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India hoping strikers deliver

June 15, 2005 19:30 IST

After disappointing their fans at Quetta with some ordinary soccer, India will be keen to put up a better display against Pakistan in the second match of the National Bank Series at the Qayyum Sports Complex in Peshawar on Thursday.

India captain S Venkatesh said he is looking forward to a better show from his strikers and that in spite of being held to a 1-1 draw, his team looked the better side in Quetta.

"We created more opportunities and inroads in the Pakistan defence. Now all we need to do is to convert those chances and control the pace of the game for the full 90 minutes," he added.

"The first match of any series is always difficult because the players have butterflies in their stomachs. Now we have settled down and the gap between the two games has provided us to work more on our strategy and prepare a fresh game plan on the strength of the Pakistan team," he said.

But the team's preparations suffered a setback with the news that team trainer Paradeep Dutta's father passed away in Kolkata.

"It is a disturbing news for everyone because we are a closely-knit team and we care very much for each others well being," Venkatesh said.

Pakistan, on the other hand, are oozing with confidence ahead of the match.

"We have overcome first match jitters and we now are totally focused on the remaining two matches. We were definitely the better team in the second half at Quetta and we would like to carry the same momentum in tomorrow's game," Pakistan captain Mohammad Jaffar told reporters.

In Quetta, India missed a couple of goal scoring opportunities in the first half before Sunil Chetri provided them the lead in the 65th minute. That was equalised 12 minutes from the final whistle by Mohammad Essa.

"We held our nerves in the first half at Quetta. If our strikers proved to be late starters, the defenders were alert and successfully thwarted Indian attacks. But, frankly speaking, we can't live on what we did in Quetta.

"We have to be committed and confident on what we can do in the next match and I honestly feel that we are well equipped to travel to Lahore for the final game with a one-match lead," Jaffar added.

Pakistan Football Federation president Faisal Saleh Hayat has announced a cash award of Rs 1.5 million if Pakistan wins the series.

"We have identified our mistakes and will try not to repeat those in the coming tussle. We forced several good chances (in the first game) but our front-runners failed to utilize them with shabby shooting," said Jaffar, who was born at Panala, Dera Ismail Khan - a district in south of Peshawar in NWFP.

Pakistan have left out four players from the 22-man squad that was in Quetta. Shahid Ahmed, Ateequllah and Usman Gondal were released on poor form while Mohammad Zahid has been left out on fitness grounds.

The match, the first international in Peshawar in nearly 20 years, will start at 2100 IST.

Teams (from)

India: Shanmugam Venkatesh (captain), VP Satish Kumar, Mahesh Gawli, Surkumar Singh, Syed Rahim Nabi, Habibur Rehman Mondal, Philip Gomes, Clifford Miranda, Climax Lawrence, Abhishek Yadav, Sunil Chetri, Sangram Mukherjee, Manju Nanjangud Shivananju, Naduparambil Pappachan Pradeep, Jatin Singh Bisht, Bibiano Fernandes, Jules Alberto Dias, Sukhwinder Singh, MA Abdul Hakkim, Surajit Bose.

Pakistan: Jaffar Khan (captain), Naveed Akram, Tanveer Ahmed, Ijaz Ahmed, Mohammad Imran, Zahid Hameed, Atiqur Rehman, Arif Mahmood, Imran Hussain, Mohammad Essa, Abdul Aziz, Mehmood Ahmed, Yasir Sabir, Mahmood Khan, Abdul Nasir, Farooq Shah, Shabbir Hussain.

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