India to take on Pak at Amsterdam

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> India will go into the opening match against Pakistan in the cricket tri-series commencing in Amsterdam tomorrow saddled with injury woes.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:08 IST
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India will go into the opening match against Pakistan in the cricket tri-series commencing in Amsterdam tomorrow saddled with injury woes. Off spinner Harbhajan Singh and left-arm paceman Ashish Nehra are down with viral fever and have been ruled out of the opening clash. At best the two bowlers would be available only from the next one-day game against world champions Australia, who complete the line up in the series, on August 23. It leaves India with 13 fit men and, with the likes of young Dinesh Karthik and 15th man Rohan Gavaskar being unlikely starters, the selection of the playing eleven is a foregone conclusion. Limited options India have limited bowling options, but nevertheless a good pace combination in Irfan Pathan, Laxmipathy Balaji and Ajit Agrakar besides seasoned spinner Anil Kumble. The size of the short VRA ground, the venue for the match, can only accommodate deep mid-on and mid-off and no long-on and long-off as the front boundaries are small and spinners can expect heavy pounding in the match which promises to be a batsman's show. The Indian batting line-up would thus have to provide cover to the bowling and must bloom to the full if it entertains any chance in this tournament. They must revise their mindset as a score of 300 or even 350 does not quite look safe on this ground. If the batsmen can get going, even a total of 400 is a possibility in these conditions. 'Aggressive batting' In this battle of the batsmen, Pakistan does not suffer in comparison. Young openers Imran Farhan and Yasir Hameed are aggressive and like to get on with the job. Inzamamul Haq and Yousuf Youhana are old pros and the likes of Moin Khan and Abdur Razzaq are extremely dangerous customers in one-day cricket. Adding an element of dash in all this is the re-induction of the flamboyant Shahid Afridi who still holds the record for the fastest century in one-day cricket. Also not to forget is the stylish Shoaib Malik whose last innings against India was worth 143 in the Asia Cup held in Colombo last month. Pakistan's bowling is in better hands than India and the likes of Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Sami and Shabbir Ahmed could be potentially lethal in heavy weather. The organisers and cricket fans can at best expect a cloudy day as thundershowers are predicted over the weekend. Orchestrating the match from the sidelines will be two well-known international coaches, Bob Woolmer - the former South African coach - and John Wright. It would be interesting to see the strategies the two work out given the size of the ground and prevalent conditions. (PTI)

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