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Inzy's decision cost Pak the tie

I haven't seen more dangerous bowler than Irfan, who can make use of helpful conditions, writes Javagal Srinath.

india Updated: Feb 12, 2006 18:57 IST
Javagal Srinath (PTI)
Javagal Srinath (PTI)

Inzamam's decision to bat after winning the toss surprised many. It is the host captain and the coach, who not only have a say in preparation of the pitches, but also assumed to have the local knowledge better than anyone else.

It was believed that the pitch was supposed to take turn later in the day and that made Inzamam put India in to bat. But in the sub-continent, the matches are so much tilted towards batting that anything less than 300 runs becomes an achievable target.

Although the pitch did encourage some movement in the initial few overs of the first innings, using that condition to the hilt without wasting a ball remained the crucial factor.

I have seen no bowler more dangerous than Irfan Pathan, who can make use of those helpful conditions. Under such conditions, most of the bowlers may beat the bat several times and appear good but Irfan does strike in terms of getting wickets. Seldom does he miss on such opportunities.

Sreeshanth, who struggled in the previous game, came out with flying colours at Rawalpindi. He moved the ball mainly shaping out, used the short pitch effectively and in the end did bowl some good slower ones to bring in variety.

Apart from his bowling, what impressed me most was his attitude. For someone who was ill and down the previous day, he did come out to play the game with verve. It's an irony in cricket that whenever a player is coming out of a niggling injury or a brief illness, he puts up a performance which could be above expectations.

Sreeshanth could learn quite a few lessons from these two outings. He must understand the significance of being preferred over his much experienced colleagues like Ajit Agarkar and Zaheer Khan.

Opening the bowling for the country straightaway is rare, but a great opportunity in one's career. Only the bowlers who have missed out on it or messed up when the opportunity came would realise it.

Indians, after taking four early wickets, let Shoaib Malik and Younis Khan to establish a decent score. One might even think that bowlers could have done a better job from that position of strength.

I feel Pakistan batting is equally deep and may be the Indians missed the regular fifth bowler. Sachin and Sehwag are effective on real turners, but not on flat wickets in Pakistan. It would have been risky to rely on them for 10 overs.

One can understand Afridi's dismissal as that's the way he generally plays, but Yousuf should have dropped the anchors. His dismissal made things easier for the visitors.

Sehwag gave a dream start to Indian batting. He treated the Pakistan bowlers with absolute disdain. Asif, who remained a thorn in the flesh for the Indians, could not get much out the dry condition bowling second.

Once it was a normal practice that the team would always bat first and put the pressure on the team chasing. These days, the batting conditions are so good that the team winning the toss would want to field first to let the bowlers make use of the early conditions. In hindsight, if Inzamam had opted to bowl, it could have been Asif who would have relished instead of Sehwag.

Now with the series evenly poised and the next couple of games being day and night affairs, the team think-tank must put their heads together to read the conditions well before picking the final eleven. When the teams are of equal strength, it's the best eleven which can produce results.

First Published: Feb 12, 2006 12:52 IST