All eyes on Indo-Pak clash: Srinath

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> The India-Pakistan clash in the ICC Champions Trophy on Sunday would surely be one of the focal points of the tournament.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:08 IST
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After a series of low key and one-sided matches, the India-Pakistan clash in the ICC Champions Trophy on Sunday would surely be one of the focal points of the tournament. Although the tournament is still in the first round, the following of the championships would reach a crescendo on that day. An Indian progress would not only warm the billions of Asian hearts but will also immensely please the Indian business houses, which almost run the entire world cricket these days. For all practical purposes, the India-Pakistan game would be the real final for the followers of the game in the sub-continent. Final eleven The Indians, I am sure, must be preparing in the right earnest for the big match with the team management trying to decide the final eleven. The real problem starts when the think-tank finds it difficult to choose the final combination. But skipper Ganguly, perhaps, has more or less made up his mind about 10 players. It leaves us with one spot, which could go to either Anil Kumble or Ajit Agarkar. The team management, I presume, is convinced to a great extent about playing Dinesh Karthick as a regular wicketkeeper. In recent times keepers like Adam Gilchrist, Mark Boucher and Kumar Sangakkara have redefined the roles of one-day wicketkeeping. They are more recognised because of their ability to bat than their actions behind the stumps. That is what is expected from Karthick too. I am sure that the youngster is well aware of the needs at the international level. The other wicketkeeper-batsman, who is knocking at the doors of the Indian team, is the Ranchi lad Mahendra Singh Dhoni. A great talent, Dhoni has powered his batting with good technique and matured aggression. Woolmer at helm Ever since Bob Woolmer has taken over the baton from Javed Miandad in the Pakistan team, his pure man management quality has brought about a sea change in the players' approach. India now will have to plan out for a highly progressive Pakistan side. The Pakistanis already enjoy the psychological edge after having beaten India in the last two encounters. Shoiab Malik has been the real pain in the neck for the Indians. His unusual appetite to do well against the Indians has to be negated. In his last two successful innings against India, Malik has hardly scored runs on the on-side. Batsmen, who are strong on the off-side, always prove effective as the line and length of international bowlers is mostly on and around off stump. It could be effective if the Indian bowlers bowl within the stumps and encourage him to play on the onside. All-rounder Abdul Razzak would be the other batsman to watch out. The gritty cricketer has always played well in the slog overs to accelerate the run rate. The weakness of Shahid Afridi and Moin Khan in playing short-pitched balls has to be exploited also. Otherwise, if bowled to their strengths, these two experienced players can snatch the game away. Bowling key Bowling, I think, will be the key to India's success in this all-important game. Pakistan bowling, of late, has not been really threatening. Shoaib Akthar is just fast and does not worry the Indian batsmen too much. In the earlier days, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis possessed different kind of threatening impact on Indian batsmen. The current crop of Pakistani speedsters, led by Shoaib, has failed to match the skills and devastating effects of the former duo. The Pakistan spin department stands nowhere near the Indians when compared to the guile of Harbhajan and Anil Kumble. On the whole, Indians have a chance to win only if they play to a proper plan. (PTI)

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