Pakistan must play aggressively against India - Inzamam
Inzamam-ul-Haq, Pakistan's former captain and newly-appointed batting consultant, has advised his batsmen to be 'aggressive' against India. The team that handles pressure better, he said, could control how the matches go in the upcoming limited-overs series'.
Pakistan are preparing for the India series with a conditioning camp at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore, and Inzamam will spend the week with the batsmen to assist them. Since his retirement in 2007, Inzamam had not been associated with Pakistan cricket in any form, running a business instead; this is the first in five years that he has taken up a role with the team.
"My job will be to pass on my playing experience to the players, rather than working on batsmen's techniques," Inzamam told reporters at the end of the day's training. "I will be discussing with them how to chase, how to set a target and what's required while batting."
Pakistan will kick-off their tour of India with a two-match T20 series, followed by three ODIs. Inzamam, who led Pakistan in 22 ODIs against India and has a win-loss ratio of 12-10, said Pakistan have plenty of matchwinners in the squad but they need 'collective' effort.
"Pakistan have a lot of players who could individually win matches for us, it's a good sign,'' he said. "But cricket is a team game, we lack in collective effort from the batsmen. Our bowling is very strong and we have to have confidence in ourselves. We have to make up our minds that we can win.
"Playing in Indian conditions isn't different; we have been winning [there] and can win again. It's only about pressure and how to handle it. What we need is to play aggressively and whoever copes with it [pressure] well, will play better."
Pakistan have played 16 completed ODIs in 2012, losing four out of eight while chasing and failing to defend their target on six instances out of eight. Batting first this year, they have crossed the 200-run mark seven times, winning only twice. When chasing a target of more than 200, they have won only on one occasion out of five.
"It's not a new problem, it's been going on for a long time now," Inzamam said of their batting issues, citing the lack of quality cricket in Pakistan, which has been a no-go zone for major international cricket teams. "For the last two years we have not played a lot of cricket and the batsmen are lacking in temperament due to T20 cricket.
"Flaws in our players are down to us not playing on a regular basis. If we start playing 10-12 Test matches every year, you will obviously see an improvement in our batting. As more we play cricket, the more players will learn from it."
Inzamam said it will be important for the players to put aside distractions in India and focus on the cricket: "Against India, one should be focused on the game instead of other activities. We have to focus on our game and don't worry about what others are doing. If we keep focus on ourselves, we will perform better.
"India will play with passion, so must Pakistan. I think the way this Pakistan team lines-up, we can put pressure on India. But they're a big team too and could make a comeback [after faltering in the Test series against England], so we have to focus ourselves."
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent