Shoaib Malik missed a trick by electing to bat after winning the toss at Gwalior. Forget the fact that he misread the wicket and underrated the 'dew' factor; he ought to have taken a closer look at the Indian team-sheet. It was obvious the Indians had set their hearts on chasing, having picked seven specialist batsmen.
Pakistan batted fairly well, especially Mohammad Yousuf. But the others continued being inconsistent, and the runs they finished with proved inadequate. Sachin Tendulkar then took over with a glorious innings on the eighteenth anniversary of his international debut.
I remember the wide-eyed teenager who toured Pakistan in 1989-90. We were initially sceptical as he looked far too young. It seemed an unwise move by the Indian selectors, but Sachin proceeded to prove us wrong. We realised soon enough that he was extraordinary. He may have cut down on some of his strokes recently, but he is far more experienced, and that makes him dangerous.
His performance at Gwalior should silence all those who have been calling for his head. Retirement is a personal decision, and it will be wonderful if Sachin quits on his own terms.
I remember an ODI event in Pakistan in 1997-98, where the side batting second won every game. This happened because all games were played under lights. The dew made life miserable for the team fielding second. The same thing happened at Gwalior, and we might see it happening at Jaipur as well.
Pakistan will be low on motivation, but they need to put the series loss behind them and put on a spirited show. A victory will enable them to regain their confidence ahead of the Tests. Both sides will, in all probability, try out their reserves, for contrasting reasons.
India would like to give match-practice to Sreesanth and Murali Kartik, both of whom are in the side for the first two Tests. Pakistan, on the other hand, have nothing to lose and everything to gain. India left out Dravid but his replacements delivered. Pakistan need to do likewise.