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Weather, injuries hamper India
Harish Kotian in Bangalore | December 06, 2007 20:19 IST
Just a couple of days back, Pakistan were on the verge of losing the Test series against India, but showed great determination and fighting spirit to bail themselves out and emerge with an honourable draw in the second match in Kolkata.
Since then, things have only got better for them, and gone from bad to worse for India.
First, India's entire first-choice pace attack was ruled out of the third Test because of injuries; now, to compound their woes, it appears that the conditions in Bangalore, where the final match of the series begins on Saturday, are going to be to their disadvantage.
The city has been witnessing slight drizzle during the last couple of days, coupled with overcast skies and cold weather, all perfect conditions for seam bowling. However, India have only a young, untested pace attack to take advantage of the conditions, as compared to Pakistan, who have a few experienced bowlers in the side.
Led by the dynamic Shoaib Akhtar [Images], Pakistan will hold the edge if the conditions remain the same.
India boasts of an experienced batting line-up, but playing on what many fear is an under-prepared pitch, in overcast conditions and against top-class pace bowling, will prove a huge challenge.
BCCI pitches committee chairman Daljit Singh believes lack of sunshine in the last few days has hampered the pitch preparation a great deal.
"This weather has put off their preparation by two days. Certainly, the conditions will play a part," Singh told rediff.com in Bangalore.
The wicket has been re-laid 15 days back using new soil, and some believe the curator may not have got enough time to do a good job because of the weather.
Singh's opinion is also echoed by Chris Lewis from the New Zealand [Images] Turf Institute, who is helping local curator Narayan Raju in preparing the wicket.
"The overhead conditions will definitely play a part, but the wicket will not. What we would like is a little more sunshine. The wicket will have a bit of life; it will be doing a bit for the pacers and the seamers," Lewis told rediff.com.
The weather forecast for the next few days is not encouraging, with overcast conditions expected for the next five days.
Twenty-three-year-old Irfan Pathan [Images] will lead the Indian pace attack in the absence of Zaheer Khan [Images], Munaf Patel [Images] and RP Singh, all out due to injuries. He will either be partnered by Delhi's 19-year-old seamer Ishant Sharma or Punjab's 23-year-old pacer VRV Singh, who boast of just six Test matches between them.
India's dilemma will be whether to go in with the extra, untested seamer to take advantage of the conditions or play the extra spinner. If captain Anil Kumble [Images] prefers the experience of Murali Kartik [Images] over the rookie seamers, then part-timer Sourav Ganguly [Images] will be expected to take the new ball, though that scenario seems highly unlikely.
The Pakistani batsmen are also in top gear and will prove tough for the inexperienced Indian seamers to dislodge. But, then, their unpredictability could also prove to a big plus point for Ishant and VRV.
Pakistan will definitely feel that the stage is perfectly set for them to repeat their feat on the 2004-05 tour, when they won the final Test in Bangalore and levelled the series 1-1.
For Kumble, his first Test as captain in front of home fans is looking a tricky proposition.