Lara looks to World Cup final despite series loss in Pakistan
by CricketArchive staff reporter
DateLine: 3rd December 2006
West Indian captain Brian Lara put on a brave face after losing the
Test series to Pakistan, saying his team's main focus now was on next
year's World Cup in the Caribbean.
"Our performances in Test matches need improvement but in the one-day
arena we played very good cricket and our main focus is now on the
final at Barbados in the World Cup," said Lara.
West Indies lost the three-match series against Pakistan 2-0 on Friday.
The West Indies were bowled out for 244 runs in their second innings
chasing an improbable 444-run target, handing Pakistan the third and
final Test by 199 runs.
Pakistan won the first Test by nine wickets in Lahore while the second
Test ended in a draw at Multan.
The West Indies, who play Pakistan in a five-match one-day series with
the first match in Rawalpindi on December 5, have lost 39 of their 45
Tests abroad against major Test playing countries. Yet they finished
runners-up to Australia in the Champions Trophy one-day competition in
November and earlier in a tri-series in Malaysia.
The West Indies only have one-day matches to play until the start of
the World Cup in March-April next year and Lara said they can take some
positives from the Pakistan Test series.
"I think coming to Pakistan and to play a Test series you could only be
positive, it's the toughest conditions but we still have some young
players coming out like (Denesh) Ramdin," he said. "We are not down in
the dumps, we are moving to the one-day games and the game we play a
lot better than the Test arena, and we remain positive about it," said
Lara, whose team is among the favourites for the World Cup.
Lara said Pakistan deserved the credit for their series win. "Of course
it's disappointing to lose a series, but you have to give credit toward
the end to the Pakistanis for playing tough cricket throughout, but I'm
still proud of my team. They worked very hard after the first match and
played pretty good cricket in Multan. The pitch here didn't offer us
much. Of course, Pakistan adapted to the conditions better than we
Lara said his team needed to improve their fielding. "We dropped a few
chances and this is one area where we need improvement," said Lara,
whose team dropped as many as dozen catches in three Tests, including
six off Mohammad Yousuf who accumulated 665 runs in the series and
deservedly won the man-of-the-series award.
Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq said his team deserved the credit in
general and Yousuf in particular.
"The team deserves the credit for every win, but Yousuf was
exceptional," said Inzamam, who also singled out paceman Umar Gul for
his 16 wickets in the series. "Gul bowled well on such unresponsive
pitches. We were missing two of our key bowlers but Umar did well and
was ably supported by Shahid Nazir and Danish Kaneria," said Inzamam,
under whom Pakistan won four of their last five series.
Pakistan were without their key strike bowlers Shoaib Akhtar and
Mohammad Asif, both banned over failed dope tests.
Inzamam justified keeping the same squad throughout the series - only
the second time that has happened in Pakistan's 54-year history of
playing Tests. The last time was against New Zealand in 1964. "I am
being criticised for keeping the side. On such slow tracks you can't
play four fast bowlers and once we won the first Test and drew the
second the same team had to be played in the third.’’