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The Rediff Cricket Interview / BCCI General Secretary Niranjan Shah
'How can you blame Chappell if Team India fares badly?'
December 08, 2006
What are your reactions to India's dismal performance in the One-Day International series against South Africa?
Team India put up a very disappointing performance. Our players were outplayed and outclassed in every department of the game. But since the Indian cricketers are in South Africa for a pretty long time now, we expect them to perform better in the Test series.
In the West Indies, too, they came from behind and won the Test rubber after having lost the one-day series. So let's keep our finger crossed.
To what would you ascribe such a lacklustre showing by the Indian cricketers?
I think the batsmen have to take the blame. They failed to find the form at the right time and just couldn't strike collectively. Our batting collapsed totally.
Do you think too many experiments by Greg Chappell have had a wrong effect on the performance as well as morale of the Indian team?
I wouldn't like to comment on what you call experiments by the coach. He might be compelled to do so by the prevailing circumstances. He is a highly experienced player himself. So whatever he has been doing, including changes in the batting order as well as the team combination, must obviously for the good of the Indian side.
There was a lot of hullabaloo in Parliament, with many MPs demanding Chappell's head. Do you think MPs should interfere in the functioning of a sports team?
Well, it goes to show the tremendous popularity cricket enjoys in this country. Almost everyone wants to discuss cricket, wishes to comment on players and their performances. Let us take it as a healthy sign that even our MPs are concerned about cricket. Any constructive criticism should be welcomed.
But everybody must understand that, after all, cricket is only a game and nothing else. Losing and winning are part of this beautiful game.
If Shaun Pollock and company could bowl so effectively in the one-day games, where there are so many restrictions on fast bowlers, don't you think they would be more deadly in the Tests against the Indians, who are already low on confidence?
I think our batsmen have it in them to face the best fast bowlers anywhere in the world. They are highly experienced and they know very well how to adjust themselves to the new format of the game. Now that Ganguly, too, has joined the team, it will surely boost the team's confidence.
Our batsmen in particular would be better off forgetting about what happened in the one-day series. They should concentrate on the Test series with a positive attitude. By this time they have acquired enough knowledge and experience of the South African pitches and bowlers too.
Does this team stand a realistic chance of making it to the semi-finals of the World Cup, which is only a couple of months from now?
I am still confident of India being one of the favourites to win the World Cup. World Cup cricket is a different ball game altogether. It will be a serious mistake to underestimate our team.
Please click here for the next part of the Niranjan Shah interview: 'Sehwag's recent form has left a lot to be desired'