India seek to extend ODI series domination to Test arena

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New Delhi, Nov 21 (UNI) After clinching the ODI series, India would seek to extend their domination in the longer version of the game when they take on arch rivals Pakistan in the first of the three-match series at Feroz Shah Kotla here tomorrow.

India are on a high after the 3-2 victory in the five- match ODI series. Besides, they will take inspiration from their historic Test series win in England after 21 years.

Current form and a new captain Anil Kumble, along with experienced batsmen Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman will give the host slight edge over their rivals and they have a chance to make the record straight of their 0-1 Test series loss to Pakistan last year.

Pakistan, on the other hand, had lost to South Africa at home before coming to India though they can look back to their consolation win in the final one-dayer at Jaipur or their fighting 1-1 series draws on their previous two trips to India in 1999 and 2005.

Cricket-crazy fans will be focussed on new captain Kumble when he returns to the record-breaking ground -- that also as captain.

Kumble, the third highest Test wicket-taker with 566 victims, became only the second bowler in Test history to take all 10 wickets in an innings when he inspired a series-levelling win over Pakistan at the same venue in 1999.

The hosts had enjoyed a good recent Test record, having won three of their last four away series. They have lost just one home series in seven years, against Australia in 2004.

The return of Rahul Dravid, who abruptly quit captaincy after the England tour, after being dropped from the one- day squad would strengthen the famed Indian batting line -up.

He is brimming with confidence after scoring a double hundred and hundred in back-to-back Ranji Trophy matches this month.

Sachin Tendulkar, who was in sublime form in the ODI series, must be having memories of a hundred here, his 35th overall, which he scored in a difficult time of his career. He would want to repeat with another one in the first Test, especially to offset the jinx of failing to convert nineties into tons in one-dayers.

Pakistan, on the other hand, will begin their life in Tests arena without batting stalwart and former captain Inzamam-ul-Haq after he retired last month.

His successor Shoaib Malik finally provided them a confidence boost scoring a match-winning 89 and grabbing three wickets at Jaipur.

Pakistan would need strike bowler Shoaib Akhtar to touch his peak in the absence of the injured Mohammad Asif after his not so impressive outing in the one- dayers following a 13-game ban which ended shortly before the series began.

Spinner Danish Kaneria could do a trick or two for the visitors and India captain Kumble admitted this while saying that his side has enough experienced players to deal with Kaneria.

India will also have to think a strategy to contain prolific scorer Mohammad Yousuf who was in fine nick in the ODI series.

The Teams: India: Anil Kumble (Capt), Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, V V S Laxman, M S Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh, Dinesh Karthik, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Wasim Jaffer, Munaf Patel, Ishant Sharma, Murli Kartik.

Pakistan: Shoaib Malik (Captain), Younis Khan, Mohammad Yousuf, Salman Butt, Yasir Hameed, Faisal Iqbal, Misbah-ul-Haq, Kamran Akmal (wk), Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), Shoaib Akhtar, Umar Gul, Sohail Tanvir, Mohammad Sami, Danish Kaneria, Abdur Rehman.


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