Australia v Pakistan, 2nd Test, Sydney, 3rd day January 5, 2010

Akmal said 'sorry mate' three times - Kaneria

Danish Kaneria had a good day but it could've been better. He took 4 for 117 in a familiar marathon spell, leading Pakistan as close to a Test victory against Australia as they have been in 15 years. Yet he could've had more; four catches were dropped off his bowling, of which he was at fault for one. A familiar name was at fault for the other three.

Kamran Akmal has struggled, to put it politely, keeping wickets to Kaneria. Conservative estimates suggest he has dropped at least 15 catches off him over the last three years as well as missing a handful of stumpings. Michael Hussey was dropped thrice today on his way to a fighting, unbeaten 73, each time by Akmal off Kaneria. Had he held on to even one, the Test might not be going into a fourth day.

Kaneria did the only thing he could in such a situation later in the day. He laughed about it. "One is okay, two is okay, three is too much I think," he said. "I can't do much else. He is trying his hardest and let's just hope nothing goes wrong because we have another day and a Test at Hobart. It's part of the game. He never means to do something wrong but it's gone now, history. He said 'Sorry mate.' Three times."

Kaneria had a poor first session and only picked up as the afternoon wore on. After tea came his most fruitful period; he picked up three key wickets to hasten an Australian slide. The injured finger that had kept him out of the first Test was still playing on his mind; in dropping a catch at deep fine leg, he said he had tried to protect the finger.

"I had an injured finger and was out of first Test," he said. "My rhythm was not coming initially and something was wrong. So I just motivated myself. Waqar, Aaqib, especially the captain, and Inti all did as well. Then I just made myself think what am I doing wrong, I just focused, thought that I am doing everything ok and just lacking a bit of confidence. I came back hard and did well after that.

"You don't know when you will play or not. I was aiming to come back hard here. I've played here before and seen so many matches here. The SCG has never been so green but in the second innings it came good and I tried my best to deliver."

For most of a hot day, Kaneria was locked in at one end and only stopped as the day drew to a close. He had a few run-ins with players and officials - "they said you just need to calm down so I put tape on my mouth" - and cramps in his left calf forced him to go off the field. It was nothing serious, requiring only some icing and stretches.

Australia are 80 ahead with only two wickets in hand and Kaneria said his side was confident they could pull off the first win against Australia in 15 years. "Hopefully, fingers crossed we can. Get two wickets as soon as possible tomorrow and play positive because cricket is a funny game. The Australians will come hard when they come to bowl. Nobody likes losing, it will be tough but we are very confident and should play our natural game. Australian always play hard cricket and tomorrow is a new day. Let's see how it goes on. No matter if they get 120 or 130 we need to chase it down. I am and our team is very confident of our batting line-up."

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo