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November 17, 2005
Danish Kaneria's part in this series, as it has been in the last few for Pakistan, was always going to prove pivotal at one stage. Along with Mohammad Sami and Shoaib Akhtar, he helped Pakistan to a stunning win, one of their most memorable in recent years.
Understandably elated, he told Cricinfo, "The team is feeling very good right now. To have beaten England, especially after what they have done in the last two years and this summer, is a very satisfying feeling. The best thing about it was that it was a totally combined team effort. Our batting clicked when needed and so did all our bowling."
England, despite their poor early tour form, had entered the Test as slight favourites in many peoples' eyes, a status that seemed increasingly justified as they entered the final day with nine wickets in hand chasing a further 174 runs.
Kaneria said, however, that Pakistan had felt they could challenge England from the start of the match. "We were very committed and confident from day one. We had spoken about it before and all the guys agreed that we had to be very positive in whatever we did. In the morning the only thing in my mind and that of every player was to help Pakistan win the Test."
Two wickets in five balls, those of Ian Bell and Andrew Strauss, from Kaneria opened up the match for Pakistan in the tenth over of the day, but he said the googly to dismiss Shaun Udal was equally important. "Shoaib had just bowled Geraint Jones the over before to break the partnership, so to get Udal in the very next over was crucial. It was good to get him with the googly because he can actually bat."
Bob Woolmer, the Pakistan coach, said he didn't feel the match was won until the last wicket fell but the team, says Kaneria, felt victory was in their grasp when the 49-run partnership between Jones and Udal was broken. "With seven wickets down, those two at the crease and 30-odd runs, we were a little tense still. Only when we got Jones did we feel the match was ours to be won."
Kaneria's five wickets in the match took his career haul to 137, with 75 in his last 15 matches, and not a minnow in sight. In the last year, in particular, Kaneria has played a decisive part in a number of Pakistan victories, but he said his haul of 4 for 62 wasn't his best performance. "I think against India in Bangalore in the first innings, I would rank as my best. I bowled well against Sri Lanka and Australia as well, but yeah this is special."
Despite his success, Kaneria struggled in the first innings, particularly against Marcus Trescothick. Earlier in the year, he had also faced problems with left-handers in the West Indian team such as Brian Lara and Shivnarine Chanderpaul. But Kaneria said it wasn't so much that as the pitch that resulted in his solitary first innings wicket. "It was a little slow on the first two days so I didn't get the bounce or sharp turn. But credit to their batsmen, they also played well."
Looking now to the rest of the series in the unfamiliar role of leading, Kaneria warned Pakistan not to lose the intensity they displayed in Multan. "England are a very good side and they showed that here. But we cannot get complacent, we have to play as positively as we did here in Faisalabad and Lahore. I know we will be trying our hardest in the remaining matches."
And what of the mystery ball which he was to unveil here? "I don't think it's possible on pitches in Pakistan. They're a little on the slow side. Somewhere like England maybe I can try it."
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