Ratings - February/March 2006
Russell Degnan

Pakistan v India
Opening Ratings: Pak: 1127.04 Ind: 1175.00
1st Test: Drawn
2nd Test: Drawn
3rd Test: Pakistan by 341 runs
Closing Ratings: Pak: 1152.03 Ind: 1152.41

A deeply unsatisfying series that, as predicted, ended just as it was about to become interesting. The less said about the first two tests the better. Barring a catostrophic collapse, and possibly even then, they were both destined for draws on the two of the flattest decks in cricket history. Oddly, a few people made excuses for the groundmen on the basis that creating a lively pitch in those weather conditions was difficult. To them I offer up our local groundman, who never seems to have that problem no matter the weather.

The third test couldn't have started any worse for Pakistan. A green deck, a lost toss, a hat-trick to Pathan in the opening over, and in short time the Inzaman-less lineup was reduced to 6/39. But, with support from Razzaq and Shoaib Akhtar -- both of whom have lately matured -- Kamran Akmal made 113 in a knock that has everywhere been described as brilliant. India then threw it away. There is no other word for it. All out for 238, 7 runs behind, with good bowling from Mohammad Asif, Razzaq and Shoaib. Then the batsmen fired, seven fifites, a blistering 60 from Afridi, a 90 from Razzaq and 139 from Faisal Iqbal set the improbable target of 607 in almost two days. India never looked like making a go at it. Pathan played well in this series, but this is a team without backbone, and it was shown again. Pakistan, after a lull seem to be back as a force, almost, but not quite into the third ranking spot.

Forthcoming Series:

Bangladesh (610.86) v Sri Lanka (1067.61) - 2 Tests.

What to say here? Sri Lanka are rumoured to be leaving out their best players, making it little more than an A tour -- albeit one they will win at a canter. Unlike Zimbabwe, this unequal state of affairs won't last forever as Bangladesh have a lot of good young players coming through, but there are better ways.

India (1152.41) v England (1204.38) - 3 Tests.

Now this is an interesting series. England played poorly in Pakistan, losing from positions that in the previous year they had turned to their advantage. India effectively played one test in Pakistan and lost it badly. They are a different proposition at home, and England are as yet inexperienced tourists. Despite the misgivings I have over India's attitude towards winning, I think they will shade England here. Both teams have plenty to prove though.

New Zealand (1051.26) v West Indies (812.23) - 3 Tests.

The rating suggest this won't be a contest. History suggests the same. When New Zealand's doesn't have their home games rained off they are a difficult opponent. The West Indies have shown little to suggest they are any better than the embarrassing side that toured in 1999-2000. Neither side has any particular form though, so it could make for interesting opinion pieces if nothing else.

South Africa (1122.41) v Australia (1349.53) - 3 Tests.

The return leg of a series where South Africa struggled to assert themselves. I'm not convinced Australia are travelling so happily right now, but the focus is on building for the Ashes rather than this. Quite a few players will be looking to cement their place in the side, and -- as you'd expect in South Africa -- the games will probably be intense at times. This will be a better contest than the tests in Australia, but the Aussies will be very disappointed if they lose.

Zimbabwe (9th) 672.64

Cricket - Ratings - Test 9th February, 2006 13:12:04   [#]