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India will miss Ganguly the captain

I was born and brought up in Multan, but Lahore is like a second home to me. I have always enjoyed playing at the Gaddafi Stadium, writes Inzamam-ul-Haq.

india Updated: Mar 28, 2004 00:55 IST

I was born and brought up in Multan, but Lahore is like a second home to me. I have always enjoyed playing at the Gaddafi Stadium. However, it was a relief to get away from a venue where we lost two matches in succession, and consequently the one-day series. A change of scene can do wonders for your spirits and Multan is the place that always gives me a sense of belonging, for, this is the place where my roots are. So, being in my hometown has helped.

This is not the time to get sentimental, though. Nor is it the time to moan about the one-day series loss. It is time for a new adventure, for the Tests are about to begin. The bad thing about international cricket these days is that it's choc-a-bloc with matches. The good thing -- it leaves you with no time to sulk over failures and gives you a chance to redeem yourself very quickly. Our chance, too, comes quickly, on a ground where I've played a lot of my cricket as a youngster. So rest assured, my team will be ready for the job when I go out for the toss.

From what I have read, Sourav Ganguly will miss the first Test with a nasty back injury. It is indeed unfortunate, for, I am sure he too was looking forward to leading his side in a Test match in Pakistan. Good for us, but bad for India. I don't think India will miss him too much as a batsman as they have quite a few capable players to replace him. Team India will miss his captaincy though. It's his unquestionable leadership qualities that have moulded this Indian side into a fighting outfit.

We have shown that there is not much that separates the two sides. It is a question of maximising your strengths. This is where we need our fast bowlers to deliver. In one-day cricket, the dice is loaded against them -- field restrictions, one bouncer per over. In Tests, the scenario will be different.

Facing Shoaib Akhtar for 10 overs under restrictive circumstances is one thing, but facing a tearaway fast bowler for 20-22 overs in a day -- in a no-holds-barred contest can be a radically different story. The Multan wicket traditionally helps fast bowlers on the first couple of days, so we may well decide to unleash all our four fast bowlers on what is arguably the best batting line-up in the world. And we also have Saqlain Mushtaq.

Both Akhtar and Sami are wicket-taking bowlers and all four of them (Razzaq and Gul included) can generate a bit of reverse swing. Having said that, we would be foolish to underestimate a team that has scored over 700 against Australia in Australia.

Multan is the place where I first led Pakistan in a Test match and I have two centuries in two matches here. On Sunday, it will be another first as I lead my team out to face India on my home turf. It is time now for the son of the soil to give something back. And what can be a better gift for Multan and the whole of Pakistan than a Test win over India?

CaféCricket

First Published: Mar 28, 2004 00:55 IST