I have to say to all those who wrote us off after that first day’s play, that this game is, as yet, wide open.
That unexpected stand between Misbah and Sami and some fine bowling from our bowlers has ensured that Shoaib Malik and I can afford to tell ourselves and the team ‘hang in there, this game could still be ours’.
On Thursday, though, it was different. I was surprised by the 9:30am start under the conditions. I’m told Delhi play their Ranji cricket like this, but it doesn’t mean it’s okay. It was foggy and smoggy but the Indian bowlers used the conditions beautifully and we messed up.
So that partnership really gave us hope. When teams have these dogged stands at the bottom, it is a sign that players are beginning to back each other up, fighting together.
Later, when Akhtar first broke through and then, Tanvir came back crucially, it made a huge difference to our morale. Taking out the top five Indian bats for nothing much is something!
Even though Dhoni and Laxman had that great stand it’s over now, so we’re thinking that if we can get India out in another 40-50 runs now, even if they get a 100-run lead, we’ll be okay. After all, this track is getting lower and slower and chasing 300-plus for a win (which is the position we hope to put India in), will be tough.
We’re talking positively in the dressing room, keeping it light. You know our batting is unpredictable; and that is as much a strength as a weakness. Someone, somewhere strikes form and the others just carry on the momentum.
On a final note, yes, we did hear the Kotla crowd’s anti-Pakistan chants. We just said, it doesn’t matter, they’re supporting their team. But just one thing: It doesn’t happen in Pakistan. Our crowds have invariably cheered India too whenever they’ve played there recently and that’s how it should be, ideally, just appreciate good cricket. But that’s life. Not always ideal.