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Odds against India to save series

October 05, 2004 15:40 IST

Pushed to the wall, India face an onerous task of saving the series against arch-rivals Pakistan when they play the sixth Test in Chandigarh on Wednesday, possibly without their most experienced player and captain Dilip Tirkey, who looks a doubtful starter due to injury.

The showing in Delhi, where India lost 1-3 on Monday, should serve as an eye opener to the Indians who must regroup before the series, being played for the first time after a gap of five years, goes out of their grasp.

A victory in Chandigarh would ensure yet another series win for Pakistan, who are leading the eight-Test contest 3-1 after five matches. The side has so far emerged triumphant in five out of eight bilateral series with India taking two and the other ending in draw.

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It could be an difficult task for the home team to beat Pakistan, who seemed to have settled into a rhythm after some ordinary showing in Pakistan, and the possible absence of their captain, who was struck on the wrist and temple during the Delhi match, could affect their chances.

Tirkey was lucky not to suffer any broken bones after being hit by a Sohail Abbas drag flick. But the impact of the rasping shot was enough to have him stretchered out of the ground before being rushed to the hospital to get the affected areas examined.

If Tirkey misses the match, it would be a big blow to the side comprising of a number of young players. India's assistant coach Jagbir Singh has already admitted that his side would be under pressure to deliver in tomorrow's match as even a small mistake would pull the curtains down on their hopes of winning the series.

Jagbir also said his side must not repeat the mistakes that it did in Delhi and should make the most of the chances that came their way to win the match.

However, staying alive in the series looks a distant dream for the hosts now as they need to overcome a confident Pakistan that boast of several match winners including ace penalty corner expert Sohail Abbas.

Abbas would be itching to have a go at the Indians for he is just one goal away from becoming the top goal scorer in the world.

With the double goal burst in Delhi, Sohail joined Paul Litjens of Holland as the leading goal scorer with 267 goals and the man from Karachi would not like to wait for long to make the record his own.

"I am happy to join Litjens. Now I am looking to cross the mark in Chandigarh," said the 29-year-old Pakistani vice-captain serving a warning to the Indians. With most of the Pakistani looking to be in good touch, containing the onslaught would be a worrying factor for the Indians, who have a problem or two in other areas as well.

Yesterday's match exposed the inexperience of the Indian forwards, who failed to be at the right place at the right time. The strikers made a number of moves near the Pakistani circle but all their crosses, which should have been deflected in, went unattended.

Moreover, failure of defender Sandeep Singh to double up as the penalty corner expert has added to the team's problem.

The teenager from Haryana played for a brief period in Monday's game during which he unsuccessfully took one penalty corner before being withdrawn by coach Gerhard Rach.

Teams:

India: Dilip Tirkey (captain), Devesh Chauhan, Adrian D'Souza, Harpal Singh, William Xalco, Sandeep Singh, Ignace Tirkey, Viren Rasquinha, Vikram Pillay, Prabodh Tirkey, V S Vinay, Vivek Gupta, Arjun Halappa, Hari Prasad, Adam Sinclair, Girish Pimpale, Sandeep Michael, Tushar Khandekar.

Pakistan: Wasim Ahmed (captain), Salman Akbar, Nasir Ahmad, Sohail Abbas, Kashif Jawad, Dilawar Hussain, Mudassar Ali Khan, Shakil Abbasi, Zeeshan Ashraf, Adnan Zakir, Adnan Masood, Tariq Aziz, Mohd Shabbir, Ghazanfar Ali, Imran Khan, Akhtar Ali, Mohd Imran.

Biswajyoti Brahma
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