Soon after the Indians were thoroughly beaten by Pakistan A at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore, John Wright had the unenviable task of explaining the defeat. Journalists crowded around him in the press box as he spoke, like always, softly, and in measured tones. If we were under any illusion about how tough this tour is going to be, then we got the answer today. Here are the excerpts:
On what went wrong today: A total of 335 ought to be a winning total, to be perfectly honest, on any surface against any batting side. They batted very well, but we also bowled poorly. We just have to sort our problems out very, very quickly.
On what needs to be done to sort out the bowling: We have a young attack. Basically, it can just be sorted out through hard work and lots of practice.
On Zaheer Khan's performance (1 for 78 from 9 overs, 10 wides, 12 no-balls): It was his first big game back from injury. Quite obviously, he has to improve. Its always difficult bowling when you are being attacked. We have to have a Plan B, and discipline is a very good word. Our line and length was all over the place. The bowlers have to learn that we can't have people going for 60 and 70 all the time when you are bowling under pressure.
On the bright side: The only consoling feature is that at the start of the World Cup, we lost to a Natal Selection, and then we went on to reach the final! That time it was the batting that was the problem area in that game, now it is the bowling. But one thing is for sure, I wouldn't want a repeat of this performance.
On the suggestion that Zaheer Khan had lost rhythm because he tried to implement Dennis Lillee's advise to shorten his leap: Its always nice to talk to former players and to listen to them. The boys have been interacting with Bruce Reid, Kapil Dev and Dennis, yes, but ultimately, the players have to understand what works for them and what doesn't.