Cricket: Saeed leads eternal enigmas

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The Independent Online
The sub-continent has been glued to the television screen over the last month while India and Pakistan have played limited-over internationals against each other: five in Toronto and three in Pakistan. India won 4-1 in Toronto and Pakistan 2-0 in their own country.

It will probably be as difficult for the Pakistan public as it will be for the players to compose themselves with a three-Test series against South Africa, which starts today at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium.

This is a major series between two of the best sides in the world and promises to produce any amount of absorbing cricket. In a continent where the instant glamour and razzmatazz of the one-day game has caught the public imagination, it will be interesting to see what impact this true test of cricketing skills will have.

The pitch, which was under covers yesterday because of spitting rain, is almost sure to be as slow as most in this part of the world. It is a surface which the fast bowlers are unlikely to enjoy, although a bowler as fast and accurate as Allan Donald will always demand respect. The likelihood must be that both sides will play two spinners.

Although extremely talented as always, the Pakistan side remain an eternal enigma. On their day, which comes all too seldom, they can outplay any side in the world but too often their players seem to lose their way trying to out-do or settle scores with their own colleagues rather than the opposition.

With Wasim Akram still on the mend - he hopes to be fit for the second Test - Saeed Anwar is in charge. There is no more exciting batsman in the world and he is now having his turn to see what he can make of the most difficult job in cricket.

- Henry Blofeld in Rawalpindi

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