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Some tough decisions need to be taken

It was another nail-chomper. This India-Pak series is turning out to be everything that it has promised to be, writes Sunil Gavaskar.

india Updated: Mar 19, 2004 23:53 IST

It was another nail-chomper. This India-Pak series is turning out to be everything that it has promised to be.

There's been some terrific batting in the first two games and it was about time the bowlers got their time in the limelight.

Inzamam-ul-Haq's decision to field first was no doubt encouraged by the moisture that is so much a part of the northern part of the sub-continent as summer has not quite arrived.

It was a brave decision because it had not worked in the first one-dayer and India have in recent times shown their distaste for chasing targets.

Yet, with his strength being fast bowling, one sure way to add to that is to give them conditions that will help them shackle this strong Indian batting line-up.

Both Shoaib and Shabbir utilised the moisture and the little grass coating on the pitch to pick early wickets and put India under pressure.

Shabbir who sprayed the ball on both sides of the wicket also produced three lethal deliveries to get the first three batsmen out.

The ball with which he got the previous match's century-maker Tendulkar was a beauty that angled in and then left the little champion even as he tried to stop playing at it.

It does need a special delivery to get rid of a special batsman and Shabbir also got Sehwag and Laxman with deliveries that were top-class.

Shoaib was unlucky for he had catches missed off his bowling but he too kept the pressure up by being constantly at the Indian batsmen.

Ganguly and Dravid did the repair act and just as Ganguly was looking to get into control mode, he was snapped behind the wicket and Dravid for once got out playing a shot with more of a horizontal bat than the vertical one he is so famous for.

Yuvraj, who has matured considerably as a cricketer, salvaged the situation somewhat in the company of the lower-order batsmen after Kaif fell cheaply once again.

Pathan and Balaji showed plenty of resistance and their contribution helped India put up a total that they could hope to defend.

Pakistan too did not get off to a great start as they began their chase and the way Pathan got the ball to swing and move both ways begged the question why he was not in the eleven for the first two games.

Another talented youngster, Yasir Hameed not only thwarted him but also played some glorious shots off all the bowlers.

If he missed out on a century at Rawalpindi because he responded to his captain's call for a quick run, he had only himself to blame this time, for missing out on a ton before his home crowd.

In his keenness to get it with a flourish, he did not pick the slower one from Pathan to be caught at cover just two short of what would have been a top century.

India might have felt they had a chance when they got him with 75 still to get, but Razzaq and Moin Khan brought all their experience into play by playing some fine counter-attacking cricket that took Pakistan home with some overs to spare.

Pakistan have played an unchanged side for the last two games and have won them, but India may well have to look to plugging the areas where they feel they have not been well served.

It's a tough call and sometimes tough decisions need to be taken in the interests of the team. But before taking that, there has to be an acceptance that changes are needed.

You will soon know what the think-tank thinks.

PMG

First Published: Mar 19, 2004 23:53 IST