Pakistan finished Saturday’s proceedings at the Ferozeshah Kotla with a lead of 167 runs and five wickets still in hand. But their opening batsman Salman Butt chose to call the match ‘evenly-poised’.
“The team that plays well in the fourth innings will benefit,” Butt said. About the target the visitors were looking to set he said, “The higher the better. But I think 300 will be a good target.
“India have good batsmen in their ranks and are capable of chasing steep totals. In any case, we will have to bowl well in the last innings,” he added.
Praising VVS Laxman’s efforts, he said, “We could have got them all out once they were reeling at 93 for 5, but Laxman stayed on. He is a good batsman and likes to carry on. He stopped the fall of wickets and thwarted our efforts.”
Like Danish Kaneria on Friday, Butt too brushed aside the point that they were a bowler short. “Shoaib Malik is a regular bowler for us,” he said, indicating that the skipper might be useful in the last innings.
On the nature of the pitch, Butt said, “The sun has helped a bit in drying it up, but generally it has stayed low and slow and I think it will continue to behave that way.”
Explaining the uneven bounce he said, “That usually happens when the pitch wears off. Usually the ball stays low but rises if it hits on the seam.”
Asked if the below-par performance of Mohammad Yousuf and Younis Khan was worrying the team, Butt said, “It happens sometimes, but a team never depends on two people.”
However, Harbhajan Singh, who claimed two wickets in the day, had a different view. The pitch, according to him, “is playing well now. We are happy that we were able to take five wickets off it. We are ready to chase any total that is put before us,” he added.
On skipper Anil Kumble’s performance, he said, “He has always performed well here. Today too he took three crucial wickets.”
About his own form, Harbhajan was satisfied. “I managed to take two — one coming off the first ball of my over. It really raised my spirits.”
Asked if he felt more pressure, “It’s an important game and so pressure is bound to be there.”
Sree, RP ruled out of Kolkata
RP Singh and S Sreesanth were on Saturday ruled out of the second Test against Pakistan at the Eden Gardens starting Friday.
“The duo are yet to recover fully and so have been ruled out,” BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah said. RP Singh, who had sustained an abdominal strain during practice, was rested for the first Test. Sreesanth hasn't fully recovered from the shoulder injury he sustained in the fifth ODI in Jaipur.