The Pakistan Magic

I am one of those millions of fans who followed Pakistan’s heroics in the just concluded Test against Australia, who, like everyone else, hoped, wished and prayed that they would pull off a most spectacular chase in the history of Test Cricket.

I just read an article from Ian Chappel about playing spin where he praises Pujara and Murali Vijay on how they play spin so well. He highlights how Indian batsman play spin with decisive foot work and a keen eye to keep the score board ticking. He goes on to say that whatever model India uses to make their batsman to play spin, others should follow.

That set me thinking… What methods Pakistan follow for their phenomenal success. India has a decent domestic Cricket set-up. They are investing a lot in training their youngsters. The board has wisely decided to handover the responsibility of growing talent to great Cricketers like Rahul Dravid. Incidentally it was Rahul Dravid who spotted Karun Nair and took him Rajastan Royals Team. The moment Karun Nair hit triple century, I checked if he has scored big hundreds in domestic Cricket. Yes, he has scored a triple hundred in Ranji Trophy finals.

On the other hand, we don’t know much about Pakistan’s domestic Cricket scene. In our younger days, we used to follow the Cricketing achievements of players like Zaheer Abbas, Musthaq Mohammad and Imran Khan. They all played in English County Cricket and we used to read about their achievements in The Hindu and listen to BBC Sports Special. The only Indian player who was very active in County Cricket was Bishen Singh Bedi (that’s what I remember). But Ranji Trophy and Duleep Trophy was followed closely in India. Zed as Zaheer Abbas was known had a great success in County Cricket. We also knew that most of their great players played for PIA team (Pakistan International Airlines). In Pakistan, Inter Bank Tournaments were quite popular which sort of worked as domestic Cricket.

Over the years, Pakistan produced number of great batsman. I am counting from the days I started following Cricket. After Zaheer, we watched Miandad’s phenomenal success. Then came Inzamam ul Haq and now Younis Khan. Imran Khan considered Inzamam to be a better player than Sachin which was bit of an exaggeration. But I believe Inzi played pace bowling a shade better than Sachin.

There are number of Pakistan batsman who scored centuries on debut and vanished without a trace. I am not mentioning their phenomenal bowling talent here, which is beyond understanding as well. From Imran to Wasim and Waqar to Shoaib Akthar to Mohammed Amir they seem to have an assembly line to produce great fast bowlers. But this article is on Batsman. Where do these batsmen come from? How does the Pakistan board spot them and where do they train them? I don’t see any of them playing in major county leagues!

Since last few years, they are not even holding International Matches at home. Their ‘Home Tests’ are played in UAE which offers only flat or spinner friendly tracks.

So, when they went to Australia, I thought they would be thrashed. Instead they chased and came very close to winning the match which would have been a record. Asad Shafiq played an unbelievable innings. While we understand Karun Nair and KL Rahul’s progress (thanks to IPL) we don’t know much about Asad Shafiq.

During our schooldays in the late seventies, we used to say “India and Pakistan should play as a single team and no one can beat us.” The idea was to combine Pakistan’s bowling talent with India’s Batting. This was before Sri Lanka and Bangladesh started playing international Cricket.

From those nostalgic days of Imran and Safraz to current days of Amir and Asad Pakistan keeps producing great talent. I feel sorry that Pakistan fans who are deprived of watching their heroes performing in their own country. If GABBA test were to happen in Lahore, just imagine what it would have done to Pakistan Cricket.

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