Pakistan achieved a unique double, following up their triumph in the first triangular Asian Test Championship by winning the equivalent one-day tournament. Unlike the Test series, which was staged in four countries, the limited-overs games all took place in India.
It was thus a relief to the organisers when India qualified for the final, which was more than they had managed in the Test Championship. But it was not an encouraging build-up to the World Cup for home supporters. India lost all their three games against Pakistan, including the final, and were still trying out new players: five made their limited-overs debuts in as many matches. They had the excuse of missing Sachin Tendulkar, who had a bad back; Sourav Ganguly assumed the mantle of leading batsman with 278 runs at 69.50. Sri Lanka were even worse off, without three regulars -- Sanath Jayasuriya, Muttiah Muralitharan and Romesh Kaluwitharana. They managed only one narrow win, and were squeezed out of the final of a triangular tournament for the third time in five months, hardly suggesting they were ready to defend their World Cup title.
Pakistan seemed in best shape, maintaining the winning ethos they had built up during the Asian Test Championship. Saeed Anwar got them off to a good start, Shoaib Akhtar continued to alarm opposing batsmen, and they had the leading bowler of the tournament in all-rounder Azhar Mahmood, who took 12 wickets at 12.50. They advanced to Sharjah, where they were to play India in yet another triangular a few days later, in confident mood.
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