Inzamam?s guts made all the difference in Peshawar | india | Hindustan Times
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Inzamam?s guts made all the difference in Peshawar

Pakistan won an important game at Peshawar. One that has given them a distinct advantage in the series, especially psychologically, writes Arun Lal.

india Updated: Apr 03, 2004 18:11 IST
Arun Lal

Pakistan won an important game at Peshawar. One that has given them a distinct advantage in the series, especially psychologically.

Contrary to popular opinion the difference was Inzamam again. He had the guts to field after winning the toss. I say guts, because for some reason, the entire media and that includes the electronic one as well, castigates the captain if he fields and loses the game. Conversely, if you take batting on an obviously moisture laden wicket, you are hailed as a hero who is setting the example by being positive. It matters little that the team was annihilated and the batsmen could hardly touch a ball in the first 10 overs.

His decision has to be complimented even more as he had lost in Karachi after doing the same. India had scored 349 and despite a splendid century by him, Inzamam still took a lot of flak. It obviously helps to have the wily, street-smart Miandad as coach. I agree with Inzamam that in day games with early starts, if there is moisture on the surface then it is worth exploiting -- to see if you can grab a few early wickets and put the opposition on the defensive. You have to assess when the wicket will play at its best.

In the morning at Peshawar, batting was extremely difficult, as the ball was seaming a lot. Three world-class batsmen were out defending and if the catches had not been put down, it may well have been five for 50. In contrast, the wicket played like a beauty in the afternoon, even the Indian tail-enders made merry.

In case a captain decided to field it is also construed as being negative. There is only one way a captain can go and that is to decide in favour of what will enhance chances of winning. Therefore, by definition, it cannot be described as negative. Even today, because of this media bias, many people believe that India lost the World Cup because Sourav took fielding.

I have seen many captains succumb to this pressure even in the longer version of the game. In the Ranji Trophy, especially in Mumbai and Kolkata over the years, many captains have stumbled. More recently, Hyderabad batted first against Mumbai in the semi-final and lost by an innings and 125 runs since the wicket is quite lethal till lunch on the first day and then starts to ease. The best time to bat is the second to fourth days.

In situations like this, many captains pray that they lose the toss. That is exactly what I was hoping for at Peshawar but Inzamam surprised me. Hats off to him. In day night games other considerations come into play. Most captains prefer to bat because the wicket is dry and you get to bat in the best light. Chasing under lights is not easy, as the wicket tends to slow down and ball keeps low.

Many also feel that you see the ball that fraction later under lights. This has to be weighed alongside the disadvantage of bowling when there’s a fair amount of dew. The ball gets wet, heavy and greasy and it’s difficult to grip, turn or swing. A lot will depend on the dew factor at Lahore.