Inzamam pins hope on lower order batsmen

Published: Wednesday, March 31, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
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Multan:Pakistan may have found themselves in a difficult position in the first cricket Test against India but captain Inzamam-ul-Haq on Tuesday said his lower order batsmen were quite capable of pulling the team to safety "if they play to their potential".

"We are in a difficult position but our batsmen fought hard. With such a big total posted by the opposition, we were always going to be under pressure," Inzamam said after the third day's play which saw Pakistan still needing 112 runs with four wickets in hand to avoid the follow-on.

"But our lower order batsmen are quite capable and I am hopeful that we will be able to avoid the follow-on," he said.

India scored a mammoth 675 for five declared in their first innings and Pakistan were on a shaky 364 for six at close on the third day.

The Pakistani captain, who struck a splendid 77, said his young batsmen showed a lot of commitment and played positive cricket and this had given him the assurance that his team could save the match. Asked whose decision it was to prepare such a placid track at the Multan cricket stadium, Inzamam said, "We always want to play on sporting tracks."

"Such pitches do not suit our game. We want hard and fast wickets since we have a lot of fast bowlers. Hopefully we will have better pitches in the remaining two matches."

Inzamam did not want to talk about his controversial dismissal but said his wicket had put the team under more pressure that resulted in a fall of a few quick wickets.

"I was well set, I thought I could have carried on and the team could have been in a better position. A couple of wickets fell after I was out," he said.

"I am not going to comment about my dismissal. But everybody has seen it on television and they can judge for themselves," he said.

When reminded that India had managed to take six wickets in a day while his team could just take five wickets in two days, Inzamam admitted that the bowling and fielding needed a lot of improvement.

"We have to bowl better, we did not do well during the Indian innings. The bowlers have to work really hard. Our fielding all needs to improve as we dropped a lot of catches. You cannot win matches if you drop catches," Inzamam said.

He also defended seasoned off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq who failed to make much of a mark on his return match.

"Saqlain is playing after a long time and the wicket gave him no assistance at all. It was too flat a wicket but he played his heart out."

The Pakistani captain had encouraging words for young Yasir Hameed who has shown the tendency to get out in the 90s.

"I will be happy if he keeps getting the 90s. I think he gets a bit nervous in the 90s. He has to think on this and make sure he gets the hundred in future."

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