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Are Pakistan really better than India?


Rajdeep Sardesai,CNN-IBN
Feb 10, 2012 at 08:14am IST

Hello, and welcome once again to DRS - my own take on the world of cricket. This week I thought we could talk on a fascinating subject to debate, always. Which is the better team at the moment, India or Pakistan? That question has become more relevant after what we have seen in the last few days.

Pakistan completing a quite remarkable 3-0 sweep of the world's number Test team, England. And India, of course, having disastrously lost to Australia 4-0. A few days ago I was on a Geo TV programme, on Pakistan TV, and when I suggested that the jury was still out on which is the better team, I got an irate response from Pakistani fans who suggested that I was still not realising the reality that Pakistan today is a better team than India.

But hold on guys, I said. Yes, it's true that Pakistan have completed a quite remarkable win over England. Yes, India have struggled, both against England and then against Australia. But at the end of the day, the jury is still out for the simple reason that Pakistan won this series in the Gulf where the wickets were distinctly similar to sub-continental pitches. On the other hand, India have lost in foreign lands, in England and Australia. And really, barring the great West Indies team of the 80s or the Don Bradman team of the 40s or Steve Waugh's team of the early part of this 21st century, no team really has successfully won series after series at home and abroad.

In fact, there is a general equivalence that's coming into Test cricket, where teams are strong at home and struggle when they leave abroad. I think we have got to recognise that before we start claiming that Pakistan is already a better team than India. I would like to see Pakistan perform in the same vein in Australia and in England before I am ready to admit that they are a better team.

Yes, they have got some remarkably talented cricketers; Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rehman are a wonderful spin duo. But I would like to see them play against the Indian middle order.  Yes, it's true that the Indian team, you could say, is in decline and the Pakistani team is slightly climbing. But maybe, just maybe, when the two sides play on sub-continental pitches against each other, we will really know which is the better side.

Which is why the only way to settle this argument once and for all as to which is the better team at the moment is to organise an India-Pakistan series. Let's have it on home pitches in India; let's have it in th Gulf, maybe even have it in Pakistan. But let's play each other. I think the delight then of seeing Virender Sehwag and a Gautam Gambhir taking on an Umar Gul or our middle order versus the Pakistani spinners - or really - a Zaheer Khan bowling to the Pakistani batsmen. I think that's the kind of mouth-watering contest that I am looking forward to.

A five-Test series between India and Pakistan is the only way to settle this argument. At the moment, as I said, I think the jury is still out. We are both teams that are tigers in home conditions and we are lambs abroad.  That's the reality of sub-continental cricket.

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