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Run feast lies ahead

At Lahore today, Indians should guard themselves against complacency, writes Pradeep Magazine.

india Updated: Feb 13, 2006 10:57 IST

Back to where it all began — Lahore. The city is no longer shivering. Nor are there gusts of icy winds to chill ones bones. The sun is warm but not very hot. The trees and the green leaves are coated with an additional layer of dust.

At the Gadaffi Stadium the same lifeless flat track that made the first Test an exercise in meaningless record-counting, should produce a contest that could go to the wire. We are here to play a one-day match in which runs scored are more important than wickets taken.

The ground itself is as green and smooth as it was in the second week of January. But the boundaries have been shortened and making huge scores should be a child's play here. It seems that the security of the players is of great concern and the distance from the stands to the boundary rope has been increased so that no spectator is able to throw a stone at a player on the ground.

The shortened ground means the bowlers will now have to not only contend with a flat track but also live in the mortal fear that even a miss-hit can clear the ropes. To be a bowler in these conditions is like living in hell and whatever happens on Monday, be kind to them and not too harsh.

Shoaib Akhtar, the one man whose pace can overcome the slowness of a track has been ruled out of the series and the Indians can breathe easy. They arrived here on Saturday night itself, going straight to airport from the ground at Rawalpindi. There being just a day's gap between the second and the third one-dayer the Indians decided to rest and not take the trouble of even visiting the ground.

They played splendidly on Saturday and after having broken the aura of invincibility that surrounded this Pakistan team, the Indians must be now confident of even winning this one-day series.

There main problem — bowling — credited itself well and if they can maintain that standard here as well India can even go ahead 2-1 in this five match series.

But they should guard themselves from complacency, a disease easily acquired but difficult to get rid off.

Well, as India played at Rawalpindi one did get this feeling that Pakistan had underestimated the Indians. They batted without any care in the world and a couple of their run outs would have put a novice to shame. No wonder Bob Woolmer was furious after the match and his team was here at the nets on Sunday. Be sure he and Inzamam-ul-Haq must have read the riot act.

Whether the loss will make Pakistan come back strongly or make it difficult for them to get out of their despondent mood is not easy to predict. We will know that on Monday, in a match that is day-night game. But the match starts at 11 am. The reason for this early start is that no team should be put to disadvantage due to the dew factor in the night. This also nullifies, to a large extent, the toss factor.

In India a day-night game has become a lottery where whichever team wins the toss also wins the match.

Hopefully, that won't be the case here and to borrow a cliché, let the team that plays better win the match.

First Published: Feb 13, 2006 02:33 IST