M A I N   N E W S

India eye maiden Test series win in Pakistan

Lahore, April 4
Humiliated as never before, Pakistan will be out for revenge when they meet India in the second Test match beginning here tomorrow but the resurgent visitors will be pressing for their first-ever series win in the land of their arch-rivals riding on the confidence gained by their massive victory in the Multan Test and the one-day series before that.

The Indians are on a high since crossing the border for the path-breaking tour and nothing will give them a bigger satisfaction than to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series.

In recent years, India have thrice won an overseas Test only to lose the next match in the series and captain Rahul Dravid is determined to reverse the trend this time around.

The trend started in Zimbabwe three years ago and continued in the West Indies in 2002 and in Australia late last year but the team looks far more confident now to register a series win with both the batsmen and bowlers being in good form.

“It’s happened in the past that we’ve won a match and then not been able to capitalise. We’ve been winning Tests abroad, but we’ve not been winning series,” Dravid said.

Dravid, standing-in as captain for the third time in his career in the absence of an injured Sourav Ganguly, has every reason to sound confident as his team’s first full tour of Pakistan in nearly 15 years could not have gone any better.

The visitor clinched their first-ever one-day series in Pakistan after five absorbing encounters and extended their dominance in the longer version of the game by clinching the historic Test win in Multan, inflicting an innings defeat to the hosts who have struggled with their famed bowling attack.

The Indian batting has really flourished with some of the top order batsmen getting big knocks under their belt.

Virender Sehwag slammed a record 309 in Multan and Sachin Tendulkar an unbeaten 194 and the other batsmen would also be keen to come up with big knocks to leave a more lasting impression on the tour.

Clearly, the Indians will hold a slight edge over their traditional rivals when the two teams face up at the Gaddafi stadium on a pitch which is expected to be ‘lively’ and offer much more assistance to the bowlers.

Pakistan, on the other hand, have serious worries ahead of the match and need to sort their bowling problems if they nurture any hope of a series-levelling comeback.

The pace battery of Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammad Sami and Shabbir Ahmed has failed to find its rhythm while the rather inexperienced batting line-up struggled to handle young Indian seamer Irfan Pathan’s swing and the guile of leg-spinner Anil Kumble.

Pakistan coach Javed Miandad has made it clear that his bowlers have no option but to perform in what he described as a “do-or-die” match. “Our bowlers just could not use the conditions like the Indian bowlers. They have to deliver if we are to fight back,” Miandad said.

The coach exhorted his players to show the “fighting spirit” which has been their hallmark for long and go into the crucial match with a positive frame of mind.

“What has happened in Multan is now past. It may have been disappointing but We have to look ahead.”

The teams (from):

India: Rahul Dravid (capt), Aakash Chopra, Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, Parthiv Patel, Anil Kumble, Irfan Pathan, L. Balaji, Murali Kartik, Ramesh Powar, Ajit Agarkar, Ashish Nehra, Mohd Kaif.

Pakistan (from): Inzamam-ul Haq (capt), Yasir Hameed, Taufiq Umar, Imran Farhat, Yousuf Youhana, Asim Kamal, Abdul Razzak, Shoaib Malik, Shoaib Akhtar, Shabbir Ahmed, Mohammad Sami, Danesh Kaneria, Mizsbah-ul Haq, Umar Gul, Imran Nazir. —PTI

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