| Rahul Dravid during training in Faisalabad on Friday. (Reuters)
Faisalabad: Twenty-eight years after hosting the opening Test of Revival Series No. 1, the Iqbal Stadium is ready for the most important match of the current face-off: Whichever team loses can’t win the Allianz Cup outright.
And, so, the Indians (in particular) are planning an all-out attack ' an exercise which entails benching former captain Sourav Ganguly and playing an extra seamer, either the uncapped Rudra Pratap Singh or the seasoned Zaheer Khan.
Nobody remembers the last time when five specialist bowlers were fielded.
Both Singh and Zaheer could make the XI if Ajit Agarkar has to be rested owing to a hamstring problem. There was no confirmation from the team management, but The Telegraph learnt late on Friday that he’s a “very doubtful” starter.
In an either/or situation, coach Greg Chappell apparently favours the rookie. Captain Rahul Dravid’s views weren’t known, but some seniors have probably put in a word for the comeback man ' Zaheer.
The Indians (to a lesser extent, the Pakistanis) are in overdrive because of Lahore ' with the elements calling the shots, less than half the overs were bowled and statisticians alone had a busy time.
Incidentally, both Dravid and Inzamam-ul Haq agreed the wicket here “looks different.” Yet, neither felt the toss would actually be significant.
“We’re looking at five days of good cricket,” remarked Dravid, who will surely again open with deputy Virender Sehwag. However, he pointed out such an arrangement would only be for the “short term.”
Having become such a painful thorn, it’s no surprise that Sehwag has become the focal point for whatever is being plotted by Pakistan. Asked about Sehwag-specific plans, Inzamam quipped: “Simple hai... Runs ko rokna... Sehwag is a very good player and is in zabardaast form.”
While the Indians are largely looking at effecting a strategy-driven change, Pakistan may have to rest Mohammed Sami ' he’s unwell, with symptoms of flu ' and play either allrounder Abdul Razzaq or young quick Mohammed Asif.
Few bothered to turn up at the Gaddafi, even on the first two days, but the turnout at the Iqbal Stadium should be handsome. Inzamam, by the way, has a huge following and not merely because of a hundred in each innings of the last Test here (versus England, not too long ago).
(as of Friday night)
India: Rahul Dravid, Virender Sehwag, V.V.S. Laxman, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly/ Rudra Pratap Singh/Zaheer Khan, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Irfan Pathan, Ajit Agarkar, Harbhajan Singh, Anil Kumble.
Pakistan: Salman Butt, Shoaib Malik, Younis Khan, Mohammed Yousuf, Inzamam-ul Haq, Shahid Afridi, Kamran Akmal, Mohammed Sami/Abdul Razzaq/Mohammed Asif, Rana Naved-ul Hasan, Shoaib Akhtar, Danish Kaneria.
Umpires: Rudi Koertzen, Simon Taufel. TV: Zameer Haider.
Match Referee: Ranjan Madugalle.
Match starts: 10.15 am (IST).