ICL: Indian Cricket League

Rusty Pakistan ready for buoyant India


It may be termed The Friendship Cup and it may be organised by a group of charities while celebrating the two nations’ 60 years of independence, but when the likes of Tendulkar, Akhtar, Dravid and Afridi emerge from their respective dressing rooms on Tuesday, the word “friendship” will surely be forgotten.

The teams last met in the scorching Abu Dhabi conditions when honours were shared. Fourteen months on, however, the teams assemble in unknown territory (neither side have played an international match in Glasgow), in conditions very different to Abu Dhabi (damp and below 20C compared to a dry and above 40C) and with contrasting run-ups to the showdown.

The Pakistan team is severely lacking in match practice. Their last competitive outing was in May against Sri Lanka. Since then, they’ve had a two-week conditioning camp in order to work on the players’ fitness levels as well as a few practice matches. Their one-off ODI against Scotland was washed out on Sunday thus depriving them of yet another opportunity to gear up for the main clash against India.

Shoaib Malik, Pakistan’s captain, is nervous about facing India for the first time at the helm and is also worried about his team’s lack of competitive opportunities. “India obviously has an advantage over us as they have had the opportunity to play in the last month or so. However, we have experienced players like Younis Khan and Shoaib Akhtar and their return is a good sign for our young team.”

While refusing to comment on the drugs ban issue, Malik welcomed the prospect of seeing Akhtar partner Mohammed Asif with the new ball once again. “Both Akhtar and Asif are our best bowlers and the conditions will be ideal for fast bowling. Hopefully, these two will deliver what is required of them.”

India, on the other hand, will have their confidence level rocketing after coming from behind to hand South Africa a series defeat in Belfast. While Dravid shrugged off claims of a friendly encounter, the prospect of playing in front of a small crowd, as opposed to the cricket-mad fervent following that both teams are used to in the subcontinent, will affect the performance levels.

“Games in Pakistan and India are tense,” said Dravid. “You have huge crowds in Calcutta or Karachi behind you and because there won’t be that big a gathering in Glasgow, things will be slightly different in that aspect.”

He also pointed out that the series against Ireland and the match against Pakistan was all about providing young upcoming cricketers a chance to perform and stake their claims for the series against England. He also confirmed that the team had recovered from the illness that severely hampered them in Belfast. “Yuvraj [Singh] had a groin niggle after our final game against South Africa but he has come through fine so we have no injury concerns.”

Both captains restrained from giving away final line-ups but going by the conditions witnessed in Glasgow over the last few days, swing bowling will be the order of the day. There has been overnight rain in the city that might cause a delayed start to the proceedings. However, according to the weather reports available, the teams, fans and even Prince Charles will be lucky to see a start of any sort.

India (from) Gautam Gambhir, Robin Uthappa, Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid (capt), Yuvraj Singh, Dinesh Karthik, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (vice-capt, wk), Rohit Sharma, Ramesh Powar, Ajit Agarkar, Piyush Chawla, Zaheer Khan, RP Singh, Sreesanth, Ishant Sharma, Ranadeb Bose

Pakistan (from) Shoaib Malik (captain), Imran Nazir, Salman Butt, Younis Khan, Yasir Hameed, Mohammad Yousuf, Kamran Akmal, Fawad Alam, Shahid Afridi, Abdul Razzaq, Umar Gul, Shoaib Akhtar, Rao Iftikhar, Mohammad Asif, Mohammad Sami.

Source:Cricket News

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