Can India really topple Pakistan or is it deja vu all over again?

Written by: Sunil Vasudeva
Published: Thursday, March 4, 2004, 14:29 [IST]
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Already we are seeing columns springing up about this being "The Occasion" for India to win a series outside their home-soil. The chickens are already being counted before the Indo-Pak Test Series egg has hatched.

First things first, let us see if the Indian team makes it there or not. Once they get there, can they acclimatize themselves to the not so strange conditions there since they mirror Indian conditions for the most part? Are the Indians really going to have to play only 60% or is Inzamam and company going to demand 200%? If the latter is true, are the Indians fit enough to deliver 200% or the 60% that Ganguly projected? If the Indians are Ganguly-ready instead of Pakistan-ready, be prepared for deja-vu all over again.

When the Indians went to the West Indies, reports were rife about this being the best chance for India to make mincemeat of a less than full strength Windies squad. What happened? They came back having lost the series 1-2, and that after having won first. Chanderpaul and Hooper blasted the Indian bowlers to pulp in that series.

Then, the Indians went to England. People were saying that India was playing the most boring Test nation in the world and a series win would be a formality. Well, in that series the most boring Test cricket nation drew first blood, and many wondered if the Indians wanted that title more than the Brits. Then we saw the unbelievable, an Indian comeback! The Indians won the next match handily. However, the fourth Test meandered to a high scoring draw.

At last, and by no means least, came the series Down Under. The "India can win this one" waters were being churned again since the Aussies were without McGrath, and Lee for the first two Tests, an Indian series win was high on the cards. Once again, India drew first blood by winning the second Test, but the Aussies bounced back to win the third handily. In the fourth Test, the Indians showed how Gillespie and Lee could be carted all over the park, but then, ran out of steam and could not force the follow-on and even though at the end an Indian victory appeared on the cards, Steve Waugh and company with assistance from Parthiv Patel made sure the series stayed at 1-1. This series was the closest India came to winning but ran out of steam.

Now there is Pakistan. Once again, an Indian series win is being touted. Those doing this may well reflect on the aforementioned and wait for the eggs to hatch and then count the chickens or wins in this case. Will India do it this time or will it be deja vu all over again? That friends is the big question?

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