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Sight Screen

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Action stations

Worma has been, on this blog, looking at the Pak-England stories, but I thought this once, I'd link to this Osman Samiuddin piece on the Pak team at the end of the series in which the home team thumped the Ashes winners 2-0.
The identities are different but so too are the modes of operation. Through this series, through the last year, Pakistan have done nothing if not scrap. They have rarely been able to call on sprinklings of genius - their captain apart - to bail them out. As a unit they have only hung on, scratched away and eked out results. Here they have hung on and then grown to assert themselves. If at Faisalabad they didn't believe they could finish it, that belief came here; at first through Mohammad Yousuf, Kamran Akmal, inevitably through Inzamam and eventually through the bowlers. It has often been said but it demands repeating; the communal nature of their progress is critical. It is precisely why this result is so important. Built on sturdier foundations than eras past, it could conceivably lead to a sustained pursuit of excellence rather than the erratic, faction-driven pursuit that held us in awe.

Osman puts his finger right on the button -- the fascination of earlier Pakistan outfits was akin to that period in time when I regularly used to by lottery tickets; not with any anticipation of winning the big one, but because from the moment I put the ticket in way wallet to the moment I tore it up, it was a license to dream. What was I going to do with the Diwali 25 crore bumper, once I had it stuffed in my hip pocket? How would I spend the New Year 30 crore bumper when I won it? Each time those dreams were different, and in sum, a personally fascinating Rorschach test of how my own mindset, ambitions et cetera were changing.
The Pakistan team would be like that. You looked at the possibilities, and wondered -- would Inzy produce one of those ridiculously simple-looking innings of his? Would we see the devastating Shoaib or his evil twin? Would the team collective explode, or implode? It was all maddeningly inconsistent -- but perenially fascinating.
This team is gradually morphing into the antithesis -- scarily consistent; the lottery-ticket effect is gradually disappearing; slowly being replaced by a blue-chip portfolio of high quality stock.
Can't wait, can you, for when the Indian team goes head to head with this lot? It's going to be a series and a half.

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