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Nagraj Gollapudi at The Oval
August 21, 2010
Pakistan captain Salman Butt dedicated his team's victory at The Oval to the thousands of victims of the raging floods which have submerged vast swathes of the country. Calling it a "national disaster", Butt believed the best he and his team-mates could do was provide some sense of joy with their efforts.
Pakistan overcame a severe attack of nerves after lunch to edge home by four wickets as Umar Akmal and Mohammad Amir steered them across the line. Butt revealed the Pakistan team had already donated a percentage of their match fee to the relief fund - England have repeated the gesture - and would be participating in various events during the rest of the tour to raise more money.
"The only thing we could do is win a good game to bring some cheer to them," he said. "We name this victory to the victims. It is like a national disaster. Even if we want to help we can give help with only the daily necessities. We have already donated percentage of our match fees. This is the only way we can give back to the Pakistan people if we perform well."
It was a sentiment supported by Andrew Strauss. "We're donating a proportion of our match fee to the fund," he said. "It's a massive humanitarian catastrophe out there and we're trying to help as much as we can and the more people who do that the better."
On the field, Saturday morning started full of hope for Pakistan as England lost their final wicket to the fourth ball of the day. A target of 148 in conditions that did not support swing and on an easy-paced pitch that did not take much turn didn't appear a big ask. Though Yasir Hameed fell immediately for a duck, Pakistan marched confidently towards the target as Butt and Imran Farhat dominating the bowlers. But things are never simple with Pakistan.
At lunch they needed 33 with seven wickets in hand, but things turned upside down for the tourists on resumption as they lost three quick wickets. Pakistan's chronic weakness of folding while chasing small totals threatened to return once again. A sense of gloom descended in the Pakistan dressing room with some members of the management seen with head in hands.
However, Butt had enough confidence in his youngest pair of batsmen - Umar (20) and Amir (18), who pushed Pakistan past the victory line. Butt admitted the situation was no different to the drama-filled morning against Australia, at Headingley, where Pakistan had stuttered to a narrow three-wicket win in overcast conditions.
"Chasing low totals there is always pressure," he said. "England faced the same in the last match [at Edgbaston] where they showed a lot of nerves. But I thought there was one mistake which was the run out [of Azhar Ali]. There was no need for that. But this kind of thing happens in these sort of finishes."
At the outset of the series Butt said England were the better team in home conditions and they would be a tougher ask than Australia and easy wins for Strauss's men in the first two Tests backed up Butt's fears. Therefore this victory at one of the home side's most successful venues, where they hadn't lost since 2001, was hugely significant.
"It is terrific because I've always been saying this is a young team, an inexperienced team but they have the potential," Butt said. "They are beginning to show that. They showed it against the Australia side and now the England side."
Butt had particular praise for Mohammad Yousuf who had been recalled by the PCB immediately after the thumping 354-run defeat at Trent Bridge. "The presence of Mohammad Yousuf, a class act, has really helped as the guys have chipped in with his experience," Butt said. "But it was a team game. Everybody put up his hand: Kamran Akmal took all his catches, the boys fielded well, Amir took wickets, Saeed Ajmal took wickets, Asif bowled really well. The debutant [Wahab Riaz] took wickets and scored runs, Azhar Ali's 92 was crucial. So I am a very happy captain right now."
While the players will take the credit for the victory, Butt also praised the contribution of the coaching staff led by Waqar Younis which is slowly managing to bring a young team together. "He [Waqar] has had a great impact having played cricket as part of the golden generation. The two Ws did wonders for Pakistan cricket - they won us games from situations where six wickets were needed with just 20 runs to defend.
"So people like that in the dressing room gives confidence, reminds you about great wins and puts belief in the youngster that he could become a hero. It is important to have heroes of the youngsters in the dressing room who can cheer them and Waqar has done a great job so far. I hope he continues the same way."
Cricinfo does not usually endorse public donation efforts but the scale of devastation that the floods have caused in Pakistan constitutes exceptional circumstances. While we cannot take responsibility for any donations made, here are a couple of organisations you could consider if you are looking to help:
The Imran Khan Flood Relief Fund: http://ptiuk.org/flood-appeal/
The Zindagi Trust: http://zindagitrust.org/donation-flood-disaster-relief.asp
There are a number of other organisations working towards the same goals and a comprehensive list of them can be found here: http://www.chowrangi.com/donation-links-and-relief-resources-for-pakistan-flood-victims.html
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at CricinfoFeeds: Nagraj Gollapudi
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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