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My team was stronger: Gaekwad

October 08, 2006 16:13 IST

Former Indian opener Anshuman Gaekwad on Sunday, criticised coach Greg Chappell's tendency to experiment and putting too much faith in juniors but said the hosts had the potential to win the ICC Champions Trophy.

"Too much of experimentation is affecting the team. I understand that a coach from a foreign land has to do it because he needs to form a clear idea about the capability of his players. But I think he has carried it too far," Gaekwad said in Ahmedabad.

Gaekwad, a former national team coach, also felt that Chappell's preference for juniors over senior players had cost India some games in the past.

"A good team needs to have a perfect balance between juniors and seniors. But Greg went overboard with juniors. One has to keep trying juniors along with the senior pros," said Gaekwad, who served India with distinction as an opening batsman from the mid 70s to the early 80s.

Gaekwad said the side which played the Champions Trophy in 2000 at Nairobi under him was more formidable than the present bunch as the team management had stuck to a set combination.

"My team was stronger. We had a nucleus in place much ahead of the tournament and stuck to a set combination. and we did well," he said.

Then, India had reached the final where they went down to New Zealand, despite a fine hundred from skipper Sourav Ganguly.

However, Gaekwad felt that India would begin the current edition of the event as favourites as they had lot of talent and the players were familiar with the conditions.

"I think India are the favourites. Yes, they have a better chance than even Australia of winning. All our batsmen and bowlers have proven their ability at the highest level of the game. If you compare India and the other sides man to man, I think we have the best of guys.

"Moreover the Indians will be playing in home conditions. They are familiar with the weather and know what to expect from the wickets," he said.

Gaekwad rated New Zealand as the dark horse. "They are strong in every department - bowling, batting and fielding. It will be interesting to see how they fare," he said.

While praising skipper Rahul Dravid, Gaekwad said the Bangalorean needed to be more aggressive.

Asked to evaluate Sourav Ganguly, Dravid's predecessor in the hot seat, the Baroda-based Gaekwad said, "as a captain he was good. Initially he used to react a bit too much on the spur of the moment but got better with time. He knew what he was doing".

At a time when cricket pundits have been near unanimous that Ganguly's international career was over, Gaekwad felt otherwise.

"Ganguly definitely has a chance of staging a comeback. He only has to perform. I had opted for Robin Singh years afer he was discarded. And he came back well.

"As far as Ganguly is concerned, I think his age or his relationship with the board is not a factor. What is important is that he should have faith in himself and perform."

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