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Home > Cricket > World Cup 2003 > News > Report

India gets down to business

Ashish Magotra | March 05, 2003 21:17 IST

The time for fun and games is now officially over.

With the first game of the Super Six stage just 48 hours or so away, the Indians, after celebrating a fine run capped by a thumping win against traditional rivals Pakistan, put on their game face and got back into the nets at Newlands, Cape Town.

And from the outset, it was a session with a difference.

For the first time in the World Cup campaign, it was the bowlers who took first strike. Javagal Srinath, Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra honed their batting skills ahead of Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Sourav Ganguly.

This is a practice the Australian team indulges in by default -- the first batsmen in the Aussie nets are invariably Glenn McGrath, Brett Lee and Jason Gillespie.

While the bowlers slogged it out with the bat, the batsmen went in for fielding practice. That, again, is a sign of these times, and this team -- the players spend far longer in fielding drills than was the norm, and the results are showing, albeit gradually.

Mohammad Kaif has been outstanding throughout the tournament, and it is not hard to see why -- long after the rest of the batsmen had walked off towards the batting nets, Kaif was still at it, fielding, catching, throwing, taking aim at a single stump...

Sanjay Bangar and Ajit Agarkar have been the invisible men of the Indian team thus far, and it is moot whether either of them will get a game in the upcoming phase of the tournament. Yet in the training sessions, they have been the ones giving it their all -- and the hunger shows.

Not that their enthusiasm will translate into a place in the starting eleven -- coach John Wright made it clear that players will be rotated only if, and when, absolutely required.

With Sourav Ganguly supervising, the batsmen spent time just knocking the ball around -- it is apparent that they feel confident of their form and want only to use the session to get a feel of the ball in the middle of the bat.

Not that anyone is taking the upcoming day/night encounter against Kenya lightly.

"We respect Kenya, they beat us the last time we played them," Wright points out. "In Port Elizabeth, they bowled and fielded well and their coach Sandeep Patil did well to stop the Indian team from getting a lot of boundaries."

The coach's reference is to the last meeting between the two sides, on October 17, 2001, in a league match of the SBI triangular series in South Africa when Kenya pulled off a 70-run win over India.

Batting first in that game, Kenya made 246/6 in 50 overs against an attack led by Venkatesh Prasad and Harvinder Singh, with both Anil Kumble (1/36) and Harbhajan Singh (2/38). The innings was powered by fine knocks by Kennedy Otieno (64/95), Ravindu Shah (50/75) and Thomas Odoyo (51 off 52).

In response, India managed a mere 176, being dismissed in the 47th over. Four of India's current top seven played in that game -- and none of them distinguished themselves. Ganguly made 24/35, Tendulkar 3/20, Dravid 11/23 and Yuvraj was bowled by Antony Suji for a first ball duck. (The top scorer was Harbhajan, with a typically flamboyant 37 off 32 balls.)

"It is something that we have worked on," said Wright, referring to the Indians in that game committing hara kiri as the Kenyans bowled tight and fielded superbly to keep the boundaries protected. "Rahul Dravid, Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif have learnt a lot about one-day cricket in the recent past.

"We are not perfect by any means, but we are making progress," Wright told rediff.com. "The biggest gain from the New Zealand tour has been the fielding and the bowling. Javagal Srinath, Ashish Nehra and Zaheer Khan have all carried that form into this tournament."

India and Kenya have met ten times -- India winning eight of those encounters and Kenya two.

The pitch has played well in recent times, and looks good to bat on -- and the fact that Pakistan was dismissed for 134 by England on this track does not take away from that assessment.

The groundsman indicated that the March 7 India-Kenya fixture will be played on the same track as the one on which Sri Lanka played West Indies February 28.

In that game, Sri Lanka batting first scored 228/6 in 50 overs; the West Indies responded with 222/9 in their allotted overs to lose by 6 runs. While the relatively low scores indicate a tough wicket to bat on, the fact is that the likes of Jayasuriya, Tillekeratne, Russel Arnold, Sangakaara and Vaas for the Lankans, and Gayle, Sarwan, Chanderpaul and even Drakes showed that if you stayed out in the middle, the runs would come along.

So what is the strategy the team needs against Kenya in the first of the Super Six games? "We have to be hungry, respect the opposition and get back into the routine that we have built up," says Wright.

The team meanwhile had a bit of a jolt towards the end of the session, when Virender Sehwag injured the index finger of his right hand while taking a catch.

X-Rays however gave the all clear, and word is that Sehwag is fit, and ready to go come Friday.

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Number of User Comments: 7


This is a very key match for the Indians. They need to win atleast two matches in super sixes to qualify for the semis. Its ...

Posted by Shankar Kailasanathan

Sub: India -Kenya

Right now, the focus of the Indian team should be to win this match with a huge margin. No opponent in a war or game ...

Posted by S,Mukherjee

Sub: all the best India

The past defeat of India in a match against kenya doesnt matter.All that we have to do is to bowl with discipline,field well, throw the ...

Posted by G.Regunathan

Sub: I agree with everything except the best shot

I guess the author did a spledid work in collecting all the information and rating them. But there is a big pitfall in the article. ...

Posted by Suresh Vuray

Sub: Jason Gillespie replaced by Nathan Bracken

I saw this report not in your site but on cricinfo and I was curious as to how he played against India. He played 3 ...

Posted by Partha


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