Pakistan v India, 1st Test, Lahore
January 12, 2006
Inzy's Lahore run fest
Rahul Dravid has the opportunity to become the first Indian captain to win a Test at Lahore when the series gets underway on Friday the 13th
Inzamam-ul-Haq averages 122.50 in his last five Tests at Lahore
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Rahul Dravid has the opportunity to become the first Indian captain to win a Test at Lahore when the series gets underway on Friday the 13th. But the inauspicious date aside, Pakistan have rapidly improved their unimpressive showing at the Gaddafi stadium over the last five years. Before 2000, Pakistan had seven wins and five losses from 30 Tests. Since then, Pakistan have won four and lost just one of the last six games played there. India have played six Tests at Lahore of which they've lost two and drawn four.
How Inzamam-ul-Haq fares will perhaps have the most significant bearing on the series, and if he continues his prolific performances
at Lahore, India have a lot to worry about. His last six innings here read 63, 29, 99, 329, 118 and 97. Mohammad Yousuf averages 74.66 - his most recent innings was a superb 223 against England. The rest of the batsmen's figures aren't too flash, though. Younis Khan averages just 30.67 in two Tests and while Kamran Akmal made a superb hundred against England, Salman Butt and Shoaib Malik, the probable openers, have unimpressive records at Lahore.
There's been much talk about preparing pitches tailored for fast bowling but the stats point towards the spinners. Since 2000, Fast bowlers have taken 91 wickets at 41.12 and a strike rate of 73.41 balls per wicket, while the spinning equivalent is 80 wickets at 30.56 and a strike rate of 62.44. More food for thought is Danish Kaneria's impressive record here: 24 wickets at 17.04 in four Tests. Shoaib Akhtar has 26 wickets in six Tests at 21.15 apiece, and more significantly, strikes every 37 balls. His support act, Mohammad Sami and Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, haven't had the same success. Rana Naved took just two wickets in his only Test and Sami has 13 from four games at a profligate average of 44.85.
Sunil Gavaskar said that India should play three openers to counter the new-ball threat and in the light of the average opening partnership, post 2000, at Lahore being just 35.63, that doesn't seem a bad idea. However, the partnerships for the second and third wicket are 53.81 and 70.33, an indication that after seeing off the new ball, batting becomes a lot easier.
Finally, how vital is the toss going to be? In 25 of the 36 Tests played at Lahore, the captain that won the toss has opted to bat. But that decision has resulted in a win only three times as opposed to the 10 losses and 12 draws. But the team deciding to field first has won four and never lost any of their 11 Tests.
George Binoy is editorial assistant of Cricinfo. For the stats, he was helped by Arun Kumar Gopalakrishnan from Cricinfo's Chennai office.
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