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The Willow Talk by AK: Pakistan and India all set for series opener

Friday, January 13, 2006

Pakistan and India all set for series opener

It’s January 13, 2006, as the entire cricket fraternity gears up for another mouth-watering contest between the two Pakistan and India. It is India’s second tour in three years, a fact which speaks volumes about the improved relations that the two countries now enjoy.

The two arch-rivals will take the field on Friday with quiet confidence. Both squad are coming off from impressive series victories and look fairly well-balanced. India have the batting might of Dravid, Sehwag and Sachin to fall back on, while Pakistan has names like Inzamam, Yousuf and Younis to boost about.

Both bowling attacks are also fairly strong in their own way. India’s champion leg-spinner Anil Kumble and young prodigy Irfan Pathan will be the visitor’s main bowling trump-cards, along with Harbhajan, who can hold his own against any test side. Pakistan has that fearsome fast-bowler by the name of Shoaib Akhtar to strike fear in any batsman’s heart, and he will be ably supported by the likes of Rana Naved and Danish Kaneria.

On paper, both sides look fairly equal. But, if one person can change all of that, then that person undoubtedly is the Rawalpindi express. With greater control and variation, he proved more then a handful against the English side that toured Pakistan late last year. If he comes into his element, it will be increasingly difficult for the Indian batsmen to develop a proper rhythm in their innings. Him and Inzamam need to click for Pakistan, if Pakistan is harboring any hopes for a series win.

From India’s side, a lot will depend on captain Dravid, Sehwag and Kumble. A well-devised counter attack against even two of the above three mentioned will go a long way in tilting the balance in Pakistan’s favor. Sachin and Yuvraj could prove to be wild-cards for India. Both have been among the runs in recent games and could dish out some useful contributions for the visiting side. From Pakistan’s side, Afridi and Butt could do some added damage to the visitors.

All in all, both sides have a number of match-winners to count on and the two sides enter the Gadhaffi circle at 4.45 GMT on what promises to be another exhilarating encounter between the two old arch-rivals.
© Adeel Khan

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