Do or die encounter for Pakistan today
By Marlon Fernandopulle
The passion and excitement of the Asia cup will reach fever pitch when arch rivals and Asian giants India and Pakistan confront each other in a crucial day-night game at the R Premadasa Stadium today.

With Pakistan still to open their points tally todays game will be a do or die encounter.A loss will send Inzamam ul Haq and company packing home while a win will not only keep alive their chances but will also keep the tournament wide open and increase its interests. Sourav Ganguly's Indians have nothing to lose as they meet Sri Lanka on Tuesday which will give the Indians another chance to make it to the final if they miss out in today’s game.

The Indians have a psychological advantage over their arch rivals after their recent series victory in Pakistan.Skipper Ganguly admitted that he will be looking to build on their recent victories."We have had success against Pakistan recently and we will be looking to get that momentum going".

As always India-Pakistan games have generated great excitement and interest wherever it is being played. Today’s game will be no exception.The tension and the pressure will always be great and so will be the dual between bat and ball.

However India’s star batsman Sachin Tendulkar dismissed reports that today’s game will be a battle between him and Pakistan speedster Shoaib Akhtar. "I don't look at it that way",he said"It's a very important game for us and more than one factor will come into play". India with their strong batting line-up will go out as favourites.Apart from the strength and depth of their batting the Indians also have the players who can score swiftly and at a terrific pace that can upset the opposition plans.With Shewag,Tendulkar, Dravid, Ganguly, Kaif and Yuvaraj the Indians have a formidable batting line up that is capable of shredding any bowling attack.

Their weak link has been their bowling.However with new boy Irfan Pathan showing great promise and Zaheer Khan declaring himself fully fit the Indians will breathe a sigh of relief.Together with Balaji, Anil Kumble and part time spinners Tendulkar, Shewag and Yuvaraj India will be looking at containing the Pakistan batting to a reasonable score.

Pakistan may have learnt more than a few lessons after their humilating loss to hosts Sri Lanka.Skipper Inzamam admitted that his team needs to avoid some basic mistakes."We batted badly against Sri Lanka.We need a much improved performance against India if we are to stay in this tournament". The Pakistanis are a talented team.

They have it in them to beat any team.However more often than not they have not played to their true potential and have failed.Skipper Inzamam will have to lead from the front.He needs a big score and should occupy the crease for a major part of the innings.It's then that most of the other batters could build an innings around their skipper.It is paramount that the Pakistani batting clicks today.If not the Indians are certain to have a cakewalk today over their arch rivals.

Although inexperienced openers Yasir Hameed and Imran Farahat will have to provide a solid start for the crucial game, the youngsters may be a bit tensed but as skipper Haq said,"In a big match getting tensed will never help.It is important that we relax and play it like a normal game.You have to lear to enjoy the pressure". In terms of bowling the Pakistanis have a variety to offer.Medium pacers,Shoaib Akhtar, Mohamed,Sami,Shabir Ahamed and Abdur Razzak and off spinner Shoaib Malik and leg spinner Danish Kaneria will need to be at their best if they are to check the Indian batting which has grown from strength to strength.


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