'Seniors have lot to offer'

Updated: 05 November 2007 07:47 IST

Sachin, Sourav and Dravid are not a spent force yet and have lots to offer to Indian cricket, feels former Pak captain Inzamam-ul-Haq.

New Delhi:

Despite their growing ages, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid are not a spent force yet and have lots to offer to Indian cricket, feels former Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq.

"It's upto the individual to decide when he wants to quit. I don't think Sachin, Sourav or Rahul are too old to continue. I quit at 38 and they are younger," Inzamam said.

He even went on to predict that Tendulkar, along with Shahid Afridi, would prove to be the key player in the forthcoming series.

Shocked by Dravid's omission for the first two one dayers against Pakistan, Inzamam said, "He is a great player and his axing was baffling. I think Pakistan would benefit from it.

"He brings in lot of experience with him and that's something you badly need to win close matches," he told a press conference here today.

Inzamam, who will host special cricket programmes on Zee News during the series, said there could not be a fixed retirement age for cricketers and it should be determined by form and fitness.

"As a player, you have to assess how fit you are and look at your performance graph -- how long you are delivering. Take Imran Khan's case, he played till 39.

"I think fitness and performance levels are the right indicators to determine if it's the time to leave the scene."

Experience is something no team can afford to do away with and India's relatively experienced side tilts the edge in the hosts' favour in the forthcoming series against Pakistan, he said.

You can expect a see-saw series and in such pressure situations, experience comes handy. It's the experience players in the side who can guide you and show how to handle the situation and come out of it, Inzamam said.

"India have more experienced players in the ranks and they are likely to handle the pressure better than Pakistan," he explained.

Set to open a new innings as host of "Junoon 2007" on Zee News, Inzamam admitted he was missing the dressing room ambience.

"After playing for 17-18 years, I'm suddenly no more part of the dressing room. I really miss it. Anyway, I thank those players who said they miss me too."

He also felt that Shoaib Akhtar's return after a 13-match ban would bolster the Pakistan attack, which would be sans spearhead Mohammad Asif, who is nursing an elbow injury.

"Well, if he is in action, he would make an impact. He is a world class bowler and would be eager to make his mark," Inzamam said of his former teammate he often found difficult to rein in.

He also heaped praise on captain Shoaib Malik.

"He is a good, unflappable captain, who never loses his cool. He's young, positive and aggressive too.

"However, he might find the going little difficult in Test matches but he is a good learner and has age on his side and can be a great captain."

He had a word of praise for Shoaib's Indian counterpart as well.

"Whatever I saw of (Mahendra Singh) Dhoni, two things about him impress me. He is positive -- does not hesitate to take chances even when chips are down -- and is clear-minded -- backs his decision to the hilt. These are the hallmarks of a good captain."

Inzamam also stoutly defended his decision to boycott the controversial Oval Test last year and pointed the accusing finger at umpire Darrell Hair for announcing the match

"We were handed a five-run penalty but going by the book, he should have informed me beforehand. But that was not done and we decided not to go out for the remainder of the match."

Inzamam owned up responsibility for the decision but said he had discussed it with teammates.

"Now that I'm no more under ICC's purview, I think I can open up. It was completely my decision even though I took my teammates into confidence. They were unanimous about it and I did not decide it at anyone's behest."

He also took a jibe at the International Cricket Council, accusing it of favouring the whites.

"You have a number of cases where it's evident that they have come down harshly on players from the sub-continent, while others got scotfree.

"Be it slow over-rate, disciplinary action or punishing captains, ICC have been harsh on us, while some other countries benefited from their largesse," he alleged.

He also took the occasion to dismiss charges that during his tenure, Pakistan team was more preoccupied with religion than cricket.

"That's not true. We used to offer 'namaaz' which the boys do even now. In no way did it affect our performance," he said.

Inzamam ruled out turning a coach at some point of time but revealed plans to open a batting academy.

"I don't have any plan to take up coaching. What I intend to do is to launch a batting academy.

"I have been a batsman throughout my life and I can't open a bowling academy after all!" he quipped.

Apart from Tendulkar and Afridi, Virender Sehwag, Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Yousuf are likely to shine in the forthcoming series, he added.

Topics : Cricket Inzamam-ul-Haq
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