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Buoyant India keen to seal the deal

It's time for another India-Pak contest. The Indians will walk into the duel riding high on confidence, while Pakistan will struggle to take the field in the right frame of mind, writes Subhash Rajta.
Hindustan Times | By Subhash Rajta, Karachi
UPDATED ON JUL 01, 2008 11:56 PM IST

It's time for another India-Pakistan contest. The Indians will walk into the duel riding high on confidence, while Pakistan, rattled by their deteriorating performance and endless controversies, will struggle to take the field in the right frame of mind.

Apart from being psychologically down, Pakistan will be wary of the devastating Indian batting. The top order bats are all in red-hot form and have runs under their belts. Four of them Gambhir, Raina, Sehwag and Dhoni, have scored centuries and Yuvraj Singh, too, looked in ominous touch in the chances he got.

And given the flat nature of the wickets, the match will more or less be decided by the batting, and India have the edge. Unlike India, Pakistan’s batsmen are neither in the best of form, nor do they have the firepower to match the explosive Indian line-up. Except for captain Shoaib Malik, Younis Khan and Misbah to an extent, the others are struggling for form.

As for bowling, every team, except for Sri Lanka, has struggled. India might have looked pretty so far, but that’s purely because of the exploits of their batsmen. India’s bowling has been pretty ordinary, with the strike bowlers struggling to pick up wickets early on. The spinners and support bowlers have subsequently struggled to stem the flow of runs in the middle overs. The Indian captain and coach have, however, put it down to the unresponsive pitches. “Almost every side has gone for runs. The wickets are really flat and conditions are tough, so it’s pretty tough for the bowlers out there,” said India’s coach Gary Kirsten.

Kirsten added that the coaching staff have worked with the bowlers and have come up with certain ideas on what they need to do. “Beyond that, we aren’t concerned, for these are the same bowlers who have done so well in Australia and in slightly more helpful conditions. We are pretty confident that they will do the job,” he said.

Brave words, but there’s certainly some problem somewhere if the bowlers are leaking close to 300 runs, and that too against sides like Bangladesh. The good news for India, however, is that Irfan Pathan is fit and available for selection. Pathan could be pretty handy in the middle overs in controlling the flow of runs with his variations. The problem afflicts Pakistan as well, if anything, to a bigger extent. The Pakistan pacers, with the exception of Sohail Tanvir, have looked pretty listless and the spinners are plain struggling.

Besides, the Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik skipped the practice session on Wednesday and appeared doubtful for the big game. “Malik has gone to see a doctor and we are not sure if he will be available,” said Misbah, who will lead the side in case Malik isn’t available. So, a huge challenge awaits Pakistan. They have swum against the tide earlier too, but this the challenge might just prove too big to overcome.

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