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`The craze has doubled'

By Amitabha Das Sharma

KOLKATA, NOV. 12. "It's a big match for us," said Ganguly about the one-dayer against Pakistan on Saturday. "In fact, India-Pakistan matches are always very big. As far as we are concerned, we are treating this as any other one-dayer and will play with all intensity.''

Ganguly's counterpart Inzamum-ul-Haq said: "The rivalry between the teams has not lessened a bit, but it has devalued all other festivities like Diwali and Id. This being a one-match series, the craze surrounding it has been doubled.''

Ganguly was a little concerned about his team's batting. "The batsmen are not in best form as they were in the last two years. But it is good that we won the Mumbai Test against the Australians. That makes a big difference.'' The captain, however, added that it was good to be in full strength.

Big difference

When asked how much Sachin Tendulkar's inclusion will help the team, Ganguly said, "Sachin does make a big difference to any side, but we need to play as an unit and each individual has to contribute for the team to win.''

The Indian skipper played down the fact that India has never beaten Pakistan in one-dayers at Eden Gardens. "When India went to Pakistan we beat them there for the first time in 50 years. Winning in the past does not necessarily mean you will win every time and vice-versa. This is going to be a new chapter and the team which plays better will emerge victorious.''

Inzamam was cautious in his assessment. "Though the Indian performance in the last two to three months has not been good, it had a stupendous record in the two years prior to that. So, it becomes quite tricky to assess how our opponent will be doing tomorrow.''

Refreshing change

Talking about his team's consistently good showing, Inzamam said, "our team has made a positive turnaround ever since the 2003 World Cup. The decision to revamp the team has worked well as seven to eight fresh names were added and this has helped the team to look up in the last year-and-a-half.''

Pakistan manager Haroon Rashid praised coach Bob Woolmer's involvement. "There is a proper rhythm in the team and that can be made out from the way the captain, the coach and the players are working together,'' he said.

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