March 28, 2005

India - Pakistan.

The embarrassing capitulation of India on the final day of the third test will be the lasting image of this Test series in the hearts of the fans - both Indian and Pakistani.

For Indians, it will signify the whole Test series and indeed the fortunes of the team in the last one year. After the victory in Pakistan (in both ODI and Test series) a year ago, Indians were deservedly proud and everyone looked forward for higher things. But it has been a steady decline after that (a series defeat at home to Australia, lackluster victory over South Africa at home and expected victory over Bangladesh, and a string of very disappointing results in ODI). In this series it self, we started with much expectations and as the definite favorites. As such, the 1-1 result is very disappointing. And the fact that we lost with only seven overs left makes the disaster more telling, as one can not help wondering how close we were to saving the match in spite of our very inept batting. Some indication of that inaptitude is given by the following:

Our fearsome four in the middle order scored 39 runs in 205 balls lasting 261 minutes. Then our last five scored 54 runs in 163 balls lasting 225 minutes.

If our middle order had managed to play for another 42 balls between them, we would have saved this match. But they did not. There is no plausible excuse for this. It is just that we did not apply ourselves well when needed. Some soul-searching is indicated before we embark on our next series (Sri Lanka in India in April).

For Pakistan, this surely is a very gratifying result. They came into the series with nothing to lose. Their record in the past 12 months had been nothing to inspire confidence, and the 3-0 drubbing they received in Australia was still fresh in the memory. Indeed, Pakistan were the decided underdog. But they performed credibly for most of the series and topped it nicely with a series-leveling victory in the third test. Sure, they were helped by the lack of killing instinct and lack of determination on the part of Indians, but their performances on the last days of the first and the third tests deserve praise. And in the last test, they made things happen by their batting prowess. In the first innings, they batted beautifully with Younis Khan and Inzamam playing with Indian bowlers. And in the second innings, they scored 261/2 decl in 50 overs. On a fourth day pitch this was remarkable and makes the Indian performance on the fifth day all the more appalling.

On the whole Pakistan came out of the series on a bright note - with much to be done still, but at least showing that they can go back to their glory days of old. Indians, on the other hand, come out of the series, kicking themselves for not showing enough zeal and purpose in the closing moments and for that reason throwing away all the good work done earlier. And they have to address this problem in future.


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