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India hope to make amends for Mohali misadventure in Kanpur
Amlan Chakraborty | November 10, 2007 20:01 IST
Having allowed arch-rivals Pakistan to snatch a thrilling victory and level the series, India will need to review their strategy as they go into the crucial third cricket one-dayer in Kanpur on Saturday.
The ploy to go in with just four specialist bowlers on a good batting strip in Mohali did not bear dividends as the Indians failed to defend a massive 321 and the team management may consider brining back the in-form spinner Murali Kartik for the day match.
The hosts would do better to consider it now a three-match series that leaves them with no margin for error.
It would be interesting to see whether the Indians retain Virender Sehwag [Images] for the match. The right-hander did come up with a 25-run cameo in Mohali but India's bowling lost much of its sting in Kartik's absence. As a result, Harbhajan Singh [Images] looked a lesser threat.
If fast bowlers hunt in pairs, spinners do it in tandem and as Harbhajan and Kartik gave ample display in Guwahati that they can both etiolate the run rate and run amok through the batting order.
In fact, by bringing in an extra batsman at the cost of a specialist bowler, India not only overestimated their bowling department but also underestimated their batting strength and repeating the folly tomorrow could well be the perfect recipe for a disaster.
While Ganguly (9-0-55-0) did bowl better than Zaheer Khan [Images] (10-0-70-1), Dhoni missed the point that Ganguly's military medium pace does not allow him to really set a cat among pigeons and it is in fact unfair too, to expect him match Kartik's wicket-taking abilities.
India's bowing coach Venkatesh Prasad must be a harrowed man after his wards failed to defend a total as imposing as 321.
Zaheer Khan was conspicuously off-colour in Mohali and by the time he removed Younis Khan, the Pathan had not only notched up his maiden century against India but also had laid the foundation for a successful chase.
Zaheer's pace colleague RP Singh looked better but six wides and a no ball meant he actually ended up bowling 11.1 overs. It's another matter that Shoaib Akhtar [Images] went worse, bowling seven wides and one no ball.
Thankfully, there is no major concern with the batting line-up for the hosts. In the top three, Gautam Gambhir [Images] is consistency personified, missing fifty by six runs in Guwahati before making amends in Mohali.
Ganguly looked good in the first match, while Sachin Tendulkar [Images] was in vintage form in the second. Though he fell victim to the nervous nineties for a record 15th time, his 99 was as good as some of his centuries and the Little Master would like to just continue in the same vein.
Following him is Yuvraj Singh [Images], who strikes fear in the opposition's heart as India's middle order mainstay.
Dhoni, meanwhile, is due for a big knock. And the hosts still have Virender Sehwag's pyrotechnics and Robin Uthappa's belligerence to fall back on.
Pakistan too had plenty of positives to derive from last match's performance. Though there was just one century and no half century in the innings, Pakistan forged partnerships -- from decent ones to match-winning -- and though the asking rate kept climbing, they always had the wickets in hand to come up with a late charge and this was precisely the case in Mohali.
Though Shahid Afridi [Images] is insisting to return to the opener's slot so that he can make the most of the power-plays, the Pakistani think-tank has not bothered to oblige him, because having the swashbuckler down the order suits the team to a T.
It allows late bloomers like Younis and Mohammad Yousuf [Images] to take their sweet time and guide along the score, before leaving the stage towards the end for Afridi to unleash those lusty hits and see the side through. And in Misbah-ul-Haq, Pakistan has found a shrewd player, who scores stealthily to inch closer towards the target.
Misbah, however, is yet to emerge as a finisher, partly because he looks hell-bent to play that doomed scoop shot and exorcise the ghost of Twenty20 World Cup even though it's just not clicking for him.
India: MS Dhoni (C), Gautam Gambhir, Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Robin Uthappa, Harbhajan Singh, Murali Kartik, Zaheer Khan, Praveen Kumar, Irfan Pathan [Images], Rohit Sharma, Rudra Pratap Singh, S Sreesanth [Images].
Pakistan: Shoaib Malik [Images] (C), Salman Butt [Images], Kamran Akmal, Mohammad Yousuf, Younis Khan, Abdur Rehman, Fawad Alam, Iftikhar Anjum, Imran Nazir [Images], Misbah-ul-Haq, Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Akhtar, Sohail Tanvir, Umar Gul, Yasir Hameed [Images].