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India head and shoulders above us

I have no hesitation in admitting that India were worthy winners. They were outstanding in every department of the game, writes Inzamam-ul Haq.

india Updated: Feb 23, 2006 14:25 IST
Inzamam-ul Haq (PTI)
Inzamam-ul Haq (PTI)

I start my wrap-up column by congratulating the Pakistan Under-19 team for making history by becoming the first team to retain the World Cup.

It was a performance that brought a few smiles back to our faces after our below-par performance against India in the one-day series in general and the last game in particular.

The way the boys crawled their way from the depths of despair is a lesson for everyone. They reminded us that any score was defendable if the desire for glory, zest, commitment and passion was there.

Their achievement once again proves that there was no dearth of talent in our part of the world despite our limited resources, inadequate facilities and infrastructure.

We have and will continue to stun the world by producing high quality and exceptionally talented cricketers out of nowhere. Well done boys. We are proud of you!

As regards the one-day series, I have no hesitation in admitting that India were worthy winners. They were outstanding in every department of the game and we just could not match them. Every time we tried to compete against them, they came with something different and we found them too far to catch.

I believe the major difference between the two teams was fielding. We were poor at times and atrocious most of the times. So much so that when our pride was at stake in Karachi, we showed too much generosity by conceding plenty of boundaries through misfieldings or over-throws, failed to convert half-chances and could not even throw down the stumps from point-blank range.

On the contrary, Indians were sharp and athletic in the field throughout the series. They had already raised their fielding standards through the agile and acrobatic Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif with Irfan Pathan, Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid there for support.

But the way the young trio of Suresh Raina, Rudra Pratap Singh and Sreesanth responded was incredible and helped make the Indian team look a tremendously good fielding side.

In the subcontinent where you get wickets tailor-made for batsmen and quick outfields, you need be to an excellent fielding side to back your bowlers to stand any chance of winning important matches. Sadly, we were no match to India in that decisive department.

To me, the turning point of the one-day series was the first hour of the Rawalpindi one-dayer where we lost four quick wickets. Then Indian fielders compounded our problems by getting four run-outs that prevented us from reaching 300.

Nevertheless, 265 was not a small score considering the fact that in the previous two games played there, the team batting first had successfully defended modest scores of under 210.

No matter what the team's detractors may say and feel, I still believe there are no clouds of concern. After all, it is the same team that had been winning almost everything in the last 12 months. The bottomline is that we have to accept that we played poorly and need to learn from our mistakes quick and fast.

The positives I take from this defeat are that we know where we lack and how we need to improve. This series has been a huge learning curve for all of us and I am confident that we will improve ourselves with sheer hard work, dedication and commitment.

I hate to give excuses but just want the critics to remember that we played six Tests and 10 one-dayers in less than four months which, I think, was extremely taxing and strenuous for the players.

Firstly, I don't have any defensive mindset. It's just that I don't show my aggression on the field. I am not one of those captains who throw their hands here and there, shout at players or put hands on the hips in anger. My aggression is always in my mind, not in actions and my team knows that.

Secondly, it is very easy for those sitting in the airconditioned studios to point fingers on match strategies and contingency plans when the team loses. But I believe there is little a captain can do when his bowlers are bowling on either side of the wickets and fielders showing greasy palms.

As regards my batting position, the critics unfortunately don't do their homework when they come on the screens. So, let me show them the factual position. In 356 one-dayers, I have batted 69 times at No 3 (average 39), 145 times at No 4 (average 40) and 91 times at No 5 (average 42).

They further accuse me of shuffling the batting order. Well, we stuck to the same batting order we had been following in the previous series. Kamran Akmal, as an opener, was declared the Man-of-the-Series against England while Shoaib Malik struggled at No 3 against England but was persisted at the same position against India. Rest of the middle-order remained unchanged.

First Published: Feb 23, 2006 13:38 IST