Thursday, November 01, 2007

They're here

Pakistan have arrived in India for their tour. Enough has been said about the kind of emotion that surrounds India-Pakistan cricket, so I'm not going to go off on that again. There will be the usual cliches written about how this is bigger than the Ashes, which is true, and about how it's like a war minus the shooting, which is also true. What will often not be written about is that the cricket is not always the best and that often, the hype simply overpowers the cricket. India resumed cricketing ties with Pakistan in 1977-78, a mere six or so years after the Pakistan Army surrendered at Dhaka, bringing Bangladesh into existence. Pakistan won that series 2-0, and I became a huge fan of Pakistani cricketers. When Pakistan returned to India in 1979-80, they were crippled almost immediately by the loss of Imran Khan, and not for the first time, a touring team simply failed to deal with the intense pressure that Indian crowds can generate. They also didn't deal too well with the Indian quicks, especially Kapil Dev, and batted with little discipline. This opening pair of series set a fairly high standard that most series since then have failed to live up to. Some of the most boring cricket I've ever seen in my life has also come about in India-Pakistan games, sometimes a function of the pitches, sometimes of the players. And when India won in Pakistan on their 2004 tour, they did so in front of empty stadiums, despite all the bleating on about how much Pakistani crowds were starved of cricket in a 9-11 world. And of course, India's last tour of Pakistan saw some spectacularly lopsided batting performances, reducing me to tears of frustration. (India, of course, managed to waste the only time an Indian quick has taken a hat-trick in the opening over of a test match - Irfan Pathan's disappointment must have been huge; he hasn't quite been the same bowler since). Still, beating Pakistan is sweet. Beating Pakistan in Pakistan is the best (its only happened once in my lifetime). Beating Pakistan in India, however, is a more intense experience, especially if the crowd gets involved. For what its worth, I think this series won't be a dull one. For one, I don't think the pitches will be absolute roads. Secondly, the bowling attacks are decent on both sides (and the Pakistani batting is a bit dodgy). Thirdly, there is the matter of unsettled captains. Lastly, Pakistan knows it is in India - they'll pick up their game (the team in 1979-80 was the last one to have a collective conniption while touring India). (Oh, and stand by for all the usual silliness of Indian fans painting their faces with the colors of both teams and carrying giant flags made up of both countries' flags; Pakistani fans are too clever to indulge in that sort of idiocy).


Blogger Viswanathan said...

This series could be a series to watch.

Both the India and the Pakistan teams are in a state of flux.

The needle could be Twenty20 loss suffered by Pakistan.

To get the Indian crowds on their feet, I think we need Sreesanth at his aggressive best(minus the tantrums) and some hard and cheeky hitting by Uthappa.

To have us gulping, we need Shoaib Akthar to pin our batsmen on the backfoot and spread eagle the timber.

10:43 PM  
Blogger straight point said...

i don't know about Pakistan but this series will provide us enough clue about how indian team will be shaping up for future both in Tests and ODIs...

with some good performances in ODIs from youvraj it will be very difficult to keep him out of Tests...

it will also be interesting here on how SRT and SG combo at opening in ODIs will play keeping an eye on Power play advantage...and how we shuffle our middle order in 5 ODIs with respect to trying our Rohit Sharma, Badrinath, Pradeep Kmar and probably Manoj Tiwari too...

and yes i do feel it will be like a do or die series of to enigmas of Indian and Pakistan cricket...

Sehwag and Shoaib i.e.

so keep hooked guys...we are into 'interesting times' as they say in china..

3:25 AM  
Blogger John said...

Ganguly and Laxman are both on notice as far as the Test lower middle order is considered. Sehwag, Yuvraj, Gambhir and Uthappa are all knocking on the doors of the Test team. This means that the Test opening line-up isn't too certain either. One of Jaffer or Karthik may end up sitting out in Oz if Sehwag's able to pull off a few fine performances.

4:10 AM  

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