India in Pakistan 2003-04 February 27, 2004

Bedi - 'much to gain and more to lose'

Wisden Cricinfo staff

Until the end of the Indian tour of Pakistan, we will be running a daily Paper Round of what newspapers in India and Pakistan, and from around the world, are saying about this series. This is what the media had to say today:

Bishan Singh Bedi has toured Pakistan over and over, as player and journalist. He told Cricket News, "There is much to gain, and far more to lose, depending on how we use the present."

On the day Bedi was unusually shy of controversy. "There is much to rake up from the past and people looking for stories would find heaps of them on umpiring and other controversial stands. But we shouldn't forget that Imran and Sarfraz were outstanding cricketers. They were just too good even with the old ball. I have never seen any cricketer in my life who worked as hard on his fitness as Imran did. I am yet to come across a cricketer who punished his body as Imran used to do. I call him General."

Bedi warned against blowing things out of proportion. "I am sure both teams would play tough cricket and that's the way it should be. There could be the occasional show of temper but it's part of the game and could happen anywhere. Only because it is India and Pakistan, it shouldn't be blown out of proportion. There could be a few who would look to play spoilsport but the majority could -- and should -- generate goodwill. The long-term promise of this tour should never be lost."

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Andy Watkinson, a pitch consultant of the ICC, has said that pitches for the forthcoming India - Pakistan series would have something in them for the bowlers. "Pakistan have some really good fast bowlers and also a few good spinners. So the pitches will have to help their fast bowlers and, later, their spinners. You basically want a result. You want the first three days of the match to be even, where the ball comes on to the bat well and there's some pace and even bounce. You then want things to start happening after that and the ball starting to turn. So that all skills are tested. But that's a bit idealistic -- I don't get briefs to prepare pitches a particular way."

Watkinson, who is overseeing the preparation and maintenance of pitches in Pakistan, says that he left matters in able hands. "I left detailed instructions with Aga Zaheed, who's in charge, Basheer, the head groundsman, and Rameez Raja. These have to do with general maintenance. I'm sure things are fine and everything's been done according to specifications. But I'll have to go there first."

Watkinson would not be drawn into speculation about the exact nature of wickets. "Oh, I can't really promise anything. That'll be a bit foolish. I don't know how things have progressed since I left. Ask me that after I've reached Pakistan."

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Fazal Mahmood, the former Pakistan captain and fast bowler, has told The Telegraph, Kolkata, that players should keep it simple to obtain best results. "The more faithful you are (to the basics), better the chances of success."

He dismissed contentions that the teams, and specifically Shoaib Akhtar, would be under severe pressure. "Actually, I don't really understand this pressure bit... I suppose, though, it's going to depend on how he copes with the responsibility... It's difficult for me, or anybody else, to comment. What I can point out is that he's a matchwinner, something he proved as recently as in Wellington when he bowled New Zealand out for peanuts."

Fazal had a kind word for Irfan Pathan. "Very promising... Has a positive approach, but needs to guard against injuries. I'm sure he will go a long way once he completes one year of big-time cricket without a fitness-related lay-off."

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