The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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India draw strength from Kochi win
- Worried Pakistan look to iron out flaws - Toss will be crucial in steamy conditions

Visakhapatnam: Even a desultory look into is enough for one to comprehend that the Pakistan coach is aware of his task in India. Post-Kochi, however, Woolmer is having to redraw his 'road map'. A defeat may not always be crushing, but when it lends voice to a sort of subjugation, it becomes a worry.

Yes, Woolmer is a worried man. After all, in a battle which captures everything from passion, intensity, one-upmanship to vim and vigour in a single frame, psychological edge is always in danger of retiring to self-doubt' particularly the way the Bangalore initiative was surrendered in Kochi.

The coach was vigorously involved in Monday's practice session' offering batting tips to Salman Butt, catching advice to Mohammed Hafeez (who dropped Virender Sehwag in Kochi when the centurion was still to open his account). Woolmer's worry is quite understandable.

The coach's anxiety was reflected in Younis Khan's observation on the Pepsi Cup ODI series-opener. 'We were short of partnerships in Kochi and this is something we are looking to improve upon here,' said the vice-captain who has not fully recovered from a chest infection and will miss his second consecutive match.

It remains to be seen whether the Pakistan show will be inspired or insipid again, in Tuesday's second one-dayer. But one gentleman called Mr Rahul Dravid was deeply impressed by what he and his team had managed to gain from Kochi. 'A much-needed confidence after the disappointing finishing in Bangalore,' Sourav Ganguly's deputy put it as tersely as possible.

Dravid, however, was expecting a much tougher challenge from the rivals. 'I don't believe in tags like underdogs or favourites. Defeats always make you strong mentally. We all know Pakistan will come back strongly at us and we're prepared for this,' he observed.

With exasperating heat and humidity making life uneasy for the players, focus on match-eve workouts for both teams was on fine-tuning the blue-print. The Indian nets, followed by Pakistan's, were held at the Port Sports Complex Stadium, about 15 kilometres from where the actual battlefield.

Virender Sehwag got a break while Dravid confined himself to light exercises, keeping in mind the duo's fight with the scorching sun two days ago.

The picturesque virgin stadium ' being called the ACA Stadium as of now ' looks likely to offer a perfect batting strip for its maiden international fixture. So it's unlikely that Team India will opt for any change from the Kochi XI.

'We've quite a few good back-up bowlers who can spin the ball a bit. Sachin did an excellent job in Kochi (five for 50). We've also the likes of Viru and Yuvraj (Singh) at our disposal. In all probability, we'll be sticking to the same 3-1 attack,' Dravid said.

It's hardly the same scenario in the Pakistan camp which is trying hard to get the composition right. They face a tricky selection dilemma. If leg-spinner Danish Kaneria is to be included in the XI, the man to miss out could be allrounder Mohammed Hafeez 'Pakistan's top-scorer in Kochi (42).

'There won't be wholesale changes, but we'll certainly explore a few options in team composition,' admitted Younis, hinting that the dashing Shahid Afridi may go for the blast at the start of the innings.

All said and done, the sweltering sun keeps smiling while both teams keep hoping the coin lands in their favour.

'We should ideally bat first and keep the opponents on field for the full 50 overs,' Dravid opined. Younis echoed Dravid's view: 'The team winning the toss will have the edge.'


India: Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammed Kaif, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Harbhajan Singh, Lakshmipathy Balaji, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra.

Pakistan: Salman Butt, Shahid Afridi, Yousuf Youhana, Inzamam-ul Haq, Shoaib Malik, Kamran Akmal, Abdul Razzaq, Danish Kaneria/Mohammed Hafeez, Mohammed Sami, Rana Naved-ul Hasan, Arshad Khan.

Umpires: Billy Bowden and A.V. Jayprakash. TV umpire: I.V. Shivram. Match Referee: Chris Broad.

Match begins: 9 am

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