India favourites against Pak: Venkat

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Terming the tri-series defeat in Australia as "an aberration", former Indian captain S Venkataraghavan said India go in as the favourites against Pakistan.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:05 IST
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Terming the tri-series defeat in Australia as "an aberration" on an otherwise successful tour, former Indian captain S Venkataraghavan said India go in as the favourites against a "less formidable" Pakistan in the upcoming cricket series. "Our players performed so well and their confidence level being so high, the team should lift itself up. If Zaheer Khan and Irfan Pathan get to really bowl to their potential and perform well, then it (India's bowling attack) will be a different one," said Venkat, who recently stepped down as ICC Elite Umpire. As for the current Pakistan team, Venkat felt they were in "a learning process." "Definitely one can say the Pakistanis are not the same formidable side that they were. Probably, there is a curve and the present team members are in the learning process. Their bowling is also weak," he added. He said the outcome of the series would hinge on "what sort of wickets we come across". "They have three experienced campaigners in Inzamam-ul Haq, Yousuf Youhana and Rashid Latif. I am pretty impressed with young fast bowler Mohammad Sami, and they have Shoaib Akhtar," Venkat said. Fond memories The mention of India's tour of Pakistan, the first since 1989-90, made Venkat nostalgic. For, he was part of the 1978-79 team that visited Pakistan when the two countries, like now, re-established sporting contacts after a more than two-decade gap. "It happened almost 27 years ago. I remember the reception that we got at Karachi Airport, it was phenomenal," recalled Venkat. "The welcome was something one can never forget. It was very warm and I distinctly remember that they had formed a cavalcade throughout the route from airport to Hotel and the crowd was waving both Pakistan and India flags together on the entire stretch of the route. "Initial reaction was pretty good. That is the first thing that I remember. There were lot of receptions to the team," he said. Venkat was 34-year-old and well in his prime then. With Bishen Singh Bedi, Erappalli Prasanna and B S Chandrasekar in the team, he did not get to play a Test in that three-match series. Being a history student, he visited Mohanjodaro, Dharamsala and Harappa. "It was amazing that something created about 5000 years back still remained an heritage. Those days Pakistan was not very well known to outside world excepting few places like Karachi, Islamabad and Rawalpindi," he said. India lost the three-Test series 2-0. But Venkat has fond memories of the One-dayers. (PTI)

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