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|January 25, 2000||
MacGill makes most of opportunityWasim Akram
It is easy to claim that the rain came between the winning post and us. However, I refuse to offer such an explanation. We are professionals and minor disruptions should not affect our concentration. We had a good chance and we blew it thanks to some complacency and a few extravagant shots. The Melbourne game was an important one for us because it would have guaranteed a place for us in the final. It would have given us a mental fillip because both Australia and Pakistan would have won two games each and neither would have had a psychological advantage during the finals. Our take-it-easy approach made us concede the match and now India have an outside chance of making it to the finals ahead of us.
The match was a keenly fought one and I thought we bowled very well at the death to restrict the Australians to 260. At the toss I had said we planned to restrict them to 250 and we succeeded in that. If we bowl like this between the 40th and 50th over in our remaining games, it should definitely take the pressure of an extra 25 runs from the shoulders of batsmen.
Our youngsters, who had served us so well in the earlier games of the tournament, got carried away. Razzaq for instance needlessly took on Ponting's arm. The Aussies as usual were stupendous on the field. Afridi's run out was superbly executed, as was Razzaq's. They are in form and perhaps that is why they are converting just about every half chance into a breakthrough.
A special word for Stuart MacGill. The youngster has certainly taken the opportunity offered by Shane Warne's absence to stake a claim for a regular place in the one-day team. On current form he looks more threatening than Warne. He has more nip and turns the ball a lot more than Warne, which is saying a lot. MacGill can walk into any one-day side at present, and it is nice to see another young spinner making his presence felt in world cricket.
I believe many critics feel that the subcontinent teams don't have it in them to win close games. I don't think this is a fair criticism. Both India and Pakistan are trying their best. The Indians are going through a lean patch, but they have won close matches in the past, while Pakistan won two close games at the beginning of the ongoing tournament. The Aussies are on a roll and they seem to be winning just about every game. Now it is up to us to make them seem fallible.
Coming to tomorrow's game, we plan to win it and confirm our place in the finals. Though we have another chance at Perth, we do not want to put pressure on ourselves by leaving it to the last league game. Many issues have sorted themselves out during the course of the tournament. Ijaz has struck form and played very well till the rain break at Melbourne. Afridi looks good at the top of the order and will open tomorrow as well as in Perth.
We did not have a team meeting after the game because the team was too disconsolate in Melbourne. We plan to meet on Tuesday just before the match, so that we can discuss the collapse at Melbourne with a clear head. We have to play with caution and responsibility, and that is going to be our top priority tomorrow. India have all the pressure on them, so they will be going all out to win. We have to keep our cool and play to potential. I have always maintained that Pakistan is unbeatable when they play at their best.
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