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|January 27, 2000||
Ganguly was simply unstoppableWasim Akram
We have reached Perth and I admit that we did not plan to leave things this late. I would have liked to seal the issue of a place in the final in Adelaide itself, but we shot ourselves in the foot by playing some rash shots.
We were completely outplayed by India, and Saurav Ganguly was simply unstoppable. He has made a habit of winning man of the match awards against Pakistan, and in my opinion, has played more match-winning knocks against Pakistan than even Sachin! His innings was one of the best one-day knocks I have seen, and the way he paced his innings should be an example for our top order batsmen. He started off cautiously, but did not forget to punish the bad ball, and as the innings progressed he cut loose. In my book he is certainly the world's most elegant and effective player on the off-side. He was simply unstoppable on Tuesday, and inspired his team to pull off a long-awaited win.
A special word for Azhar Mahmood who put up a spirited fight at the end. I am sure he would have held out a glimmer of hope to our fans in Pakistan, but it all came way too late. Ijaz, too, played well, but it would have helped if he had carried on to make an even bigger score. He is a wonderful player and does have it in him to last till the end.
After a very good beginning to the tri-series our team's performance seems to have fallen apart. Basically our top order has to click. If one batsman stays on till the last few overs, then any total is achievable. This, unfortunately has not been happening in this tournament. Our openers have got off to good starts on numerous occasions but they don't capitalise on those starts. Razzaq, and in this game Mahmood have led rearguard actions, but it is unfair to always leave the task on them. It is time the openers and Inzamam put in match-winning performances once again. They are capable of it and have done it in the past, however, if we plan to win this tournament, contributions from them are a must.
I know everyone must be agog about what happened on the field and our little note to the match referee. I would like to put the whole issue behind the team. The referee has passed his verdict and the Pakistan team considers the matter closed. I am sure the Indians too feel this way, and I don't think any sparks will be flying tomorrow. After all, it is a crucial game and both teams are too intent on winning to get interested in other distractions.
Azhar Mahmood hopefully will be fit for tomorrow's game. One of the major positives that emerged from this tournament is the rise of Razzaq and Mahmood as allrounders. In one-day cricket, runs from the lower order are invaluable. Players like Klusener, Harris, Shane Lee and Razzaq are exciting to watch and pivotal to their team's chances. India are feeling the absence of such allrounders in the tournament.
The key to tomorrow's match will be how the Indian openers fare against our pace attack on a lively Perth track. I can tell you one thing, Shoaib and I are raring to go against them, and may the best team win!
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