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Duels to watch in India-Pakistan cricket series
by AFP


Player:Shoaib Akhtar, SR Tendulkar, Danish Kaneria, RS Dravid, Mohammad Sami, V Sehwag, IK Pathan, Mohammad Yousuf, A Kumble, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Z Khan, Salman Butt
Event:Pakistan in India 2004/05

DateLine: 6th March 2005

 

Key battles in store when the Test series between India and Pakistan gets underway here :

 

Salman Butt (PAK) v Zaheer Khan (IND)
Young Butt promises to solve Pakistan's opening woes after the retirement of Saeed Anwar and Aamer Sohail. He is 20, full of confidence and bold strokes. He ruined India's party with an audacious century in a one-off match at Calcutta last year, impressing everyone with his remarkable stroke-play under pressure.

 

An engrossing duel is on the cards as Butt takes on Indian left-arm seamer Zaheer, who has regained fitness after being dogged by injuries last season. Zaheer has the ability to test the best with his speed and accuracy.

 

Inzamam-ul-Haq (PAK) v Anil Kumble (IND)
Inzamam is performing a dual role of captain and batsman, but Pakistan cannot afford his batting lapses. He is the tourists' best batsman, having the technique and temperament to excel against both pace and spin. His side expect him to lead from the front.

 

Even India are aware they will be in trouble if the Pakistan captain gets going. They have a formidable leg-spinner in Kumble, capable of making the best strokeplayers dance to his tune with his uncanny accuracy and clever variations.

 

Yousuf Youhana (PAK) v Irfan Pathan (IND)
Pakistan are banking on Youhana, a solid middle-order batsman capable of playing long innings. Temperament is his main virtue since he can cope with pressure better than many of his team-mates.

 

Left-arm paceman Pathan troubled Youhana on India's tour of Pakistan last year, especially with a delivery that nipped back into the batsman. Pathan, 20, has emerged India's main strike bowler who can move the ball both ways to make life uncomfortable for batsmen.

 

Virender Sehwag (IND) v Mohammad Sami (PAK)
If there is an Indian batsman who can demoralise the tourists, it is Sehwag. The hard-hitting opener put the Pakistani attack to the sword last year when he became India's first and only triple-centurian in the first Test at Multan. Sehwag eases pressure on his team-mates with breathtaking, uninhibited stroke-play.

 

Pakistani strike bowler Sami will have to bowl really well to curb Sehwag. The tourists will rely on Sami for early breakthroughs as they have already lost the services of Shoaib Akhtar due to hamstring injury. Not an easy task for Sami, who is himself returning from injuries.

 

Rahul Dravid (IND) v Danish Kaneria (PAK)
Dravid remains the key to India's fortunes despite the presence of Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Venkatsai Laxman. He provides solidity to the middle-order, having a sound technique and temperament. Nicknamed the 'Wall' for his solid defence against both pace and spin.

 

Keenly watched will be Dravid's performance against talented Pakistani leg-spinner Danish Kaneria, who has claimed he will target the Indians with new weapons. Kaneria will find pitches helpful, but will have to work hard for success against Indian batsmen, known for playing spin better than pace.

 

And what fans will miss: Sachin Tendulkar (IND) v Shoaib Akhtar (PAK)
Millions of fans will miss a fascinating duel between star Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar and Pakistan's injured key paceman Shoaib Akhtar. Both have the charisma to draw people to the ground, Tendulkar with his amazing stroke-play and Akhtar with his thunderbolts. Their contests were always the talking point in the past. Even their no-contest this time has left fans wondering what might have been.
Series by series record
Year
Host Tests IND PAK Draw
1952/53
India
5
2
1
2
1954/55
Pakistan
5
0
0
5
1960/61
India
5
0
0
5
1978/79
Pakistan
3
0
2
1
1979/80
India
6
2
0
4
1982/83
Pakistan
6
0
3
3
1983/84
India
3
0
0
3
1984/85
Pakistan
2
0
0
2
1986/87
India
5
0
1
4
1989/90
Pakistan
4
0
0
4
1998/99
India
2
1
1
0
1998/99
India
1
0
1
0
2003/04
Pakistan
3
2
1
0
Overall record
Played
Total
IND
PAK
Draw
In India
27
5
4
18
In Pakistan
23
2
6
15
Total
50
7
10
33

(Article: Copyright © 2005 AFP)



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