India have pushed Pakistan firmly to the corner and look set to deliver a knockout punch. It’s now entirely up to the visitors to gather themselves and launch a fierce counterattack to stay alive in the series.
It would, however, take far more out of Pakistan to fight back than just the desperate resolve of a cornered opponent.
The reasons are for all to see. While India have banked on team effort through the series, Pakistan’s fortunes have largely hinged on individual efforts. Younis Khan’s superb hundred at Mohali scripted the stunning victory, while an equally splendid century by Salman Butt gave them a semblance of chance in Kanpur.
India, in contrast, haven’t registered a single century so far, but contributions from almost all the batsmen have made them look the superior side.
The openers have successfully weathered the initial fury of the seamers to give a solid start, and Mahendra Singh Dhoni-Yuvraj Singh have combined to tilt the scales in India’s favour. As an icing on the cake, the lower order has chipped in.
The Indian batsmen can look forward to another blast with the curator promising a wicket full of runs. Add to it the smaller boundaries, and the batsmen must be itching to get out in the middle.
“It’s an out and out batting strip that will not only ensure a big score for the team batting first, but will also provide a fair chance to the other team to chase down the total,” claimed curator Samunder Singh.
Going by the predicted nature of the wicket and their form, Dhoni is unlikely to make any changes in the final XI.
Pakistan will need to ensure contributions from every quarter, for individual efforts, like the one by Butt at Kanpur, will normally fail to match a collective effort. For this, the reliable and prolific, Younis, Mohammed Yousuf and skipper Shoaib Malik will need to fire in unison.
Similarly, the bowlers will need to live up to their reputation and stop the marauding Indian batsmen. They have clearly failed to make an impression so far — the Indian batsmen have chased with ease on a tough Guwahati wicket, and followed that with a 300-plus and an almost 300-run effort in Mohali and Kanpur. Lot of work needs to be done in this department as well if Pakistan are to keep their hopes alive of settling the series in the final match at Jaipur.