The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Eden grass 'confuses' India thinktank
- Kaneria prays at Kalighat to achieve maqsad
- Team keep one eye on weather
Harbhajan Singh should be in the XI

Calcutta: One eye on the opposition and one on the weather ' Monday evening's rain has ensured exactly that build-up to the second Test, at the Eden, from Wednesday.

It will be a pity, though, if the elements hijack centrestage after Pakistan's courageous performance in Mohali. The visitors' second innings was statement-making and, today, India aren't overwhelming favourites.

Monday was actually a demanding day, with commitments to keep both collectively and individually. For the Indians, of course, it ended with dinner at captain Sourav Ganguly's signature restaurant: Sourav's.

Earlier, however, the home team's nets was hit by rain.

Pakistan's workout went as planned. Moreover, manager Saleem Altaf managed some tennis at South Club (as a guest of Jaidip Mukerjea) and, in the evening, the entire team graced the tsunami fund-raiser organised by Together, We Will at the team hotel.

In between, Danish Kaneria prayed at Kalighat. 'Dua maangi' Family aur team ke liye' Maqsad poora ho jane ke liye dua maangi,' he informed, almost doing a pranam.

Kaneria, by the way, is the first Hindu to play for Pakistan since Anil Dalpat two decades ago.

It's not clear whether the visitors' XI is going to see a change, but India should bring back Harbhajan Singh.

The offie has an exceptional record at the Eden: Twenty-nine wickets, including a hattrick, in seven Test innings. Keeping him out, yet again, will be difficult.

The Team India thinktank, though, appears a bit 'confused' with the grass on the Test-hosting wicket.

'Till last night, it was assumed Zaheer Khan is going to be omitted. Perhaps, that will still be so, but everything isn't that clear-cut now,' a well-placed source told The Telegraph.

Given that Sourav himself can act as the third seamer, eventually, it may not be such a difficult decision to make.

Harbhajan, incidentally, didn't look glum as he did on arrival (Sunday night) and must have been made to feel even better by the many who wished 'good luck' as he headed towards the Together, We Will function.

Sachin Tendulkar (and Sourav) weren't around then, so it was easy for the Mohali hero, Kamran Akmal, to emerge the most sought after at the team hotel.

'Accha lag raha hai' Koi pressure ka sawaal nahin,' he observed, grinning from ear-to-ear.

Akmal's already a winner.

Footnote: The Met Office's forecast is that 'thundershowers' are possible during the Test, Eden's second this season. Let's keep fingers crossed'

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