The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Chance to regain pride, on & off pitch

Calcutta, Nov. 12: Team India needs to make a statement. Calcuttans, too, have to atone for forcing a shameful finish to the last Indo-Pak match at the Eden ' the Asian Test Championship face-off almost six years ago.

Actually, even the Board of Control for Cricket in India needs to tell the world that, despite litigation and more, it's capable of a 24-carat production.

With so many having so much to script, the profile of tomorrow's Platinum Jubilee Cup showdown has climbed even more.

Indeed, the season's biggest dhamaka may well be triggered here. That will be a worthy salute to the many former captains ' Sunil Gavaskar and Imran Khan included ' who are going to be present.

Recent form suggests Pakistan has the advantage but, then, one-day cricket is such that form-on-the-day matters more than historical baggage.

It's no surprise, then, that both Sourav Ganguly and Inzamam-ul Haq aren't reading much into Pakistan's 3-0 scoreline this season.

Moreover, the Eden will be different from either Colombo, Amstelveen or Birmingham. For one, the crowd factor ' 80,000 plus ' is significant. Then, what could upset planning is the dew.

Obviously, that can't be predicted, but it's going to make sense setting a target rather than chasing. 'My advice, if sought, will be simple: Don't think of batting second,' insisted curator Prabir Mukherjee.

Much of the attention, predictably, is going to be on the glamour boys ' Sachin Tendulkar and Shoaib Akhtar ' yet a Rahul Dravid can steal the show.

Dravid, of course, will again be in a double role ' behind and in front of the stumps. 'It's in the best interests of the team,' explained coach John Wright during a brief interaction with The Telegraph.

This 'best interests' bit has also influenced Sourav to bat at No. 3. The Cup marks Sachin's return to limited overs action and the restoration of the Sachin-Virender Sehwag combine.

The XI wasn't finalised till late today, but it's confirmed that a 3-1 attack is going to be fielded. Omitting one of the four mediumpacers isn't an issue; dropping either Anil Kumble or Harbhajan Singh is.

'It will be the captain's call,' is how a source put it. Sourav, to put it mildly, must already be feeling uncomfortable.

Incidentally, this year's ninth ODI versus Pakistan is going to be Sourav's first international game in almost a month.

He, too, has a point or two to make.

The morrow will mark Inzamam's Eden comeback. He didn't play the last match (under Wasim Akram) after injuring his head while boarding the team bus.

This time, Inzamam is being ultra-cautious.

It's to be seen whether that's reflected in Pakistan's on-field approach.

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