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Kaif's catch was the key: Ganguly

March 13, 2004 20:36 IST

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India captain Sourav Ganguly admitted that Pakistan came "too close for comfort" in their run chase in the first One-Day International in Karachi on Saturday.

Mohammad's Kaif's brilliant catch off Shoaib Malik was the turning point of the match, he opined.

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"It is good to start the series with a win, but they [Pakistan] had come too close for comfort. Kaif's catch brought us back into the game," Ganguly said after the five-run victory.

He was all praise for left arm paceman Ashish Nehra, who kept his cool in the tense last over, off which the hosts needed nine runs for victory.

"The last over won us the match. I told him [Nehra] not to give away the runs, and he did a good job," he said.

Ganguly, however, was worried about the performance of his bowlers.

"I think it is an area of concern. In the middle overs we are giving away as many as seven runs per over which is too much. We have to work on that aspect," he said.

Asked why young pace sensation Irfan Pathan was not included in the team for the match, he replied: "Nehra has done the job. There is a lot of pressure when you play against Pakistan, so we thought it would be better to pick an experienced bowler."

Ganguly conceded he was worried as the Pakistan batsmen inched close to the Indian total.

Asked how he was able to cope with the pressure, he said, "I did not try to do it. I myself was not calm, trying to get the field placements right."

With the series being hyped as a contest between Shoiab Akhtar and the Indian batsmen, the skipper was asked to assess the "Rawalpindi Express".

"He bowled quick in bursts, but there was nothing on the pitch for the bowlers."

He also felt the two tracks they have played on so far have offered no assistance to the bowlers at all.

"The track at Lahore and here had nothing for the bowlers. I hope we have better tracks in the remaining matches."

Asked why he stood his ground for so long after being dismissed, he said, "That is because I thought I missed a hundred. It was such a good batting track."

Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul Haq also felt that tracks should offer some help to the bowlers.

"There is nothing for the bowlers, but at the same time we did not bowl very well. I hope the bowlers would put up an improved performance in the remaining matches."

He said that the lack of a sixth bowler proved costly for Pakistan as most of the frontline bowlers proved to be expensive.

"I think we need a sixth bowler who can put in some tidy overs," he said.

On whether he was disappointed with Shoaib Akhtar's performance, he said, "He generally does not bowl so many no-balls. I am sure he will also work that out."

Inzamam, who scored to a blistering 122 to earn the man-of-the-match award, said it could have been the best century of his career had Pakistan won the match.

"It was a good knock, but I would have rated it as my best if we had won the match."

The Pakistani captain was also impressed with the Karachi crowd, which behaved very well right through the match.

"It was a good crowd and the spectators were appreciative of good cricket," he said.

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