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The match of the year

Going into the final ODI, India ? after their come-from-behind win ? are believed to hold the advantage, writes Kadambari Murali.

india Updated: Mar 24, 2004 02:34 IST

Before Sunday's dramatic loss to India, everything was fine in the Pakistani camp. They had surprised everyone with the way they had fought in this series. From being the underdogs at the start, they had gone into the fourth one-dayer here as favourites of sorts.

But Sunday changed all that. Suddenly, going into the series decider here on Wednesday, India — after their come-from-behind win — are believed to hold the advantage again while the Pakistan squad seems preoccupied with off-the-field issues.

There is a perceptible spring in the steps of the Indians. The players are confident enough to joke about Wednesday's series decider. Rahul Dravid's comment on Pakistan's extras in the last match epitomises the mood. "We're very happy to receive the kind of help Pakistan has been giving us," he said. "We hope it continues tomorrow."

On Tuesday, Pakistani captain Inzamam-ul-Haq did not address the media. Some say it was superstition, others that he didn't have to, most believe he was embarrassed. The last theory was borne out by Pakistan manager Haroon Rashid apologising on "behalf of Inzamam" for the way he reacted on Sunday night.

Inzamam had told a journalist who asked him if Pakistan lost purposely to "shut up".

Then there was the news that the PCB was considering legal action against former skipper Rashid Latif for suggesting that Pakistan had under-performed.

And finally, there was another chapter added to Pakistan cricket's longest-running feud — Javed Miandad vs Imran Khan.

Miandad, Pakistan's current coach, is upset with remarks Imran has reportedly made on TV about Miandad's lack of strategy, "peculiar" decisions and influence over Inzamam.

"It's up to individuals, what they want to say," said Miandad. "I can only request him that if he wants to say something he should say it directly to the players, not elsewhere." He said that if Imran felt like helping out, he had no problem.

First Published: Mar 24, 2004 00:41 IST