Chennai: Honours shared in the T20 series, arch foes India and Pakistan are now set for what is likely to be an exhilarating three-match ODI series showdown but weather gods could prove to be the dampener in the opening clash here tomorrow.
If the Twenty20 matches were any indication, the ODI series is bound to leave the fans asking for more but the only concern is the rain that has lashed the city and is not expected to relent even tomorrow.
It has been raining here since last night and the met office has predicted light to heavy showers for tomorrow, which raises the possibility of the day match being called off without even a ball being bowled. But if the weather gods do smile, the two teams could set the temperatures soaring given that their key players seem to be in good form.
For India, the biggest positive to emerge from the two Twenty20 games gone by was Yuvraj Singh's fantastic form. The left-hander was nothing short of inspiring with the bat smashing a 36-ball 72, which included seven sixes, in the second T20 and is set to be back in the ODI fold after the Player of the Tournament-winning show in the 2011 World Cup.
But the top-order would be a concern given that both the openers -- Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir - have not been in the best of touch in the recent past. Both of them struggled immensely in the demoralising Test series defeat to England.
Virat Kohli, at number three, has also not been in form to an extent and these three would have to get their act together for India to be dominant in the batting department.
In the middle-order, it could be a toss up between Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma while Yuvraj and Suresh Raina are expected to make the rest of the batting line-up. On the bowling front, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who made a dream T20 debut by grabbing 3/9, could be handed an ODI cap as well for his impressive show in the shortest format.
After a decent outing in the T20s, Ishant Sharma would be leading the pace attack with Ashok Dinda and Bhuvneshwar as his likely partners. The spin department would be spearheaded by local star R
Ashwin in all likelihood, even though he has been far from impressive of late.
For Pakistan, it would be a change of leaders as Misbah-ul-Haq would be captaining the ODI side. The temperamental side, which is exceptional one day and ordinary the other, also has solid performers in the line-up and should prove quite a handful for the hosts.
The openers - Hafeez and Nasir Jamshed - have settled down nicely into their roles. Hafeez, in fact, has been calmness personified in a mercurial team, as was evident from his Man of the Series-winning performance in the T20s against the arch-rivals.
Old warhorse Younis Khan would lend the much-required stability, while the Akmal brother - Umar and Kamran - will provide the spark in a strong middle-order. Pakistan have the clear edge over India as far as bowling is concerned with Umar Gul being the most potent pacer. Saeed Ajmal's spin has always troubled the Indians even though the hosts did take him to task in the second T20.
With not much separating the two teams, it promises to be an exhilarating contest but the result could well be decided by the weather gods given the continuing rain in the city.
India squad: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (Capt), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Ashok Dinda, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Shami Ahmed, Amit Mishra.
Pakistan squad: Misbah-ul-Haq (Capt), Nasir Jamshed, Mohammad Hafeez, Azhar Ali, Younis Khan, Haris Sohail, Kamran Akmal, Saeed Ajmal, Wahab Riaz, Junaid Khan, Umar Gul, Imran Farhat, Umar Akmal, Anwar Ali, Zulfiqar Babar
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