‘We will have to rely on specialists’

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

DELHI: Pakistan manager Talat Ali believes that his team will have to rely on specialists to pull it through in a tough Test series against India getting underway here at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium from tomorrow.

Talat, a former Pakistan Test cricketer, hinted that the tourists will opt to open with specialist openers Salman Butt and Yasir Hameed and should also persist with Kamran Akmal behind the stumps.

“In Test cricket you need specialists,”
he said.
“All-rounders can play a useful role but at the end of the day it’s the specialist batsmen and bowlers who win matches for you,”
he added. After having sent Shahid Afridi and Fawad Alam back home following the one-day series, Pakistan do not have many all-rounders to choose from in the Tests, something that may pose problems for them if they opt to play with just four bowlers.

Skipper Shoaib Malik will be the fifth bowler if they do so but the all-rounder is still far from his best when it comes to bowling because of a shoulder problem. However, Talat played down the problem saying that Pakistan have the firepower to shine in the Tests.
“On paper, we are a stronger side than India,”
he said.
“If you compare player by player then we are a better side,”
he added.

His assessment was contrary to the popular opinion which says that this Indian team is a superior side when compared to Pakistan, something which underlined during the one-day series which the home team won quite convincingly.

Talat said that Pakistan are yet to decide their playing eleven for the opening Test saying that there is still some doubt over one or two positions. But expectations are that Pakistan will open with Salman and Yasir with Younis Khan, Mohammad Yousuf, Shoaib Malik and Misbah-ul-Haq forming the middle-order. Kamran Akmal will keep the wickets in spite of a remarkable debut by young wicket-keeper Sarfraz Ahmed in Sunday’s final one-dayer in Jaipur. Shoaib Akhtar, Umar Gul and Danish Kaneria will form the bowling attack either with Sohail Tanvir, Mohammad Sami or left-arm spinner Abdul Rehman.

Talat said that the Kotla wicket would as usual be a low and slow track that would assist the spinners on the last two days. He said that all the Pakistani players are completely fit ahead of the opening Test.
“Younis Khan was rested in the last one-dayer because he had a minor hip problem. He is completely fit now,”
he explained.

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