Gwalior, the venue for the penultimate India-Pakistan one-dayer, has always evoked mixed memories in me. This was the city that hosted my benefit match, the first ever benefit match directly organised by the BCCI. I can never forget the length to which late Madhavrao Scindia went to ensure that the match was staged successfully.
Being 2-1 up, the Indians will be hoping to close the series out here itself but that is easier said than done. They must play as hard as any other match but guard against getting too far ahead in their thinking. They have been playing well and must look to keep up the intensity.
On the other hand Pakistan, despite winning the second game, have their share of problems. If they started with a suspect opening combination but a strong middle order, they are now in a situation where they have rediscovered one opener, only for the middle order to struggle. Only Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq have looked the part while skipper Shoaib Malik and veteran Mohammed Yusuf not delivering as yet. That Yusuf continues to get run out every now and then cannot help.
Where the Indians could improve is in restricting the boundaries in the initial overs. They must also re-look at the team composition if the dew factor comes into play. An extra seamer instead of a second spinner could be the way out. In either case, I would not advocate playing an additional batsman. Also, the curator has said the pitch will be good for plenty of runs and if we take his word, the fifth bowler must be retained.
Coming back to my memories of Gwalior, I cannot forget a prank played by Tiger Pataudi. I used to play in an annual tournament alongside Tiger, Abbas Ali Baig, Jaisimha, Chandra and others and during one such event, we were returning through the Chambal Valley when our vehicle was stopped by two armed men on horses. They kept us captive for nearly two hours, demanding Rs 5 lakh ransom. It was only six months later that I learnt it was a trick played by Tiger!