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Doubting Lankans’ integrity is not done

There were some skeptics who suggested that Sri Lanka played under par because they wanted to play India in the finals, but that is utter nonsense, writes Imran Khan.
None | By Imran Khan
UPDATED ON JUL 06, 2008 12:38 AM IST

It’s no surprise that India and Sri Lanka face off in the final today. Everybody had predicted that it would be difficult for Pakistan to make the final, and that is exactly what happened.

A fine win against India notwithstanding, the team lacked bowling power and decisive leadership. It’s batting looked good because the conditions were completely loaded against the bowlers.

Full credit to India. They looked a very good batting side against Sri Lanka on Thursday, and I was impressed with Dhoni’s composure in a pressure match.

There were some skeptics who suggested that Sri Lanka played under par because they wanted to play India in the finals, but that is utter nonsense.

A team that wants to lose does not score 309, and if Sri Lanka fielded below their best, it was because the game was not a must-win for them and often that does rob a team of some intensity.

Coming back to Dhoni, he is not only a fine batsman and keeper, he is also emerging as an excellent leader.

There are some captains who remain captains, and there are some who grow into the role of a leader.

Dhoni belongs to the latter category. I was impressed that he has started coming up the order, playing sensibly rather than explosively, and is able to set an example for his team to emulate.

When Inzamam-ul Haq was captain, it was really mystifying to see him drop himself down the order.

This way he was always sending someone else out to avert crisis. Inzamam was a far more accomplished batsman than Dhoni, but young Dhoni has the makings of a better captain than Inzy.

Looking ahead to the final, India look like they are in better form. Their batting looks in good touch, and on these flat surfaces, they have the ability to chase down any total.

The Lankans would have liked to enter the final with an all-win record, because no team wants to break a winning momentum. They too have some fine in-form batsmen and class bowlers.

Pakistan will be spectators to the final encounter, but they will take some heart from the last two wins.

Misbah-ul Haq looked good as captain in Shoaib Malik’s absence, thereby underlining the folly of appointing the latter as captain for two years. Misbah led with the authority of a man who is sure of his place in the side.

The tournament has been marred by the completely placid nature of the wickets.

They remind me of the surfaces we used to play on in Sharjah — devoid of pace or movement. It might be a good idea to play six bowling options in the final, because in such conditions, you need as many bowlers as possible.


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