The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sachin holds the key, says Anwar
- Duleep return route Master Blaster's target: Wright

Mumbai/Karachi: Sachin Tendulkar is targeting the February 22-25 Duleep Trophy match at Meerut to make his return to competitive cricket following an injury lay-off, Indian coach John Wright said Tuesday.

'I spoke to him today and he sounded good, optimistic. He's just started exercising. (New physio) John Gloster is going to have a look at him tomorrow. Hopefully he's targeting the (Duleep) Trophy match on the 22nd between West and South Zones. We are optimistic,' Wright told reporters.

'He had a few problems with his elbow in Bangladesh in December and was later advised rest. I am sure when it comes to the series (against Pakistan) he will be raring to go,' he said adding, 'we are keeping our fingers crossed.'

In Karachi, former Pakistan captain Saeed Anwar said Sachin will be the difference between winning and losing for Pakistan when they tour India later this month.

Anwar said even a half-fit Sachin would pose a threat to the prospects of Pakistani team which is to play three Tests and five one-dayers against the arch-rivals.

'I know every Pakistan supporter will be hoping that Sachin doesn't play while the Indians must be praying for his speedy recovery,' Anwar said.

'I mean that's natural. A half-fit Sachin is also a threat to the opponents. He is such a big influence that his presence in the dressing room motivates his team and keeps the opponents under pressure.

'And if Sachin is not fit for the series, then I think pakistan will certainly be favourites,' the former left-handed batsman said.

Anwar also had some other valuable tips for the Pakistanis who he said must target India's top-order batting line-up as their middle-order was not capable of staging a recovery in case of a collapse.

'India no doubt has the greatest batting line-up. But the fact of the matter is that India are not capable of staging a recovery like the Australian team in case of a top-order collapse,' Anwar said. 'I think Pakistan will certainly fancy their chances in India because they have shown that with or without their frontline bowlers, they have the potential to throw any top-order batting on the canvas.

'The only drawback (in the just concluded series against Australia) was that they (Pakistan bowlers) were denied a run-through because of the depth in their batting and awareness of conditions,' he said. (PTI)

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