New Delhi: Former cricketing legends Sunil Gavaskar and Imran Khan had scathing opinions on how the Indian team performed against Pakistan, especially in the second ODI played on Thursday which the hosts lost by 85 runs.
On NDTV, while Imran Khan said that India took a big risk by asking Pakistan to bat first and did manage to comeback after staring at a target in excess of 300, Gavaskar was of the opinion that the batsmen should take responsibility for losses. "In India, who are the most famous? It's the batsmen. They are the one's who are known much more than the bowlers because of the performances they've had over the years. I think they are the one's you've got to hold responsible. They have been terribly out of form since the World Cup. It's been a long time since they struck form," he said.
On Thursday at the Eden Gardens, Pakistan had a solid foundation when openers Nasir Jamshed and Mohammad Hafeez were stroking the ball with ease. Ravindra Jadeja and Ishant Sharma however put the brakes on the team and kept the target down to 251. Batsmen however could not build on the effort. Imran said batting second, India had two problems. "When you choose to bat second in an ODI, you have two pressures. One is that of a quality bowling attack and the second is the pressure of the scoreboard. Each time a batsman is trying to get himself in, he has the (asking) run-rate going up," he said.
The importance attached to playing in the Indian Premier League was also criticised by both players. "I have been watching Indian cricket till the World Cup last year (2011). I have got to say this - unless Indian cricket deals with this IPL, unless you work out a balance between Test cricket and this 20-20 cricket and the commercial aspect of it, Indian cricket could go down very rapidly because cricketers are made in Test cricket. A great Test cricketer will perform anywhere. An IPL cricketer, a 20-20 cricketer may occasionally do well in 20-20 but will never become a great Test cricketer," said Imran Khan.
Gavaskar, in turn questioned the complete focus on IPL, often coming at the cost of the national side. "In the events after the World Cup, you will know the guys who actually took their places for granted, those who didn't make themselves available preferred to play the IPL and then go for surgeries. I think those are the guys who instead of looking at India were looking at contributing for their IPL franchises. If at all you need to take a rest, you need to take a rest from club cricket."
Both cricketers though, lauded the efforts of Pakistan players with Imran Khan going to the extent of saying that he could not wait to see the pace attack perform in South Africa.