First Test starts today: Inzamam keen to lead from the front on pacy track
MOHALI: Pakistan captain Inzamamul Haq said Monday India would plan to capitalise on the absence of his key paceman Shoaib Akhtar by preparing a fast track for the opening Test here.
“I think Akhtar’s absence has prompted India to leave grass on the pitch,” Inzamam said on the eve of the first Test of a three-match series. But he felt Akhtar’s absence would not be a big handicap, saying he had support bowlers to deliver in the pressure series.
“I think the pitch will help seamers more than spinners on the first couple of days. If it (grass) remains on the track, it will give equal chances to both the teams as we have adequate back-up,” he said. Akhtar had pulled out of the tour due to a hamstring injury.
Inzamam, leading an inexperienced side, said it was up to senior players to show the way to youngsters against a full-strength Indian side. “Pressure is always there in the India-Pakistan series,” he said. “It’s necessary for experienced batsmen to show more responsibility. I know I have to perform both as captain and batsman to set an example. We may not be favourites, but are capable of winning the series.”
Inzamam said his team had come not to avenge last year’s defeats, but to play competitive cricket. “Revenge is not on our minds,” said Inzamam, whose team lost both the Test and one-day series against India at home last year. “We know India have an edge as they have experienced players. We may be inexperienced, but not weak and I’m confident we can win,” he said.
Inzamam felt leg-spinner Danish Kaneria could play a key role as the pitch was also expected to help spin. “He (Kaneria) has been our key spinner for the past couple of years. He can be dangerous and win matches single-handedly,” said Inzamam.
India captain Sourav Ganguly had at his disposal a full-strength bowling attack as seamers Laxmipathy Balaji and Ashish Nehra had returned after being out of Test cricket for nearly a year due to injuries. “It’s good to pick the best eleven after a long time. We’ll choose the side that suits the conditions,” said Ganguly, who is likely to go into the match with three fast bowlers.
India included three pacemen – Irfan Pathan, Zaheer Khan and Balaji – and two spinners – Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh – in the twelve announced for the match. Ganguly did not believe his team would find it easy just because they more experienced than their rivals. “True, we are a balanced side but cricket is not played on paper. What matters is how you perform on the field. Pakistan are a young team and we’ll have to play really well to win the series,” he said.
India (from): Sourav Ganguly (captain), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Venkatsai Laxman, Dinesh Karthik, Irfan Pathan, Zaheer Khan, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, Laxmipathy Balaji.
Pakistan (from): Inzamamul Haq (captain), Salman Butt, Taufeeq Umar, Younis Khan, Yousuf Youhana, Asim Kamal, Abdul Razzaq, Kamran Akmal, Danish Kaneria, Mohammad Sami, Rana Navedul Hasan, Yasir Hameed, Shahid Afridi, Mohammad Khalil, Arshad Khan, Shoaib Malik.
Umpires: Rudi Koertzen (RSA) and Darrell Hair (AUS)
Match referee: Chris Broad (ENG). afp