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Caught in a web of confusion

Individually, it's the most talented team in the World Cup. But collectively, it's struggling to piece together a convincing win. Looks like a neat - if not the best - way of describing the Pakistan team presently playing in South Africa.

india Updated: Mar 01, 2003 02:47 IST

Individually, it's the most talented team in the World Cup. But collectively, it's struggling to piece together a convincing win. Looks like a neat - if not the best - way of describing the Pakistan team presently playing in South Africa.

The team has in its ranks the best bowler the abridged version of the game has ever seen -- Wasim Akram. Recently, he crossed the 500-wicket mark as well. Skipper Waqar Younis is second behind Akram on the all-time wicket-takers list with more than 400 victims.

The batsman who's credited with the highest individual score ever in the game is also in this team - Saeed Anwar with the masterly knock against India in that one-dayer at Chennai.

The batsman who has scored the fastest hundred ever in one-dayers -- Shahid Afridi --- is also there. Off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq who invented the 'doosra' -- the delivery that has become the most talked about in present times --- is in the pack. The batsman who almost single-handedly won Pakistan the Cup in 1992 -- Inzamam-ul-Haq -- is still around. The fastest bowler the game has ever seen, Shoaib Akhtar, -- he crossed the 100 mph barrier recently -- is also very much there.

With so many star performers, Pakistan are still playing disorderly, unplanned, chaotic cricket. But why do we want to talk about the Pakistan team at all? The Indians are on a tremendous roll and that's what matters. If Pakistan are playing poor cricket that's their problem.

But sheer, raw, bristling talent cannot be totally ignored - even if the team that possesses it happens to be India's principal foe.

So there has to be some reason for the current chaos in the Pakistan camp. It's no secret that Akram wanted to lead the team in his last Cup. It's also no secret that the current captain did not want Akram and some others in this team. It is also common knowledge now, that Anwar would much rather be elsewhere.

The team also has in its midst the match-fixing whistle-blower who landed most of his teammates in trouble --Rashid Latif. His mere presence could be unnerving for some of the players. Given the current wretched form of the batsmen, Akram would be wishing his buddy Moin Khan were there, even if purely as a batsman.

After inventing the doosra the talented Saqlain forgot the pehla as it were. Inzamam got so fixated with losing weight that he lost touch with the bat. And the tearaway Akhtar got so absorbed in crossing the 100-mile barrier he lost his lethal yorker.

So, has this talented bunch been reduced to the status of non-performers?

For India's sake it is to be hoped that Pakistan continue to flounder in the chaos and confusion that they themselves have created. At least for one more match. But conversely, a clash with their traditional rivals could be just the spark that could ignite the passions of the Pakistan players and bring them together in an India-like huddle on the field.

First Published: Mar 01, 2003 02:47 IST