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Diwali blockbuster!

India will find its rival Pakistan a more competent side here than they were in Guwahati, reports Subhash Rajta.

cricket Updated: Nov 08, 2007 02:15 IST
Subhash Rajta
Subhash Rajta
Hindustan Times

If this series is a contest between the Indian batting and the Pakistani bowling, then it should be at its best in Mohali. The well-carpeted track with a promise of good pace and bounce will offer Shoaib Akhtar and company the best possible chance to tame the Indian batsmen, who seem to be brimming with confidence.

It would, however, still be far from easy, given the look of the team and how it fared in the inaugural tie in Guwahati. India were clearly a far more organised and settled unit. Pakistan struggled in all departments; their batting lacked firepower, the fielding was sloppy, and the bowlers --- their supposed edge over India --- did little to leave an impression.

Nevertheless, India would find Pakistan a far more competent side here than they were in Guwahati, partly due to changed conditions, and mainly because of the visitors' burning desire to hit back and draw level. Pakistan coach Geoff Lawson took a firm stand when he said history was to learn lessons from, nothing beyond that. "If we have lost the last game or the two during the Champions Trophy here, it doesn't mean we would lose the next also," he said, before admitting that Pakistan were a bit flat.

Younis Khan, too, has said that the Guwahati defeat had dampened neither their spirit nor confidence and they were backing themselves to catch up and win the series, exactly the way they did in 2005 where they came back from a 0-2 deficit to win 4-2.

Brave words indeed, but only time will reveal their true worth. As of now, they have several loose ends to tighten up. To begin with, they might draft in the wrong-footed medium pacer Sohail Tanveer in place of left-arm tweaker Abdur Rehman to further refurbish the pace arsenal.

India, on the other hand, couldn't have hoped for a better situation. They have won the first game; and the clinical manner in which the job was accomplished would have seen their confidence soar even higher. So, it should be a pretty happy and confident Indian side taking the field on November 8.

Yet, Dhoni might have one difficult choice. No, not the 'Gambhir or Sehwag' dilemma. The gutsy left-hander seems to have settled the issue in his favour with some consistent performances, at least for now. Dhoni might have to make a choice between his spinners if he opts for the 'horses for courses' policy. "Playing two spinners is a luxury," said curator Daljeet Singh. In addition to this, the dew would make life tougher for the spinners. But then, these two have been the best bowlers for India ever since Kartik made a rather surprising comeback. So, Dhoni might be tempted to ignore the conditions and not separate them. After all, isn't Dhoni known to take chances!

First Published: Nov 08, 2007 01:42 IST