Intikhab rues wasted opportunity on good batting pitch
Pakistan's ever-nervy batting line-up was left to rue another poor display that left their side in considerable trouble at the end of the second day at the MCG. After Ricky Ponting's positive declaration approximately halfway through the day, Pakistan lost four wickets, including the crucial one of captain Mohammad Yousuf in the last over of the day, on what Intikhab Alam, their coach, later maintained was still a blameless surface.
It continued a poor recent run of Test batting performances from the New Zealand tour, not helped by the continued absence of Younis Khan at one down. Intikhab said Yousuf's dismissal, given only after a review, was crucial to determining the mood of the day. "He was out, no doubt about that," Intikhab said. "You could see it very clearly in replays. But it was very sad, in the last over, a very important batsman. But we have made things difficult for ourselves. It is still a very good batting track. Our openers did well, but then they threw their wickets away and this is not a pitch where you can give wickets away when chasing 454. "
Pakistan still have two recognised batsmen to come, and a potentially obdurate nightwatchman at the crease, and an unusually placid MCG track led Intikhab to believe the game can still be saved.
"Misbah is still there as is Kamran Akmal and the young Umar [Akmal], who is very exciting, is still there and Mohammad Aamer can bat as well. They have to stay at the wicket and try to get near this total. You can never tell in this game. Funny things happen. We just have to make sure that we stay at the wicket and fight it out. It is still a very good wicket.
"I don't think I have seen a wicket like this at MCG. It is a drop-in pitch, but I haven't seen one like it. It is still good for batting. It is slow and not turning either. There is occasional bounce, but we would've played two spinners here but [Danish] Kaneria got hurt and we have missed him in this game."
After dropping two critical catches yesterday, Pakistan endured another clumsy day in the field. One catch was dropped and there were several other fumbles as Nathan Hauritz and Michael Hussey took the innings away from Pakistan.
"Our fielding was very disappointing and it is the weakest deparment of our game," Intikhab said. "Had we taken two early catches it would've been different. This is a grassroots problem in Pakistan and people don't take it seriously enough, but we are trying. The problem has been there for a very long time. We are trying to sort it out in Pakistan but there is not enough emphasis on fielding at domestic level yet."
Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo