India in Pakistan, 2005-06 January 5, 2006

Reverse swing can undo India, claims Sarfraz

Cricinfo staff

Sarfraz Nawaz urges Shoaib Akhtar not to shorten his run-up © Getty Images

Sarfraz Nawaz feels that one of his innovations could be the deciding factor in the upcoming India-Pakistan Test series.

Sarfraz, one of the key exponents of the art of reverse swing, believes that this classic art gives Pakistan the edge over India. "It is not only shining the ball on one side that makes the difference but players must also realise that using the crease is very important. The Indian bowlers haven't learnt how to use the crease," Sarfraz told DNA, a Mumbai-based daily. "Teams tend to start off well but then there is a sudden collapse and that is what often proves to be the difference between winning and losing."

Sarfraz added that in Pakistani conditions, late swinging yorkers have the potential to undo the best of starts, and under the ICC's new ruling - which allows a bowler to bend his arm upto 15 degrees - this will prove decisive to those who can master reverse swing. "You can cock your wrist before you release the delivery, you will get better curve in the air," Sarfaz said.

Sarfraz also felt that the new rule made it easier for Shoaib Akhtar to utilise his slower delivery as opposed to India's bowlers. "From bowling a delivery at 150 to get it down to the low 90s is a result of a lot of practice. Otherwise, it's not really a wicket-taking delivery," he said. "In the case of the Indian medium-pacers, the variation is not that big."

On Shoaib, he had a word of caution though: "I think if he has really shortened his run-up, it will finish his career. I met Bob Woolmer around a week back and asked him why he was trying to shorten Shoaib's run-up and I was told his long run-up consumes too much time ... So I said, 'Ask Shoaib to walk faster but don't shorten his run-up.' They need to realise that with a shorter run-up to get up to high speed he will have to put in a lot more effort. The momentum will be lacking."

Commenting on India's batting, Sarfraz said Pakistan still had the edge over them. "It's easy to get them out. The bowler needs to go wide of the crease and angle the ball in," he said. "When (Virender) Sehwag tries to drive the ball, more often than not, there is a gap between bat and pad. Pakistan needs to exploit this gap. A similar line will work for Sachin (Tendulkar) as well."

Sarfraz also shared his views on Irfan Pathan, the spearhead of India's bowling attack. "Irfan Pathan is doing very, very well. I don't think he should try to bowl faster or anything like that. If he tries too many things, he will lose the qualities he possesses right now," he said. "He is using the new ball very well. Rahul Dravid needs to be careful not to use him like a work horse. He is batting for long periods and then coming out and bowling long spells. He should not be overused."

The first Test begins at Lahore on January 13.