Lahore: Pakistan’s ‘Mission Beating India’ got off to a quiet start at the lovely National Cricket Academy and the Gaddafi here on Tuesday. Six of the 22 probables were absent, all with bona-fide reasons, but those present had to sweat it out under the eagle eyes of coach Javed Miandad.
While Shabbir Ahmed is in Perth, five others — Saqlain Mushtaq, Abdul Razzaq, Saleem Elahi, Taufeeq Umar and Imran Farhat — are busy with a first-class fixture being held in the city itself.
“Today was just the start... The momentum will pick up after a couple of days,” manager Haroon Rashid told The Telegraph, adding “nobody” had a fitness problem.
Incidentally, the first-ever online sale of tickets by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) also got underway during the day. Day-I, though, saw a “soft launch” via a cricket-specific website. From Wednesday, the exclusive pcb.cricket.org is going to be operational.
According to a spokesman, only seats in the “quality enclosures” are up for sale and there’s a limit of ten tickets on every credit card. Obviously, there’s a purpose behind that ceiling. At the moment, no more than 20 per cent of the capacity will be made available online.
The spokesman added: “That could go up, depending on the demand and, more important, the number of visas to be issued to Indian fans... Right now, we aren’t clear on that score.”
Will it be Madugalle'
Meanwhile, there’s been no official announcement, but one hears the International Cricket Council’s Chief Match Referee, Ranjan Madugalle, may himself be assigned for the most high-profile series of recent times.
The former Sri Lankan captain, by the way, played the same role on the Indians’ last trip to Pakistan — for three ODIs, in late 1997.