Saturday, June 14, 2008

Pakistan bat in overcast conditions

Ishant Sharma returns after a one-match break.

Shoaib Malik expectedly chose to bat first in the title clash - the first ODI final between the two sides since 1999 - but India might be heartened by the overcast conditions which could aid their swing bowlers early on. A steady drizzle, though, caused a 10-minute delay before the match got underway at the Shere Bangla Stadium.

Ishant Sharma returned, in place of RP Singh, while Pakistan brought in Fawad Alam, the spin-bowling allrounder, instead of Wahab Riaz. India won by a comprehensive margin in the league game between the two sides - a 140-run hammering that prompted the PCB chairman to lash out.

The surface has tended to be on the sluggish side but this one seemed hard and well-rolled with absolutely no grass on the surface. There was not much moisture either but the atmospheric conditions could come into play - especially with Praveen Kumar being in such fine form.

The two captains, the ICC, and the Bangladesh board have agreed to change the ball at the end of the 30th over, instead of the 34th, because it has been getting discoloured too soon. It could play a part in the way the two teams use their spinners, especially with both having plenty of options in that department.

India have won five of their last seven games against Pakistan but it always gets a bit tricky to predict when these two sides face off in a high-pressure final.

India: 1 Virender Sehwag, 2 Gautam Gambhir, 3 Rohit Sharma, 4 Yuvraj Singh, 5 Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt & wk), 6 Suresh Raina, 7 Yusuf Pathan, 8 Irfan Pathan, 9 Piyush Chawla, 10 Praveen Kumar, 11 Ishant Sharma.

Pakistan: 1 Salman Butt, 2 Kamran Akmal (wk), 3 Younis Khan, 4 Mohammad Yousuf, 5 Misbah-ul-Haq, 6 Shoaib Malik (capt), 7 Shahid Afridi, 8 Fawad Alam, 9 Sohail Tanvir, 10 Umar Gul, 11 Iftikhar Anjum.