Who said Pakistan's bowling is world class?
It is not the time to find scapegoats, but to do some soul-searching, writes Inzamam-ul-Haq.
We lost to India and lost badly. There are no two ways about it. It is not the time to find faults and scapegoats, but to do so some serious soul-searching.
I have been doing just that. And I have come to one conclusion: Our bowlers are not really world class, as the "experts" would have us believe.
What is world class, after all? In my book, Imran Khan was world class, so was Wasim Akram. In my book, Anil Kumble is world class. On a dry, bald, flat wicket he got eight Pakistan wickets. And remember, he had no match practice. My flock of pacers is nowhere near that class.
Sachin Tendulkar is world class because he has scored runs in every part of the world, against every opposition. Similarly, you could trust Wasim and Imran to bowl out the opposition on any surface. They didn't rely only on pace. They had lots of ammunition in their armoury to suit every surface. The same cannot be said of my pace quartet who have bowled well only under helpful conditions.
Moreover, the pre-series hype about our pace bowling versus India's batting seems to have gone straight into their heads, as a result, they have forgotten how to bowl straight. Some former players, commenting on the game, have added to the hype by subscribing to this theory. When people like Imran himself says that our attack is world class, everyone is bound to believe him. For, he should know. But the ground reality is something else. Right from the start of the one-day series, it is our bowlers who have let the side down.
In Multan, the hype balloon finally burst and all the hot air has escaped. Hopefully, it will bring my pacers down to earth and they will be able to pick themselves up and perform to their potential for a change.
Yes, the wicket was a letdown, but it was by no means the cause of our downfall. Some reports suggested that the wicket was shaved bald on the eve of the game on the instructions of vice-captain Yousuf Youhana. In Pakistan, we have this bad habit of finding scapegoats.
But Youhana need not worry. I do not pay heed to such "stories" or to the ones that hinted at a players' revolt in the Pakistan camp.
Let me set the record straight about the pitch, though. When I consulted the curator before the match, I was told it would be hard and firm and the ball would carry to the 'keeper on the first 2-3 days. It was on the basis of this information that we left out Danish Kaneria and chose Saqlain Mushtaq. At the end of the first day's play when I confronted the curator, all he could offer was a sheepish "sorry". By then, the damage had been done.
There is a lot of talk about preparing a green-top in Lahore, the venue of our next match. Yes, I would love to have one, but I also know that it is not possible.
At least in the 12-14 years that I have been around, I have not seen, let alone play, on a green-top in the sub-continent. What we will probably have is a pitch with a bit grass and bounce that will aid some lateral movement.
From now on, it's karenge ya marenge and we will go all-out to force a win. Leg-spinner Kaneria, therefore, will have a role to play. The pain of losing a Test match on my home soil is buried deep inside me. It's hurting like hell. I am hoping my players will also be feeling the same way. I am also hoping that they will rise like the phoenix from the ashes and avenge our first ever Test loss to India on Pakistan soil in Lahore. (Café Cricket)