India’s thrust should be on variety in bowling
The mindset of Misbah and his boys will be a key factor in the second ODI at Kolkata. Pakistan cannot take it easy because they are 1-0 up in the series and every match is a new one.
Who would have thought that India, after going 1-0 up in the Test series against England, would end up losing the series! Modern-day cricket, especially the limited-over game, doesn’t allow one to be laidback and think that the opponent has to do the catching up.
With new rules being implemented in the 50-over game, captains and players the world over will take time to settle down. Which is why every game is a new one.
There are two specific problem areas for Pakistan. Their fast bowlers will not be able to reverse swing the ball as Indian outfields at this time of the year are moist, and the ball will take a lot of time to ‘rough up’. So, the end overs will have to be bowled with more discipline as there would be very little margin of error. I believe Umar Gul has to take more responsibility in the end overs. He has a good yorker and is more experienced than Irfan and Junaid.
Secondly, Pakistan will be bothered by Saeed Ajmal not making much of an impact with the ball. He is a very good spinner, but one has to remember that India have very good and capable batters to take on Ajmal. I feel that Ajmal is also done in by the new rule of having one fielder less outside the ring. That may have mentally pushed him a bit more on the defensive. But if you are a champion, you will find a way to come out of it.
India will need to find a way out of the present situation. In order to do so, they will have to play with five regular bowlers; the fifth one could be a regular all-rounder. India’s bowling is new and will take time to create the necessary thrust required at this level. For that, variety in attack could be a key factor.
The Indian batting is full of class performers. That they are not performing at the moment is a different matter, but where teams have 2 or 3 players to create the difference, India have 4 to 5 game-changers.
That is the most important reason why Pakistan should be alert.
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The writer is a former Pakistan captain