak in the World Cup.
At present, the top order is struggling in all three teams. It was encouraging to see Saeed Anwar, getting a few today, but Inzamam, Ijaz and Wasti are not doing well. As far as India are concerned, they too are having a tough time on the bouncy pitches against the white Kookaburra ball.
Basically, these pitches are vastly different from those in the subcontinent, and these are not the best conditions to blood youngsters.
The media is agog with speculation as to where Sachin Tendulkar should bat. I am sure Sachin is the best judge on the matter. However, my opinion is that he should bat at number 4. Sachin, and to a lesser extent, Ganguly are the backbone of the Indian batting. If both are sent in at the top, a bad start will leave India gasping. This is exactly what happened in Sydney, where McGrath got the top guns cheaply and left India with a meagre 100 on the board.
An inexperienced and out-of-form middle order could not cope with the formidable attack on a hostile pitch. As far as the bowling is concerned, the underrated Robin Singh can make a more significant contribution with the ball. At his pace, he can only make an impact if he comes in as first change. When he is brought on later than this, he goes for runs and is rendered ineffective. Anil Kumble, too, should not be judged harshly on his performance here. He is a great bowler and needs a good total to defend. You can't expect him to win matches for India when the team has got bowled out for a paltry total like 100. Coming back to today's match, our batting let us down once again. If we had around 20-25 runs more we would have given them a tough time.
Looking at the positives, Razzaq once again proved that he is one of the most promising youngsters in world cricket. He, along with Azhar Mahmood are going to win quite a few games for Pakistan in the future.
Shoaib Akhtar has also performed consistently during this tri-series. He adds firepower to our attack and is one of the main reasons we fancy our chances even when we are defending totals of less than 200. I am confident that with the kind of pace attack we possess, we will win more often than lose against India -- especially on Australian pitches.
It is good for Pakistan that we have two wins behind us at this stage. In the next 10 days, we have 5 games coming up -- a tough ask in a country like Australia. Unfortunately, no player or team official is consulted when our board finalises or accepts tour itineraries. Even if we complain, it is too late and sounds as though we are searching for excuses.
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