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Are India better? We'll settle that on field

In Indo-Pak ties, pre-match form counts for little, writes Inzamam-ul-Haq in an exclusive column.

india Updated: Mar 11, 2004 19:21 IST

Lot of people are asking me which team will start as the favourites in the forthcoming series — India or Pakistan? India have been playing some wonderful cricket, as we saw in Australia, and while Pakistan did not do too well in South Africa, we have gradually rebuilt our side and are once again looking on top of our game.

In my opinion, neither side will start as favourites. In Indo-Pak cricket, pre-match form counts for little. It is your actual performance on the day that matters. Now you may say 'Isn't it true about all matches these days, especially between two well-matched sides?' Well, the answer is 'No'.

What makes an Indo-Pak series so special is the pressure factor. There will be choking pressure from all fronts and it is under this extreme pressure that both teams have to perform. Ask some players who have played the game before us and they will tell you how unnerving it can be.

They will also tell you how special it is to play in such a series.

Many do fail, but those who make a mark, often stand out and emerge as heroes on either side of the border.

We are playing at home, so there's bound to be pressure from our fans as expectations will be sky-high. But, in my opinion, India will be under greater pressure because they have to live up to the tag that they are the better team — on form as well as ratings.

On current form, they are expected to beat us, but we would like to settle that debate on the pitch.

My young team has a lot of regard for the Indian side. They have a settled team with a formidable batting line-up. Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul
Dravid and VVS Laxman, Wow! What a line-up! They are all good friends and it is worth going miles to watch any of them in full cry.

My team is different. We don't have any superstars. At least not as yet, but I am certain that before this series ends a few youngsters in my side would have not only made a name for themselves, but broken a few reputations as well.

A lot of people are also saying that the Indo-Pak series will be all about India's batting versus Pakistan's pace attack.

I can only shake my head in disagreement when I hear such statements. Those are our respective team's strengths. While I expect the two sides to play to their strengths, I am not sure whether matches will be won or lost solely because of performance or non-performance by the key players in these departments.

In my opinion, two factors will decide the fate of the series. One is fielding and the other is the will to fight. The team that fields better and fights harder will carry the day.

I can promise you one thing, my young team will not give an inch without putting up a fight because they know their captain can accept a failure, but not someone who is not contributing 100 percent.

The 13th of March, 2004 will be a big day for both nations.

Pakistan fans have waited for 14 years for this day and I am sure Indian cricket fans will be equally excited about the resumption of cricketing ties between the two nations.

When the sun rises in Karachi on that day, it will spread the warmth of friendship along with brightness. Let's hope it will bring peace and happiness for people on both sides of the border. (Café Cricket)

(The Pakistan captain will be writing exclusively for HT during the series)

First Published: Mar 11, 2004 00:46 IST