'Powar needs more chances'
Former India captain Dilip Vengsarkar says off-spinner Ramesh Powar should have been given more opportunities to prove himself on the current tour of Pakistan, especially as he could fill the all-rounder's slot that is up for grabs.
Vengsarkar, who was in Lahore to watch the second India-Pakistan Test, said all players in the present team have impressed him.
"But they did not really use the services of Ramesh Powar... he was just given four overs (in the third one-dayer, and six overs in the second match)," Vengsarkar told IANS.
Powar failed to take a wicket in the matches at Rawalpindi and Peshawar.
"I feel he can bowl well, he can bat well, he can be the all-rounder the country is looking for. He could bat at No. 7 and score some runs," Vengsarkar said of the Mumbai player.
He disagreed with the opinion of some experts who hold Powar's "bulky figure" against him.
"He is not bulky; he is stocky. He is a strong man, like Mike Gatting. Have you seen Mike Gatting, Ian Botham? They were stocky guys; they were big guys," he said.
"In India, it often happens that people start calling players like him bulky. If someone is thin, they say he is fit, but it is not so," said Vengsarkar, who still looks fit.
As the Indian cricket board's chief Talent Resource Development Officer (TRDO), a wing that spots talent at the junior level and collects the data, Vengsarkar said he had followed Powar's progress since his days at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore.
"And he has played many matches for Mumbai and West Zone, and he's been consistent throughout. But he has to perform all the time, also," he pointed out. "It depends on the team management as well - how much confidence they have in him. If you don't have confidence in a man, don't play him, as simple as that."
Vengsarkar says he is also impressed with left-arm pacer Irfan Pathan.
"Absolutely. He is a frontline bowler right now. He is the best of the lot, and he bowled extremely well in this Test match and throughout the series," he said.
"He is a very good addition in the team. The selectors did a really good job by picking him for the tour of Australia. He has done quite a lot there."
Vengsarkar, who toured Pakistan in 1978, 1982 and 1984 for Test series, said that if India did not win a single Test before the first Test at Multan on April 1, it was partly due to the umpiring.
He said in those days all touring teams were unhappy with the home umpires of all the countries.
"There were always problems with the umpiring, and I am not talking only about Pakistani umpiring," he said. "Whenever we used to tour Australia or the West Indies etc., the local umpiring was not up to the mark. There was an element of bias also."
But, said Vengsarkar, ever since the International Cricket Council started appointing umpires from a third country, the thinking has changed.
"(Now) there is at least hope for the touring teams. They know they can win a match. That is a big change, and the element of bias has gone out," he remarked.
"When there is an element of doubt, then you lose confidence. One or two decisions go against you, and that's it - you had it," he stressed. "In Test cricket, one or two decisions turn the match upside down. If they don't give Zaheer Abbas or Sunil Gavaskar out, the decision could turn the match."
Vengsarkar said the present Pakistan team is much different from the one he played in 1980s - and so are the spectators.
"The one difference is that the crowds are not here. That is very surprising for me because whenever we played, we had some great crowds," he said of the thin attendance during second Test that Pakistan won by nine wickets.
"But having said that this series has been tremendous for both countries. Both countries have played really well - the one-day series was also very good," he said of India's 3-2 win.
Asked to highlight the strengths of the Indian team, the master batsman of yesteryear said: "If you see, man to man, the Indian team is much better than the Pakistan team. But Pakistan really played in this Test match, especially."
Vengsarkar added that as both India and Pakistan have won one Test each, the third Test at Rawalpindi from Tuesday would be "very important" for both teams.