Pakistan v India, 5th ODI, Lahore March 24, 2004

Fighting till the last ball

Wisden Cricinfo staff

Sourav Ganguly confessed that the only reason why the Indian team did not run a victory lap on clinching the one-day series against Pakistan was "because the stands were empty by that stage". The spontaneous eruption of joy from every member of the team, even Parthiv Patel, who did not play a single match in the series, showed how much this win meant to the Indian team. Inzamam-ul-Haq, meanwhile, was visibly disappointed, but answered all the questions posed to him patiently. Here is what Ganguly, Inzamam and VVS Laxman had to say:

The hard work pays off for Sourav Ganguly © Getty Images

Sourav Ganguly
On being [part of] the first Indian team to win a series in Pakistan
It's a big win. We haven't won in Pakistan since 1954, I think. It's good to start with a win and be part of a team that has won the one-day series.

On his injury
When I came off, I was in a lot of pain. Andrew [Leipus] gave me an injection. I am numb at the moment. Tomorrow morning I will go for a scan, and I will be able to give you a better idea [then].

On playing in finals
We [have] always believed [that] these games are pressure games. Putting runs on the board always makes a big difference. 293 was a big total, and once you get a big total like that on the board you can put good pressure on the opposition. At the same time, the new-ball bowlers bowled really well to take the game away at 25 for 3.

On whether this was a good toss to lose
I would have batted anyway.

On whether it was difficult to motivate the team when they trailed 1-2
I have always said that we are a different side from what we used to be. Our performance in the last one-and-a-half years, both overseas and at home, has shown this. It has come with a lot of hard work and a lot of off-field work. We work hard for these games and don't give them away easily. It's not too difficult a task to motivate the team.

On whether the Indian batting took a deliberately different approach in this game
Yes it was a different approach. We wanted to keep wickets in hand, although I thought we lost wickets at crucial times, specially when Laxman and I were building a partnership. If we had gone ahead with that partnership, we could have got 320. But you have to give credit to the Pakistani bowlers - the way they bowled today was their best in the series. But yes, [there] was a plan to play differently.

On where this win rates in his many wins as captain
We did well in the Test series in Australia but that was Test cricket and that is different. Beating Pakistan in Pakistan is also among the best. The way we played in the World Cup was also very, very special.

On whether winning the one-day series would give the team confidence ahead of the Tests
They are two different games, but in modern cricket, one-day cricket is equally important. Maybe Test cricket is the cricket, but in terms of the rest of the things, one-day cricket is equally important. We have done well in Tests overseas. It's good that people like Anil [Kumble] and Ajit [Agarkar] are back in the side to strengthen our bowling. Definitely, this win will give us confidence for the Test matches.

On his feelings at the loss
I can't tell you how sad I am, but they [India] have played well and we must appreciate that. Our fans may be disappointed but we will win the Test series, hopefully. The top batsmen should have realised their responsibility. We lost too many wickets at the start. In the end, an average of eight or nine [runs per over] was not hard to get [had we kept wickets in hand]. There was very good cricket in this series, [and] both teams played well. My main bowlers have not been in their best rhythm. We have had bad starts with the ball but we have not been able to [bowl with] control in the end. But I can tell you [that] they are working hard at the nets.

On whether all the talk about this being a goodwill series put additional pressure on the team
There was no additional pressure, we gave our 100%. The difference between this Indian team and the others is that this one fights till the last ball.

On the atmosphere surrounding this series
I have seen mixed crowds in Sharjah, but the one in Lahore was great. It was nice to see Indians and Pakistanis sit together and enjoy the entertainment. I Hope there will be lots of Indians at the Tests also. I appreciate the Pakistani people for welcoming not only the Indian team but also the fans.

On whether Youhana's failure was a concern
Youhana is such a good batsman and he can click at any time. I'm not worried about him.

On whether the pitches for the Tests would be made according to his preferences, or to the groundsmen's preferences
There will be a little bit of what the groundsman wants and a little bit of what I like.

On whether he was confused by all the advice that he got in the press about what to do on winning the toss
You are right, but I do not read the newspapers. When I watch TV highlights, the volume is muted.

On whether the Indian team had the psychological edge after the one-day series win
Obviously any team which wins a one-day series before the Tests will be high on confidence, but my team has played well and is not down at all.

VVS Laxman
On whether he was under pressure coming into this match as he had failed in earlier matches
There was no pressure as such. I was playing more on the back foot instead of committing myself on to the front foot. I made the adjustment in practice before this game, and the pressure of not scoring wasn't there. The responsibility of doing well for the team in a crucial game was there.

On the fact that he has contributed to more than one historic Indian win
It's always good to contribute to the team, especially in such crucial matches. I am very pleased that I have done that in the past, and I hope I can continue [doing] that in the future.