Third one-day match to be a keen contest

Lahore, February 12:

After drawing level in Rawalpindi, a confident India take on Pakistan with renewed vigour in the third one-day international here on Monday, imbuing the third of the five-match series with greater interest.

India defeated Pakistan by seven wickets on Saturday to level the series 1-1 after the hosts had taken a 1-0 lead in Peshawar.

India can look up to the several plus points gained from the Rawalpindi win, especially their fielders, who were razor sharp. The other positive factor was Virender Sehwag’s return to form, while Sachin Tendulkar, skipper Rahul Dravid and Yuvraj Singh were the other major contributors in the win.

Sehwag had not scored as expected since his double century in the first Test in Lahore last month. But he batted his typical manner to roar back into form, despite hurting his shoulder during the knock.

The Indian bowlers, led by left-arm pacer Irfan Pathan, also did well to restrict Pakistan to 265 and the batsmen later ensured that their effort did not go waste. Dravid gave credit to the entire team for the marvellous effort.

The third one-dayer will be different from the first two as it will be a day-night affair at the Gaddafi Stadium. There will be another difference as it will probably be the first time that a day-night game will start as early as 11am (local time). Normally, day-night games begin at 2.30pm or thereabouts worldwide.

The decision to start early is aimed at nullifying the big advantage a team often gains by winning the toss. It has been noticed that the bowlers of this team find it difficult to grip the ball due to the evening dew.

Pakistan, on the other hand, looked a different side from the one that batted and bowled well in the first match. The hosts hardly gave the impression of being competitive after Pathan started their slide.

And without Shoaib Akhtar, ruled out with an ankle injury, Pakistan’s bowling attack also failed to contain or threaten the Indian top order. Akhtar has been ruled out of the rest of the series after the fast bowler failed to recover.