Sehwag should find a place in the XI if he is fit

The former Pakistan captain says India's bowling is their Achilles heel.

This match takes me back to 2005, when Pakistan were touring India under my captaincy. As a team, we were no match for the strong Indian side and as expected, we were down and out on the fourth day of the first Test. Having lost seven wickets, we expected the fifth day to be over quite early. But Kamran Akmal and Abdur Razzaq had other ideas.

They batted out the day and we saved the match. Their performance lifted the team's spirit and suddenly, we started believing we could take on the Indians on their turf. We ended up drawing the Test series and took the ODI series.

Similarly, Umar Gul's effort with the bat against South Africa on Friday will have the team believing that nothing is impossible.

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Pakistan have got the combination and balance right. Their spinners, including the young Raza Hasan, are doing well.

The batting was top heavy before the match against the Proteas but the lower order has shown it can stand up to situations.

The players are performing as an unit and this might be their best chance to beat India in a world cup for the first time.

But they will have to guard against overconfidence and complacency, as they have a history of becoming laidback after a good win.

India, on the other hand, were simply outclassed by Australia. MS Dhoni and his boys will be coming into the Pakistan match with tremendous pressure on them. Not only because they are facing Pakistan but also because this could be a knockout game for them.

This match will be watched by more people than the final, unless these two teams are in it.

You need to have played an India-Pakistan match to know the pressure this match generates for the players.

The main problem for India is their bowling. If any team scores 175-180, India have the batting to chase it. But their bowling does not look like it can defend such a target.

What India need is a shot of pace. A fast-bowler might get clobbered for a few runs but if he gets two early wickets, it makes the spinners' job that much easier.

Like in the England game, for instance, when Irfan Pathan struck early on and the spinners subsequently looked unplayable.

If India are to succeed, they will have to strike early with the ball.

Also, I don't know much about the Virender Sehwag issue. But if he is fit, my advice to Dhoni is simple - put his name first on the team list.

360 Corporate Relations

The writer is a former Pakistan captain

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.

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