Doing the trick
Irfan Pathan?s historic hat-trick in the very first over of the third Test against Pakistan on Sunday was truly sensational. After forcing Salman Butt to edge to first slip with a sharp inswinger, the left-arm seamer bowled an outswinger to trap in-form Younis Khan plumb in front, and then bowled Mohammad Yousuf with another big inswinger.
Irfan Pathan’s historic hat-trick in the very first over of the third Test against Pakistan on Sunday was truly sensational. After forcing Salman Butt to edge to first slip with a sharp inswinger, the left-arm seamer bowled an outswinger to trap in-form Younis Khan plumb in front, and then bowled Mohammad Yousuf with another big inswinger. The fact that another young bowler, off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, is the only other Indian to have done this (against Australia at kolkata in 2000-01) speaks volumes about the immense cricketing talent in the country waiting to be tapped.
Coach Greg Chappell will have to realise this potential if India is to emerge as the strongest cricketing nation, toppling Australia from the perch. New ideas and discipline need to be injected into Indian cricket. The Board of Control for Cricket in India obviously has as big a role in this as the coach and players and it must rise above the petty politics that usually dog sports bodies in India. Mr Chappell seems to have made all the right moves so far, showing a sensible willingness not to be distracted by controversies — which have become an inevitable part of Indian cricket — and weighing talent equally, whether from Kozhikode or kolkata. Going by the series against Sri Lanka, and the current tour of Pakistan, he has successfully hammered home the message that it shouldn’t be left to one or two players to turn a match around — it has to be a team effort. Thus India’s batting thrust of late has come from Pathan, M.S. Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh, as much as from Rahul Dravid, Virender Sehwag and V.V.S. Laxman.
Mr Chappell and sports scientist Ian Fraser have done well to study legendary players like Don Bradman, Viv Richards, Brian Lara and Sachin Tendulkar to identify methods for training Team India. But perhaps it’s also time to think about having a bowling coach. Great bowlers like Michael Holding and Imran Khan, for instance, have criticised Pathan’s ‘faulty’ grip on the ball that costs him a good deal of pace and accuracy. It’s only by working on such details that a team, however good, can rise to its true potential.