Faisalabad Test: Lunch, Day 1
Inzi calls head, and heads it is. Pakistan decides to bat first.Teams:
Rana, of all people, out in favor of Adbur Razzaq and Mohammad Asif in for Sami, both changes were speculated about yesterday, but I was confident inside Pakistan weren’t going to make the mistake of dropping their only bowler who a)got a wicket in Lahore and b)who can swing the ball generally speaking. Even more amazingly Inzi said at the toss that Sami was left out because he was ‘unwell’ and Razzaq came in because of his ‘experience’.
I don’t know if Inzi knew what this meant, but affectively he said that Rana had been dropped while Sami had been forced out because of not form, but injury; nonsense of the highest order. I had defended Pakistan when they were labeled ‘scared of losing’ in the wake of the draw at Lahore, but given a mindset like this (replacing a genuine bowler by bowling all rounder, who can bat a bit) there isn’t much I can say.
There is no way Rana should not have played, one of Mohammad Asif or Abdul Razzaq should have replaced Sami. They should have decided on one person. There is also, no reason, what so ever, for us to be feeling this insecure. This is not how we did well against England. God, some one please make us understand this.
India on the other hand made a much more positive move that of picking five bowlers, which obviously meant Ganguly making way for either of Zaheer Khan or R P Singh, but apparently Agarkar got injured as well, allowing both the left armers to play. I wonder what sort of reaction this will get in Calcutta.
Tale of the session:
After numerous plays and misses against debutant RP Singh, Malik once again got out after making a start, and once again kept his record of finding hideous ways of getting out intact. Even more shockingly, this isn’t the first time Shoaib Malik has got out in a test match with the bat hanging up like a periscope while ducking, it took an edge and Dravid finished it off with an excellent catch towards the left of 1st slip. Back in 2003, against South Africa, at this very venue, Shoaib Malik fell in an identical manner off Pollock.
Pakistan were 1-49 at this stage, and still looking good. But then, so were India. R P Singh had an extended spell during his first outing at test cricket, and he impressed. There’s nothing wrong with his run up or indeed his action and he does have a good in swinger and out swinger in his armory. Irfan Pathan probably didn’t find the length to bowl on this surface consistently, and Salman Butt played him very assuredly, especially when he over pitched, through the covers.
But he probably, (as usual) played that favored wristy drive of his once too often. He was lucky not to have played on from R P Singh, but one 37 and looking good, his luck finally ran out. Zaheer Khan got one to cut back in sharply, and it took a faint inside edge that went to Dhoni after a little dap on the pad.
Pakistan were now 2-67, and after wining the toss and deciding to bat, this wasn’t quite the start you’d wish for. A big partnership was need, and in Mohammad Yousuf and Younis Khan, who enjoy batting together, we probably had just about the ideal combination for such a scenario. Yousuf got off the mark with his trademark leaning cover drive, and has played plenty of delightful strokes thereafter; on the other hand Younis Khan also played himself in, without taking many risks.
There was a chance for India to really seize the initiative when there was a rare, slight mix up between the two Ys, but Sachin Tendulkar who had one stump to aim at missed by a whisker and Younis Khan survived. If Zaheer Khan, the bowler had gone back to the stumps to collect the throw, it would have been curtains for Younis.
Younis, probably sensing from that bit of luck, that it might be his day, came back to punish Irfan Pathan for flurry of boundaries. Kumble bowling on from the Pavilion end was similarly dealt authoritatively by Mohammad Yousuf. By the time lunch
was called, the two had already added over 70 for their 3rd wicket partnership, and were looking good for adding more. Pakistan had started and finished the session strongly, and apart the minor spell in between where R P Singh made a strong start, this was by and large Pakistan’s session.Tale of the track:
No live grass on it, slightly more abrasive then the one in Lahore, and certainly more cracked. Importantly the cracks appeared to be somewhat wider as well. Interestingly enough, one end of the pitch, has decidedly more bounce and pace then other. R P Singh, who swung the ball both ways on his debut, got the ball to do a lot more coming in from the Golf Course end then did Zaheer Khan or Irfan Pathan running into it, from the Pavilion End.
His very first ball in test cricket for instance, traveled a long way on to Malik’s bat before eluding Kumble at gully, it was technically a chance, even though Kumble probably never saw it coming, and in the end finished taking evasive action instead. The slightly more bounce from the Golf Course end was also evident when the spinners came on later on, as Harbajjan was able to get the little more out of the surface then did Kumble, bowling from the opposite end. It will be interesting to see how this game pans out and in particular how this wicket behaves later on. Well done Agha Zahid, so far so good.Cross posted on Sundries