Special Correspondent

Zaheer Abbas all praise for Sachin Tendulkar and Inzamam-ul-Haq

Karachi: It was a meeting of different eras when Sachin Tendulkar presented a memento to Hanif Mohammad. And it was a brief encounter of the greats when Greg Chappell presented a similar award to Zaheer Abbas.

Nostalgia and excellence were very much in the air at the Country Club golf resort here on Friday.

The Cricket Club of India (CCI) had picked 12 all-time greats of Pakistan cricket and plaques bearing sketches of the chosen ones were presented to those among them who could be present.

The selected cricketers were Imran Khan, Hanif Mohammad, Mushtaq Mohammad, Zaheer Abbas, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Javed Miandad, Majid Khan, Wasim Bari, Abdul Qadir, Fazal Mahamood, Wasim Akram, and Waqar Younis.

The administrative manager of the Indian cricket team, Raj Singh Dungarpur, represented the CCI. Former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly and champion leg-spinner Anil Kumble also participated in the function.

The difference

Speaking to The Hindu, Zaheer Abbas said the difference in the Pakistan pacemen of the past and the present lay in reverse swing. "They could achieve reverse swing in any condition and the pitch did not really matter to them. The present bowlers are unable to do that," said Zaheer.

He called Inzamam-ul-Haq a great batsman and an emerging captain. "This Pakistani side is not as strong as the ones from the past. But Inzamam is holding it together. He is a great batsman. And I would rate Mohammad Yousuf as somebody who can be a great player from this team."

On the topic of pitches, he said, "Obviously the bowlers would want more assistance from the wicket. But always remember that the bowlers also need the batsmen to make mistakes. Whichever batting side makes fewer mistakes could win."

The wristy middle-order batsman, who exemplified elegance and class, named Sachin Tendulkar and Inzamam-ul-Haq as his favourite batsmen.

"Inzamam is such a lovely striker of the ball and seems to have so much time. People say Tendulkar's best days are behind him but I do not agree with that. He is maturing with age. He might not be as aggressive as before but he is still a great player. I still remember seeing him for the first time in 1989. I recall asking Mohammad Azharduddin 'Who is this kid. He appears too young for international cricket.' Azhar told me 'he is just 16, but he is a very good player.' And Tendulkar now has broken most of the batting records."

The legendary Pakistani felt the quality of pace bowling had dropped because of two reasons, "Too much cricket and far too many limited-overs matches. The pacemen are not going flat out anymore."

He is excited about India-Pakistan cricket but believes the players from the two teams no longer socialise as much off the field. "We used to play hard but also went out together in the evenings. That is not happening now."

Also despite the success as an opener, he feels Rahul Dravid should be batting at No. 3.

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