Thatscricket - ODI Series - India~~s tour of Pakistan- ~~We don~~t fear Shoaib; pressure is on him~~

Published: Saturday, October 19, 2002, 20:54 [IST]
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Kolkata:Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly said his team was not worried at the prospect of facing speedster Shoaib Akhtar on their upcoming tour of Pakistan.

"We are not worried about Shoaib and feel the pressure is on him since he is leading the attack against India for the first time," Ganguly said at the end of a three-day training camp in Kolkata on Tuesday.

Akhtar, known as the "Rawalpindi Express", is feared by batsmen the world over but Ganguly said the speed demon would have his work cut out trying to single-handedly rip through India's in-form batting line-up.

"With Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis not around any more, things will be different for him," said Ganguly as the team prepared to embark on their first full tour of Pakistan in almost 15 years.

India, who last played a Test series in Pakistan in 1989 but made a week-long tour in 1997 for three One-day Internationals, are due to play five One-dayers and three Tests across the border.

Ganguly conceded that India's own bowling attack for the One-dayers looked depleted in the absence of injured seamer Ajit Agarkar and spinners Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh.

"It's a good opportunity for other bowlers to show their capability and a challenge for me to handle them well," said Ganguly.

"They have good talent and should come through like Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammad Kaif and Zaheer Khan have proved themselves in the past."

Zaheer and Ashish Nehra are the only experienced bowlers in the One-day side which also has other left-armer Irfan Pathan, seamer Laxmipathy Balaji and left-arm spinner Murali Kartik apart from the all-rounders.

Kumble and Agarkar are, however, expected to join the team for the Tests.

Ganguly said the inexperienced bowling attack would put into use some invaluable tips imparted by former captain Kapil Dev.

"Kapil helped us out during this short camp, not trying to rectify actions or technique but in attitude and thought process," said Ganguly, who led India to the World Cup final last year.

The Indian captain said his team was well-equipped to cope with the pressure on their 40-day tour.

"International cricket is all about pressure and seeing the India-Pakistan scenario, additional pressure is only to be expected," he said.

"Some people consider us favourites for the series, which is a good sign for Indian cricket."

Indian coach John Wright felt it was a nothing-to-lose situation and a good opportunity for the players to prove their mettle once again.

"We are going to enjoy the tour and relish challenges," said the former New Zealand Test player. "If you don't play good cricket you lose and one should remember that we are the touring side."

The One-day series gets underway in Karachi on March 13. The other matches will be held in Rawalpindi (March 16), Peshawar (March 19) and two day-night matches in Lahore on March 21 and 23.

The One-dayers will be followed by a three-match Test series starting at Multan on March 28.

The Indian team is due to meet Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and also attend briefings by security agencies and the foreign office before their departure for Lahore on Wednesday.

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