India hopes green-top will boomerang on Pak

Published: Monday, April 5, 2004, 0:14 [IST]
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Lahore:Seeking to avenge the humiliating defeat at Multan, Pakistan has prepared a livelier wicket for the second Test beginning in Lahore on Monday in the hope that it will help the battery of their speedsters but the Indian side is planning to give the hosts a dose of their own medicine.

With a morale-boosting 1-0 lead in the three-Test series, the Indians are on a high and are eyeing to record their first ever Test series triumph on Pakistani soil in nearly 50 years.

Nothing appears to daunt this resurgent Indian team, not in the least the track -- a rock-hard strip with a tinge of grass -- and captain Rahul Dravid said "if the conditions suit their fast bowlers, our bowlers can also capitalise."

The Indians will certainly go with three medium-fast bowlers along with ace-spinner Anil Kumble. After his exploits in the Multan Test, left-arm seamer Irfan Pathan is also a certainty and with Zaheer Khan back home, the choice of the remaining two opening bowlers will be made out of L Balaji, Ajit Agarkar and Ashish Nehra, who is just back from India after having missed a part of the tour due to an injury.

Balaji had gutsy performances in the ODIs as well as in the Multan Test so he might also retain his place, meaning there would be a toss-up between Nehra, who bowled very well in the two ODIs that he played, and Agarkar who performed brilliantly in Australia but missed the One-dayers in Pakistan.

Dravid said 13 players had been shortlisted but the final eleven would be named only Monday morning.

Pakistan have their own injury worries ahead of the "do or die" battle with wicketkeeper Moin Khan being ruled out of the second Test due to a groin problem.

Moin has been replaced by 22-year-old Kamran Akmal who has played just four Tests so far.

Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq admitted losing the experienced Moin for the crucial match was a setback for the side, already struggling in almost all departments of the game.

"Losing Moin is not good but Kamran is an able replacement. He is a promising player and I expect him to do well," he said while conceding that he was pinning hope on the wicket to bail his team out.

"It is a very difficult situation for us but I think the wicket here will help us bounce back as long as the bowlers do their bit."

For Dravid, standing in for an unfit regular skipper Sourav Ganguly, there was another bit of history to contend with -- India have squandered leads in Test series over the past three away tours to eventually draw level. But 'The Wall' said the team was not "tensed" by this record.

"It's happened in the past that we've won a match and then not been able to capitalise... But we are not tensed. We are not looking five days ahead and have not started making castles in the air. We will go session by session and if we stick to the basics and play good cricket, we can make history," said the confident sounding captain.

Pakistan coach Javed Miandad believed it was for his bowlers to own up responsibility and deliver the goods in what he described as the "do or die" match.

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