Mohammad Irfan and Shoaib Malik being in the ODI team is nothing short of great news. I would have been delighted had Shahid Afridi been included in the team which will walk out to do battle in the first of the three ODIs against India today.
ODI cricket needs experienced players unlike the T20 format, so Afridi would have proved handy.
In ODI cricket you need to build your innings, so Malik will be useful. I don’t understand why the Pakistan selectors did not do their homework. Why could they not name these players in the ODI squad right at the start? I have been voicing my opinion right from the first day of the series that these players need to be in the ODI squad.
But I guess, as the saying goes, better late than never.
The two sides will have some experienced players in their line-ups like Virender Sehwag for India and Younis Khan as well as Misbah ul Haq for Pakistan. I have not seen Younis lately, but Viru will create a big impact. A Sehwag special in the first 15 overs can take the game away from Pakistan especially on these flat pitches.
Misbah is a slow starter. He will be useful if Pakistan lose early wickets, but if you need to speed up the scoring, he might struggle. It will be interesting to see how Misbah adapts all the same.
If I had anything to do with Pakistan cricket, Mohammad Hafeez would be my captain in all formats. Misbah is already 38 and will play another six to eight months. We have tested and seen Hafeez as captain. He has improved his leadership skills and makes some good bowling changes. The best indicator for me is how he is enjoying batting under pressure. He also bowled well under pressure to Yuvi in the T20 at Ahmedabad and is gaining confidence and stature as a player.
India will have some momentum going into the ODI series because of the way their bowlers bowled in Ahmedabad on Friday. Ashok Dinda bowled well with the wet ball. I like Dinda because he runs in every ball and gives his all for his team and country. He played a crucial part in what turned out to be a comfortable win in the end.
That’s the way!
My previous column seemed to have some effect on the India pace bowlers. It was good to see them cranking up the pace. They were sprinting in. Ishant Sharma for example, is slowly understanding fast bowling. You have to realise that you cannot jog in as a fast bowler. You need to keep up the pressure.
In the ODI series, I am expecting Yuvi, Virat Kohli to hog the limelight with the bat. Saeed Ajmal may have gone for runs in Ahmedabad because of a wet ball, but he is very dangerous as is Irfan and Umar Gul. Irfan is a rage because of his height and pace.
I would say the ODI series would go 60-40 in favour of India. Chennai brings back fond memories for me. I played my first Test against India here in 1987, hit a 50 then and smacked the great Kapil Dev for a six. Then of course, the 1999 Test where Sachin Tendulkar played a brilliant knock and finally the IPL win this year as a coach with Kolkata Knight Riders.
Let’s hope the good times roll at the MA Chidambaram Stadium!