| Inzamam-ul Haq and Mohammed Azharuddin
Lahore: Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul Haq Sunday tipped India as favourites in the forthcoming Test series, saying a home advantage and Pakistan’s recent series win over England would count for little.
“We will need to work extra hard. For me, India will be favourites in the series,” Inzamam told reporters ahead of the three Tests and five one-dayers.
India arrive on Thursday and start the tour with a three-day side match against Pakistan A on Saturday. The final tour itinerary is likely to be released Monday.
Inzamam said the victory over England would not be of great help.
England came to Pakistan on the back of their September Ashes triumph, their first in 18 years, but lost the three-Test series 0-2 and the one-day series 2-3.
“The win against England is a thing of the past now, and since there is not much difference in pitches and other things in India and Pakistan, there will be no home advantage,” said Inzamam.
Inzamam, who was in top form with 431 runs against England in three Tests, said India have an experienced squad.
“India have a strong batting line-up and with Sourav Ganguly’s return it has further strengthened. Although Rahul Dravid does not have experience as a captain he is a wise batsman and will mature as captain.”
The Pakistan captain, however, said his team have an edge in fast bowling.
“Our fast bowlers did well against England and in that department we have an edge over India. I think my quicks have the ability to help us beat India,” said Inzamam.
Express pacer Shoaib Akhtar took 17 wickets in Tests against England and with his changed attitude and resolve looked a transformed bowler. Pakistan also have Mohammed Sami, Rana Naved-ul Hasan and fit-again Umer Gul.
Inzamam said Pakistan match India in the spin department.
“We are not weak in the spin department because we have Danish Kaneria, Arshad Khan, Shoaib Malik and Shahid Afridi' so we can match India who have Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh,” he said.
The Pakistan captain said he wants pitches to assist his pace bowlers.
“I am thankful to Wasim Akram for advising us to prepare hard pitches keeping in view the good form of our bowlers in the series against England,” said Inzamam, who will meet groundsmen Monday to devise a strategy.
He disagreed that Pakistan rely heavily on him in batting and Shoaib in bowling.
“Salman Butt, Mohammed Yousuf and Kamran Akmal have batted well in recent matches, so has Afridi and in bowling we also have Naved, Kaneria and others who have done well.”