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Support dilemma

Indian and Pakistani cricket fans hold joint national flags. — AP

KARACHI, MARCH 13. As India and Pakistan kicked off their groundbreaking cricket series, Pakistani brides married into Indian homes watched with divided loyalties, and anxiety about the tension that can erupt in homes after such encounters.

``I really do not know whom to support — my adopted country or the country where I was born,'' said Kehkahan Siddiqui, a Pakistani married into an Indian family in the northern Indian city of Lucknow.

``I love both the countries. I belong to both India and Pakistan,'' she said in a choked voiced. ``I wish both the countries would win ... there should not be any loser.''

Sniffer dogs in action

Sniffer dogs took the first pitch inspection on Saturday. Starting with the sprinkler placements in the arena and advertisement boards around the ground, the sniffer dogs got into action a couple of hours before the teams arrived at the National Stadium for the southern city's first major cricket match in four years.

Over 6,500 policemen and paramilitary commandos cordoned the team hotel, the stadium and the route in which the teams were to travel as police helicopters carried out surveillance.

Imran's tip to Akhtar

Pakistan's fastest bowler Shoaib Akhtar will be armed with a potent tip from former great Imran Khan to tackle Sachin Tendulkar, a report in The News said.

Quoting a member of the national selection committee, the report said that Imran, on his recent visit to the Pakistan conditioning camp in Lahore, advised Akhtar to keep a deep point while bowling to Tendulkar throughout his innings.

``Imran told Shoaib in particular that Tendulkar was fond of playing the cut shot and square drive and was good in both shots. So when bowling to him, he should always keep the point fielder deep and then move the gully fielder a bit wide,'' national selector Ehtesham-ud-din reportedly said.

Students hold up traffic

The students of the Hindu hostel in Allahabad University (Allahabad) blocked the G.T. Road to protest the power cut disrupting the telecast of the India-Pakistan match. The students demanded immediate restoration of the power supply. Sources said there was a power cut in the city from 0900 hrs to 1300 hours. The angry students blocked the busy G.T. Road by parking their vehicles and a truck.

Cricket fever grips Canada

In Toronto, night has turned to day as the cricket mania sweeping the Indian sub-continent has gripped Canada as well, creating a near-frenzy among the large immigrant population from the two nations here. The difference of over 10 hours in the time zones of Canada and Pakistan makes the matches, which are being telecast live, an all-night festival here.

Impromptu ``sleep-overs'' have been organised, with youngsters spending nights together at each other's homes, just so that they may watch on television their favourite players wield the willow over dinner and mid-night snacks.

Seven bookies arrested

The Mumbai police arrested seven bookies and detained at least an equal number of them as a part of the day-long drive undertaken ahead of the first ODI. The City Police Commissioner, A.N. Roy, had earlier announced that Mumbai police would tackle the betting business sternly and would crackdown on such operators.

Laxman's injury not serious

The injury to middle-order batsman V.V.S. Laxman, who sat out of the first one-dayer, was not serious and the stylish batsman was likely to be fit for the next match. Laxman had to be kept out of action because of a stiff left knee and the Indian team physio Andrew Leipus expects him to be fully fit for the day-night match in Rawalpindi on March 16.

``Laxman had stiffness on his left knee yesterday. After seeing his condition this morning, the physio felt that he was not fit for the match'', media manager Amrit Mathur said. ``Leipus is working with him and he feels that Laxman will be fully fit for the next match. He will be included only if he passes the fitness test'', he said.

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