India, Pakistan renew rivalry at new desert venue

Published: Monday, April 17, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Abu Dhabi:Pakistan are hoping to stop India's winning run when the arch-rivals clash in two off-shore matches at world cricket's newest centre on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The day-night one-dayers will be held at the 16,000-capacity Zayad Cricket Stadium on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi, the second venue after Sharjah to host cricket internationals in the United Arab Emirates.

Proceeds from Tuesday's match will be donated to millions of survivors of the 7.6-magnitute earthquake which rocked the Kashmir Valley on October 8 last year, killing more than 73,000 people in Pakistan and 1,300 in India.

Revenues from the second game on Wednesday will be shared by the Indian and Pakistan cricket boards after setting aside a million dollars for the hosts.

India are buoyant after completing a 5-1 rout of England at home on Saturday, giving Rahul Dravid's side a 17-5 record in one-day cricket since November.

Pakistan have also won four of their last five one-day series under Inzamam-ul Haq, but are still hurting by the 1-4 loss to India at home in February.

Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer said it was important for his side to defeat India in the two matches to win back their confidence.

"Its needless for me to elaborate on an India-Pakistan series," said the former England cricketer. "These games draw massive interest around the world.

"Our team is in high spirits for the two games. We certainly would like to have our names as the first-ever winners at this venue.

"Obviously India is not an easy team to beat. They are playing well at the moment but Pakistan has got the type of players to match them in all departments of the game."

India rode on the young shoulders of Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Dhoni and Irfan Pathan against England, but the absence of injured superstar Sachin Tendulkar and the poor form of Virender Sehwag and Mohammad Kaif is worrying the team management.

"We need both Veeru and Kaif at their best but I am glad there are others willing to raise their hand for the cause of the team," said Dravid.

"We have always had good contests against Pakistan and it should be no different in these two games as well."

India: Rahul Dravid (capt), Robin Uthappa, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammad Kaif, Suresh Raina, Mahendra Dhoni, Irfan Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Ramesh Powar, Ajit Agarkar, Munaf Patel, Venugopal Rao, Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, Rudra Pratap Singh.

Pakistan: Inzamam-ul-Haq (capt), Imran Farhat, Shoaib Malik, Younis Khan, Mohammad Yousuf, Kamran Akmal, Shahid Afridi, Danish Kaneria, Abdul Razzaq, Mohammad Asif, Rao Iftikhar, Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, Faisal Iqbal, Abdul Rehman.

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