Buoyant India eyeing series win in Lahore

Published: Sunday, April 4, 2004, 16:24 [IST]
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Lahore:Inzamam-ul Haq's Pakistan will pull out the stops to gain a series-levelling win in the second Test against India starting at the Gaddafi stadium in Lahore on Monday.

India, buoyant after the emphatic innings victory in the Multan Test last week that gave them their maiden victory on Pakistani soil, know from past experience that nothing can be taken for granted.

In the last three years, the Indians have taken the lead in overseas series against Zimbabwe, the West Indies and Australia, only to see the hosts bounce back and draw level.

It's a jinx Pakistan hope to capitalise on after ordering English curator Andy Atkinson to prepare a lively wicket that will aid the home team's pace attack led by Shoaib Akhtar.

Inzamam wants to forget the embarrasment of the first Test where they collapsed twice on what was a lifeless track after India rode on a brilliant 309 from Virender Sehwag and an unbeaten 194 from Sachin Tendulkar to post a mammoth 675 for five.

"There is no looking back now, we have to go flat out to level the series here," said Inzamam.

Pakistan were unable to bounce back in three home series since 1998 against Zimbabwe, Australia and Sri Lanka after losing the first Test, but Inzamam is determined not to let that happen again.

"India played better cricket in the first Test and deserved to win, but we are not a bad side as the result indicates," he said.

"It's time to prove ourselves in front of our own crowds, especially the bowlers who have not been performing well lately."

Akhtar, nicknamed the Rawalpindi Express for his fiery pace, failed to take a wicket in 32 overs in Multan, but conditions in Lahore will suit him more.

Pakistan are set to bring in leg-spinner Danish Kaneria and seamer Umar Gul in place of Saqlain Mushtaq and Shabbir Ahmed, while reserve wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal is standing by for Moin Khan, who is recovering from a groin injury.

India, meanwhile, are pondering their bowling options after left-arm seamer Zaheer Khan suffered a suspected hamstring injury at Multan and was ruled out for the rest of the series.

Ashish Nehra, who replaced Zaheer, Ajit Agarkar and Laxmipathy Balaji are in contention for the final two seamers' spots behind Irfan Pathan, the rookie 19-year-old who claimed a career-best 4-100 in the first Test.

Seasoned leg-spinner Anil Kumble, who went to India after the Multan Test to celebrate the birth of his first son, returned on Saturday to build on his eight-wicket haul in the first Test.

Kumble, who once grabbed all 10 Pakistani wickets in a Test in New Delhi in 1999, is another 10 wickets away from taking his career tally to 400.

Rahul Dravid, who leads India once again in the absence of the injured Sourav Ganguly, was confident a series victory could be sealed before the final Test at Rawalpindi.

"We may not have been able to capitalise on a lead in the past, but this is our best chance to ensure it does not happen again," Dravid said.

"We have played good cricket on this tour by winning the One-day series 3-2 and the first Test, and there is no reason why we should not continue the same way."

India (from): Rahul Dravid (capt), Virender Sehwag, Aakash Chopra, Sachin Tendulkar, Venkatsai Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, Parthiv Patel, Irfan Pathan, Laxmipathy Balaji, Ajit Agarkar, Ashish Nehra, Anil Kumble.

Pakistan (from): Inzamam-ul-Haq (capt), Yousuf Youhana, Imran Farhat, Taufiq Umer, Imran Nazir, Yasir Hameed, Misbah-ul-Haq, Asim Kamal, Shoaib Malik, Abdul Razzaq, Moin Khan, Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammad Sami, Shabbir Ahmed, Umar Gul, Danish Kaneria, Kamran Akmal.

Umpires: Steve Bucknor (WIS), Simon Taufel (AUS)

TV Umpire: Nadeem Ghauri (PAK)

Match Referee: Ranjan Madugalle (SRI)

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