A TURNAROUND INDEED
Before the last tour to Pakistan, it was Indians who appeared to be well prepared and well organised. It showed in the results when the Indians emerged victorious in both the test matches and the one-dayers. This time round, the hosts looked well prepared with some clear strategy in mind.
Javed Miandad was the coach of the Pakistan team. True to his habit, Miandad was full of sound bites. The most famous or most infamous line concerned Irfan Pathan. He observed that bowlers like Pathan were plenty in Pakistan. On the other hand, the Indian coach was John Wright who rarely caused any surprises with his verbal utterances. Miandad was sometimes behaving like the coach of a football team, shouting at his players or giving instructions from the balcony.
This time round, the roles have been reversed. Bob Woolmer does like to stay out of the limelight, preferring to work the strategy. On the other camp, we have Greg Chappell who rarely stays out of controversy, though sometimes not his fault. Miandad's role has been taken over by the likes of Raj Singh Dungarpur, though, after the start of the test series, the gentleman has rarely uttered a word in public. The actions of Sharad Pawar and Kiran More only added to the broth that is Indian cricket.
On the last tour, the Indian players appeared to be focussed while there was a chop and change approach to the Pakistan team. The Indians were riding the crest of a wave while there was tremendous pressure on the host team. There was very little sledging from the Pakistani side, except the Akhtar and Sehwag confrontation during the Multan test. But this time round, the players of the home team left no stone unturned to assert their confidence. Even a player like Afridi who was not sure of a regular place in the Pakistan team just a couple of series' ago, is now an important player.
There is something that is different this time. The Indians had a point to prove on their last tour and they were motivated. This time it is Inzamam and company who showed the hunger for success.