Imran Khan: 'they made the tactical blunder'
by Staff reporter

Ground:Eden Gardens, Kolkata
Scorecard:India v Pakistan
Player:Imran Khan, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Younis Khan
Event:Pakistan in India 2004/05

DateLine: 22nd March 2005


KARACHI: Legendary Imran Khan said Pakistan lost the Kolkata Test because it made a tactical error of playing an additional seamer and lacked technical capabilities.


"I think they made the tactical blunder when they played an extra seamer instead of off-spinner Arshad Khan. If Mohammad Khalil had been an outstanding bowler, they would have been justified in playing him. But playing three seamers in hot and humid conditions was a tactical blunder.


"When I say the team lacks technical capabilities, I mean the Pakistan batsmen don't have a proper defensive technique that brings consistency. And it is because Inzamam-ul-Haq and Yousuf Youhana are the only batsmen who have regularly played," Imran Khan, who represented Pakistan in 88 tests, including 48 as captain, said.


Imran was in town to attend a political rally. During his illustrious 21-year career, he took 362 test wickets and scored 3,807 runs. In 175 one-dayers, Imran scored 3,709 runs and took 182 wickets. But the flamboyant cricketer is worshipped and respected in Pakistan after he inspired Pakistan to the zenith of glory in the 1992 World Cup.


He added: "Nevertheless, I am pleased with the team management's decision to persist with Younis Khan despite his failure at Mohali. I am convinced that Younis Khan is the batsman who can solve Pakistan's problems at No 3. In fact, I would like to see Younis Khan bat at No 3 in one-dayers also."


Imran, who had made a similar mistake when he played Saleem Jaffar as third seamer in Bangalore in 1986 but still managed to win the Test, said Pakistan should have learnt from the Indians who dropped a seamer to play an extra spinner. He said in hot conditions, the moisture, if any, would have lasted for very little time.


"India won the Test because they played better combination than Pakistan. But we need to understand that India is clearly a better and more experienced team than Pakistan and the result shouldn’t upset us.


India had started the series as favourites while we were underdogs. In the Indian conditions, against an experienced and seasoned team that included proven performers, we had to struggle. But I am not completely disappointed with the Pakistan team’s performance so far," Imran, who took 94 wickets against India in 23 appearance besides scoring 1,091 runs, opined.


"I am particularly impressed with this Pakistan team because it is showing lot of character and fighting spirit. These are the things that were missing in Australia. And the change is because Inzamam-ul-Haq is leading from the front and by example. He is emerging as a real leader, inspiration and motivator," Imran, who was critical of Inzamam for missing the Melbourne and Sydney Tests late last year, said.


Imran said the team management's decision to open the innings with Shahid Afridi was also incorrect though he backed the inclusion of the charismatic hard-hitter. "Playing Shahid Afridi was a correct decision but opening the innings with him wasn’t because if he gets out early, like in the first innings, the team comes under pressure.


"I think for Bangalore Test, one change is definite as Mohammad Khalil will make way for either Rana Naved-ul-Hasan or Arshad Khan. But who will play, only team management will decide after examining the Bangalore Test pitch. But the team management shouldn’t forget that to win a test, they will have to capture 20 wickets."


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