हिन्दीಕನ್ನಡമലയാളംதமிழ்తెలుగు

Exciting days ahead!

Written by: Sajith Balakrishnan
Published: Monday, March 7, 2005, 16:53 [IST]
 
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Even a single ball has not been bowled in the Indo-Pak series, yet the visiting teams' fate seems to have already been written with predictions even going to the extent of India completing a clean sweep of the series.

Since cricket is a game of glorious uncertainties, one can't go in with such preconceived notions. Who knows one single spell can change the complexion of a match. Similarly, a great marathon innings (like the one played by VVS Laxman against Australia in Kolkata) can not only change the course of a match, but also of an entire series.

Add to the fact that India is playing at home. However formidable you are at home, playing at home under familiar conditions is a different ball game. Though odds are heavily stacked against Pakistan, it is too early to write them off. It may be recalled that during the 1987 Reliance Cup held in the subcontinent, the then Pakistan captain Imran Khan after his teams' defeat to Australia at home in the semi-finals had warned that India would feel the same 'home pressure' and how poetic it came!

India has this uncanny habit of making 'men' out of visiting 'boys'. Established players have always struggled in the dusty bowls of subcontinent whereas the 'unsung' likes have always revelled. The present Pakistan team has an advantage in the fact that barring a handful all of them are relatively young and inexperienced. India should guard against complacency here. Rather than sitting on the past laurels, India should go for the kill right from the word go.

Team composition is also going to play a major part in the outcome of the series. Whether India reverts to its age old theory of spinners bowling in tandem on friendly pitches with a cluster of close-in fielders is to be seen. With the batting order more or less settled, Ganguly though has a problem of plenty as far as bowling department is concerned. Pakistan has no such selection worries.

An interesting battle is on the cards as archrivals are all set to resume their battle in Mohali in less than 24 hours. Indo-Pak battles have always brought out the best in both camps. The present series looks to be no different with a few records also likely to be broken with Sachin Tendulkar on the threshold of a major landmark. It would be an ideal opportunity to him to prove both his form and fitness.

Compared to India's historic visit to Pakistan last year that broke a 14-year hiatus, the return trip of the Pakistani's seems to be a less hyped one. There is bonhomie everywhere and no more does the 'war minus shooting' spectacle hangs on. Though one might miss the thunderbolts of Shoaib Akhtar, cricket is in for some exciting days ahead with a riveting battle on the anvil.

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