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Kolkata Test: India look to seal series

In contrast to the injury-hit Pak side, the Indian house looks in order and the home team is looking forward to make it 2-0, reports R Bose.

cricket Updated: Nov 30, 2007 02:54 IST
Robin Bose

Shoaib Malik's soulful look captured the pathos of Pakistan. Standing alone at the door to the dressing room, the skipper looked wistfully at the ankle brace in his hands. After staring blankly at it for a while, he shook his head and limped back, away from the inquisitive eyes that were trying to gain an insight into what was running through his mind on the eve of the second Test.

<b1>Though Pakistan are extremely clear that it’s a perform-or-perish situation, they find themselves braving one roadblock after another as they try to put together a healthy XI.

Injuries have laid low the team’s cream ever since they arrived here. The bowling is the worst hit with Akhtar and Sami down with a chest infection. Umar Gul who missed the first Test with a back problem, looked to be shaping up well and bowled full steam on Wednesday.

But a day later, Malik announced, "Gul experienced pain after bowling yesterday and is going home for treatment.” But what will hurt most is if Akhtar misses out, especially after his lion-hearted Kotla showing. Malik was extremely vague about the measures the management was exploring. "We have given options to the selectors that are confidential, and are hoping replacements land here soon."

Apart from the skipper, the other batsman under a cloud is Misbah-ul-Haq, who had the flu. He looked groggy on Thursday, but given his mental toughness, which saw him coming up with knocks of 82 and 45 in Delhi, the middle-order bat is likely to play.

Karthik form, the only worry

In contrast, the Indian house looks in order and the talk doing the rounds is making it 2-0 and winning a series on home turf against the archrivals after 1979-80. "It’s important to take the momentum ahead and turn the screws early on.” said Anil Kumble.

While the hosts are likely to retain the winning XI, the skipper deflected the query by saying, "We are waiting for Dilip Vengsarkar and a decision will be reached by evening."

The Eden has been a happy hunting ground for the stalwarts barring Ganguly. While Kumble claimed 10 scalps the last time the two teams locked horns here in March 2005, Dravid notched up back-to-back tons and Tendulkar struck two fifties.

If at all India have a worry, it is Karthik’s form. But the opener can draw from his past performance here that saw knocks of 28 and 93. The pitch is unlikely to be different from Kotla and curator Kalyan Mitra promised the “track will get slower and assist spinners”.