The Yuvraj-Dhoni partnership was the turning point in Kanpur. With India 129 for 3 from 28 overs, we had reason to believe that we had come back after the fine start provided by Ganguly and Tendulkar. Another wicket or two in the next 5-6 overs would have put the Indians under pressure and ensured that they finished with a gettable 240-250. However, the captain and vice-captain batted brilliantly to take them close to the 300-mark.
We should have taken all the catches that came our way. Yuvraj was dropped when he hadn’t scored many, and he made us pay. This won’t do in the last two games. Kamran Akmal is under fire at the moment, but he is an experienced campaigner, and I expect him to be fit for Thursday’s game. We have asked for a back-up, but I don’t think it is fair to blood a youngster in a Pakistan-India encounter.
Akmal has done well against India in the past, and all he needs is one good day to get his confidence back. We would like Salman Butt to continue in the same vein. Had one of us stayed with him and got 70-80 runs, the outcome at Kanpur would have been different. It was heartening to see the spectators rise when he completed his hundred.
An attitude like this tends to boost the morale of the players and make them perform to potential. There is nothing wrong with being aggressive on the field, as long as you complement it with performance. We need not dwell too much on what happened between Afridi and Gambhir. The two players were quick to forget it and get on with their respective jobs, which is how it should be.
Afridi’s ton at the same ground in 2005 prompted us to promote him up the order. We felt an explosive start would nullify the purchase the Indian spinners were bound to get. It wasn’t his day. We will continue to use him as a ‘floater’, and I will play a similar role. Our performance will have to be top-class in Gwalior and Jaipur. There is no other option.