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Zaheer should have played Duleep ties

I am thinking hard about India's main bowler Zaheer Khan. He is the most experienced, yet still not at his best, writes Javagal Srinath.

india Updated: Mar 26, 2004 00:31 IST

The men in blue have made the country proud. This victory will go a long way in helping Indian cricket grow at all levels. Every win, be it Test matches or one-dayers, throws up a few individuals who perform like champions. He could be an established player or a completely new entrant. And once the senior members start respecting a youngster for his achievements, the confidence level of that youngster rises.

Wednesday's victory has put Irfan Pathan on a different pedestal altogether. The Baroda boy displayed tremendous character and temperament under extreme pressure. This pressure-filled tournament was an invaluable experience not only for Pathan, but also for the big guns in the team.

Although he was not selected for the first two games, Irfan sat out and watched the nail-biting finishes. I know a lot of people, who prefer to feel the heat while sitting in the reserves. But this lad is definitely not one of them. He grabbed the opportunity to establish himself as one of the strike bowlers. On Wednesday night, Irfan Pathan truly looked India's number one bowler. Hats off to the new Indian spearhead.

That leaves me thinking hard about our main bowler Zaheer Khan. He is the most experienced bowler in the side, yet still not at his best. I totally agree that sub-continent wickets are not the ideal platform for any fast bowler to make a comeback from injuries. But as a strike bowler, Zaheer should make quick changes and learn to get back into the groove as soon as possible. In my opinion, he should have played a few four-day Duleep Trophy matches before the tour.

The victory in the One-day tourney will have a huge bearing on the Test series. Indian bowlers were far better than their Pakistani counterparts. The Pakistani think-tank got carried away by the raw pace of bowlers. I am sure, they have finally realised that there is more to fast bowling than sheer pace. On the contrary, the Indians bowlers' impeccable line and length was far more effective and penetrative.

Shoaib Akthar appears to be too obsessed with his pace. His immediate seniors, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis magnificently displayed the art of fast bowling. They imparted movement to the ball and were quick too.

The two Ws were not only the sultans of reverse swing but also the exponents of new-ball bowling. Shoaib's few spells might cause some problem to the Indians during the Test matches, but his showing in one dayers will only help Indians to counter him in the Tests more confidently.

To me, Imran Khan is perfectly right in asking for a bowling coach for Pakistan. For Pakistan, it's still an embarrassment of riches when it comes to fast bowling, but all it requires is someone like Imran to give polish to the available talent.

Sachin's catch that dismissed Inzamam was the turning point of the match. The dew on the ground by the end of the match fully justified the reason why Inzamam decided not to field under the lights.

Laxman's return to form was also a big relief for the Indian camp.

India's mission is half accomplished. It's time for the Indians to fight for supremacy in the traditional form of cricket, the Test matches. (CHIVACH SPORTS)

First Published: Mar 26, 2004 00:28 IST