Not the perfect time for such a big series
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Not the perfect time for such a big series

Finally, the much talked about series is upon us. Can't say that I have not been waiting for this for years, writes Arun Lal.

india Updated: Apr 03, 2004 18:08 IST
Arun Lal

Finally, the much talked about series is upon us. Can't say that I have not been waiting for this for years. Whatever anyone may say and however professional the attitude of the current players is, you cannot escape the fact that this is a much-awaited and very special occurrence in the entire cricketing world.

India have done extremely well. With Sourav Ganguly in control, they gel together well with some standout performers like Dravid, Laxman and Tendulkar. The young brigade of Sehwag, Zaheer, Yuvraj, Harbhajan and Kaif have been contributing with match-winning efforts. It is vital that every member of the side continues to perform to potential if we are to prevail over Pakistan. A lot will depend on the opening partnerships on sub-continental batting tracks. Once the team has a good start, with wickets in hand, they can play freely and then any run rate is achievable. Problems arise when a side loses early wickets and then has to be circumspect in its approach. The Indians have the more celebrated batting and the team is now not dependent on a few.

We have the psychological edge too, because of the win against Pakistan in the World Cup. India have played even better cricket since. On the other hand, Pakistan have lost Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Saeed Anwar. It is a time to rebuild. Yasir Hameed, Imran Farhat, Shoaib Malik, Mohammed Sami and Shabbir Ahmed have been the finds for Pakistan in recent times but the onus will be on the seniors -- Inzamam, Youhana, Moin Khan, Younis Khan and Shoaib Akhtar. On paper India have the edge.

But this is not the ideal situation for such a series from India's perspective. We have just returned from the toughest test in cricket -- a full tour of Australia -- and had to fight every inch of the way and play some of the finest cricket by an Indian team, that too for two and a half months. Not to forget the New Zealand tour and the tri-series at home just before that. Has there been enough time to recover? I know that these are the demands of modern cricket but this tour has been pushed in such a hurry that one gets the feeling that other considerations have dominated over those about the teams.

The injuries haven't had time to heal -- another 15 days may even have seen Kumble and Agarkar in the fold. More importantly, mental fatigue is hard to get over. You feel that everything is all right, till you are again under pressure and that is when things start to go wrong. Reactions become erratic and in tight situations, wrong choices are invariably made.

This series is all about pressure and captains on both sides will face severe tests. It is all going to boil down to which team can stick together and play its natural game.

First Published: Mar 12, 2004 01:55 IST