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Home > Cricket > World Cup 2003 > News > Report

Only Sehwag can unsettle the Aussies

Faisal Shariff | March 23, 2003 13:54 IST

Former India batsman Sanjay Manjrekar picks his key players for the World Cup final and draws up a strategy for India to shock the Aussies.

"For Australia: Glen McGrath, Brett Lee, Adam Gilchrist and Michael Bevan

"For India: Sachin Tendulkar, (Ashish Nehra and Zaheer Khan), Rahul Dravid and Virender Sehwag.

"Sourav Ganguly has not changed the pattern of play over the last few games too much. I think it would be a great idea to have some last minute changes; not too radical, but a few changes would help unsettle the Australians.

"The Indians haven't played an opposition of the quality of Australia since the game at Centurion and that will play on their minds.

"I think the worrying area for India could be its batting. And the opening pair's performance will make all the difference.

"Virender Sehwag's natural game could take India through. The coach should not worry too much about him getting out and changing the way his style of batting. Sehwag should not take any half-hearted measures and should instead play freely. Even if it is the shot outside off-stump he should go ahead with it instead of pushing and getting out. He should either flash hard or leave the ball alone.

"Brett Lee can be managed by Sehwag alone. Instead of billing this as a game between Lee and Tendulkar; it could be more as the battle between Lee and Sehwag. Tendulkar should concentrate on taking on Glen McGrath, who can cause much damage early on and puncture the Indian batting assault.

"If Virender Sehwag gets going it would be just right for India. Sehwag has really disappointed me in this World Cup and if the right words are told to him before the game I think he can unsettle the Aussie march. We need Sehwag to go berserk and rip the Australian bowlers apart.

"Skipper Sourav Ganguly is not up to it when it comes to batting at number three against the likes of Brett Lee and Glen McGrath. And this could be the crucial move in the match if Rahul Dravid is sent ahead of ganguly at number three.

"Ganguly is a very good player and is in form but it is not advisable that he comes out to bat when the ball is new and shining. If he comes in after 15 overs he will succeed or else he will be a sitting duck for the Aussies. He can feel good against the likes of Namibia and Kenya, but he will have to come good against the Aussies and for that he needs to come down the order.

"Against the Aussies, the feel good factor will end and Ganguly's ability against the short ball will be tested. If he comes into bat after 15-18 overs when Lee has finished his first spell and it is time for Brad Hogg, Ian Harvey and Andy Bichel to come onto bowl, he will be brilliant.

If Ganguly was out of form it would have been understandable but with him in form it is better to optimise his contribution to the side. When he fires India wins.

"If not Rahul Dravid, then, probably, Dinesh Mongia should be sacrificed in that position.

"India should attack the Aussies and hit at their batting weakness. Matthew Hayden has been in bad form, Adam Gilchrist can be picked early. And just like against the Pakistanis the Indians do not need to show unnatural aggression against the Aussies.

"Andrew Symonds has been bailing the team out on numerous occasions. The Indian batting has been more consistent than the Australian batting.

"Javagal Srinath at best will be resigned to bowl as the economical bowler. With age he has learnt that well and after the first 3-4 overs when he will look to take wickets he will concentrate on drying up the runs.

"The exuberance of Ashish Nehra and Zaheer Khan will come through. Their aggression will help India pick wickets and put the pressure on the defending champions.

"Harbhajan Singh will have the advantage against them having wrecked havoc two years ago. As soon as the left-handers are on, Harbhajan Singh should bowl from round the wicket and worry them.

"Without Damien Martyn, Jason Gillespie and Shane Warne this team will always look weak. If Sehwag can get Lee off rhythm, Bichel will have to do the job coming off an injury.

"Ponting mentioned that he would look to get Tendulkar on the back foot. Any smart captain would not share his strategy in front of the media. The Australians will bowl short of length, zilch driving length balls and will concentrate on the line outside off stump. Knowing Indian batsmen's tendency to play with the angular bat it will be obvious what strategy they will employ.

"Michael Bevan will try to encash on India's fifth bowler weakness and coming into the last 15 overs he will know well that besides close to six overs from the fast bowlers the part timers will have to fill in.

"Australia's success with the bat will revolve around Bevan. Though Bevan is not as gifted a player like Yuvraj Singh, his mental toughness helps him get through games with success.

"My guess is that if Ganguly spots the slightest dampness on the wicket or if the wicket looks fresh he will put Australia in. If it is a white dry pitch the advantage is in batting first and posting a huge total.

"If it were a five-match series, I would say that Australia would beat India 4-1. But in a one-off match I would be scared to put my money on Australia.

"Let us be fair and practical, Australia is the better team. Ganguly should acknowledge that fact before going out to play and then decide to fight till the finish."

[As told to Faisal Shariff]

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