No issue if sparks are not flying in the series: Pak captain

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Gwalior, Nov 14 (UNI) Except for the brief war of words between Gautam Gambhir and Shahid Afridi at Kanpur, the ongoing India-Pakistan ODI series has not seen sparks flying all around, but visiting captain Shoaib Malik today said he has no issue with it.

He rather said it was good for the game for the two countries that the opposing players were not having eyeball to eyeball confrontation.

When asked at a pre-match press conference here why the series was lacking show of aggression among the opposing players, Malik said, ''Cricket is a gentleman's game and we are showing more friendship than aggression. It is good for cricket in the two countries.'' When Australia toured India recently, almost every match saw scenes of eyeball to eyeball confrontation between players of opposing teams.

Apart from the Gambhir-Afridi brief exchange of unpleasantry words at Kanpur when the Delhi batsman collided with the Pathan from Pakistan while taking a single, the ongoing India-Pakistan series, touted to be more intensely competed than even the Ashes, has not seen the traditional on-field rivalry between the players.

Vice-captain Younis Khan had also said in a media interaction in New Delhi that because of the frequent tours between the two countries in recent times, the intensity of the high-profile series seems to be on the wane.

Trailing 1-2 in the five-match series, Malik said they have a do-or-die match tomorrow and his boys will not give up without a fight.

He was also candid on admitting that his spinners were struggling in this series and their Indian counterparts were having a march over them.

''Our spinners are struggling, no doubt, and the Indians (spinners) are doing better. It happens, cricketers have lean patches. I hope they will do well in the two remaining matches,'' he said.

The Pakistan captain said wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal's hand injury was not serious but he will have to pass a fitness test prior to the match to decide whether he would play tomorrow or not.

''It (Akmal's injury) is a niggle, he has been carrying it.

Cricketers carry such minor injuries. We will see him today at the nets and decide on his inclusion in the playing eleven tomorrow,'' Malik said.

Akmal was later seen undergoing catching practice at the ground with coach Geoff Lawson during the net session without apparent problems.

Malik refused to divulge anything on the playing eleven or whether Akmal's back up Sarfraz Ahmed will play tomorrow or not.

He was also non-committal on whether he could open the innings with Salman Butt if Akmal were declared unfit to play and back up Sarfraz Ahmed wears the glove tomorrow.

''I can tell you Sarfraz has joined the team today. But, the team management will discuss the composition of the team only after considering various factors.'' On whether the use of featherbed pitches in the series was good for cricket or not, Malik was diplomatic, saying, ''The pitch is same for the two teams and we have to play on the pitch given to us.'' Later in the evening, Pakistani team had a workout and net session. Players were seen undergoing catching practices first with tennis balls, with coach Lawson hitting them with a tennis racquet. They also had throwing practice on single stump.

Later, Indian team joined their Pakistani counterparts and straightaway went for the nets. They underwent catching and fielding paractices.

Meanwhile, Gwalior city administration has made tight security arrangements for the match. Around 3,000 Madhya Pradesh Police personnel and two companies of Special Task Force (STF) have been deployed in and around the stadium, who have kept hundreds of enthusiastic fans, who want to have a glimpse of their idols, at bay.

Since morning, young cricket fans thronged the main gate of the stadium and the intersection of the road leading to the stadium, but no one, including journalists, was allowed to enter the main gate without showing a pass.

Very few of the fans could sneak into the stadium to witness the net sessions of the two teams.

UNI

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