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The London Tea Party (1999)

This is the 3rd part of a series of reports that we have been bringing you as a countdown to the world cup 1999. This report was written by our special correspondent K. Madhavan

Events happening in Pakistan almost actually emulate the scenes shown in our fairy tale like Bollywood films,atleast they are just as dramatic. In politics,former prime minister Benazir Bhutto was sentenced to a five year term in prison.Then followed the stunner,Javed Miandad their criket coach, resigns owing to family commitments.On top of it all, the enquiry commission looking into bribery and match fixing charges have announced that they have completed the enquiry process and report could be released any time.As one Harsha Bogle( my favorite cricket columnist) puts it,this could be the Pakistani way of motivating it's team, to come back with the world cup or else be greeted with the handcuffs.

Pakistan cricket team is perhaps the most talented of all the participating teams in this world cup,not necessarily the most professional or the most hard working team though.The team looks fairly balanced, although to me their batting looks a suspect,more so under the conditions prevailing in England.The Afridi hitting will not work in the first 15 overs in England. This neutralises their team's chances to a great extent.Even Saeed Anwar's on the rise strokes is unlikely to come good on the soft and swinging pitches of England.Their number 3 batsman,Ijaz is a suspect against good swing bowling. Inzamam is the only player who has the class to come good in England. Needless to say,Pakistan will depend heavily on him to deliver the goods for them.The return of Salim Malik adds a bit more depth and class to their batting at no 5.The number 6 spot is the most contentious in the Pakistan team.Pakistan team is so talented that it suffers from the choice of too many good players for this single spot.The choice is between Azhar Mehmood the allrounder or a specialist batsman Yousuf Youhana or Moin Khan with an additional bowler in the team.To me though,the best Pakistan could do is push Afridi to that slot and open the batting with a regular opener Wajahatullah Wasti. This could render stability to the top order.

The trump card for Pakistan is their bowling attack.Pakistan is blessed with enormous talent,so much so that player of Waqar Younis'calibre had to dropped in their just concluded Indian tour.Wasim Akram,Shoab Akhtar,Waqar Younis, Saqlain Mushtaq and Mushtaq Ahmad can be a handful for any batting line up in the world.This depth in their bowling talent more than compensates for their rather fragile batting lineup.Just to illustrate my point,a score of 220 - 230 may be enough for other teams to defend,but for Pakistan even a score of 170 -190 is defendable.Such is the strength of their bowling.

The exciting part of Pakistani cricket is their unpredictability.You never can guess what they are upto.They are capable of anything,right from fixing their own matches to virtually sweeping aside all the teams through sheer talent.To me though,the highlight of this world cup would be an India-Pak final.But to be honest, neither team has any chance of getting that far.

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