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India will show no mercy to injury-hit Pakistan
Harish Kotian in Kolkata | November 29, 2007 16:20 IST
India captain Anil Kumble [Images] on Thursday sounded a firm warning to Pakistan, saying his team is keen to wrap the three-Test series in Kolkata itself.
"I would love to go 2-0 up after this Test and seal the series here. At home, I think, we have not won against Pakistan and this is an opportunity for us to set the record straight," he said on the eve of the second Test.
India last won a Test series at home against Pakistan way back in 1979-80, when Sunil Gavaskar's [Images] team beat the visitors 2-0 in a six-match series.
The last Test series in India between the two teams, in 2004-05, ended in a 1-1 draw. However, the Kolkata Test then turned out to be quite memorable for the hosts as they won by a big margin of 195 runs.
Rahul Dravid [Images] led the batting honours, scoring centuries in both innings (110 and 135), while Kumble was the top bowler, claiming ten wickets in the match (3 for 98 and 7 for 63).
This time though Dravid faces a new challenge after two modest scores in the first Test in Kotla. The former India captain was earlier dumped from the ODI squad and now needs a big knock in Kolkata to silence his ever-growing legion of critics.
"In Kotla he (Dravid) showed that he has been batting well. It is just a matter of time before he goes out there and hammers a century under his belt. Last time when he played against Pakistan he had made twin hundreds here and I am sure that will give him a lot confidence," Kumble said.
India romped to a convincing six-wicket victory in the first Test at Kotla, but Kumble still feels there are a few areas of concern.
"I think there are areas overall where we can put up a better performance. While identifying situations, we could have finished off their first innings earlier and we could have scored a bit more runs in the first innings. We had lost a clutch of wickets and that is something which I like to improve upon," he said.
The veteran spinner also gave full backing to local hero Sourav Ganguly [Images] and said his contribution with the ball is proving vital.
The former captain scored a vital half-century in the second innings to set up India's run chase while claiming three crucial wickets in the two innings.
"I think he had done well in the last game, and I don't think he should change whatever he has been doing to satisfy your definition of success. I think his role in the team, as a bowler, it was very important for us in Kotla. I am sure he will get a bit of bowl here as well. I hope he will be more successful here than in Kotla," the ace leggie said.
The 37-year-old said this could be his last appearance at the historic Eden Gardens, but, overall, it wouldn't make any difference to him.
"Whenever I play a match I think this is my last appearance as then only you can give the best every time. I don't know, I can even make comeback into the one-day cricket or Twenty20 format. Eden Gardens is a special venue and I might turn up for Twenty20, you never know," he said.
He put to rest all speculation surrounding Mahendra Singh Dhoni's [Images] fitness saying: "Dhoni is 100 per cent fit and he will start."
Even though Pakistan are struggling to field 11 players due to health and injury problems to their key players, Kumble won't take them lightly.
"Pakistan is still are a good team. But, probably, with Inzamam-ul Haq not being a part of the team, who has been the pillar of their middle order, they still have some good players in their ranks, and they had stretched the last Test to five days. But we like to concentrate on our strengths and weakness ahead of a crucial Test," he said.
A spruced-up Eden Gardens is all set to host the second Test, beginning Friday, and all that the people of Kolkata want is an Indian victory.