Lawson hopeful Pakistan would avoid follow-on

By Qaiser Mohammad Ali

Kolkata(IANS) : An optimistic Pakistan coach Geoff Lawson said Saturday that his team could still avoid the stiff follow-on target when play resumed on the third day of the second Test against India here Sunday.

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“The pitch is still playing well. We’ve got some good batting to come,” said Lawson after Pakistan, replying to India’s 616 for five declared, finished the second day at 50 for one wicket.

“If we bat through to stumps tomorrow and a bit the day after then we would have saved the follow on,” he said.

Pakistan require 367 runs more to avoid the follow-on.

Lawson, himself a former Australia Test fast bowler, defended his bowlers.

“We bowled pretty well at times on a pitch that was a batting paradise. Danish Kaneria was outstanding. He didn’t bowl too many bad balls, didn’t have a lot of luck, but he bowled really well,” he said.

“We thought he (Kaneria) had Ganguly early on. Mohammad Sami kept going. He didn’t get wickets but he still bowled very well. We look at it as a learning process. To suggest it’s the worst bowling performance is a bit wide off the mark.”

Lawson also defended the inclusion of ailing pace spearhead Shoaib Akhtar in the XI.

“We had a tough choice to make yesterday with the replacement (Yasir Arafat) not at the ground yet and we had to make that decision in five minutes. We decided to go with Shoaib and he was keen to play. We got 24 overs out of him,” he said.

Akhtar, who was down with chest infection just before the match, was apparently not fully fit as he struggled to bowl.

“Of course we’d have liked him fully fit. But how do you think he’d have gone (fully fit) on that batting pitch anyway? He might have got a couple of wickets. We haven’t got hindsight,” Lawson said.

“When we have a choice of whether to play Shoaib or someone who is just getting off a plane, it’s a tricky decision to make.”