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Can’t stop Sachin when he’s in mood

But there is little you can do when Sachin Tendulkar gets going. His innings made the game completely one-sided, writes Shoaib Malik.

india Updated: Nov 17, 2007 23:56 IST

The decision to bat first at Gwalior was taken after taking into account the happenings at Guwahati, Mohali and Kanpur. The ball had tended to keep low in the second half at the three venues, and we felt we were better off bowling second.

Our top-order has been struggling and I felt it was necessary to try and seize the initiative by opening the batting. Salman Butt fell cheaply but we managed to recover. Mohammad Yousuf steered the innings splendidly, and he deserved a hundred. But the inability to string together big partnerships was our problem.

I was surprised to see the Indians play only four specialist bowlers. We should have been more aggressive against Ganguly, but he bowled very well, and we lost wickets at the wrong time. Eventually, we finished at least 25 runs short.

The game would have been a lot closer had we made the new ball count. Ganguly fell early and what we needed then was at least one more wicket in the opening overs. That would have helped us work our way back into the game, as it wasn't going to be easy to bat second, especially if the heat was on.

But there is little you can do when Sachin Tendulkar gets going. His innings made the game completely one-sided. The manner in which he kept piercing the gaps said it all. The asking rate slipped to only four an over by the 20th over, and only an extraordinary bowling performance could have brought us back.

A lot has been said about the 'dew' factor, but I would not like to blame the conditions. We were knocked out because we did not bowl well at the start of the innings, and that is putting it mildly. Our bowlers were generous, I have to say, and Sachin, who has been in imperious form throughout the series, was only too happy to capitalise. We were guilty of not performing to potential against a batsman of his class.

The series may have been lost but it's important for us to do well at Jaipur, where a couple of the reserves will definitely get an outing. I have told the boys to give it everything, as a win will help us take the field for the Delhi Test in a much better frame of mind.

First Published: Nov 17, 2007 23:54 IST