By Zaheer Abbas
As the VB Triangular
series drew to a close, the Pakistani team appears
to have regained some of its lost confidence. The
victory against Australia and two against West Indies
have injected the boys with renewed vigor and strength.
Credit must be given where credit is due. The encounters
against Australia as well as against the West Indies,
especially the convincing win against them reflects
the overall vertical trend in performance. While
Abdul Razzaq was the main destructive force and
did the most against the Aussies, taking four wickets
and then batting fervently and responsibly, Yousuf
Youhanna was the main architect of the Pakistan
innings against the West Indies, scoring 105 runs
off 100 balls and leading Pakistan into the finals.
looking Inzamam went on to make 74 runs, giving
the much required boost to the final total of 307.
Pakistan has tried twenty-two opening players during
the last four years. That's a record in itself.
However, trials and experiments seem to have paid
off. Looking at his performance in the recently
concluded Australian tour, Salman Butt seems to
be the right choice to fill the void and open the
innings along with Yasir Hameed or Kamran Akmal.
In the recent past there has been substantial criticism
about the performance of the players - both due
critics, writers and columnists, including myself,
have been much hard and uncharitable. In retrospect
such emotional outbursts and the volley of missiles
seem to be a little unjustified. The Pakistani squad
is mostly comprised of young players who have yet
to undergo the rigors of the same. From domestic
cricket to international arena is a long jump. They
need more exposure to test cricket and regular coaching.
In this perspective, the request made by Pakistani
cricket officials to the English side to play four
Tests instead of three is not only timely, but reflects
the keen observation of the PCB Chairman, Shaheryar
Khan. His comment that the team needs to play more
Test matches is very much in line with his technical
approach and assessment of the problems - mainly
inconsistency - faced by the younger players.
the conclusion of the VB Series in Australia, the
Pakistani contingent will be flying off to India
to play a series of three Tests and five ODIs. Traditionally
it has always been far more exciting to play against
India than any other nation. But the team should
not be made a victim of sentiments and emotions.
It's going to be an important tour in as much as
it would render considerable exposure to the team
and help its grooming. On the bowling side, we have
some good players. There are doubts about Shoaib
Akhtar's fitness but I hope he'll be fully fit in
order to participate in the Indian tour. Indian
pitches are more or less like Pakistani wickets.
If Shoaib is able to control his line, length and
his impulsiveness to bowl faster, he is bound to
produce some very fruitful, if not dramatic, results.