Hoping for the Wright farewell - Agarkar-Nehra to play; Pak likely to field same XI

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  • Published 17.04.05
Team India stand-in captain Rahul Dravid arrives at the hotel in New Delhi on Saturday. (AFP)

New Delhi: With so many VIPs descending on the Kotla, Sunday, only a sterling on-field performance will ensure cricket doesn?t take a backseat even as the Pervez Musharrafs occupy the prime spot.

The build-up to the sixth and final Pepsi Cup shootout has, of course, been marked by utter chaos (nothing unusual in the DDCA), the sidelining of Sourav Ganguly and diplomacy through cricket.

Somehow, Pakistan?s amazing recovery from 0-2 down to leading 3-2 has got lost. So, after drawing the Test series, they can?t do any worse than returning home with a drawn one-day series as well.

Clearly, nothing better could have been expected from a team written off even before it landed. Well, Pakistan happily accepted the underdogs? tag and went on biting at India?s pride.

Once the VIPs leave ? thankfully, in the first session itself ? the attention won?t just be on the Shahid Afridis and Sachin Tendulkars as every John Wright emotion is also going to be caught on camera.

The coach is, after all, bidding goodbye.

Wright was given an emotional farewell over dinner, Saturday, but he would be happier if the boys made him sign off with a victory. Given the effort Wright has put in, that?s the least the Virender Sehwags can do for him.

Stand-in captain Rahul Dravid and senior-most pro Sachin, by the way, jointly made a crystal presentation on behalf of the team. Even though the dinner was to have been an exclusive all-players? affair, four Board officials were special invitees.

Apparently, the Board?s own presentation will be made during the match.

Incidentally, it was at the Kotla ? which is hosting an international after three years ? where Wright began his innings in November 2000.

According to The Telegraph?s sources, the Indians are making two changes in the XI which got pummelled by Afridi in Kanpur: Ajit Agarkar replacing Lakshmipathy Balaji and Ashish Nehra coming back either for Anil Kumble or Harbhajan Singh.

The attack, therefore, is going to have a 3-1 look with Zaheer Khan being the third mediumpacer.

As for Pakistan, indications are they will retain the Kanpur XI as Mohammed Sami hasn?t recovered from his injury. ?Right now, he can?t be risked,? informed a source.

Having lost three in-a-row, the pressure is very much on India. And, really, there?s no choice but to make the first 15 overs count ? both while batting and bowling.

The Indians didn?t in Kanpur and paid a heavy price. Even by putting the best foot forward, the hosts are only going to draw the series. It?s not a great position to be in.

Meanwhile, an unpleasant scene was created by an overzealous plainclothesman at the team hotel in the afternoon, when he pushed and shouted at Pakistan?s assistant manager Asad Mustafa.

He quickly apologised, but that didn?t stop Inzamam-ul Haq from giving him a tongue-lashing. ?Aap cool rahen aur tameez se baat karen... Samjhe ki nahin...? the captain warned.

The plainclothesman apologised to Inzamam as well, not once but thrice. Sensible that...


INDIA: Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Rahul Dravid, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammed Kaif, Dinesh Mongia, Ajit Agarkar, Harbhajan Singh/Anil Kumble, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra.

PAKISTAN: Salman Butt, Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Malik, Yousuf Youhana, Inzamam-ul Haq, Younis Khan, Abdul Razzaq, Kamran Akmal, Rana Naved-ul Hasan, Arshad Khan, Rao Iftikhar.

Umpires: Rudi Koertzen, A.V. Jayaprakash. TV: K.Hariharan.

Match starts: 9.00 am.