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Of Tiger’s tricks and memories

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STANDING TALL: Pakistan’s Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan came up with some memorable moments, while it has not been an easy tour for some of their teammates so far.
STANDING TALL: Pakistan’s Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan came up with some memorable moments, while it has not been an easy tour for some of their teammates so far.

Indians will be hoping to close out the series in Gwalior, writes Gundappa Viswanath

Indians will be hoping to close out the series in Gwalior, writes Gundappa Viswanath

Gwalior, the venue for the penultimate India-Pakistan one-dayer, has always evoked mixed memories within me. This was the city that hosted my benefit match, the first-ever benefit that was directly organised by the BCCI, who would earlier only grant permission to a player to stage a benefit. I can never forget the lengths to which the late Madhavrao Scindia went to ensure that the match was staged successfully. The other thing I can never forget is the scary trick that Tiger Pataudi played on a bunch of us on another occasion, one that I shall tell you about a little later in the column.

Being 1-0 up, the Indians will be hoping to close out the series in this game itself, but that is easier said than done. They must play it as hard as any other match, but guard against getting too far ahead in their thinking. They have been playing well and must look to keep up the intensity and allow the result to take care of itself.

Problems galore

On the other hand, Pakistan, despite the win in the second match, have their share of problems. If they started the series with a suspect opening combination with the bat but a strong middle order, they are now in a situation where they have rediscovered one opener only for the middle order to struggle more than expected.

Only Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq have looked the part with skipper Shoaib Malik and veteran Mohd. Yousuf, despite one big knock, not delivering as yet. At least in Malik’s case, he has not looked all that bad, but Yousuf, for me, has really struggled. That he continues to get run out every now and then cannot help.

Where the Indians could improve from the last game is in restricting the number of boundaries in the initial overs. Of course they must also have a relook at the team composition if they learn that the dew factor can play a part. An extra seamer in place of the second spinner could then be the right way to go. In either case, I would not advocate playing an additional batsman as most of the batsmen are in good form. Also the curator has gone public about the pitch being good for plenty of runs — like all curators usually do — and if we are to take his word for it, the fifth bowler, be it a spinner or a fast bowler, must be retained.

Memories

To come to Tiger and my memories of Gwalior, I used to play in an annual tournament there alongside Tiger, Abbas Ali Baig, Jaisimha, Chandra and others and during one such event, we were making our way back to the hotel after a party when the unthinkable happened.

We had to pass through the Chambal Valley and suddenly our vehicle was stopped by two armed men on horses. They kept us captive for nearly two hours, demanding something like Rs. 5 lakh to release us. Believe me I was really scared and though we were finally let off, I couldn’t quite sleep for a while. It was only six months later that I learnt that it was all a trick played by Tiger. The worst part of it was that my good friend Chandra — the legendary B.S. Chandrashekar — knew all about it and never revealed it to me.

I hope the Indian team will have no such tricks played on them during their stay at Gwalior and that they manage to seal the series.

Hawkeye Communications / Chivach Sports

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