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Wisden Cricinfo staff
September 19, 2004
Sourav Ganguly blamed his batsmen for India's defeat to Pakistan in the Champions Trophy at Edgbaston today. "We've not been batting well for the last four months," he said. "It's a question of form. A few guys have been failing for far too long. The way we've been batting, we did not deserve to win."
Ganguly exonerated the bowlers, saying: "All three seamers bowled well and that is why we almost came close." But he insisted that no player in the team was assured of a place in the side, and drew attention to the fact that the consistent failure of some batsmen was making it difficult for the team to get enough runs on the board. "It's a job for the selectors. You can't be sure of a lifelong place in the side. You have to keep on performing in international cricket. They'll have to pull their socks up. You can't expect to keep your place if you're not performing."
Ganguly stood by his early statement that the toss was not vital. "I don't think the toss was that important. It was fortunate that we were asked to bat. We would have batted if I won the toss. It is a low-scoring ground. There was no moisture at all in the pitch."
And after Yousuf Youhana had guided Pakistan home with an unbeaten 81, Ganguly gave credit where it was due. "Yousuf Youhana saw the game through. We were back in the game at 27 for 3, but Yousuf batted very well."
Meanwhile, Inzamam-ul-Haq, who scored his 10,000th one-day international run during the match, said he was doubly happy that the milestone came in a game that his team won. "I am happy that the team is in the semi-final and that I got my 10,000th run in this match. Now we will try our best to go all the way. The way they are playing, the boys are looking good. Hopefully we will go all the way."
Inzamam added that even though his team won, he was not entirely satisfied with the way things went. "India-Pakistan, there is always pressure. We did well to win, but did not bat well enough overall." He also explained the decision to move Shahid Afridi down the order. "Credit must go to the full team. Every player is important in a team game. Yousuf batted well. Afridi was not performing at No. 3, up the order, so we played him down the order where you need some big hits."
Bob Woolmer, the Pakistan coach, spoke about watching a pressure-cooker match like this. "Sitting outside none of us appreciates how much pressure there is in a game like this before a full house with national fervour. It is new for me as a coach, and I'm trying to understand those pressures. The pitch was more than a 200-run pitch and it was the pressure that caused both teams [to bat] badly."
Woolmer had a good word for Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, who took the new ball ahead of Shoaib Akhtar. "Naved performed well against Australia on September 4 at Lord's. That gave him some confidence. He swings the ball, is nippy, and put in the right areas. He is improving every day."
When asked about how the Pakistan team had improved over the course of the last few tournaments, Woolmer said: "We bowled very well today. In the Asia Cup and the Videocon Trophy we didn't do all that well up front. You apply pressure in a cauldron, if you like, and make the batsmen wonder where the next run is coming from."
At the same time, Woolmer expected a tough match against West Indies, who Pakistan will meet in the semi-final on Wednesday. "West Indies have gone through some tough times. But they've got some good batsmen - Brian Lara, as you know. They will be a tough side to beat."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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