They also take a U-turn when the team wins

Published: Friday, April 9, 2004, 22:43 [IST]
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Lahore:Pakistan media patted the home team for bringing the friendship series "back on track" by their win in the second Test while being sarcastic about Indian captain Rahul Dravid's decision to bat first.

"A victory margin of nine wickets is emphatic enough and to do this inside three and a half days makes it a thumping one. All debts have been paid off, all grievances soothed. It went according to plan, almost," gushed Pakistan's noted cricket columnist Omar Kureishi in daily 'Dawn'.

"The Friendship Series is back on track. Rahul Dravid said at the presentation that India had been outplayed by Pakistan. Poor fellow, he will get the backlash of hindsight as he got the kudos for his foresight for winning the toss and batting first and by the same people," he wrote.

Kureishi added that the credit for the win "goes to the Pakistan team and has nothing to do with the errors that might have been made by its opponents".The 'Daily Times' also criticised Dravid's decision to bat first on a seaming track. "India self-destructed with their decision to bat first on a lively wicket coupled with some irresponsible batting by the top-order in both the innings."

With banner headlines screaming "Honour Restored," "Pakistan outclass listless India", the local dailies hailed the win by Inzamam-ul-Haq and his boys.

Nation' praised the performance of the hosts but at the same time warned the team of "increasing belligerence" of Virender Sehwag.

"If a player deserved a century, it was Sehwag. Pakistan has to guard against him more than the more celebrated Indian players because he has the capacity to turn the match on its head," it said while also praising Parthiv Patel.

"If a player deserves accolades, he is the tiny and young Indian keeper Patel who played an innings that was sparkling and courageous. He did not give in against two of the best pacers in today's cricket and fought it all the way." Kureishi in his column, however, refused to apologise for his harsh criticism of Pakistan team's performance in Multan Test and saw no justification in Inzamam's outburst.

"Far from being harsh it was healthy and constructive and it (the criticism) played a positive role. It provided the kick in the rear that the team needed. The Pakistan cricket public has matured. It won't accept shoddy goods. The Pakistan team was pathetic at Multan and it was roasted. It was magnificent at Lahore and has been showered with praise.

"No one has the knives out for this team. No one demands that it wins all the time. 'It' represents Pakistan. It means a lot to us," he said.

"At the end of the match, Inzamam was smiling. No one more than he had earned the right to smile. Though it would have been an ungainly sight, no one would have minded if he had done a cartwheel."

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