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Red-hot India favourites against Pakistan in tri series final

Dhaka, Jun 13 (UNI) After two convincing back-to-back wins, India will start as hot favourites against arch-rivals Pakistan in the much hyped final of the ongoing tri-series to be held at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium, here tomorrow.

Firing on all cylinders, India had registerd a record breaking 140-run win in their first match of the tri-series against Pakistan and thrashed hosts Bangladesh by seven-wickets in the second game.

Statistics, however, shows that the Pakistan team is ahead of India when it comes to the total number of victories overall.

This is now high time for Team India to reduce the margin against this same opponent.

The new look Indian team are way ahead of their two South Asian oponents as the young brigade has showed lot of prospects in all the three departments - batting, bowling and fielding.

India's new opening pair in the 50-overs game Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir had laid the platform for the victories with aggressive partnerships of 155 and 85 runs against Pakistan and Bangladesh respectively.

Left-handed batsman Gambhir looks in ominous form in the tourney and went on to score an unbeaten match-winning century yesterday.

His fifth ODI century was an extension of his recent Twenty20 form, especially in the IPL where he was the second leading run-scorer with 534 runs at an impressive average of 41.07 from 14 games.

However, Gambhir's partner Sehwag's 89-run innings has dominated their partnership of 155 against Pakistan on Tuesday and his 59 off 32 balls against Bangladesh got India off to a furious start.

The openers' contribution was extremely vital because of the conditions in Mirpur. As the colour of the pitch, unusually dark because of the black soil used, also makes it difficult for new batsmen in the middle-order to sight the ball because it gets discoloured around the 25th over.

The pitch also tends to get slower as the ball gets older, hence it is imperative for the openers to score significantly while the ball is new.

India's middle order also looked very strong with the precense of Rohit Sharma, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Yuvraj has hinted that he is in great touch with a breezy 55 off 54 balls in the match against Pakistan while Raina, Rohit and the skipper himself looked in touch with some small but important innings.

As the conditions in Mirpur are assisting the slow blowers, the IPL sensation Yusuf Pathan will be dangerous with his teasing off-spins along with young leggie Piyush Chawla who is improving in each and every outing.

Yusuf, with his younger brother Irfan Pathan also gave an oppurtunity to skipper Dhoni to use both the players as floaters in the batting line-up due to their ability to destroy any attack.

India's bowling department is also full of variety and talent.

Young pace sensation Ishant Sharma, swing bowler Praveen Kumar along with all-rounder Irfan Pathan are looking too hot to handle.

Irfan, however, looked out of sorts in yesterday's match but Ishant and Praveen kumar looks dangerous, especially latters swing can destroy any batting line up.

Meanwhile, in the abscence of pace spearheads Mohhammad Asif and Shoiab Akhtar, the Pakistan bowling attack is looking a tad depleted.

The onus will be on the right-arm pacer Umar Gul and left-arm unorthodox pacer Shoail Tanvir.

Pakistan's batting line up was also not so arranged as the whole outfit looks confused. Apart from skipper Shoaib Malik none of their batsmen are playing to a plan.

The Pakistanis will have raise their game by quite a few notches to have any hope of lifting the trophy.


Story first published: Friday, June 13, 2008, 19:37 [IST]
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