| The Pakistan team warms up before a practice session at the Keenan in Jamshedpur on Friday. Pictures by Santosh Ghosh
Jamshedpur: Powered by wins in the last four ODIs, as also that Bangalore Test fateh, Pakistan began favourites in this six ODIs' face-off.
Heavy defeats in the first two matches, though, have not only shifted the balance but made Saturday's showdown almost a matter of survival.
Pakistan, then, are back as cornered tigers. The question is: Can Inzamam-ul Haq do an Imran Khan' Actually, the visitors must show steel in a city that's driven by it.
'One-day mein ek din ka sawaal hota hai... Kal hamara din ho sakta hai... In fact, the next four (match) days could all be Pakistan's,' observed vice-captain Younis Khan.
That, of course, is being very optimistic if not downright unrealistic.
The hosts, however, aren't resting on the Kochi and Vizag victories. 'They're a good team and we expect them to come back hard,' cautioned vice-captain Rahul Dravid. He added: 'We aren't, in any way, complacent...'
Given the passion with which the Sachin Tendulkars trained, nothing short of a quick kill will satisfy the Sourav Ganguly-captained Team India.
Traditionally, India haven't fared well (five defeats, one win) at the Keenan, but such history has limited value. So, nothing much ought to be read even into Pakistan's big victory during the 1987 face-off.
Thus far in the series, muscular first-strike totals (281 for eight and 356 for nine) have made the difference and whoever wins the toss won't hesitate to set a target. Looks may be deceptive, but the track here seems a belter.
Understandably, Mahendra Singh Dhoni is going to be the cynosure ' indeed, it's to be seen whether Pakistan have actually recovered from the black eye he gave them via that awesome 148 in Vizag.
At times, after all, one innings or a single shot (like Javed Miandad's last-ball six in Sharjah 16 years ago) can impact beyond the immediate as well.
As of late Friday, Dhoni ' who knows the Keenan better than anybody ' will bat at No. 3, the position where he caused havoc just days ago.
According to The Telegraph's sources, Irfan Pathan is going to take the injured Lakshmipathy Balaji's place. Till last night, Ajit Agarkar had the edge, but a rethink has worked to Pathan's favour.
In any case, the left-armer was in the original XIV, with Agarkar getting added after Balaji's injury in Vizag.
The visitors have made two changes: Younis for Mohammed Hafeez and leggie Danish Kaneria for off-spinner Arshad Khan. Both Younis and Kaneria (whose prayers at a local temple got answered) will be making their first Pepsi Cup appearance.
No matter how hard Pakistan may push, it's unlikely that fresh legs alone can facilitate a turnaround.
INDIA: Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammed Kaif, Harbhajan Singh, Irfan Pathan, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra.
PAKISTAN: Salman Butt, Shahid Afridi, Younis Khan, Inzamam-ul Haq, Yousuf Youhana, Shoaib Malik, Abdul Razzaq, Kamran Akmal, Rana Naved-ul Hasan, Mohammed Sami, Danish Kaneria.
Umpires: Billy Bowden, K.Hariharan. TV: A.V.Jayaprakash.
Match Referee: Chris Broad.
Match starts: 9 am.
Wright won't stay
Meanwhile, it's confirmed that John Wright's tenure as coach is going to end with the sixth ODI, at the Kotla ' the very ground he began his India innings in November 2000 (first Test against Zimbabwe).