I won't mind England winning at the Oval

Mudassar Nazar

June 20, 2001

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Mudassar Nazar
Mudassar Nazar
Photo © CricInfo
Full marks to the Pakistanis and to the authorities. Pakistanis - for keeping the mighty Australians at bay and the authorities - for keeping the even mightier Pakistani fans under better control.

However, I can't help but admire the Australians, whose sheer tenacity saw them coming back at Pakistan again and again. Such was their determination that Pakistan, despite scoring a mammoth 290, could not sit back and relax even for a moment.

Wasim Akram
Wasim Akram clubs a four off Symonds bowling
Photo © CricInfo
Equally, though not laudable, was the Pakistani fans' determination, which didn't allow the security people to sit back and watch the thrilling events taking place out in the middle. They probed and probed, succeeding once during the Pakistan innings to have their presence felt, yet that was all they were going to get. For the security people at last realised they needed to handle the fans firmly.

For me, that part of the match was really crucial - the one during which the mob tried to dictate terms. Pakistan were cruising along at 250 for 5 in the 45th over and could've gone on, but they lost their concentration after that unwarranted break after a firecracker was thrown on.

Had it not been for Wasim Akram, with his little cameo, I am sure the score would have been much less, and with the Aussies always as determined as they are, the outcome of the match might have been what these very Pakistani fans surely would not have wanted.

Saleem Elahi
Saleem Elahi sweeps the ball towards the boundary on the way to scoring his fifty
Photo © AFP
Quite amazingly, Saleem Elahi, despite all his past failings with moving balls, top scored for Pakistan. Although not the best in terms of style and elegance, his was an innings of concentration and focus and one that may have thrown the team management into a dilemma. I wonder what Pakistan's playing XI for the final will be, with Inzamam fully fit and Afridi also around?

I think, after today's knock, it would be unfair to leave Elahi out, and, with Inzamam coming in for Faisal Iqbal, we might have to swallow the bitter pill of not playing Afridi. However, the final decision lies with the management, while I sort out my problems here in Sri Lanka.

Back to the game: I think everyone contributed in this excellent victory. The only worry I have is Saeed Anwar's form. I wonder, how many more times he'll throw his wicket away after getting good starts. Instead of learning from his mistakes, he seems to be repeating them. He really needs to consider how the team's going to be affected by his recklessness. Come on Saeed, its time to wake up!

I had always an inkling these Australians would fight till the very end, and that's exactly what they did. Despite losing wickets, at more or less regular intervals, they kept coming back and it wasn't over till the 'fat lady sang'.

Waqar Younis proved yet again how tough he is. Three wickets in his first 4-over spell and if that wasn't enough, three more in the second, six in all and 13 in two back-to-back matches is amazing stuff. I don't find words to describe his devotion to the cause of the team. He was just brilliant. Well done Waqar, keep it up!

Gilchrist and Saqlain
Saqlain Mushtaq and Rashid Latif are overjoyed at the dismissal of Gilchrist
Photo © CricInfo
The Australians, on their part, proved more than worthy opponents. Gilchrist played one of the greatest of knocks I have seen for some time and that too despite the fact that wickets were tumbling at the other end. I do believe, had he stayed there for five or six more overs, the match would have been over within 40 and in Australia's favour. Believe me, I let out a great sigh of relief when Saqlain cut him short at 70.

Now for the final, it will be an entirely new game. Toss would yet again be crucial but we must not lose heart in case luck deserts Waqar after a series of consecutive toss wins. For batting first at Lord's is not always as rewarding as one might think. The example of WC'99 is there to ponder over. What did Wasim Akram gain after winning the toss and batting first?

The key thing is, we must make an all out team effort at Lord's and especially field well. And, at least I wouldn't mind if our team prays for an England win in the last league match at the Oval, so that the Aussie morale takes one more dip. I don't think it's a bad idea or is it?

Ed: Mudassar Nazar is a veteran of 76 tests and 122 ODIs. He is currently the chief coach of Pakistan's National and Regional Cricket Academies. In view of the overwhelming interest of users in CricInfo's articles, we have invited him to write for us.

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