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We forced Sachin into making an error

After the Karachi game I had joked that no Indian total is safe. At one point during the Rawalpindi encounter I felt our total of 329 was not safe either, writes Inzamam-ul-Haq.

india Updated: Mar 18, 2004 00:21 IST

After the Karachi game I had joked that no Indian total is safe. At one point during the Rawalpindi encounter I felt our total of 329 was not safe either.

Both games have gone down to the wire and the tension in the middle has been unbearable. We were disappointed to lose in Karachi and I think the Indians too would be feeling the same after the second ODI, especially one man, who answers to the name of Sachin Tendulkar. What an innings it was on a pitch where lesser mortals struggled to get the ball away. It is never easy batting under the lights at the Pindi stadium and the ball was doing a bit whenever our bowlers pitched it up. He made batting look so easy.

What does a rival captain do when Sachin is in full cry? Well, you just ask your bowlers to try and tighten up in a bid to contain him and hope that he will take risks and get out. That is what I did. The ball before he got out, he had swept Shoaib Malik from outside his off stump -- against the spin. I immediately walked up to Malik and asked him to bowl at the same spot. He did, Sachin repeated the shot, but could not keep it down and Abdur Razzaq judged it to perfection in the deep.

Those of you who saw my reaction on TV after Sachin got out must have been surprised. I normally keep my emotions in check on the ground, but it was such a relief to see him walk back that I couldn't help but join the boys in celebration.

As a batsman it is a sad when you score a hundred and your team loses. I can understand what Sachin must have gone through because couple of days back I felt the same in Karachi. Such knocks just become footnotes in history and a personal milestone at the best.

After two games one thing has been established beyond doubt -- our much-maligned batting is not as bad as it has been made out to be and our much-hyped bowling attack has not delivered.

Bowlers are generally going to struggle on these flat wickets, but as Ashish Nehra and Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammed Sami showed in Rawalpindi, if you bowl wicket-to-wicket and to your field, you will be rewarded. It was a much-improved performance by our bowlers, but I am afraid they still need to do some homework if this Indian batting line-up is to be contained. After Tuesday's win, I am being asked why Shahid Afridi was ignored in Karachi. It is easy to criticise me after Afridi clicked as a batsman in Rawalpindi. If you look at his post World Cup record, you will agree, it's not very inspiring.

In the present line-up, Afridi can fit in only as the sixth bowler. The number of runs we get from his bat is a bonus. He didn't play in Karachi because we didn't think we needed a sixth bowler there.

In a tight series like this -- there is very little choose between the two sides -- fielding will make all the difference. Kaif held that wonderful catch in Karachi and Razzaq a very important one (of Sachin) in Pindi. We've dropped a few easy ones and that is source of concern.

Honours are even after two rounds and the Indo-Pak road show now moves to Peshawar for what could be the most crucial match of the series. The team that wins in Peshawar will go to Lahore knowing fully well that they cannot lose the series unless they get beaten in both the ties to be played there.

It would be a huge plus to carry to Lahore, but like Dilli, Lahore abhi door hai.

(Café Cricket)

First Published: Mar 18, 2004 00:21 IST