It is one mystery that has perhaps never been answered satisfactorily: how is it that Indian Punjab doesn’t produce quality tearaways, while Pakistani Punjab is a virtual nursery of them? “Cricket is very popular in our Punjab, but I think Indian Punjab is more inclined towards regional sports. That’s why we don’t see many fast bowlers coming from there. They need to create a culture by catching strong lads and get them into the system,” ex-Pakistan captain Aamir Sohail, 52, tells Outlook.
Sachin Tendulkar feels youngsters in Pakistan have traditionally had great fast bowling role models to emulate while in India has churned out batting greats. Present Punjab coach Rajdeep Kalsi says an overwhelmingly non-vegetarian diet in Pakistan helps produce pacers as they start eating high-protein dishes since childhood. “We, in Indian Punjab, mostly cook vegetarian dishes,” he points out.
Former Punjab captain Bhupinder Singh senior blames it on cricket being largely “restricted to cities” in the Indian state. “We have never tapped the talent in villages. I raised this issue with the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA), but it’s only interested in depositing money in banks.... Moreover, NBA scouts are luring away all strongly-built youngsters from here,” he rues. Ex-India pacer Harvinder Singh of Punjab says he, along with Harbhajan Singh, Yuvraj Singh and the PCA would launch a massive hunt for pacers after the IPL. “We’ll be covering 700 villages to unearth talent,” he discloses.