x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Pakistan hungry for success

Captain Younus Khan is keen to come through with a clean record after a professional performance against India.

Pakistan's Rana Naveed , centre, and Younus Khan, behind, run after jubilant spectators invaded the pitch following their win against India.
Pakistan's Rana Naveed , centre, and Younus Khan, behind, run after jubilant spectators invaded the pitch following their win against India.

Pakistan have refused to get carried away after a morale-boosting 54-run win over arch-rivals India on Saturday. Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Yousuf put on a double century partnership as the Pakistanis smashed the Indian bowlers around the oval at Centurion Park in Pretoria.

Malik made 128 and Yousuf scored 87 as they added 206 runs for the fourth wicket as Pakistan scored 302 for nine before bowling India out for 248. Barring the opening pair, Pakistan have players in form and clicking in all departments of the game, especially the bowlers. The rookie paceman Mohammed Aamer and spinner Saeed Ajmal are combining well and made run scoring difficult for India. "Actually, it's still too early to say," said captain Younus Khan, when asked about winning the tournament. "We are looking forward to the Australia game [on Wednesday]."

"We just wanted to make sure this time that we don't rely on other results. We want to go through clean [by winning all our games]. It's my wish but for now we will worry about the Australia game." It was a good all-round display from the World Twenty20 champions and it left the captain pleased. "It was a professional performance. It was a good toss to win. In the conditions I thought that 260 or 270 would be good enough because, under lights, it is not easy to chase.

"We had a good start. Fantastic knocks from Yousuf and Malik. I thought we would reach 320 in the end but we didn't hit too many runs in the last powerplay. The boys were very keen. We are still hungry. If we can defeat Australia in the next game, it would be nice." Malik, whose hundred was his seventh in one-day internationals, said: "The hundred was important but what is more important is when the team wins.

"That's what makes me happy and right now I am very happy because we won this match. I just want to carry my form now and I want to score more runs for the team." The win also made one of the team's most vocal critics change his tune. The former captain Rameez Raja had said some senior batsmen should quit after the team struggled to reach a target of 134 in their win against the West Indies in the opening game.

"It's good to see they took the responsibility, They took the criticism positively," said Raja. The India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni conceded he felt like he was playing with at least three bowlers short while trying to contain the Pakistan batting. Dhoni surprisingly introduced his strike spinner Harbhajan Singh in the 28th over when both Malik and Yousuf looked in ominous form. "Dhoni looked numb. It dents the confidence of your prime bowler when you let him bowl so late in the innings," Raja said.

India badly missed the services of the dangerous batsmen Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh. The latter was replaced by Virat Kohli in the squad after injuring his hand in the nets last week. "It makes a difference when your main player gets injured, and that a player like Yuvraj," said the Pakistan great Javed Miandad. "The Indian bowlers gave away too many runs in the middle overs and once Pakistan set up a challenging total, it surely built pressure on the opposition."

Miandad had coached the Pakistan batsmen for five days at Karachi before the start of the tournament, but was still not happy with the openers - especially Imran Nazir, who scored just five against the West Indies and rashly threw away his wicket after hitting four boundaries in his short innings of 20 against India. "I don't mind if he is dropped, Throwing your wicket is a crime to me, you are playing for your team," Miandad said.

But he does think Pakistan could win the Champions Trophy "if they do their basics right". "If Pakistan play to their potential I don't see any reason why they don't perform well in this event," he said. * With agencies