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Matchplay to aid India’s cause

india Updated: Sep 15, 2007 00:37 IST
Imran Khan

The Twenty20 World Cup is really proof that the connoisseurs of cricket were right in thinking that it’s a really unwatchable format. It’s a version of the game that is more about chance and less about skill. This means that there will be plenty of upsets and dramatic turnarounds, but what there will not be is a test of skill and ability.

However, I would also have to grudgingly admit that the one thing that this game does test is nerve, especially of the captain. A good captain will excel.

Both India and Pakistan have entered this tournament with young captains, and this tournament will show whether they are calm and nerveless enough to lead their teams. MS Dhoni seems to be a good choice.

There is certain freshness and exuberance about the Pakistan side that augurs well for the future, no matter what happens in this series. Shoaib Malik looks like a calm, responsible individual, but he is yet to firmly establish his presence in the team. The big bonus he has is in the form of Geoff Lawson.

I have played with and against the former Australian pace bowler, and the qualities he has are ideally suited to what Pakistan needs right now. He is a pace bowler and that is a huge bonus. Since he himself was a player with limited talent but a great ability to work hard, he will give the team the sound base of discipline and hard work it needs.

I don’t really believe in coaches, but if there is the need for one, PCB could not have found a better fit for the team.

A lot has been made of whether the team has been affected by the Shoaib Akhtar fiasco, but I don’t think such incidents affect the dressing room after the initial shock.

However, it is still a big tragedy for Pakistan cricket to see their foremost bowler once again let himself down. Shoaib Akhtar should have been the world’s best fast bowler in the last decade. Unfortunately he did not have the self-discipline.

Coming back to Friday’s game, it’s going to be a closely fought contest, but I think the Indians hold the edge. They have played a good, hard series in England. The key will be whether the bowlers are able to contain Shahid Afridi and how the batsmen handle the pacers