Bowlers main weapon to win 1st Test: Pak captain

New Delhi, Nov 21 (UNI) Admitting that India has a formidable batting line-up, Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik today said the outcome of the first Test would be decided by how his bowlers deal with the likes of Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid.

''India's batting line-up is very strong. In order to take 20 Indian wickets, we have to formulate new strategies,'' Malik told reporters at the pre-match press conference here.

With experienced Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman coming in the Test squad not to speak of Wasim Jaffer, the Indian batting line-up looked formidable but Malik said his bowlers, led by maverick Shoaib Akhtar, would be equal to the task.

''Bowling is our main weapon. Shaoib Akhtar is bowling at top speed, clocking 150 kmph regularly and Mohammad Sami is an experienced campaigner. Besides Umar Gul and Sohail Tanvir were in peak form during the one-dayers,'' said the Pakistan captain after unveiling the Indian Oil Cup with Indian captain Anil Kumble.

He said he also did not see any advantage in India's favour in case the pitch assists spinners and slow bowlers.

''There is no edge between the two teams in the spin department.

India has fine spinners in Kumble and Harbhajan.

We also have Danish Kaneria who is raring to go and Abdur Rehman will give good support to Kaneria,'' Malik said when asked which team has the edge in the spin department.

Malik also rubbished speculations of any fitness problems plaguing Shoaib Akhtar besides disagreeing with the view that Akhtar was only good in patches in the four one-dayers he played.

The Pakistan captian rather described the 'Rawalpindi Express' as the trumpcard of his team.

''Shoaib (Akhtar) is definitely the trump card, he is in top fitness. He has given his 100 per cent in the ODI series with good results and is raring to go for the Tests,'' Malik said.

When asked whether Pakistan could benefit from R P Singh and S Sreesanth's non-availability for the first Test, he said, ''We can get a little advantage but India has good pace bowlers in Zaheer and Munaf.'' Malik also refused to divulge the team composition and even did not say whether young wicket-keeper Sarfraz Ahmed will take the field in place of injured Kamran Akmal.

''We have a team meeting this evening and will decide who will play and who will not'' was all Malik was ready to offer.


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Story first published: Wednesday, November 21, 2007, 18:39 [IST]
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