India hope to get into ODI mode
With the euphoria of Indian Premier League all but settled, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his team will have to quickly get back into the one-day mode to snap Pakistan's 12-match winning streak when the traditional rivals face off in the cricket tri-series in Dhaka on Tuesday.
Pakistan routed Bangladesh by 70 runs in the tri-series opener last night to extend their unbeaten streak to 12 matches and it would be a tough task for Dhoni's young Indian side to halt the arch-rivals.
Pakistan coach Geoff Lawson has already sounded the war bugle when he said that his wards would look to thump India by a bigger margin to make it 13 wins in a row.
India, severely under-strength because of pre-tournament injury woes, would be in for further trouble as opener Virender Sehwag is a doubtful starter due to high fever.
Besides, the team is still awaiting the arrival of pacer S Sreesanth's replacement Manpreet Singh Gony. With seniors like Sachin Tendulkar, recovering from a groin injury, and Harbhajan Singh, serving a ban for slapping Sreesanth during the IPL, not in the ranks, it would be anything but easy for Dhoni's young brigade against Pakistan.
The team had a feel of the ground and the conditions on Sunday and put in three hours at the indoor nets after rain prevented any outdoor practice session.
The short tri-series, being seen as a warm-up for the Asia Cup late this month in Pakistan, is crucial for the Indians as it provides an opportunity for players like all-rounder Yusuf Pathan, spinner Piyush Chawla and Gony to show their worth in absence of the seniors.
With the pitch at the Sher-E-Bangla Stadium likely to assist the batsmen, India's new-look bowling attack, to be spearheaded by Irfan Pathan and Ishant Sharma, will be severely tested.
No doubt, the Indian team has the batting strength to score heavily on a strip like this but it remains to be seen how their bowlers contain hard hitters like Salman Butt, Kamran Akmal, Misbah-ul-Haq, Younis Khan and Muhammad Yousuf.
The much-anticipated contest meanwhile faces a major threat from the weather gods. The opener itself was truncated because of intermittent drizzle and this match too could see rain interruptions.
As for the Pakistani attack, medium pacers, particularly young talent Wahab Riaz, were impressive in last night's win over Bangladesh. But with Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif missing from the attack, it remains to be seen how Sohail Tanvir and his bowling colleagues fare against India's star-studded line-up.
In the batting department, though Butt, Yousuf and Misbah looked in good nick, Pakistan's line-up still sports a vulnerable look.
India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (C), Yuvraj Singh, Robin Uthappa, Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Yusuf Pathan, Irfan Pathan, Ishant Sharma, Praveen Kumar, RP Singh, Piyush Chawla, Pragyan Ojha and MS Gony.
Pakistan: Shoaib Malik (C), Salman Butt, Kamran Akmal, Misbah-ul-Haq, Yonus Khan, Muhammad Yousaf, Shahid Afridi, Fawad Alam, Umer Gul, Sohail Tanvir, Wahab Riaz, Nasir Jamshed, Sohail Khan, Rao Iftikar, Bazid Khan and Naumanullah.
Hours of Play: 1500 hrs to 1830hrs and 1915 hours to 2245 hours.
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