There's no better time to take on the Aussies

Mudassar Nazar

June 8, 2001

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Mudassar Nazar
Mudassar Nazar
Photo © CricInfo
If any one cricketer can walk on water then he's Inzamam. He carried his test match form straight into one-day cricket. Pakistan was unable to take full advantage of this memorable innings as they fell a bit short of a commanding total. Who could have thought this burly chap would score over 8000 runs in one-day cricket when first chosen to play for Pakistan.

Inzamam-ul-Haq
Inzamam drives for 4 through the off side
Photo © CricInfo
Pakistan elected to bat first on an ideal batting pitch. It used to be a rather benign one until it changed character once Alan Donald signed up for Warwickshire. All the test matches there started to finish within four days and most of the county batsmen started to take time off when it was their turn to confront the Mighty Donald. Ironically, Donald parted company with Warwickshire last season and this pitch has now changed character again.

Pakistan started this game on the back of their victory at Old Trafford amidst some very unfair and strong criticism. If Pakistan players felt that English pundits were unjust, then they were justified. When a McGrath or Caddick stares down at batsmen its called 'raw aggression' but if Wasim and Waqar do it the English media call it 'disgraceful intimidation' and labels them as bad boys of world cricket.

One cannot ignore that England lost the test because they had two bad sessions in five days and Pakistan's skipper was good and aggressive enough to wrest the initiative well: Enough about the last test match. I just wanted to get it off my chest.

Shahid Afridi
Afridi executes a perfect cover drive off Gough
Photo © CricInfo
Afridi started Pakistan's innings in his own fashion. Though he is exhilarating but one knows nine time out of ten this excitement will be short and sweet. Just when English bowlers looked helpless and baffled, he gave it away. I just cannot understand why he can't settle down after he has given his team such an impetus.

Razzaq was unfortunately run out. His dismissal was a blessing in disguise for Pakistan. Inzamam, in great form recently, needs as many overs at his disposal as he can. This is a strong reason why I want him to bat at number three. Saeed after a circumspect start did settle down to play an important innings. Together, they systematically destroyed the England bowlers. None of the bowlers seemed in control of the situation. Why did England drop Robert Croft for this game? In the face of a decent Pakistan partnership they had no back up bowler to support their new ball bowlers.

Inzamam and Saeed entertained the full house at Edgbaston in brilliant fashion. Some of their strokes down the ground were truly memorable. Alec Stewart, desperate for a breakthrough, brought back his best bowler Darren Gough. All his teammates were horrified when he spilled a simple return catch off Saeed. Pakistan lost their two stalwarts in quick succession and consequently lost momentum. At this juncture, I'd have promoted the in form Younis Khan in place of Youhana. Anyway, Pakistan missed this trick and unable to score around 300 runs, which at the half way stage, looked a mere formality. After the productive Saeed - Inzamam partnership, 273 for 6 was certainly well below Par.

Waqar Younis
Waqar Younis, leads his side to victory in the 1st NatWest ODI
Photo © CricInfo
Pakistan started their defense in some extremely bowling friendly conditions. England is heaven for fast and medium pace bowlers and when you invite them to bowl in the evening you are simply asking for trouble. Wasim and Waqar bowled excellent opening spells aided by the evening heavy atmosphere moving the ball disconcertingly, in the air and off the pitch. It must have been disheartening for England because their own bowlers looked like club class bowlers in the afternoon sunshine.

Waqar, bowling at a brisk pace accounted for his old teammate Ally Brown when he angled the ball away. Trescothick was looking dangerous when the captain outfoxed him too with a slower delivery. Then Shoaib Malik and Saeed Anwar splendidly caught Stewart and Vaughan. After the initial burst from Wasim and Waqar, England were never in the hunt for this game.

Razzaq and Azhar seemed at home bowling in this one-day game. Razzaq in particular bowled at a sharp pace and looked a class act. I feel he likes this form of cricket. Lo and behold, Pakistan's fielding standard was excellent today too! Shoaib Malik who came on as a substitute is the best athlete in the team.

Towards the end, Shahid Afridi made a mockrey of the batsmen who could not wait to get out of the ground. In just two games all of England's frailties have been exposed and they look disjointed in the absence of Nasser Hussain. Pakistan on the other hand, is fully committed to their captain who once again gave a commanding performance. There is no better time to take on the Aussies.

Ed: Mudassar Nazar is a veteran of 76 tests and 122 ODIs. He is currently the chief coach of Pakistan's National and Regional Cricket Academies. In view of the overwhelming interest of users in CricInfo's articles, we have invited him to write for us.

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Series/Tournaments: NatWest Series
Teams: England | Pakistan
Grounds: Edgbaston
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