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'Pakistan lost the series more than India won it'

By Faisal Shariff in Lahore
Last updated on: March 25, 2004 23:09 IST
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Pakistan skipper Inzamam-ul Haq was critical about the younger players in his team after the 2-3 series loss to India on Wednesday, saying they did not grab the opportunities given to them. However, he did not include young Taufiq Umar in that category.

Playing his first game of the series, in place of Shahid Afridi, Umar provided Pakistan a firing start in the fifth and deciding One-Day International with three smashing fours off Laxmipathy Balaji.

This is the same lad who led the Pakistan 'A' side, which stunned the Indians in the tour opener in Lahore. He scored a quickfire hundred off just 89 balls in that match to stake claim for a place in the one-day side. However, Afridi was picked ahead of him, but could only muster one match-winning knock – an 80 off 58 balls – in the second ODI in Rawalpindi.

Last year, former Pakistan Cricket Board president General Tauqir Zia had tipped Umar to be the next captain of Pakistan.

"Umar is educated and balanced. He will make a great leader in years to come," Zia told

In Wednesday's match, Irfan Pathan bowled Umar round his legs for only 18. But had Umar stayed at the wicket for another 30-45 minutes, the game would have certainly gone Pakistan's way.

"Yes, I moved a bit too much. I was just too confident. The ball was coming onto the bat. I was stroking it well," he told

The left-handed batsman said his game plan was to dominate the Indian attack early on and dent the bowlers' morale.

"If you can get on top early against them [the Indians] then you have the match won," he said, asserting there was no pressure on him to perform.

"I don't have to prove anything to anyone. I am confident," he declared.

With Pakistan having got into match-winning positions in most games, Umar said the series defeat hurts.

"Pakistan lost the series more than India won it," he said.

He added that if asked to keep wickets for the team he would willingly do it, though the team management hasn't made any such request so far.

"It will require a lot of hard work and also a lot of extra effort. Right now I only want to concentrate on my batting," he said.

Umar was regretful about dropping VVS Laxman's catch midway through the Indian innings. He said the sun was in his face and he completely lost sight of the ball in the air.

With the Test series getting underway on Sunday, Umar will be looking to cash in on his rich vein of form.

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Faisal Shariff in Lahore

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