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India will look to keep Pak on the mat

Having won the first match, India would seek to keep the momentum going with another convincing victory at Mohali.

cricket Updated: Nov 07, 2007 16:14 IST

Having gained the psychological advantage by easily winning the first match, a confident India go into the second cricket one-dayer against arch-rivals Pakistan in Mohali on Thursday, seeking to keep the momentum going with another convincing performance.

The five-wicket triumph in the first one-dayer in Guwahati will no doubt serve as a huge morale booster for Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his men but they can hardly afford to be complacent against the unpredictable Pakistanis in what promises to be a thrilling floodlit contest at the PCA stadium.

The visitors, who have a fine blend of youth and experienced players in their ranks, are fully capable of turning the table on their hosts but they need to get their acts together quickly.

If the Indians manage to win and take a 2-0 lead in the five match series, the Pakistanis will find themselves under tremendous pressure in the remaining matches.

Dhoni has reasons to feel happy with the way the series has started for his team and has acknowledged that the recent games against world champions Australia has helped his players to be mentally stronger.

"We came here playing Australia, who are the best in the world. When you come to a series after playing Australia, things do look easier," Dhoni said.

At the moment, the Indians have no real worries at hand with most of their top batsmen among runs while the bowlers have done the job though not with the desired consistency.

The home team have relied on the two spinners Harbhajan Singh and Murali Kartik to not only dry up the run flow but also take the wickets but it will be interesting to see if the team management opts for two spinners at Mohali where the track offers more pace and bounce.

Captain Dhoni has himself acknowledged the key role his spinners have played of late.
"Well, they have been doing it consistently. In the last series (against Australia) also, they did really well. Their performance has contributed to the team's success," Dhoni said.

The Indians will also have to take the dew factor into account when they finalise the team composition for the day-night game as the spinners may find it hard to grip the ball in the second session.

It will certainly be a tough call to leave one of the spinners out as both have been bowling well. Kartik, who was recalled into the team midway through the series against Australia, has been outstanding in the last few matches.

Temperamental paceman S Sreesanth, who sat out of the first match in Guwahati, may come back if the team management decides to strengthen the pace department to suit the conditions. Uttar Pradesh all-rounder Praveen Kumar is also an option but it appears extremely unlikely that he will be thrown in for such a high-pressure game against Pakistan.

Veteran Virender Sehwag, who returned to the national team in place of Rahul Dravid, was left out of the first match and it is quite possible that the Delhi swashbuckler may again warm the reserve benches as Gautam Gambhir has been in good form.

Sachin Tendulkar, who made headlines on Wednesday for turning down the captaincy of the Test team, had fallen cheaply in Guwahati and will be keen to make amends in front of a capacity crowd in Mohali. Sourav Ganguly has been getting the starts but has not really managed to translate them into centuries, which has eluded him for quite some time now.

On the other hand, Pakistanis need some improvement in the fielding department.

Captain Shoaib Malik blamed the poor fielding for the team's defeat in the first game.
"In the fielding department we made mistakes and that proved costly. If we could have held the catches, the result could have been different in Guwahati. Hopefully we will not make those mistakes in the next game," Malik said.

The conditions in Mohali will definitely suit the Pakistanis as the track will have something for both the batsmen and the bowlers as well.

The fiery Shoaib Akhtar, who could not really make much of an impact in Guwahati, will be a more potent force here as there could be some movement for the bowlers in the first 15 overs or so.

"It is a typical Mohali wicket. There will be bounce and pace and the bowlers will have something for them in the first 15 overs or so. If the batsmen play that period carefully, it would be a good batting track thereafter," curator Daljit Singh said.

A full house is expected for the match with all the tickets being sold out well in advance for the high-voltage match to be played amid tight security arrangements.

First Published: Nov 07, 2007 12:12 IST