India's tame surrender in their backyard to arch rivals Pakistan in the one-day series has surprised former Pakistan captain Zaheer Abbas.
"I did not expect such wins. It was a battle of nerves and Pakistan did better to win it," said Abbas who felt the Indian players looked jaded after playing too much cricket.
He also felt the pressure of playing at home was biting on India after Pakistan took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the ODI series.
"Naturally there is additional pressure to perform in front of a home crowd and it tends to increase when India and Pakistan play each other. India was under pressure but we must give credit to the Pakistani team which has performed really well," said Abbas who was one of the most successful Pakistani batsmen against India.
Asked about the reason behind Pakistan's dominance in the ongoing series, Abbas, who scored six centuries, including two double hundreds, in Tests and three ODI hundreds against India felt that the Indian batting and bowling line-up did not live up to expectations.
"The reason which I see is that the Indian batting and bowling line-up is not the same as it used to be earlier. We have always seen that the Indian batting has won you the matches but they can't do anything if your bowlers don't perform to the required level," said Abbas on the sidelines of the CEAT cricket awards on Friday.
Abbas, who has scored 5082 runs in 78 Tests and 2572 runs in 62 ODIs, was awarded with the CEAT Lifetime Achievement award for his outstanding contribution to cricket.
However, Abbas defended Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni is facing severe criticism but Abbas defended him. "A captain alone cannot win matches. A captain is as good as the team. Bowlers and batsmen have to perform. It was due to Dhoni's unbeaten century that India managed to get a decent score in the first match and in the second match also he batted well," he said.
Abbas felt he should give up the captaincy for the T20 format. "He should be rested from the format as a captain. He should remain part of the cricket but as a captain of the ODI and Test formats. He is your Captain Cool and needs some time," said Abbas.
Predicting a 3-0 win for Pakistan, Abbas said, "I think this team can do this. Pakistan can clean sweep the series in Delhi and if it happens, it will be a blessing for Pakistan cricket. We are deprived of international cricket at home and in such circumstances a win against a top team like India will boost Pakistan cricket," he said.
Asked whether the retirement of senior players like Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar has led to the sudden downfall of the world champions, Abbas said, "When great players go, you sometimes find it difficult to fill the gap."
"You cannot find an immediate replacement for such greats. Sometimes it takes decades to find a suitable replacement. But I have full faith that the Indian batting line-up will keep on improving on a regular basis."
Echoing these sentiments, Abbas' former team mate and Pakistan's first one-day captain Inthikhab Alam said it would take 10 years for Indian to rebuild their side.
"If you lose three-four top class players, it takes time to rebuild the team. You just can't take a magic wand and get things right. It will take about 10 years to find good players," he stated. "The selectors need to be patient and have the vision to get the right replacements in place. I think India will bounce back soon," he said.
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