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History could inspire Pakistan

By Kunal Pradhan
March 22, 2005 13:11 IST
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It happened 19 years ago and people in Bangalore still talk about the match.

Sunil Gavaskar struck a defiant second-innings 96, one of his finest knocks, but India fell 16 runs short as Pakistan clinched a five-Test series 1-0 in dramatic fashion.

With the two teams returning to the Chinnaswamy Stadium for the first time since that game in 1986, Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq will be hoping history repeats itself in the third and final Test, his 100th, which starts on Thursday.

The situation this time, however, is different.

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Pakistan, playing their first series in India since 1999 due to political tensions between the south Asian neighbours, already have their backs against the wall and there does not seem much reason to be positive.

Outplayed during India's 195-run win in the second Test in Kolkata, Pakistan slid to their seventh defeat in 10 matches.

With an inexperienced batting line-up and a bowling attack sorely missing strike bowler Shoaib Akhtar, the visitors will look to Inzamam to turn the tide.

The 35-year-old Pakistan skipper has been unable to get a three-figure score in the series, despite looking close to his match-winning best.

Vice-captain Younis Khan and Yousuf Youhana struck first-innings centuries in Kolkata but Pakistan's batters could not deliver when it mattered, folding for 226 on the fifth day.

Even leg spinner Danish Kaneria, who was brilliant in the drawn first Test in Mohali, dipped in form.


India, despite off spinner Harbhajan Singh's third brush with the chucking law, have little to worry about.

The 24-year-old was reported for a suspect bowling action for the third time in his career on Sunday, three weeks after being cleared by the International Cricket Council (ICC) following extensive biomechanical Tests in Australia.

Harbhajan can play in Bangalore but will be hesitant to bowl his wicket-taking "doosra", the ball that goes away from the right-hander, which all the concerns are about.

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Bangalore pair Rahul Dravid and Anil Kumble, who sparkled in Kolkata, will be eager to do even better before their home fans.

Dravid hit two centuries in Kolkata and Kumble grabbed 10 wickets, including seven in the second innings.

A victory will take India to their highest-ever position of second place in the ICC Test rankings, justifying captain Sourav Ganguly's oft-repeated claim his team are the best after top-ranked Australia.

The Indian skipper, though, is under pressure to perform with the bat, with youngsters Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif waiting in the wings.

Ganguly's last century came against Australia in the first Test in Brisbane in December 2003.

Sachin Tendulkar, one short of a world record 35th Test hundred, has compiled three half-centuries in a row and will be determined to finally reach the mark in Bangalore.

For local fans, the record would make the 2005 India v Pakistan Test as memorable as the one in 1986.

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