Pakistan captain Mohammad Hafeez on Wednesday said that they would be banking on their pace artillery to win the upcoming limited-overs series in India.
Hafeez's comments come at a time when India were handed a 10-wicket drubbing by England in the second Test in Mumbai, Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann sharing the spoils with 19 wickets on a rank turner.
But Hafeez’s men are unlikely to be offered any sharp turners for two simple reasons. First and foremost because limited-overs pitches are tailor-made to produce loads of runs. Secondly, and more logically, because Pakistan has in stock, perhaps, the best spin-bowling combination at the moment. Saeed Ajmal, Shahid Afridi, and Raza Hasan are complimented by Mohammad Hafeez, who many still consider a part-timer. Ajmal and Hafeez currently occupy the first and second spots in ICC’s ODI rankings for bowlers.
Despite the slow-bowling riches, Pakistan are likely to attack India with something that has worked for them in the past.
“Historically our pacers have always troubled the Indian batsmen in India and this time also we will be banking on them to do the same thing again,” Hafeez told reporters.
According to him, spin is not the answer against Asian sides.
“There is no doubt that Saeed Ajmal and Shahid Afridi are world class bowlers but against Asian teams they have not had the same degree of success as opposed to other sides.
“The reason for this is simple. Batsmen belonging to Asian teams grow up in conditions which spinners thrive in and therefore learn to cope with them from an early age. That is one reason why teams touring India always try to outgun the Indian team through their pace attack.”
Hafeez said the Pakistani fast bowlers selected for the tour will have to be at their best.
“If our pace bowlers bowl well and get wickets there is no reason why we can’t win the series in India,” he said.
Currently, only Umar Gul and Junaid Khan are sure-shot picks. Though there is a long list of potentials on the domestic circuit, some of whom have even represented Pakistan, there is no clear choice to partner Gul or Junaid, both who have enjoyed limited success recently.
“We have some exciting talent in the pace department and it is now up to the selectors to select the best lot.”
The national selectors are said to be considering picking four to five pace bowlers for the India tour and 19-year old pacer Ehsan Adil, who has been outstanding in the first class Presidents Trophy, could get a look in.
The out of contention left arm pacer, Wahab Riaz, who took five wickets against India at Mohali in the 2011 World Cup semi-final, has also shown consistent form in domestic matches recently.
Chief selector Iqbal Qasim, though, said there wouldn’t be much experimentation for the upcoming series.
”It is a tough tour even though we are not playing Test matches and it is a short tour. But still we will need lot of experience to deal with the pressure of the big crowds and the hype and tension that usually comes with a series against India,” Qasim said.
There is no doubt that Pakistan will need to reinvent them to beat India, especially in the bowling department. And if that is to happen, contrary to what the chief selector thinks, Pakistan will need to take a few chances.