India looks to break Pak's winning streak as focus shifts to ODIs

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Dhaka, Jun 9 (UNI) Mahendra Singh Dhoni led Team India has virtually captured every frontier in the recent past with Australia being its latest victim while arch-rival Pakistan is eager to extend its 12-match winning streak when the two sides lock horns in the second match of the tri-series here tomorrow.

Pakistan drubbed minnows Bangladesh by 70 runs here yesterday and its coach Geoff Lawson believes his team is capable of forcing India to surrender and that too by a bigger margin.

However, Lawson's Indian counterpart Gary Kirsten says his team is confident and its good run will continue the way it has in the recent past.

Pakistan team, which is on a roll after winning 12 successive matches has its tails up. Its winning spree which started against India was followed by 11 wins but all of them came against minnows Bangladesh (6) and Zimbabwe (5).

Dhoni's boys would be eager to settle scores but a long 44-day Twenty20 tournament in IPL did not give them any breathing space before the triangular series here.

Lawson believes his side will look to play their natural game and will not allow pressure to affect his players' performance.

''We do not want to treat the match as a must win one and put ourselves under pressure. We want to play our own game,'' Lawson said about the match, a win in which would assure Pakistan a place in the finals.

However, he did not reveal his team's strategy which would obviously change drastically against India in comparison to Bangladesh.

''I would prefer to discuss strategies against India with my players rather than telling the media. I would like to score a 150-run win over India tomorrow,'' he said.

While Pakistani players were a sure shot flop in the recently concluded IPL, Sohail Tanvir stood out with his exceptional bowling efforts in the tournament and emerged the highest wicket-taker. His team would look up to him to provide some early wickets.

In his side's victory against Bangladesh, Lawson was particularly pleased with an out-of-form Shahid Afridi's all-round effort. Afridi scored 20 runs off 17 balls and was spinning the bowl a great deal as he picked up three wickets in his eight overs conceding a mere 19 runs.

''He is obviously an experienced player. Every team has its own targets and they do have their strategies against rival teams,'' he said.

Meanwhile, India have already played some long and tough cricket in the year so far but with Kirsten as coach and Dhoni as captain would not be complacent against Pakistan who have played some good amount of cricket but with some lowely ranked teams.

Kirsten said shifting from the Twenty20 mode to One-day cricket would not be a difficult task for his boys and added that their strategies are ready for tomorrow's encounter.

''It is something we have given some considerations and thoughts too. We need to make sure that our gameplan and strategies are designed for 50 overs cricket. It is different to what they did in IPL. So, we worked hard during the last two days to get things right.'' After finishing their IPL assignments, Indian team did not get a huge break but Kirten said his boys hdo not complain about it. He further added that too much of cricket could be a blessing in disguise for young and upcoming players.

''It is important in our long-term plan that we have a group of 15 to 20 players equally good enough to play for India, because we have got to give enough rest to the players. I have been thinking very carefully about how we do that,'' he said.

S Sreesanth's replacement Manpreet Gony could well get a nod while Yusuf Pathan, riding on his excellent form in the IPL, is also set to make his debut in tomorrow's match.

With everything to play for, both the teams must be itching to take the field but weather could well play a spoilsport here.

Teams India (from) Mahendra Singh Dhoni (cap, wk), Yuvraj Singh, Virender Sehwag, Rohit Sharma, Robin Uthappa, Yusuf Pathan, Piyush Chawla, Praveen Kumar, Irfan Pathan, Ishant Sharma, Gautam Gambhir.

Pakistan (from) Salman Butt, Kamran Akmal (wk), Younis Khan, Mohammad Yousuf, Misbah-ul-Haq, Shoaib Malik (capt), Shahid Afridi, Fawad Alam, Wahab Riaz, Sohail Tanvir, Umar Gul.

UNI RAR SYu HT2004

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