Inzy hoping for 'lovely' India match

Updated on Sep 18, 2004 09:43 PM IST

Pakistan captain brushed aside security fears ahead of decisive match against India on Sunday, saying he anticipated a 'lovely atmosphere' at the sell-out game.

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PTI | ByJulian Guyer (AFP), Birmingham

Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq brushed aside security fears ahead of his side's winner-take-all Champions Trophy match against India at Edgbaston on Sunday, saying he anticipated a "lovely atmosphere" at the 21,000 sell-out game.

Organisers have drafted in 480 stewards compared to the 300 who would normally supervise a Test match, with police numbers boosted from 30 to 130.

During the 2001 triangular One-Day International series the England-Pakistan match at Edgbaston was interrupted towards the end by a pitch invasion of mainly Pakistan supporters.

And when the teams met again at Headingley, England skipper Alec Stewart took the unprecedented step of forfeiting the match rather than returning to the field after another invasion left a steward with seven broken ribs.

However, March's Test and one-day series between Pakistan and India in Pakistan passed off peacefully and even saw fans from both teams mingling with one another.

And Inzamam clearly hoped some of that spirit would endure. "Pakistan-India is always a big game and nothing else," he told reporters at Edgbaston on Saturday. "Hopefully the atmosphere is lovely, Pakistanis and Indians sitting together."

Pakistan have beaten India in their last two One-Day Internationals, at the Asia Cup and the Dutch triangular. However, Inzamam insisted: "In the one-day game, nobody is favourite. It depends on the day, who is playing best. We've won the last two games but they've gone. Tomorrow is a new day."

The Champions Trophy has been plagued by bad weather, with several matches having to go into a reserve day because of rain, the conditions leading most captains to field first after winning the toss.

And Inzamam said, "The toss is 20 per cent advantage. The first eight or 10 overs it's difficult to play on this track because the weather is like this."

India captain Sourav Ganguly, himself a left-handed opening batsman, agreed batting first was a tough task.

"It's hard," Ganguly told reporters. "You've got to play yourself in. These are not wickets where you can put your foot down and go through the line because it seams around and swings around.

"These are not 300 (run) wickets. You've got to bat well in the first 10 overs and that's the key in this competition."

Both teams have comprehensively beaten Kenya, the third team in Pool C, and the winners of Sunday's match will face either South Africa or West Indies in Wednesday's Rose Bowl semi-final.

In the unlikely event that the match between the Asian giants (a minimum of 20 overs per side constitutes a game under tournament rules) could not be completed across two days, Pakistan would qualify for the last four thanks to a superior run-rate of +3.21 to India's +1.96.

But a blunt Ganguly said: "If the game takes place, whoever wins will go through. If it doesn't, it's our bad luck."

He also played down the absence of batsman Sachin Tendulkar, ruled out before the competition began with an elbow injury. "It's been like that since we started so we don't even think about it now."

Ganguly backed Inzamam's view that past results would count for little. "In one-day cricket it's about how you play on the day.

"We won both the (Test and one-day) series in Pakistan so we were supposed to have the psychological edge when we met them in the Asia Cup but they played better than us on the day and beat us."

And he also agreed with his Pakistan counterpart that Sunday's game was not just 'another match'.

"Every game is special when you play international cricket but India-Pakistan is different.

"It brings people to the grounds, you can see the excitement and it's a game where if you do well you get noticed. It's an important game for both sides."

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