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India v Pakistan preview

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Pakistan will kick off the five-game series barely 48 hours after emergency rule was imposed back home. They will also feature in three tests.

The traditional politically-charged atmosphere has eased this time, largely because the teams have faced each other annually since 2004, when India toured Pakistan for the first time in 14 years.

Led by inexperienced captains Mahendra Dhoni and Shoaib Malik, both teams face similar concerns going into the series.

Having made shock first round World Cup exits in March, Pakistan lost to South Africa and India were defeated by champions Australia in home one-day series last month.

Pakistan, who won the one-day series 4-2 on their last tour in 2005, want to avenge their Twenty20 World Cup final defeat in September.

All eyes will be on controversial Pakistan speedster Shoaib Akhtar after he grabbed four wickets against South Africa on his return from a 13-game ban for hitting fellow paceman Mohammad Asif with a bat.

The accurate Asif has been sidelined and has stayed home with an elbow injury, leaving the temperamental Akhtar to team up with fellow pacemen Umar Gul, Rao Iftikhar and Sohail Tanvir.

Former skipper Inzamam-ul Haq, who will turn a TV pundit for the series, says he hopes 32-year-old Akhtar will remain focussed on the job.

"If he keeps playing, that itself will make a difference," he said.

India will be hoping for better behaviour from paceman Shanthakumaran Sreesanth after his repeated on-pitch clashes with Australian players.

India have also faced a national debate over former skipper Rahul Dravid's omission for the first two games due to poor form, after he abruptly gave up captaincy before the Australia series.

However, Indian cricket manager Lalchand Rajput hopes the players will draw inspiration from winning the last one-dayer and a Twenty20 tie against Australia.
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looking forward to it in fact it has started now
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