India eyes series win despite a spate of injuries
India eye a series win over Pakistan despite suffering a spate of injuries ahead of the final Test match at Bangalore.cricket Updated: Dec 07, 2007 14:07 IST
Despite Sachin Tendulkar being a doubtful starter and a depleted pace attack, India will try hard to pull off a series win against Pakistan, which just managed to come out of a leadership crisis ahead of the crucial third and final cricket Test beginning here tomorrow.
That Tendulkar has hurt his knee and vice captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni is reported to have suffered an injury on the webbing of his left hand during the Kolkata Test could make things difficult for the hosts who are already missing services of their best pacers Zaheer Khan, RP Singh and S Sreesanth.
Both the sides are struggling to field their best players on the field with Pakistan skipper Shoaib Malik, who sprained his ankle while playing football in Delhi after the first Test, ruled for the final match.
A draw would be suffice for the hosts to seal the series but Pakistan, to be led by Younis Khan, are in a do-or-die situation as they must win this match to draw the series.
Adding to the pressure is their internal crisis, which roared its head late last night when Younis refused to don the skipper's role protesting over Board's non-supportive stance on the selection matters.
Mohammad Yousuf was also reluctant to lead the side and it was only after PCB Chairman Nasim Ashraf's persuasion that Younis agreed to the captain the side.
The match will be played on a virgin track, which has been laid using black soil.
"It is a 'typical' Test wicket where there will be a lot of movement early on," said chief curator Narayan Raju.
Pakistan's potent pace attack will have an advantage if curator's prediction turn true.
A fully-fit Shoaib Akhtar is the one to watch out while India's has a depleted pace attack with injuries to its key bowlers.
Irfan Pathan, Ishant Sharma and VRV Singh have been drafted into the Indian squad for this Test to bolster a bowling attack as Zaheer, Munaf Patel, RP Singh and Sreesanth, all ruled out due to different injuries.
As the curator Raju said that it would be a batsman friendly pitch which will also assist spinners later on, the team management can think about relying on their spinner in the absence of a specialist fast bowler.
"The batsman will find it easy going on this wicket which will also help the spinners as the match progresses. It will be a totally different pitch. There is a lot of grass on it which has good clay content," he said.
For skipper Anil Kumble, it will be a great moment to cherish as he leads the Indian team on his home ground.
However, the ace leg-spinner has a daunting task at hand as there would be pressure to lead India to a series win at home against Pakistan after 27 years.
Sunil Gavaskar had authored a 2-0 triumph in six-Test series against Asif Iqbal's team in 1979-80.
Pakistan can look back to history for inspiration as they have good record at M Chinnaswami stadium. They had saved a series defeat here in 2005 when they were in a similar situation.
Pakistan had handed India a crushing defeat in the third Test here in their last tour to draw the series after going down in the first and then drawing the next.
With Younis Khan regaining his form, the visitors could be difficult to be handled by the Indians and a close and tense battle could be on cards on the ground, which has produced quite a few thrillers in the recent past.
India will need to up their game if they hope to pull off another victory.
India: Anil Kumble (Capt), Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh, Irfan Pathan, Dinesh Kaarthick, Wasim Jaffer, Ishant Sharma, VRV Singh and Murali Kartik.
Pakistan: Younis Khan (Capt), Abdur Rehman, Danish Kaneria, Faisal Iqbal, Rao Iftikhar Anjum, Kamran Akmal, Misbah-ul Haq, Mohammad Sami, Mohammad Yousuf, Salman Butt, Shoaib Akhtar, Sohail Tanvir, Yasir Arafat, Yasir Hameed.