One-day series openers between Pakistan and India have a way with runs. In Karachi 2004, nearly 700 runs had been scored and an eventual margin of five runs separated the two. In the Peshawar of 2006, over 600 runs were scored and again, only a small margin separated the two sides, although this time, Pakistan emerged victorious.
Bob Woolmer, the Pakistan coach, admitted afterwards that although his side had become adept at big chases, he would be happier if they weren't in that position in the first place. "If we have to chase big totals, we must learn how to chase. We have done pretty well in the last two years, but the problem is that we are conceding too many runs, and that is something we will have to look at.
"That said, we fielded and bowled beautifully in the last ten overs. We took a couple of wonderful catches and bowled extremely tightly. At one stage, I thought we would end up chasing nearly 380. In the end, we did very well to bowl India out before the 50 overs."
In a batsmen-dominated game, only Mohammad Asif came out looking good. From 9.4 overs, he conceded only 30 runs and picked up three wickets in only his second ODI. Against England on his debut, he had taken two and at an economical rate. Woolmer was full of praise for the bowler he calls the most improved in Pakistan. "His figures speak for themselves. To take three for 30 in 9.4 overs on this surface was a wonderful effort. It was a superb batting surface and if at all it's possible, this was an even better pitch than the ones at the Lahore and Faisalabad Tests," Woolmer said.
The game was also significant for Umar Gul as it marked his comeback from a career-threatening back injury. Having bowled Pakistan to victory against India in the Lahore Test two years ago, Gul hadn't played an international match until today. And although he went for 35 runs in three overs and was eventually subbed, Woolmer urged patience. "He had a tough game, he just didn't get it right at all. But he is a very good bowler, and I am sure he will bounce back as he plays more matches."
Although the light was poor throughout the day, it wasn't until late in Pakistan's run-chase, when the light deteriorated further that the umpires offered light. Woolmer didn't blame the umpires however for their late intervention. "The umpires tried to get as much cricket in as possible. We weren't offered the light earlier on, but we knew that we were always ahead on the Duckworth-Lewis calculations."
On an incident-filled day, Inzamam-ul-Haq's dismissal, obstructing the field, was another as he became only the third player to be given out in such a manner. Although the captain expressed indignation initially at being given out, Woolmer said it a legitimate decision. "Under the letter of the law, he is out. Let's just leave it at that." He added, "He was run out trying to avoid being hit by the ball in the Faisalabad Test against England, and now this. I suppose if you can't get him out in any other manner, the run out would appear the best way to dismiss him,"
Rahul Dravid also backed this up saying, "We appeal for caught behinds, lbws and run-outs too. It's up to the umpires to give the decision." Inzamam had stated earlier at the post-match ceremony, "I don't understand the rules and I am not sure why I was given out. It happened in Faisalabad and it happened again here."
Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo