Sri Lanka leads, let others follow | Sunday Observer

Sri Lanka leads, let others follow

Blessing in disguise It’s really a blessing in disguise that the senior players of Sri Lanka chickened out. The young team that was hatched showed that no one was indispensable. I refer to our clean sweep of the three T20s against Pakistan where the Lion in the Sri Lanka flag roared and showed that the cubs are equal to the task or even better!

While the first sector of Sri Lanka’s cricket tour of Pakistan for three 50-over encounters were over with the Lankans losing two of the three games, with the first one abandoned owing to rain in Karachi which was the venue for all three games, the T20s came in as redemption. And what was striking, if not stunning, was the fact that we now have a lineup of cricketers who can grow into the Pride of Lions and claim that we are back in business!

What was of interest was that the games were played and successfully completed without any security concerns – thanks to the strong security blanket spread out by the hosts.

To the two games which Pakistan won quite convincingly playing the more positive and aggressive cricket. The games were well patronized with cricket starved Pakistani fans flooding the venues in Karachi and Lahore baying for their team and applauding the Lankans for good efforts.

The games were played with no untoward incidents, with both teams playing the game in the best of spirits, which is what sport is all about and producing sterling efforts in all aspects of the game.

In addition to the Pakistan Cricket Board, a man who would no doubt been happy and elated would be the sporting Prime Minister the debonair Imran Khan under whose leadership of the country international cricket has returned to the country after ten long years.

The writer hopes that with the PCB providing security meant for Royalty and succeeding with the visit of the gutty Sri Lankan cricketers showing the way, other international teams would show no fear and tour, because Pakistan with its galaxy of stars and top class hospitality are too good a cricketing country to be kept in isolation.

Of special interest to the game was the appointment of former Pakistan captain Misbah ul-Haq as Chairman of Selectors and Head Coach. Misbah was one of the finest cricketers produced by Pakistan.

Misbah took over this onerous mantle from Mickey Arthur who was asked to quit after Pakistan could not make much progress in the all-important World Cup concluded in England recently.

The Pakistani cricketers showed a different approach to the game being more compact, aggressive and positive in every aspect, which proves that they have taken to Misbah’s dual roles with great likeness.

With Misbah attaining success first time out as Coach and Chairman of Selectors, he is well set to take Pakistan cricket to a next level and the Pakistan Cricket Board is not likely to look for a foreign head coach.

Misbah’s job has been made more easy because he has played with some of the players now playing and know their abilities and capabilities better and would have no difficulty with aligning and being on the same wicket.

Misbah was one of the star batters produced by Pakistan, much in class of Zaheer Abbass, Javed Miandad, Majid Khan and Inzama ul-Haq and many others. As a right hand batsman, he was stylish, elegant with a wide array of well timed strokes. As a batsman and captain he was heavily into run making in his illustrious career.

After winning the 50-over games, Pakistan surprisingly lost all three Twenty20 games to Sri Lanka. But that should not worry Misbah. That was a good learning experience for him.

In Sri Lanka cricket one who is playing a dual role, not similar to Misbah’s is former Sri Lanka pace ace Ashantha de Mel who in addition to being Chairman of Selectors is also Manager.

He has had a difficult wicket on which to bat on, but from the time he took on these dual roles he has been batting well and will require more time to prove his credentials and steer the cricket to success which is what the game is all about today. He would have been elated with Sri Lanka winning the Twenty20 series.

With the 50-over World Cup done and dusted, all countries will now be expending their energy on Twenty20 cricket what with the World Cup to be conducted in kangaroo land late next year.

Of the three formats of the game – Test cricket, 50-over and Twenty20 over cricket the money spinners are the limited over games and teams will be straining every nerve and sinew to lay their hands on the Twenty20 World Cup and sing their way to the Banks carrying bags full of money.

So Sri Lanka need not worry that they lost the 50-over series to Pakistan. From now on Sri Lanka Cricket and all connected to the game will be focusing on the tournament to be held in Australia. Now that the Lankans triumphed in the Twenty20 series against Pakistan, it should be a good morale booster.

Abdul Qadir no more

It was sad to hear about the passing away of former Pakistani leg spinning maestro Abdul Qadir. Qadir was a rare breed of leg spin/googly bowlers who baffled and bemused world class batsmen with his well concealed variety of spin and was a star attraction during his reign.

Before Qadir, Pakistan had others who bowled this most difficult art and excelled who batsmen feared. They were former captain who in addition to his spinning prowess was also a big hitter Intikhab Alam and Danesh Kaneira. Now the Pakistanis have Yashir Shah who is running rings round international batsmen and luring them to their demise.

Not many bowlers want to take to bowling leg spin because it is the most difficult art and requires hours and hours and tons and tons of sweat to master. But once mastered and with its many variations and cocktail of deliveries the spinner is always a treat to watch and match winners who could make batsmen look laughing stocks unable to read especially the googly. Qadir was one such champion.

In the past Sri Lanka too had two spinners of this art in Gamini Goonasena in the pre Test era and D. Somachandra de Silva in the Test era who produced their magic and got among the wickets. But sadly today this seems to be a dying art here and although there are a few attempting to bowl this type, they are nowhere near international class.

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