India eye to wrap up series

India will seek to clinch a Test series win against Pakistan on home soil after 28 years as they go into the second Test on Friday.

updated: November 30, 2007 09:40 IST
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India will seek to clinch a Test series win against Pakistan on home soil after 28 years as they go into the second cricket Test on Friday with their arch rivals grappling with fitness worries over some key players.

After losing the first Test by six wickets, the visitors have been laid low by a spate of injuries ahead of the crucial game at the Eden Gardens which they need to win to keep themselves afloat in the three-match series.

While paceman Umar Gul has already been ruled out of the match, captain Shoiab Malik and temparamental fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar were doubtful starters for the game.

The Pakistan team management has decided to wait till Friday for playing eleven but indications are that the captain may not be fit enough to take the field. In case Malik is ruled out, Younis Khan will lead the team.

The Indians, on the other hand, have no such problems and will hope to keep the momentum going in their bid to win the Test series as well.

If the Indians manage to win the match, it will be their first series win on home soil against their traditional rivals in 28 years -- the 2-0 win in 1979-80 being their last triumph.

Anil Kumble and his teammates are on a high after putting up a combined effort that shaped their emphatic six-wicket win in the Delhi Test with the skipper himself leading from the front with good performances in both the innings.

In contrast, Pakistan look a demoralised lot. In the first Test, their batting failed to come good, the fielding looked sloppy, and save 'Rawalpindi Express' Shoaib Akhar, the bowling lacked teeth.

But what is surely giving sleepless night to the team management is the indisposition of several players. Apart from Akhtar and Malik, seamer Mohammad Sami and in-form middle order bat Misbah-ul-Haq are also unwell.

Pace spearhead Shoaib, who had to be admitted to a local hospital following a chest infection, was discharged last evening.

Malik, who sprained an ankle, continues to limp, and has been skipping practice.

"The team physio will assess their condition during the day, and by the time of the team meeting this evening, we will know if they are available," said a team spokesman.

Misbah and Sami both have throat infection, but the team management was hopeful they would recover before the match.

The Indians, on the other hand, have no such fitness concerns. The hosts' batting looks rocksolid, with the presence of seasoned pros like Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly and V V S Laxman.

The quartet have together amassed more than 30,000 Test runs and each of them played important parts in setting up India's victory in the Delhi Test.

With the Eden Gardens likely to see a good spectator turnout, local hero Ganguly's adrenaline must be pumping high as this match could well be one of the last chances for the ageing warhorse to score a Test ton before his home crowd.

Teams (from):

India: Anil Kumble (c), MS Dhoni, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Harbhajan Singh, Wasim Jaffer, Dinesh Karthik, Murali Kartik, Zaheer Khan, VVS Laxman, Munaf Patel, Yuvraj Singh.

Pakistan: Shoaib Malik (C), Younis Khan, Abdur Rehman, Danish Kaneria, Faisal Iqbal, Kamran Akmal, Misbah-ul-Haq, Mohammad Sami, Mohammad Yousuf, Salman Butt, Sarfraz Ahmed, Shoaib Akhtar, Sohail Tanvir, Umar Gul, Yasir Hameed.