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'Intikhab is a blessing in disguise'

MOHALI, March 28: Pakistan, surprisingly, could have more advantage over India when the teams come head-to-head in the Wednesday’s semi-final at the PCA Stadium here.

The reason: Intikhab Alam, the team manager, knows the ground inside out than most.

Intikhab’s presence in the Pakistan camp is already serving the cause for Shahid Afridi and his team-mates.

After a strenuous training schedule in the first half of the day, the manager requested the local authorities to allow the team do fielding practice under lights.

The PCA officials were gracious enough to let Pakistan train in the evening to study the dew factor which at this of the year is quite heavy as the evening wears on. Intikhab knows the history of the Mohali ground because he had spent two seasons here in the capacity of the Punjab team coach.

According to Dinesh Mongia, a member of the India team which lost the 2003 World Cup final to Australia in South Africa, Intikhab’s presence is a blessing in disguise for Pakistan.

“He was our coach for two seasons [2005 and 2006] when Punjab played in the Ranji Trophy. Believe me, he was a real asset for the team. His experience obviously was invaluable.”

Mongia, who was the Punjab skipper under Intikhab’s tenure, claimed that the former Pakistan captain knows the venue much more than others.

“His knowledge of the local conditions is big positive for the Pakistan team. Moreover, his man-management skills are just too good. The way he handled players passing through rough phases was simply amazing,” Mongia revealed.

“His best traits [as coach] were his calmness and temperament. Intikhab always remained calm.”