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Charged-up India look to enter finals

Published: Wednesday, July 2, 2008, 3:35 [IST]
 
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Karachi: An upbeat and recharged Team India would look to secure place in the final when they take on arch rivals Pakistan in the the super-four stage of the Asia Cup tournament here today.

After three days of complete rest, which must have been pleasing for the visitors after playing a good amount of cricket under scorching heat, Indian team is confident of repeating its previous performance against the hosts and are raring to go.

Earlier, Dhoni had criticised the organisers of the Asia Cup when the Indian captain expressed his displeasure at the way the itinerary was prepared where India had to play three matches in just four days.

''It is too tight. I am not happy with the schedule. Two teams have to play back-to-back matches while two others got a day off,'' a visibly miffed Dhoni said after his team's win over Bangladesh.

However, after the three-day break, Indians are eager to get going and the in-form players certainly give them an edge over the traditional rivals.

The Indian top order has looked quite potent and have utilised the batting conditions to the best of their advantage. The forms of Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and Suresh Raina have hardly left anything for the late-order batsmen including Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh.

''It was tough out there for us. But I am happy we have kept going. Suresh Raina, Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag have batted really well in the tournament and I hope they keep on doing the same,'' Dhoni said.

Raina has finally shown his class in the tournament after staying with the team for a very long time with two centuries in three matches. His strike-rate has been the most astonishing factor which has almost selaed the matches for his team very early in its chase to huge total.

Meanwhile, Delhi lads - Sehwag and Gambhir - have been among the runs too and breaking the opening partnership early would be the most important task for the Pakistanis tomorrow.

However, bowling has given Dhoni some problems during the later stages of the matches. His bowlers have been guilty of giving away many runs in the final stages of the games.

Promising youngster Ishant Sharma does not look as penetrating as he used to in Australia. Leg-spinner Piyush Chawla, who was a great success in the IPL has been punished by the Pakistani batsmen in their last two encounters.

The rival batsmen have not found it tough to negotiate Praveen Kumar and RP Singh in early overs while the two have been taken to cleaners in the death overs.

All-rounder Irfan Pathan's fitness is still a matter of concern for the team and the left-arm seamer was not there in yesterday's optional practice session.

His availability for tomorrow's match is still not certain while Manpreet Gony did not show the promise he did in the IPL recently.

But with bowling being a matter of concern for India, Dhoni would hardly be worried about that and has shown a great deal of confidence in his batsmen.

It was this confidence which made him say that Pakistan's total off 299 in the league phase was not competetive for his side as he thought a score of 340-350 would have thrown a better challenge to India's famed batting line-up.

Teams: India (from): Mahindra Singh Dhoni (captain), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Rohit Sharma, Yusuf Pathan, Suresh Raina, Piyush Chawla, Ishant Sharma, R P Singh, Praveen Kumar.

Pakistan (from) Shoaib Malik (captain), Salman Butt, Younis Khan, Mohammad Yousuf, Misbah-ul-Haq, Sarfraz Ahmed, Shahid Afridi, Fawad Alam, Umar Gul, Sohail Tanvir, Rao Iftikhar.

UNI

Read more about: pakistan, asia cup 2008, dhoni
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