Pak draw up strategy to face India

Updated: 25 February 2007 09:08 IST

Desperate to make amends for their dismal performances of late, Pakistan have made strategic plans for the match against India.

Pak draw up strategy to face India

Colombo:

Desperate to make amends for their dismal performances of late, Pakistan have made strategic plans for the all-important match against India in the Asia Cup Super League cricket match here tomorrow. With Sri Lanka having virtually assured themselves of a berth in the final and Bangladesh eliminated from this one-day competition, the high-voltage day-night match tomorrow will almost be like a semi-final for the arch-rivals. Pak look to attack fifth bowlerIndian batting causes the maximum worries to any rival team and it is no different with Pakistan who are looking to inflict early damages on Indian line-up and attack their fifth bowler as part of their strategy. Indian coach John Wright has already harped on the need for a good start in the 15 overs. Conversely, Pakistan's vice-captain Yousuf Youhana too declared his team would look for as many wickets as possible when the field restrictions are in place and the ball is new. India so far have not had a good start so far and defending champions Pakistan would be hoping it remains so. Any team which would win this game is more or less assured of a passage into the finals since hosts Sri Lanka have not only won two round-robin games against Pakistan and Bangladesh but have also acquired the bonus points. Pakistan also feels India's Achilles heels could be the fifth bowler's quota which cost India 77 runs in the league game against Sri Lanka and which is sure to revolve around the quartet of Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh and Sourav Ganguly. All these bowlers gave themselves a very decent bowl in the nets yesterday but how it turns out in a match situation, remains to be seen. Batting concernsPakistan's batting has raised a few concerns for coach Bob Woolmer after they collapsed to 122 to suffer a seven-wicket thrashing by the hosts in their opening Super League game. But Pakistan do have the talent and are capable of rasing their game on their day. They sure have a deep batting line-up with Abdur Razzaq coming in at number eight. The batting hinges on skipper Inzamam-ul Haq and Yousuf Youhana who sure would look to attack the Indian bowlers and avenge their loss in the one-day series back home in March. Youhana was reduced to being a bunny of Irfan Pathan in that historic series but the stylish right-hander claims he has done his homework and the past is no guide to how the present contest would go between the two cricketers. Zaheer may make itPakistan is likely to go into the game with three medium-pacers and a spinner as their four specialist bowlers, the same balance which India would be looking to retain in the key clash. Bowling spearhead Shoaib Akhtar, much chastened by what happened in Pakistan earlier this year, would sure look to avenge the hurt of last series, in what could turn out to be a redemption game for the 'Rawalpindi Express'. India too would like three medium-pacers and a spinner to lead its attack but there is a talk that Zaheer Khan, declared fit after an injury scare, could make it ahead of Laxmipathy Balaji.Laxman doubtfulThere are no such injury worries for the Indian team although there is a question mark over VVS Laxman who hurt his same left knee which put him out of the league game against Sri Lanka. Laxman was undergoing ice-treatment and whether he makes it to the playing eleven would be known tomorrow. All is not quite well with coach John Wright at the moment as he is suffering from diarrhoea and had to leave the practice session yesterday. But Wright would be desperate to remain in the thick of things, given the high stakes involved. Anybody's matchEven Inzamam was feeling the heat as he exhorted his boys not to let emotions affect their performance and go into the do-or-die match with a relaxed frame of mind. "I have a theory the bigger the match, the better you perform if you are more relaxed," said the captain. "I have been around for 12-13 years and admit that the pressure is bound to be there. But it is important all of us remain relaxed and cool," he said. Woolmer, who has been busy drawing up strategies for his team, has also asked his boys to put their disappointments behind and start afresh. India might go into the match as favourites on account of their recent domination of Pakistan and current form but they know they cannot afford to take anything for granted. Wright said they were ready with their "homework" on Shoaib and keen to dismiss the Pakistan challenge en route to the final on August 1. (PTI)



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