Pakistan v India, Super Four, Asia Cup, Karachi July 1, 2008

Unsure Pakistan gear for must-win battle

Match facts

Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Start time 16.00 (local), 10.00 (GMT)

Irfan Pathan has recovered from a side strain, and is expected to play against Pakistan © AFP

Big Picture

Pakistan's floundering Asia Cup campaign wasn't made any better by Geoff Lawson's heated press conference after Sunday's defeat to Sri Lanka. However, on the eve of the match, the focus was on Shoaib Malik, the captain. Malik, who is suffering from dehydration, looked a doubtful starter but has declared himself fit for the match. The hosts, already without a strike bowler in Umar Gul, need to win both the remaining games to stay in contention for a spot in the final.

India, on the other hand, need just one point from their two games to secure their place in the final and are boosted by the return of allrounder Irfan Pathan from injury. A listless bowling performance against Bangladesh was attributed by Mahendra Singh Dhoni to playing three matches in four days and they should be back to their best after three days' rest.

Form guide

(Last five ODIs; most recent first)
Pakistan LLWWL

Watch out for ...

  • Gautam Gambhir's dazzling form has made him the leading run-scorer in ODIs this year but his average against Pakistan is a pedestrian 28.45. Expect him to improve that against a weakened attack on Wednesday.

  • Less than a year since his international debut, Sohail Tanvir finds himself as Pakistan's spearhead, a role he handled with aplomb in the game against Sri Lanka. He needs to fire again if Pakistan are to tame the rampant Indian batting.

    Team news

    Another failure with the bat might result in the axe falling on Shahid Afridi © AFP
    Pakistan are losing patience with Shahid Afridi's miserable batting form - he's made just three half-centuries in his previous 45 innings. Lawson said he would be dropped but a late change of mind means he will get another chance tomorrow . Pakistan have confirmed two changes to the XI that played Sri Lanka: Abdur Rauf replaces left-arm fast bowler Wahab Riaz and offspinner Saeed Ajmal will make his debut, legspinner Mansoor Amjad making way.

    Pakistan: 1 Salman Butt, 2 Shoaib Malik (capt), 3 Younis Khan, 4 Mohammad Yousuf, 5 Misbah-ul-Haq, 6 Shahid Afridi, 7 Sohail Tanvir, 8 Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), 9 Abdur Rauf, 10 Iftikhar Anjum, 11 Saeed Ajmal.

    India are likely to bring back Virender Sehwag and Praveen Kumar while Irfan could find a place ahead of elder brother Yusuf Pathan, who has a minor viral infection. Either Robin Uthappa or Rohit Sharma might miss out and fast bowlers Manpreet Gony and Ishant Sharma could also find themselves on the sidelines.

    India (probable) 1 Virender Sehwag, 2 Gautam Gambhir, 3 Suresh Raina, 4 Yuvraj Singh, 5 Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt & wk), 6 Rohit Sharma/Robin Uthappa, 7 Irfan Pathan, 8 Piyush Chawla, 9 RP Singh, 10 Praveen Kumar, 11 Pragyan Ojha.

    Stats and trivia

  • With two hundreds and a fifty, Suresh Raina's career batting average has shot up by more than nine runs in this tournament - from 26.48 to 35.66.

  • India's spinners have fared far better than their fast bowlers, taking 11 wickets at 26.64 against the quicker bowlers' haul of six wickets at 66.33


    "His hotel room is like a hospital ward and when he came off the field against Sri Lanka he was very ill. Only the doctors will decide whether he can play against India or not."
    Geoff Lawson confirms Malik is struggling to be fit in time for the match.

    "He is a star of the future. We will continue to work on his game and give him options in terms of what he can do on a cricket field."
    Gary Kirsten gives Rohit Sharma a vote of confidence

    Siddarth Ravindran is an editorial assistant at Cricinfo

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