Shaken India look to avenge defeat in Mohali

Published: Saturday, November 10, 2007, 3:35 [IST]
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Kanpur: Having lost the second game from a position of strength, a shaken India will have to come out with a disciplined and collective effort if they want to wrest back the upper hand in the series when they take on a rejuvenated Pakistan in the third one-dayer at Green Park here Sunday.

The tie is crucial because any side which wins will take a 2-1 lead in the five-match series and the other side will have to win the remaining two to win the series.

The last time the two sides met in April 2005, Pakistan had scored an easy five-wicket victory with seven overs left with Shahid Afridi smashing 45-ball hundred, the second fastest century in the shorter version of the game.

Now that Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his boys had undone the good work at Guwahati and the visitors were allowed to level the series from a position they could have been pushed to the brink, India will have to recharge themselves psychologically and address a few chinks in their armour, especially in the bowling department.

Pakistan are on a high after the sensational victory at Mohali and more importantly, all their key players are in good nick. All their top order batsmen, except wicketkeeper-batsman Kamran Akmal, were among the runs.

Maverick fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar has been doing a decent job after his return from a 13-match ban and his confidence level must be on a high after taking two wickets at Guwahati and three at Mohali.

Though he was a bit profligate at Guwahati, he bowled miserly at Mohali conceding only 42 runs in his 10 overs in a high-scoring match.

The other main pace bowler, Umar Gul, was expensive in his first spell but was instrumental for stopping India from crossing the 350 mark with a superb second spell, taking the wickets of Sachin Tendulkar and Gautam Gambhir which triggered a mini collapse.

On the other hand, the Indian bowlers had an off day in office at Mohali and after tying down the Pakistani batsmen in the early overs, could not contain Younis Khan, Misbah ul Haq and Shahid Afridi from running away with a win. This was after Pakistan "s asking rate had climbed to eight per over in the 24th over.

What should worry the Indian camp was the number of extras the bowlers conceded and a repeat of this here would only spell disaster and put pressure on the hosts in the remaining two matches.

India can not repeat their erratic bowling performance of the second game if they want to go 2-1 up at Kanpur . They could hardly afford to do it at the Green Park which is normally a batsmen"s paradise unlike the PCA pitch which had something for the fast bowlers as well the spinners. Dhoni had openly expressed disappointment at the way his bowlers had bowled to defend the Indian total though he also said his batsmen could have scored 10 or 15 runs more.

''Our strength is batting, that is why I elected to bat, but we lost a few quick wickets in the middle and the game turned against us.'' ''We could have bowled better, but that is no excuse,"" he had added, admitting that Sourav Ganguly had bowled better than his regular bowlers.

Dhoni will now have to ensure that his front-line bowlers concentrate on line and length instead of experimenting if they do not want a thrashing from Afridi and Co late in the innings.

On the batting front, master batsman Sachin Tendulkar would be the fulcrum of the Indian batting and the team man he is would not be bogged down for missing a century and becoming the first cricketer to be out at 99 thrice.

But, India need a big score from middle order batsman Yuvraj Singh who has not scored a fifty in his last 10 innings. His last fifty plus score was against England on September 2 during India"s successful tour there when he hit 72 in the fifth ODI and India will badly need his big hitting in the later stage of the innings at Kanpur.

The easy win at Guwahati could have sipped in some sort of complacency in the Indian camp but Dhoni"s boys should learn from the past when in their last tour to India in 2005, Pakistan had beaten India 4-2 after trailing 0-2 in the six-match series.

That time also, Pakistan won at Kanpur to go 3-2 up and Team India can do the opposite tomorrow to go 2-1 up and put pressure on the visitors.

Teams (from):

India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain&wk), Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, Robin Uthappa, Gautam Gambhir, Rohit Sharma, Virender Sehwag, Irfan Pathan, Murali Kartik, Rudra Pratap Singh, Zaheer Khan, Harbhajan Singh, S Sreesanth , Praveen Kumar

Pakistan: Shoaib Malik (captain), Younis Khan, Salman Butt, Imran Nazir, Yasir Hameed, Mohammad Yousuf, Shahid Afridi, Misbah-ul-Haq, Fawad Alam, Kamran Akmal (wk), Shoaib Akhtar, Umar Gul, Sohail Tanvir, Abdur Rehman, Rao Iftikhar Anjum


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