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Toss of the coin decided outcome
Fast Track / Wasim Akram

It’s very sad when the toss of a coin decides the fate of a game. I am never one to offer excuses, but the day-night game at Newlands was always going to be won by the side that bowled second. Unfortunately, Waqar Younis lost the toss, and that became the turning point of the game.

When conditions differ so vastly in the evening, it’s best to stick to day games. I know there are only a handful of day-night games in this tournament, but it would have been better if the organisers had avoided them completely.

The ball was swinging a lot more in the evening, and the dew on the wicket really livened things up for James Anderson and Andy Caddick. I came in to bat in the 20th over, and the ball was still swinging a great deal. There was hardly any movement when Shoaib and I opened the bowling in the morning, so it was very disappointing to see the wicket changing character so dramatically when we came in to bat.

The wicket was completely dry in the morning thanks to the strong sun, so Shoaib and I had to toil away. In the evening, dew had fallen and all the England bowlers had to do was land the ball in the right spot.

The Indians will also be playing a day-night game against England in Durban. While the toss is generally a bigger factor in Newlands and East London than in Durban, the team batting first will still hold an advantage. After seeing yesterday’s game, the Indians will be hoping that Sourav Ganguly calls right on Wednesday.

If losing the toss was not enough, we played very erratic cricket and did not make the most of the chances we got. I was guilty of overstepping a couple of times, and this lapse cost us the crucial wicket of Michael Vaughan. In retrospect I think we over-attacked a little, and this is what allowed England to go from 118 for five to almost 250.

We also bowled a large number of four balls, therefore, even while we were taking wickets and regular intervals, we were not building pressure by keeping the runs down. Instead of concentrating on getting the other batsmen out, we kept attacking Paul Collingwood and providing him with scoring opportunities, which he made the most of.

If anything, our batting is even more cause for concern. Nobody was inclined to spend time in the middle, and the lack of self-belief among our batsman was very visible last night.

Anderson is a fine young prospect for England, and like a true champion he made the most of an advantageous situation. Sure, conditions were helpful, but you still have to land the ball at the right spot and Anderson did this with impressive regularity. He dismissed both Inzamam and Youhana with top deliveries, and those successive blows broke the back of the Pakistan line-up.

The main problem for us is that our batsmen are not firing. We also paid for dropping Taufiq Umer. The reason Waqar opted for Shahid Afridi was that he could also pitch in with his spin. The other problem is that we cannot accommodate a bowler of Mohammad Sami’s calibre without weakening our off-colour batting line-up even further. These are pressing issues, and the selectors and captain will hopefully get them right before our crunch game against India next Saturday.

Before that, we will be keeping a close watch on the result of the India-England game. However, we are not getting into the ifs and buts situation, and would like to storm into the Super Six on our own merit rather than because Team A beat Team B. The Durban match will be a great one, and it will be interesting to watch whether the Indian batsmen will be able to take on the might of a resurgent England side, with a very promising fast bowler leading the attack.

The team was a little gutted by yesterday’s defeat, with the boys returning to the hotel feeling pretty low. Richard Pybus met us this morning and spoke to us about the 1992 World Cup. We had lost our first two games in that tournament as well, but we came back to become world champions. We did get a bit of a boost and are aware that it is a do or die situation for us. We have to win all our three remaining games to go through to the next round.

We know we have the talent to do it, now we just have to apply ourselves to achieve this goal. From here on every game is like a final, and we will have to play with great intensity if we want to go all the way.

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