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Home > Cricket > World Cup 2003 > Reuters > Report

Pacemen add spice to India's march

Tony Lawrence | March 15, 2003 15:32 IST

Everybody knows what Indian cricket is all about -- Sachin Tendulkar and spin bowling.

Javagal Srinath, Ashish Nehra and Zaheer Khan, though, are fast reworking the equation.

Nobody saw them coming. All three are tall men but somehow they got overlooked at the start of the tournament as everybody crowded around Sachin, off spinner Harbhajan Singh and leg spinner Anil Kumble. They would give the cricket World Cup a special Indian flavour.

Indeed, it was tempting to feel pity for strike bowler Srinath. Everybody knows you should never come back from retirement.

Javagal SrinathBut Srinath -- overlooked for the one-day team last year after announcing he would no longer play Test cricket -- and left-arm quicks Nehra and Khan were at it again on Friday as they dismantled the New Zealand top order with slide-rule accuracy.

They bowled the first 21 overs between them at Centurion, before Ganguly finally gave Harbhajan a twirl.

By then it was 75 for five, with all the specialist batsmen back in the Centurion hutch and New Zealand as good as gone.

When Harbhajan removed Chris Cairns -- caught by Khan -- it broke a sequence of 17 successive wickets taken by India's quicks over three games.


During the team's 183-run annihilation of Sri Lanka four days previously, man-of-the-match Srinath, at 33 the daddy of the attack and the fifth bowler past 300 one-day victims, had made the early inroads as the Lankans slumped to three for three and four for 15.

Zaheer KhanIn the first round Nehra had been the man of the match, his six for 23 against England the best bowling figures in World Cup history for India.

On Friday, it was Khan's turn.

He took four for 42 to get past 100 one-day wickets.

"We're definitely peaking as a trio," he said. "Before today, I was the one who wasn't bowling as well but hopefully things will click for me now."

Srinath ended the innings with one for 20 and 15 World Cup wickets, the same as Khan and two more than Nehra, who claimed one for 24 off 10 excellent, lively overs.

It's rare to see two left-arm seamers in the same side. In recent years, indeed, there have been a dearth of quality left-armers at international level.

Batsmen may have forgotten how to play them.

Sri Lanka's Chaminda Vaas set the left-arm trend by leading the wicket-taking in the World Cup, including an unprecedented hat-trick with the first three balls of the match against Bangladesh. He took six for 25 that day and has 18 in all. Paksitan's Wasim Akram is also near the top of the tournament bowling list.

South Africa's Herschelle Gibbs was one batsman to open up his stance to combat Vaas, but New Zealand's batsman looked at sea as they played straight down the pitch to deliveries angled across them or cutting back off the pitch.

India captain Sourav Ganguly's coup in cajoling Srinath back into the team just in time for the World Cup has been vital to India's cause.

Coach John Wright's faith in his two left-armers, however, has been equally valuable. "The seam attack is exciting and well balanced," he said. "Having two left-armers in the team is fairly unique."

Nehra, regarded as a bit of an eccentric by his team mates, was overlooked for two seasons after making his debut in the 1998-99 season. None of India's fast bowlers, however -- all of whom feature in the top dozen wicket-takers at the World Cup -- have suffered from that in South Africa.

© Copyright 2003 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

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Number of User Comments: 14

Sub: Tremendous TRIO

The Indian attack has found thrishul in the form of Zaheer, Ashish and Javagal. What was heartening to see is the way they are approaching ...

Posted by Shankar

Sub: Great bowling Great Snaps

According to me, its been a great surprice for all the supportes of India that Indian seamers are bowling dangerously. These 3 bowlers are good ...

Posted by pankaj

Sub: zaheer khan

i love u zaheer u r my life ........ i love u very much.........

Posted by amreen

Sub: Ganguly!!

It is a sad tale for the Indian captains who are living in the shadows of some former greats who like to criticize them on ...

Posted by Ranjeet

Sub: Well Done

So, is the colonial Indian media going to leave Sourav Ganguly alone or are they going to find sometnine else to critisise??

Posted by Karthi


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