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Indians have nothing to lose

November 21, 2003

Javagal Srinath

The Indians, who embark on the Australian tour today, are a resolute lot with the will to do well. Being part of the team all this while, I know on a tough and challenging tour like this one, all they need is the positive help from every quarter and not just criticism.

After all we are part of the system from where the team is picked. The Indian seasoned campaigners will be looking for new formula to better the previous results. The younger lot will be very eager to make a mark which would have a big impression on their future cricket. No batsmen can claim to fame without scoring runs Down Under and no bowler's career is fulfilling having not done well in Australia.

Although, the drawn home Test series against the Kiwis and the inexcusable defeat against the Australians in the recently concluded tri-series final does not point to an auspicious start of the season, the Indian team lands at Adelaide with fresh hopes and new-found ideas.

Indian batting line up looks the best in comparison to the previous tours. Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid playing the lead role, it will be VVS Laxman and Sourav Ganguly who will really lend credibility to the Indian batting.

The opening slot remains undecided and to my knowledge it might invariably fall on the shoulders of Dravid during the course of the four Tests. Newcomer Akash Chopra and the other opener in Deep Dasgupta or Sadgopan Ramesh, will have to really show a great temperament and technique to offer resistance to the new ball.

It is a sad state to see the Indian opening slot has never looked settled for years. Either the players have not capitalised to build their career on or it also appears that the people of our country with great cricketing expertise have not tried enough to impart the intricate knowledge of dealing with the new ball. The young openers have been found fending for themselves in the quest for continuing the legacy left behind by our predecessors unsuccessfully for a long time.

Over the years Sachin Tendulkar has fought the lone battle with the other batsmen not really dominating as much as they can, but now with huge experience behind them our batsmen can definitely make this sojourn a different one from the last two series.

It will be really interesting to see how Virender Sehwag applies himself on the tour. A splendid hundred at Headingly against England last year is a pointer for people not to write him off at any stage of the series and I am sure, Sehwag will be keenly looking up to Tendulkar and Dravid to help him on this challenging series. Laxman would be a treat to watch as he has this tremendous affinity to take the Australian attack on.

A fit Ashish Nehra will form the right combination with Zaheer Khan. Ajit Agarkar being the first change bowler. The captain will have a real problem in choosing between the two spinners. The pre-Test games will be the measuring scale for the spinners to pick themselves into the Test side.

Though, it is the first outing for Zaheer and Nehra, they have enough experience and success behind to see through the series with favouring results. With Wasim Akram around doing the commentary, I am sure they will not hesitate to look up to him for any useful tips for what a great fast bowler he was in the world.

It has been a normal practice for years to go into a Test match with four regular bowlers. A change in strategy to add extra fifth bowler to go with one less batsman is not a bad idea either. If the first five batsmen can't deliver it is highly improbable that a sixth batsman would succeed, but definitely a 5th bowler can bring in a lot of variety into the attack and give the much required rest for the main bowlers to be fresh to come back into the attack by sharing the workload.

The world champions seldom lose any games, but any defeats they face will be dealt with vengeance at the right time. The series loss on their last Indian tour will be one thing on their minds and they will do everything in their power to make our lives hard. Indians being the underdogs have nothing to lose but everything to gain.

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