Pak arrive for India tour amid tight security

Published: Thursday, November 1, 2007, 3:35 [IST]
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New Delhi: Pakistan's cricket team landed in India on Thursday for the fourth bilateral series between the rival countries in the last four years.

Captain Shoaib Malik and his team mates were escorted out of Delhi international airport amid tight security after landing for the 42-day trip.

Malik and coach Geoff Lawson are due to address a news conference at the team hotel at 1900 (1330 GMT).

Pakistan, who last won a Test series in India in 1986, are due to play five one-day internationals from Monday followed by three Tests.

The teams have toured each other's country annually since 2004 when India went on a full tour of Pakistan after a 14-year break due to political tensions between the two neighbours.

Pak face Delhi in warm-up 'morrow: Cricket buffs in the capital are in for a treat as they get a chance to see Pakistan play against Delhi in a warm up cricket match here on Friday, without bothering about buying a ticket.

The DDCA has decided to throw open the gates of Feroz Shah Kotla for the fans who will see the likes of Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammad Yousuf, Shahid Afridi in action as the visitors get ready for the high-profile series against arch rivals India.

Delhi will be without their skipper and master blaster Virender Sehwag, who lost his father early this week, which gave Gautam Gambhir the chance to lead the local side.

Pakistan has also suffered a last minute upset with their main pace spearhead Mohammed Asif pulling out of the series because of an elbow injury, which had earlier forced him to miss four of the five ODIs against South Africa last month.

Delhi's bowling attack also looks thin in the absence of seamers Ashish Nehra and Ishant Sharma. While Nehra is not fully fit, Ishant is recovering from a shoulder injury which he sustained in the Challenger Series.

According to Delhi coach Vijay Dahiya absence of Sehwag and Ishant would provide a huge platform for others to make a mark.

''The absence of Sehwag and Ishant will provide a huge opportunity for others to make their mark. After all, you don't get to play against an international side too often.'' Dahiya said.

The coach was hopeful that his boys will grab the chances saying, ''You don't get such opportrunity every day.'' He also added that it is a golden chance for the players to take on quality opponent before the Ranji season.

''It's the perfect way to start our Ranji campaign. On tomorrow's outcome, it's better not to try to predict the result because anything can happen. I can only assure you that my boys would give their best,'' Dahiya said.

On the other hand, the Pakistanis too are not going to take tomorrow's tie lightly. Seamer Shoaib Akhtar will be under scanner as he is back in the side after serving a 13-match ban.

Pakistan team's mainstay -- Shahid Afridi, Mohammad Yousuf and Younis Khan -- will also like to get into the grove as quickly as possible.



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