Kaneria must fly
Once more, the build up has been impressive. You almost believe the hype--again. We have been here before: the promise of Danish, the creation of a spin bowler's paradise, and an opposition deemed unskilled at the art of reading legspin. Danish Kaneria is Pakistan's main strike bowler, says Inzamam, and I suppose in the prevailing circumstances he has a point. But this is a much weaker hand than it could be. By now, Danish should be a deadly weapon. The fact that he isn't is one of the more perplexing issues that engulfs the current team. On the face of it he has it all: legspin, googly, drift, and attitude. Then why has Kaneria failed to fly?
Danish's record looks impressive enough but as ever the statistics obscure the real story of his career. When he emerged Danish looked to be a natural successor to Abdul Qadir and Mushtaq Ahmed. Indeed, he displayed extraordinary maturity and control for a rookie. A great future was promised. But Danish's career has been one of toil rather than thunder.
The best legspinners are able to run through a batting line-up, they are, as Inzamam says, an attacking option. Danish, however, has never managed to match the threat of Qadir or even Mushtaq, and the question is why? He has become more of a stock bowler than a strike bowler, and that is the wrong mode.
The best reason I have heard is that Danish doesn't really possess a topspinner or a zooter. Shane Warne, who barely has a googly, has become the world's greatest bowler on the threat of his ball that goes straight on. It is a delivery that Qadir and Mushtaq both possessed but Danish hasn't really mastered it. If the batsman does not fear for his stumps then he will bat with little fear.
Whatever the reason, Danish must run through teams more often. Lahore, a ground with a history of great legspin performances, should be inspiration enough. A career that promised wonders has got stuck in third gear. His country's ravaged bowling attack needs him. The judgement on his career hangs in the balance. Kaneria must fly.
Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets here