The final countdown curtains! rising! - One day series was a fa..

The final countdown curtains! rising!

- By Ashok Mankad    

One day series was a fabulous contest and the result showed that neither INDIA nor PAKISTAN WON... CRICKET DID...!

AND also of course the hearts of the cricket lovers on both sides of the border, won!

The final encounter is poised interestingly at RAWALPINDI THE HOME OF SHOAIB AKHTAR, the most important player who can matter, along with his captain INZAMAM UL HAQ.

LOT is at stake besides the reputations of the individuals, there is the reputation of the Country involved in being tagged supreme. Such is the cricket craze in both the countries.

My sixth sense says it will be a draw and a lot of runs will be scored knowing the nature Of the wicket at RAWALPINDI AND ALSO the nature of the game .It is because neither side wants to loose and face, the wrath, of the respective fans.

It is only when one is prepared to loose, can one envisage, victory!

It is learnt that YUVRAJ SINGH IS LIKELY TO open to accommodate Saurav Ganguly is not digestible. This change in such a crucial game is too risky and fearful.

Like "yuvi" so many Cricketers of merit, including 'yours sincerely', have been made a scape goat in the past. In The tour of England in 1971, which we won for the first time in history at U.K., I was getting prolific runs in the warm up games. And on the eve I got a brilliant 79 against 'KENT' ON A green top. I was feeling great and had played at no. 3. The intelligentsia came to me and asked me to open even though we had four opening bats in the squad and pleaded, In the name of 'team spirit', 'country needs you', and all that rubbish!

Perhaps the Greatest mistake of my life I made that I agreed.

Which, I see YUVI might also do. By the way Yuvi has also got brilliant face saving century in the middle order, this my dear readers Please bear in mind as you read further.

On that famous tour of U.K I WAS SPECIFICALLY SELECTED AS MIDDLE ORDER BATSMAN. And yet I was sweet Talked into opening. I could not put my foot down and refuse to open, as I was assured to Play in all the 3 tests, even if I failed.

And lo behold I failed!

And my carrier was Doomed.

In retrospect I feel, I should have had the courage of conviction to stick to my middle order at the cost of not being considered and perhaps my destiny would have been different, who knows?

I see the same being repeated time and again and hence I write this with vehemence.


He IS AN ideal no.6 bat, a left hander, a great asset in the field and a good change Bowler.If at all the captain has to be accommodated (what a joke?) there is an option, I feel.

Don't change the opening pair who is averaging 60+ but play SAURAV at 3 followed by SACHIN AND RAHUL. Don't play (not drop!) LAXMAN! To MY MIND THIS IS THE BEST BATTING ORDER...

Our bowling is no great shakes. In Irfan Pathan we have a lethal weapon and BALAJI/NEHRA not AGARKAR AS HE SEEMS TO BE NOT 100%, IS A GOOD SUPPORT TEAM.

As FAR AS SPIN IS CONCERNED which is supposed to be our strength, we are struggling. No Doubt ANIL KUMBLE IS GREAT AND HAS THE CAPACIY TO RUN THROUGH ANY SIDE, but as on today, He needs too many overs and lacks the support at the other END and it is here the absence Of HABHAJANSINGH is felt. Kartik has failed and Ramesh Power perhaps does not enjoy the Confidence of the captain.

The need of the hour is to search for young spinners. As talent research officer (TRDO) I SAW A LOT OF MATERIAL IN THE WEST and all over, I only hope the big wigs that matter will take Cognizance of our report and do the needful.

Anil Kumble is not anymore young and the strength in his fingers over the long spells also is understandably less. This is what exactly happened to a great spinner; I played along in his later days, P.K. SHIVALAKAR, WHO SHOULD HAVE PLAYED FOR THE COUNTRY, and WHO COULD MANAGE LINE BUT THE BITE WAS NOT THERE.


Our wicket keeper Parthiv is seen to be maturing into international cricket yet his keeping Has to be sharpened which I am sure he must be working at? It was great to see his guts WHILST batting and fighting a lost battle. That is half the battle won in test cricket. 'HAVE GUTS, YOU TRAVEL"!

As far as Pakistan is concerned they are too dependant on two batsmen viz. INZAMAM UL HAQ AND YOUSUF YOUHANA. Both are class acts but the rest are yet to make the opponents worry. No doubt there is potential and time will play its part. But the real weakness of PAK is it DOES NOT HAVE DEAPTH in batting.

Their bowling is too erratic although they have a match winner in SHOAIB AKHTAR BUT THE OTHERS ARE UP AND DOWN STUFF. D.Kanaria impressed me and I liked his humility and attitude. I felt he was very much under bowled and too long a spell is given to M.SAMI, WHICH HAS TAKEN ITS TOLL AND HE IS A DOUBTFUL STARTER FOR THE final countdown.

THIS PAK side is at the moment in the developing stage and if it gets the right kind of support not only from the fans but also from the establishment it will be a force to reckon with in due course.

So, by the time you may be reading this the battle would have begun. It is a grand thing which has happened after such along time and I only pray it remains as graceful as it began. Hope the Indian team comes home happily irrespective of the result and leaves a mark of respect for the game which has survived for more than 150 years!