Captain, leave Laxman out and go for a bowler
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Captain, leave Laxman out and go for a bowler

Most people feel Pakistan are looking more positive than India at this stage in the Samsung Cup, writes Rashid Latif.

india Updated: Mar 21, 2004 00:50 IST

Most people feel Pakistan are looking more positive than India at this stage in the Samsung Cup. And the reason is obvious -- the more we play against India, the players feel lesser pressure.

The same reason explains why we do badly against India in the World Cup because we only seem to remember our defeats to them in it. These are negative strains. As the matches become regular, Pakistan tend to dominate as it happens in Sharjah. Pakistan is a 'lambi race ka ghoda' (long distance runner) in the context of the two teams.

What Pakistan did in Peshawar was to expose the Indian batting. I do not think VVS Laxman should be playing one-day cricket. Instead, they should have played an extra bowler.

India need to rearrange their batting line-up. Yuvraj Singh and Mohammed Kaif need to come up the order. Kaif is not the sort of batsman who can slog bowlers in the end .

His technique is good and he needs to bat in the first 15 overs. India now have good sloggers in Ramesh Powar, L .Balaji and Irfan Pathan down the order. They can bring more organised batsmen to the top of the order.

Not that Pakistan are not making the same mistake. Shoaib Malik, with better technique, is not suited for the slog.

Most must have been surprised to see Shoaib Akhtar taken off the attack when Sourav Ganguly walked in. That was because Shoaib gets exhausted after four overs. Some were also shocked to see him coming round the wicket to Balaji. But his intention was not to hurt the tail-ender. It was to cut down on the angle so that his edges did not run down to third man for fours. He did the same against Chris Cairns of New Zealand in Sri Lanka a few seasons ago. He did not mean to hit Balaji.

Indeed, Shoaib and the others should have done the same to Ganguly. He should not have been given room outside the off-stump. The Indians ran into Shabbir Ahmed on Friday and it was only expected. Indians struggle on wickets which have bounce and Shabbir, with his height and high arm action, was able to get good lift from the pitch. Shabbir has a better Test and ODI record than either Shoaib Akhtar or Mohammed Sami. He is a world class bowler.

India were able to put up a good total on the board finally. But Yasir Hameed put them on the backfoot with his sparkling play. I do not think any batsman on either side can hit cover drives with such elan as Hameed does.

If Zaheer Abbas was the Asian Bradman, Hameed has it in him to be Pakistan's Tendulkar. But the Indians did not bowl the right line to him. They also needed an extra fielder on the off side to curb him.

I was also surprised to see the Indians take off the slip when Malik was dismissed. Hameed straightaway saw a ball fly through the vacant slips. The Indians were trying to curb scoring whereas they should have been aiming to get Pakistan out.

Ganguly really needs to score now. As wickets kept falling and fast bowlers looked menacing, he kept pushing himself down the order. You do not send the right message to your team with this attitude.

First Published: Mar 21, 2004 00:50 IST