February 14, 2000

Saeed defends fielding first and change in batting order

Jayasuriya happy to lose toss

Karachi, Feb 13: Pakistan captain Saeed Anwar forcefully defended his decisions to field first after winning the toss and sending debutant Younis Khan low down the order.

In a post-match conference, Saeed, who faced a barrage of hard-hitting questions, said: "We not only had an inexperienced batting lineup but an equally inexperienced bowling.

"We thought that the bowlers and fielders might crumble if we defended the total. But you people (media) will have to give us some time to establish the team. It was our first match with a new make-up of the side.

"When Allan Border took over Australia, his team lost in the initial stages but now they are the world champions. Australia is probably the best allround team."

Saeed emphasised that the other reason he put the tourists into bat was because the Sri Lankans were good chasers.

A delighted Sri Lanka captain Sanath Jayasuriya said he was a bit surprised when Saeed asked him to bat. "But frankly, I would have done the same thing. "If I look back at things, I think it was a good toss to lose."

Saeed, on demoting Younis Khan from his original No 5 position, said Wasim Akram was promoted because the required run-rate had crept up. He said the left-hander justified his decision with a quickfire 23 off 20 balls.

He, nevertheless, admitted that Younis batted beautifully for his 46. He said the impressive thing about his batting was that he got singles and also hit boundaries without playing too many maiden deliveries.

When pressed further Saeed on Imran Abbas, who batted well but was slow, said he had heard a lot about the batsman.

"As I play alongwith these good youngsters, I will get them to know more. It was just my first match which in which I learnt quite a few things," Saeed said.

Jayasuriya said when Saeed asked him to bat, he had a total of around 250 in mind. Asked if his team scored 24 more runs than expectations because of Pakistan's poor fielding, he replied: "Well, there were a few fielding lapses but I think Tillekeratne Dilshan batted really well in the death overs."

Jayasuriya said when he returned to the dressing room after the toss, it was agreed to see off the first 15 overs. He said when he was joined by Marvan Atapattu, they had decided to try to build a big partnership.

"I am happy that our 111-run second wicket partnership was the cornerstone of a big score," the left-hander said.

Asked what was the turning point of the match, Jayasuriya said: "To begin with, we always knew that we will defend the total. But until Saeed Anwar and Aamir Sohail are at the crease, no opposition can be confident about their success. "I think once we dismissed these two, we had control over the match."

Jayasuriya said it is always a great cushion when you win the first game of the three-match series. But he warned that two more matches were to be played. "Naturally, we would like to continue our winning streak but its just the beginning of the series and more cricket is to be played."

Saeed defended the inclusion of Azhar Mahmood for the second match saying that the allrounder has performed well in the last six months.

Saeed also appreciate the sporting behaviour of the crowd. "It is always a great feeling to play in Karachi. They were disciplined and sporting. But I am sorry that they had to return home disappointed."

Marvan Atapattu, Man-of-the-Match, said his job was to play an anchor-role and bat out the full 50 overs. He said he was glad that he did what was expected off him.

"Its nice to bat with someone like Sanath (Jayasuriya) because he continues to play his strokes and never allows the pressure on onto his partner."