Inzamam returns to lead Pakistan against India in first one-dayer

Peshawar, February 5:

With captain Inzamam-ul-Haq recovered from his back injury, Pakistan enters the five-match limited-overs series with its sights set on a No 2 world ranking.

“I had good practice sessions over the last two days and felt no pain in the back,” Inzamam said on Sunday, on the eve of the opening one-dayer in Peshawar.

Inzamam missed the third and decisive cricket Test with his back injury leaving Younis Khan to lead the home team to an emphatic 341-run series victory at Karachi.

Pakistan now has a chance to claim the No 2 spot behind world champions Australia in the limited-overs world rankings if it manages to beat India by a margin of 3-2 or 4-1 in the series, and if South Africa fails to win the ongoing triangular series in Australia.

“We have a slight edge over India after winning the Test series, but I still believe that a team which performs on a particular day wins the ODI,” said Inzamam, who has played 351 one-dayers and has scored 11,141 runs.

“We would like the winning momentum going in the shorter version of the game after putting up a brilliant performance in the Test matches,” he added.

A sell out crowd of around 15,000 at Arbab Niaz Stadium is expected to witness a high-scoring game with the likes of hard-hitting Shahid Afridi playing in his hometown.

“Nowadays even 300 is not a safe total in ODIs and I think with the fast outfield and a good batting wicket it will be a high-scoring game,” Inzamam said.

India has lost eight of its past 10 limited-overs games against Pakistan in the last 18 months, but captain Rahul Dravid was not reading too much into the statistics that heavily favours the home team.

“I don’t believe in statistics,” Dravid said. “We respect the opposition as they perform well especially in their own conditions, but we will try to learn something and put up a strong fight,” he added.

Dravid said he believed that it will be a critical test of bowlers on both sides to restrict the opposition on flat batting wickets.

“There is always added pressure on the bowlers against good batsmen (in one-dayers) and it will be crucial for the bowlers how they perform in these tough conditions,” he said.

India has a minor injury scare with offspinner Harbhajan Singh still nursing his bowling finger he damaged while fielding during the third Test. “He (Harbhajan) was our unsung hero in the home series against South Africa and Sri Lanka and we hope he recovers in time,” Dravid said.

SQUADS: India — Rahul Dravid (captain), Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammad Kaif, Gutam Gambhir, Suresh Raina, Mahendra Dhoni, Irfan Pathan, Sri Sreesanth, Murli Kartik, Zaheer Khan, Ajit Agarkar, Harbhajan Singh, Rudra Pratap Singh.

Pakistan — Inzamam-ul-Haq (captain), Younis Khan, Mohammad Yousuf, Abdul Razzaq, Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Akhtar, Kamran Akmal, Shoaib Malik, Arshad Khan, Salman Butt, Rana Naved, Imran Farhat, Faisal Iqbal, Umar Gul, Mohammad Asif, Yasir Arafat.