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Pakistan has the talent

The main problem with the Pakistan team is the lack of a good opening pair, writes IMRAN KHAN


The main reason why a foreign coach was hired for Pakistan was to help the team improve on strategies. The team had been short on planning though there was a wealth of talent. The coach who was hired had become a legend for his laptop-style of functioning, and there was a lot of optimism in Pakistan cricket circles.

Unfortunately, there seems to be none of the promised strategising so far, with the team lurching from one series to another without a clue as to where it is headed.

The main problem with the Pakistan team is the lack of a good opening pair in recent times. The team has tried at least 20 combinations in as many months.

After much trying and testing, they have ended up in the World Cup with a completely new pair.

Unfair

Imran Nazir, who has been languishing in the mediocrity of Pakistan domestic cricket for six years, is back as opener. He failed at the top level because he lacked the technique to cope with the new ball. To bring him back during such a huge occasion so suddenly is unfair both to the team and the player.

The team had resisted playing Younis Khan at number three for a long time, though it was quite obvious that he possessed the temperament and the technique to play at that position.

The county cricket mindset prompted the think-tank to go on the defensive and play bits-and-pieces players rather than specialists. Fortunately, Younis is now playing at that position, but I still feel that the batting line-up is not what it should be.

— Photo: AFP

SPIN FORCE: Danish Kaneria should have always figured in Pakistan's one-day scheme of things since he has the ability to pick up wickets.

What I am most worried about is the position at which Inzamam bats. He comes in much lower than the number four position he is best suited for. He needs to lead from the front and that is not possible when he is batting down the order.

The bowling too is not as good as it could be. The Asif-Akhtar affair is still not clear — I feel the management is doing the right thing if both the players are injured but the board has handled the matter very badly. The bowlers have injury issues, and hopefully they will not break down midway through the tournament.

The return of Danish Kaneria is a welcome move, though I still cannot understand why he was not part of the team's one-day plans. An attacking leg-spinner is always an asset in ODIs because he is a wicket-taking bowler. That the team preferred to leave out a good specialist bowler so far once again shows what a defensive mindset it has.

When I was captain in 1992, I had planned my team for a year, and was busy choosing the right combination from many months beforehand. A good team needs planning, not just stabs in the dark.

The Pakistan team will take on the host West Indies on Tuesday. It will be a big game for them, and hopefully are prepared and acclimatised for the occasion. The team has the talent and can still do well. But once again, if they do well it will be in spite of the system and not because of it.

(Gameplan)

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