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My decision was right... I?m not here to please others

What can I say about the Karachi game? I don't have the words to describe the game that should surely rank among the very best in the history of one-day internationals.

india Updated: Mar 15, 2004 12:26 IST

What can I say about the Karachi game? I don't have the words to describe the game that should surely rank among the very best in the history of One-Day Internationals. There were twists at every turn in the game that neither side deserved to lose.

India deserved to win after making 349, but we should not have lost after getting so close to the target. Having said that, a victory is a victory, whether it is by one run or one wicket, and we are one-down in the series and have some catching up to do.

I know, the talking point of the game on Saturday was my decision to put India in after winning the toss.

Just about everyone has said I was wrong. Frankly speaking, even after 18 hours of losing the game and having given it considerable thought, I am not convinced that my team would have benefited more had we batted first.

As a captain I knew the trump cards I held and it was up to me to play them wisely. I thought unleashing a fresh Shoaib Akhtar, backed up by Mohammed Sami on pitch with a bit of moisture was my best option.

It would have been hailed as a masterstroke by those who are criticising me now had Shoaib Malik held on Virender Sehwag's uppish drive and Sachin Tendulkar not profited from being caught of an Akhtar no-ball.

All our bowlers were far too indisciplined with their length and direction to be effective. To add to our woes, they repeatedly overs-stepped, including our off-spinner Malik, who runs only a few paces.

This is totally unacceptable and we ended up bowling 56 overs instead of 50!

Indian batting was awesome. Their openers laid such a strong foundation that it was easy thereafter for the others to build on it.

That's what Rahul Dravid and Mohammed Kaif did. Our openers Imran Farhat and Yasser Hamid are young and inexperienced and did not put enough pressure on the Indian bowlers early on.

When you are chasing 350, you have to take your chances in the first 10-15 overs. They didn't do enough and lost their wickets as well.

Yousuf Youhana and I couldn't afford to take big risks and lose another wicket at that stage, but we had to improve on our run-rate significantly.

I love the Karachi wicket. It plays so true. Let no one tell you otherwise, there was no movement either off the seam or through the air when we were batting.

The ball was coming on to the bat nicely and it was a matter of getting your timing and placement right. After both of us got out, the lower order chipped in with useful contributions and we appeared to have things under control till Kaif held that stunning catch.

That was the final twist in the tale. About my own innings, it was a knock that I would have cherished under different circumstances.

The loss took some sheen off the Man of the Match award I received. There is no question of losing heart though. India's batting may be good but after Karachi they should know that no total is safe.

Our batsmen have made sure of that. Our bowlers just need to tighten up a bit and the series could well be squared in Rawalpindi.

Incidentally, it will be a day and night encounter and toss will play a big role. The white ball does a lot under the lights so the side batting second could be at a disadvantage.

However, the fielding side has to cope with the dew that is quite heavy during this time of the year. I do not expect too many changes in either side for the Pindi game.

We might just look into the possibility of playing a sixth bowler without upsetting the balance of the side.

And don't be surprised if I win the toss and bat first — just to please my critics.

But mind you, I am not in the business of pleasing others.(Café Cricket)

First Published: Mar 15, 2004 12:26 IST