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Reverse swing may not trouble Indians much

The way India played in Australia it was apparent they knew what the ball would do, writes the outspoken former Pak skipper Rashid Latif.

india Updated: Mar 09, 2004 12:15 IST
Rashid Latif (PTI)
Rashid Latif (PTI)

There is a worry in Pakistan camp that Indians might not be susceptible against reverse swing. The way they played in Australia it was apparent they knew what the ball would do. It might still be a mystery for teams like England and South Africa. But that doesn't seem the case with the Indians.

We in Pakistan are very good in "caring" for the ball. We make sure that at least one side of the ball retains its shine. After 30-40 overs, the dry conditions of our sub-continent help the ball to reverse swing. When Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis operated, we tried our best to ensure the ball didn't get wet or too much of sweat was not applied on it.

I remember the Old Trafford Test of 2001 when sweat on the hands of Saqlain Mushtaq didn't allow the ball to dry up enough. Saqlain usually sweats a lot. In order to counter it, and to make sure our fast bowlers got their way, he used to apply a cream to keep his hands dry.

These days I am speaking a lot to Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Sami, who incidentally is from my academy, about the plans they should hatch against the Indian batsmen. Most of the Indian batsmen are greats but everyone has faults. As a coach, you must look at the current fault of batsmen. Sachin Tendulkar for instance does not have a long stride forward and any delivery which comes in quickly from a good length spot, he tends to inside edge on to his stumps.

Tendulkar of course is a genius and I would never forget his double century in Sydney. He clearly was struggling with his form. He had been dismissed a few times driving on the off-side. He cleverly took the centre rather than the off-stump guard. It allowed him to walk on to his off-stump and any deliveries pitched on the middle and leg were worked on the onside beautifully.

He did the same against us during the World Cup. I had got injured and was not there when the Indians batted but if I was there, I would have never let Shoaib Akhtar take the new ball. I use to help Waqar with my inputs. It should have been Waqar with the new ball. Shoaib should have bowled with the old ball. Tendulkar settled that match in the first 10 overs itself.

Now of course it would be Shoaib to start our operations. He is the fastest bowler in the world and he now also has good focus. He is bowling as well with the new ball as he did during the 1999 World Cup. I have been telling him to avoid verbal intimidation and rather let his deeds do the talking.

Let's admit Shoaib is the glamour boy of international cricket. He knows when he is on the field, everyone expects him to strike all the time. He actually enjoys the attention and is known to take 4 or 5 wickets— if the rhythm is right— in a matter of a dozen balls.

Mohammad Sami is not as quick as Shoaib but in terms of consistent speed, he perhaps is the best in Pakistan. He regularly bowls in excess of 145 kmph. He is very quick off the pitch. England captain Michael Vaughan acknowledges him to be the fastest off the pitch. New Zealand batsmen had no clue to his pace. He can also indulge in verbal intimidation, actually lot of young bowlers do it as we saw Irfan Pathan and Brad Williams indulge in it in Australia. Shoaib does not do much talking but he has his own mannerisms and style.

Shabbir Ahmed restricts his menace to his pace alone. He is back from his correctives in Australia and he has pace and bounce which he extracts from his unusual height. The good thing with these three S's is that all are different and bring their own sets of problems for batsmen. Shoaib, Sami and Shabbir are different but all are hostile and genuinely quick.

Rana Naved-ul-Hasan is a youngster who made his debut under my captaincy in Sharjah but was dropped for Sri Lanka, because of which I had a showdown with Aamir Sohail, the then chairman of selectors.

He is a very decent prospect, his pace is better than that of Abdur Razzaq and Azhar Mahmood and he is a very good exponent of reverse swing. He is also a very good batsman. A very steady cricketer who could be a help to the team in more than one area.

All these fast bowlers would be aggressive but then they must not sacrifice control. Aggression and accuracy are both important. That's how you build pressure on batsmen. Indian batsmen are good enough to plunder loose bowling.

Also, let's not presume that all the pressure is on the Indian team. If anything, the members of Pakistan team would face stiffer pressure. You walk on to the field, go out with friends, talk to friends or relatives, there is this constant pleading for you to do well in the series. When you are touring, you have less pressure.

(Former Pakistan captain and wicketkeeper Rashid Latif is still an active player for his country)

First Published: Mar 06, 2004 15:13 IST