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India's experiments not working

Although the result is too bitter for the Indians to digest, Pakistan have reassured their supremacy in the Asian continent, writes Javagal Srinath.

india Updated: Feb 02, 2006 14:43 IST

On flat pitches, we saw batsmen's encroachment of the bowling space and witnessed an undesired imbalance in the first two Tests of the Indo-Pak series. The Karachi pitch, which had a bit of moisture, allowed the bowlers to rule some parts of the Test.

It not only produced a result, but also brought life to cricket. Although the result is too bitter for the Indians to digest, Pakistan have reassured their supremacy in the Asian continent. India, who were in a position of strength initially, let the opportunities go begging only to lose the series in the end.

Irfan Pathan literally bowled the match-winning first over of the match. But with half the Pakistan batsmen sent back to the pavilion in the first hour, the last four batsmen won half the battle for the hosts by occupying the crease for the next five hours.

One can accept the blinder of a knock played by Kamran Akmal, but not the runs scored by the controversial speedster Shoaib Akhtar. At the crucial juncture when Pakistan was 39 for 6, Indian bowlers needed to bring the element of intimidation. Instead they allowed a match-winning partnership.

There will be a lot of debate and discussions in the coming days on Indian opening slots. The idea of moving the batsmen like a pawn of chess somehow seems ridiculous in a Test match situation. In one-dayers, such experiments seem to work as the pace of the game calls for innovation all the time.

Laxman walking out to open the innings in Karachi was not a great idea at all. Sehwag is a regular opener, averaging around 100 against the hosts. His absence gave the Pak bowlers a psychological advantage.

Though Laxman had opened the innings in the initial part of his career, he had always been reluctant to do so as he felt his style of batting was more effective in the middle order. The positions for the batsmen in Test matches assume high importance in the way they mentally prepare for the game. I have every reason to believe that the Rahul-Greg duo has gone too far in experimenting in the Test matches too.

When it comes to evaluating Pakistan batting, one must conversely assess the Indian bowling too. Pakistan batting truly reflected the Indian bowling strength. One argument could be that the bowlers were completely drained after playing on two flat tracks earlier.

Zaheer and Irfan have bowled with much better pace and penetration in their careers. Both Zaheer in his late 20's and Irfan in the early 20's can afford to bowl with a yard or two of extra pace. Test cricket calls for decent pace and no matter what you learn in terms of line, length and movement at this level, bowlers must keep up with the critical pace all the times.

When it comes to spinners, there is hardly any spinner in the world who has done well in Pakistan.

Indian batting failed because of the pressure of 600-run target. Hardly any team can bat in the fourth innings for over five and half sessions while playing in a saving mode.

The credit of winning the Test certainly goes to the Pakistan bowlers. Shoaib did not get many wickets, but it was his constant speed, which helped the other bowlers like Razzaq and the new-find Asif to reap rewards. In fact, they both must contribute half their success to Shoaib's pace.