The last time India and Pakistan met in an ODI at the Eden, MS Dhoni had still not broken into Team India, Rahul Dravid kept wickets in limited-overs cricket and VVS Laxman was part of the ODI side.
November 13, 2004. It was a one-off ODI to mark the BCCI’s platinum jubilee. All of India’s then-living captains were felicitated during the supper break of the day-night encounter.
A 20-year-old Salman Butt, now disgraced for his involvement in the spot-fixing scandal, showed glimpses of his talent. Playing a cool and composed knock, he hit his maiden ton, an unbeaten 108, to help Pakistan chase down a 293-run target.
Three of the Pakistan batsmen from that match — Shoaib Malik, Younus Khan and wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal — will be in action in the second ODI on Thursday.
Malik has forced the think-tank to include him in the ODI squad (he was part of just the T20 team).
His knocks in the two T20s have proved he is still a force to reckon with. He did not disappoint the selectors by seeing the team through in the first ODI.
The Younus of today may not match up to the demands of ODIs, but his experience cannot be discounted. He lends solidity to the middle-order and is the backbone of the Pakistan batting along with Malik and Mohammad Hafeez. One may expect Nasir Jamshed to continue from where he left in Chennai. But he was not as fluent as a centurion is expected to be. And then you have captain Misbah-ul-Haq, who crossed 3,000 ODI runs last Sunday, but yet to score a ton in 107 appearances.
As former national selector Raja Venkat puts it, “There is not much difference between the two teams. Just that Pakistan’s bowling is better than ours. Both the batting line-ups look fragile. Even Nasir Jamshed, who was superb in the World T20, did not look confident in Chennai. He was struggling. They were lucky with the toss.”