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This Pakistan team lost aggression

There are enough reasons for the Indians to feel very pleased with their performance. Pradeep Magazine tells more.

cricket Updated: Nov 20, 2007 01:11 IST

The cricket caravan rolls on and at the moment there are enough reasons for the Indians to feel very pleased with their performance against Pakistan. It has been a one-day series that has been won with far greater ease than one would have expected, against adversaries who are known to play much above their strengths when it comes to competing in India.

But this Pakistan team has, strangely, seemed lacking in competitive aggression and energy. I wonder if this Pakistan team, as they now approach the Tests, is too occupied with off-field activities, resulting in them losing focus from on-field action?

Right from day of their arrival in India, most of the Pakistani players are seen either giving interviews to television channels, doing talk shows for them or when not visible, you can read their 'words of wisdom' in the print media. Almost half of dozen of them have become purveyors of words which in return fetch them money. Nothing wrong in that, as the whole world does it. The Indian players too, in the not too distant past, were 'talking' to people through their columns and giving interviews, till the Board finally decided to clamp down on them as this took away their focus on the game.

There would be many who would disagree with such diktats being issued, but it does seem odd when you find players 'on sale' and willing to talk to the highest bidders, that too in the middle of a series.

In fact at Mohali, on the eve of the second one-dayer, the agents of Pakistan skipper Shoaib Malik, invited a 'select' few TV journalists and made a PowerPoint presentation that could help the player and even his teammates get some brand endorsements. Again, nothing wrong in that, but once again all this does leave you wondering how much these off-field distractions affect on-field focus, especially when just a day or two separates one match from the other.

Just to put all this in a proper perspective, remember what Adam Gilchrist had to say when Australia toured India for a Test series in 2004. "I think we're all pretty aware of the opportunities now. There's so much easy money out there - smash-and-grab money, where you do work that is easy and you get well paid for it."

The point Gilchrist was making was that all these distractions during their earlier tour of India had affected his cricket. "I actually fell into that trap last time we came, getting a bit too excited at the prospects."

I know that in Pakistan at the moment there is a feeling that their players have "sold" themselves for money. This is being too harsh on them as they have lost to a much superior side. But, at the same time Pakistani players and their Board have to draw a line between legitimate moneymaking opportunities and greed which affects on-field performance. A tough call, not just for Pakistani and Indian players but also for all other teams that tour India.