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Thatscricket - ODI Series - India~~s tour of Pakistan- Akhtar hopes to halt India on his home ground

Published: Monday, March 29, 2004, 20:17 [IST]
 
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Rawalpindi:Pakistan's fiery fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar hopes to celebrate his 100th One-day International by stopping the Indian batting juggernaut on his home ground.

"It's an honour to reach a milestone but I will celebrate only if it can help my team win," said the 28-year-old on Monday ahead of the day-night match at the Pindi cricket stadium.

Pakistan need a win to level the five-match series 1-1 after India pulled off a five-run victory in the spectacular opening encounter at Karachi on Saturday.

It was the highest scoring One-dayer in history with India piling up 349 for seven and Pakistan replying with a gallant 344 for eight following a century by captain Inzamam-ul Haq.

Akhtar, nicknamed the 'Rawalpindi Express' for the lightning speed he generates, went for 55 runs in his 10 overs on the run-laden wicket but was unlucky not to have claimed more than two wickets.

India's swashbuckling opener Virender Sehwag, who was dropped in Akhtar's opening over, smashed 79 off 57 balls to lay the foundation for his team's huge total.

"The wicket at Karachi was a belter," said Akhtar, who has 160 wickets from 99 games so far.

"There will be more help for the bowlers here in Rawalpindi and I am totally focussed on keeping the runs down."

Pakistan need to be more disciplined in the attack after sending down 20 no-balls and 10 wides in Karachi that gave India five additional overs to bat and cost the hosts the match.

Coach Javed Miandad laid special emphasis on this aspect at the nets on Sunday and Monday even as seamer Shabbir Ahmed was declared fit to play after missing the previous game with a finger injury.

"It's good to have Shabbir back but we will finalise our team only on Tuesday afternoon," Miandad said.

"There was little to choose from the two sides at Karachi and this should be another good game. But we have to be more disciplined in our bowling."

India, meanwhile, welcomed back in-form batsman Venkatsai Laxman, who sat out at Karachi with a knee injury.

Laxman, who hit three One-day centuries on the recent tour of Australia, is expected to replace Hemang Badani in the only change in the winning Indian combination.

India will once again rely on its experienced batting to overcome the depleted bowling attack that is missing frontline exponents Anil Kumble, Ajit Agarkar and Harbhajan Singh through injuries.

Spearhead Zaheer Khan, still to hit peak form after a recent hamstring injury, was thrashed for 66 runs from 10 overs at Karachi, while spinner Murali Kartik went for 74 from 10.

Left-armer Ashish Nehra saved India's blushes by conceding just three runs in the final over when Pakistan needed nine, but the tourists can ill-afford another run feast from their rivals.

"Bowling is an area we have to work on," said coach John Wright. "We are giving away too many runs."

India (from): Sourav Ganguly (capt), Rahul Dravid, Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Venkatsai Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammad Kaif, Hemang Badani, Parthiv Patel, Zaheer Khan, Laxmipathy Balaji, Irfan Pathan, Ashish Nehra, Murali Kartik, Ramesh Powar.

Pakistan (from): Inzamam-ul Haq (capt), Yousuf Youhana, Shahid Afridi, Imran Farhat, Yasir Hameed, Younis Khan, Misbahul Haq, Shoaib Malik, Abdul Razzaq, Moin Khan, Rana Naveedul Hassan, Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammad Sami, Saqlain Mushtaq, Rao Iftikhar, Shabbir Ahmed.

Umpires: Simon Taufel (AUS) and Asad Rauf (PAK)

TV umpire: Zamir Haider (PAK)

Match referee: Ranjan Madugalle (SRI)

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