Principal Correspondent

KOCHI: The last few days, we've been hearing about how difficult life is going to be for the Indian cricketers over the next couple of months in Pakistan.

Like prophets of impending doom, Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Imran Khan have been talking about the bouncy tracks back home, the chinks in the Indian team and how Pakistan can "throw the Indians on the canvas." And all of them have been flashing the Shoaib Akhtar card as the ace to do much of the damage.

For years, the Pakistan cricketers have been masters of the mind game, trying to load pressure on the Indians at every given opportunity.

"It happens before every Pakistan series but you should not get distracted by these things," Mohammed Azharuddin told The Hindu at the Le Meridian in Kochi this evening.

"But it'll be a very tough tour. And Shoaib Akhtar will be the man to watch," said the former Indian captain who will be playing India's veterans day-night one-dayer against Pakistan at the Nehru Stadium on Sunday.

The encounter is the last of the four-match NTPC Goodwill Series.

"India had played well against Sri Lanka recently but these two forthcoming tours, against Pakistan and England, will tell us where exactly we stand," he said.

And the bouncy tracks?

"It's the same for both. And our batting is strong," said Azhar who has come down with his wife Sangeeta Bijlani.

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