November 20, 2009

Sangakkara’s negative tactics make India’s task easier


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

Gautam Gambhir and Sachin Tendulkar batted skillfully in the second innings to guide India towards safety in the first Test match at the Sardar Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad but their task was also made easier by the refusal of the Sri Lankan skipper, Kumar Sangakkara, to apply the pressure on the batsmen.

Only one team could have won the game, if it did produce a result, after Sri Lanka had secured a massive first innings lead. India had nearly five sessions to survive and under no circumstances could have they posted a big enough total to threaten the visitors in the available time.

The pitch had not deteriorated as generally witnessed in Test matches going the distance that meant the bowlers had to do something sensational to force a result. The Sri Lankans were in the driving seat and they could have tested the batsmen by surrounding them with close-in fielders.

Sangakkara, rather surprising, was happy to spread the field in India’s second innings when the prime objective in front of the home batsmen was survival more than the quantum of runs.

The only way the Sri Lankans could have rattled the celebrated Indian batsmen was by attacking them with purpose. There had to be more fielders in the catching position rather than being stationed to save runs.

I don’t know why the Sri Lankan captain kept on thinking about containment when he had all the cards in his pocket. There was no way the Indians could have won the match after trailing by over 300 runs in the first innings. One failed to understand what fears Sangakkara had in his mind when marshalling the troops in India’s second innings.

His mind-boggling tactics kept the rate of scoring down but that didn’t help the cause of any team. The Indians had no problems in picking up singles instead of finding boundaries.

May be Sangakkara became a bit concerned due to the onslaught carried out by Virender Sehwag in the innings. But didn’t he know that India wouldn’t have come in a position to win the game even if the master blaster recorded the quickest triple century.

Sehwag has his own style of playing around with the bowlers and the only way to stop him is by sending him back to the dressing room. Luckily for Sri Lanka he didn’t last long in either innings. It could have been a different story to relate had he got going in the first outing.

Who could have thought of a high-scoring draw when four of the leading batsmen of the world had been sent back to the pavilion within the first hour of the game? As it turned out the pitch eased up to the extent of a belter and only 17 more wickets fell during the rest of the game with as many as seven centuries scored.

The spinners from both sides were thoroughly disappointing. The inconsistent umpiring didn’t help their cause either. The pitch did have turn and bounce but even the champion off-spinners like Mutiah Muralitharan and Harbhajan Singh could not make inroads.

The limelight was stolen by the batsmen of both sides. Rahul Dravid and Mahendra Singh Dhoni revived India with sparkling centuries and then Tillekeratne Dilshan, Mahela Jayawardene and Prasanna Jayawardene put Sri Lanka firmly in control. It was then left to Gambhir and Tendulkar to save the day for the hosts.

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Shaiza Khan spearheading the cause with conviction


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

Shaiza Khan happens to be one of the trend-setters. She has been chiefly responsible for putting Pakistan women on the cricketing map of the world. Besides being an active cricketer herself she has excelled in the role of the administration of the game against the heaviest of odds.

She currently holds a world record having merited recognition in Wisden, the Bible of cricket. She rewrote history by capturing 13 wickets in a Test match, obliterating Australian Betty Wilson’s record of 11 wickets achieved way back in 1956. Her record haul also included a hat-trick, only the second in women's Test history.

Shaiza also earned the distinction leading Pakistan women's cricket team in their first-ever Test match as well as the inaugural One-day International. She has, in fact, led the country in 40 ODIs besides three Tests. The prolific leg-spinner captained the national team in the 1997 World Cup in India and the 2003 IWCC Trophy in Holland.

She had started playing cricket at a very young age and the passion grew while attaining secondary education in England. She played club cricket for Winchmore Hill in England while she graduated to league and county cricket just a few years later. She was still at school while making her debut for Middlesex in 1986.

She became the first non-British captain for University of Leeds, where she completed her masters in Textile Engineering during 1991-95.

Upon her return to Pakistan she proactively took up the challenge of organizing a proper women team that could make its presence felt on the international scene. She had the dual responsibility of looking after the administrative matters besides leading the team in the field.

Shaiza was the motivating force behind the launch of the Pakistan Women Cricket Control Association (PWCCA) a body that was founded in January 1996 and registered under the Companies Ordinance of 1984. Later the same year the PWCCA became affiliated to the International Women's Cricket Council (IWCC) as an associate member.

Shaiza led Pakistan in their first-ever ODI in New Zealand soon after the country was granted the desired status. She added another feather to her cap by captaining the team in their historic first-ever Test match played against Sri Lanka in April 1998 at Colombo.

In 1999 she had become the first overseas player/member of the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) when the membership opened for women after 212 years. She is currently a full member of the MCC.

As the Pakistan, she had toured New Zealand (1997), Sri Lanka (1998 and 2002), England and Ireland (2000) while she also skippered the national team in the home series against Holland (2001) and the West Indies (2004).

Although her focus of late has shifted on the administration of the PWCA, she remains an active cricketer and makes most of her stay in England during the summers.

Shaiza is a versatile entrepreneur working as Executive Director in the United Carpets Group of Industries. She has been one of the major financiers in the promotion and development of women’s cricket in Pakistan.

In fact it’s believed that the affairs of women’s cricket were totally financed by both Shaiza Khan and Sharmeen Khan during the first 10 years of PWCCA’s existence.

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