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Pakistan v West Indies, 2nd Test, Multan

A little corner was turned - Lara

Osman Samiuddin in Multan

November 23, 2006

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West Indies could have pushed for a win if they had held on to more catches, especially one off Mohammad Yousuf who went on to make 191 © AFP
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For a side that has lost 16 of its last 25 Tests, a draw is something to grasp onto. Pakistan may have held on to draw the second Test at Multan, but it will be West Indies who leave the city with jaunty strides.

Home advantage had long ceased to matter but it is away from the Caribbean where problems have been particularly acute, just one draw in the last 13 and the rest losses. Through that prism, this result - and particularly the manner of it - was understandably viewed by Brian Lara as significant. A four-day drubbing in Lahore only last week made it more so. "After Lahore, maybe a little corner was turned," said Lara. "This match could be used as a template for us because we played 15 hard sessions of cricket. And that is needed for any team to draw or win a match."

Until the final sessions, in fact, West Indies dominated the Test. Had a couple of tight decisions gone their way and two chances held on the last day, including one off Mohammad Yousuf who went on to make 191, a famous result was in hand. "The dropped catches were disappointing and it is something that we have to work on," Lara admitted. "The old saying that catches win matches is true and we did not take the chances that were presented to us. We have to work on that before the next Test and it is even more important because the World Cup is about to happen and fielding plays a very important role in ODI cricket."

The dropped catches, in particular, would have been doubly annoying because opportunities for bowlers were few and far between on this surface. Though this was only the first draw (in five Tests) on this ground, Multan's reputation for offering batsmen runs is already enshrined; it was here Virender Sehwag made his famous triple-century, Sachin Tendulkar an unbeaten 194 and last year Marcus Trescothick added 192.



'This match could be used as a template for us because we played 15 hard sessions of cricket. And that is needed for any team to draw or win a match,' said Lara © AFP
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On all five days, wickets fell in bunches during the morning session, after which the track flattened out and Lara was keen that the surface in Karachi, venue for the final Test from November 27, offers more to bowlers. "This was a batting track from day one. The bowlers toiled and found success on it which was a very good performance but it was difficult after the first 20-25 overs of the new ball and the morning freshness. That period was a major factor in the game and after lunch, for the remainder of the day, it became easier to bat. I don't think the pitch is a real test of skill. Batters had it far easier than bowlers and we should see pitches that offer more of a test to batsmen. Hopefully we can see that in Karachi."

If one is to be found, then more success may await Jerome Taylor, Corey Collymore and Daren Powell. The three threatened through the day and though a win wasn't the sum, Lara recognized their tireless efforts. "The bowling of Taylor, Collymore and even Powell were highlights for us. They bowled really, really well. It was always going to be tough playing against a team that was playing for the draw. The luck didn't go with us and there were a few dropped chances but I can't fault the bowlers for their efforts at all.

"I can't fault any of the guys for the effort at all. I am very, very proud of them. The performances were exceptionally good after playing in Lahore; after spending the fifth day in Lahore practicing, we were pushing for a win here. So I am optimistic about our chances in Karachi."

When a local reporter asked him whether he would visit again, Lara joked that it was unlikely: "It's tough. Are there any beaches here for beach cricket?" And even though this won't be remembered as the most thrilling of draws, in time to come the tourists might hope to remember Multan as a turning point in their fortunes.

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo

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Osman Samiuddin Osman spent the first half of his life pretending he discovered reverse swing with a tennis ball half-covered with electrical tape. The second half of his life was spent trying, and failing, to find spiritual fulfillment in the world of Pakistani advertising and marketing. The third half of his life will be devoted to convincing people that he did discover reverse swing. And occasionally writing about cricket. And learning mathematics.
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