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Bangar, Nehra not in 12

Ashish Magotra in Paarl | February 11, 2003 18:37 IST

Sanjay Bangar, Ashish Nehra and Parthiv Patel have been excluded from the 12 for India's opening match in the World Cup against The Netherlands at Boland Park in Paarl on Wednesday.

The announcement means Dinesh Mongia gets the nod and that the team management is not looking at playing more than three medium pacers.

Sourav Ganguly was emphatic that the "time to relax is past us", and it is clear that the Indians are trying to get their best combination right against a weak opposition.

Between tomorrow and Saturday, when the Indians play Australia at Centurion, they have no other match. The exclusion of Bangar means the Indians will go in with only one all-rounder.

Since the inclusion of Mongia in the final eleven is unlikely, because that will mean going in with seven specialist batsmen, it looks more or less certain that both Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh will get to play on Wednesday.

"The slower bowlers will have a big part to play during the tournament," Ganguly said.

The Indian spinners bowled well in their practice match at Chatsworth, and spinners played a big role in the West Indies and Sri Lanka wins.

All indications were that the team is looking at playing four specialist bowlers during the tournament. The skipper, himself, hopes to bowl a lot more.

As practice goes, the Indian batting line-up could not have asked for anything better than the Holland match. The BoE Park track is a belter and when the Indians last batted here they racked up 351/4 against Kenya.

That was the first time that batting of such quality was seen in the stadium and the locals, who are still in awe of the Indian batsmen, are hoping that India will bat first because it promises a value-for-money run feast for the spectators.

Even the groundsman was certain about that. "They will definitely get a total of above 300, and if Sehwag, Ganguly or Tendulkar get going, even 400 is possible."

The Indians, meanwhile, are getting into mission mode. At the press conference where the 12 was announced, Ganguly categorically stated that the final eleven would be decided only after taking a good look at the pitch.

"Tendulkar might open or come at number three. The Indian team is looking to exploit a particular batsman's good form against a particular team and that's how the batting order will be decided throughout the tournament," the left-handed batsman continued. However, this is the first ODI India and Holland are playing.

Ganguly dismissed talk about Sachin Tendulkar's form saying, "The NZ tour should be disregarded. Tendulkar played very well in England and bailed the team out from a tight spot many time."

Coach John Wright said, "The players' stint with psychologist Sandy Gordon had been a great help to the team."

The team has already had 3-4 sessions with the psychologist.

The Holland team, on the other hand, was cautious about the team's prospects. They are looking forward to competing in their second World Cup and hope to not embarrass themselves against India.

"We realise that there is a big difference between our ability and the quality of these Test-playing nations just because of the amount of cricket that they play and the level that we perform at," said Holland skipper Roland Lefebre.

But Lefebre was also enthusiastic about Wednesday's game, "We are going to enjoy it. We will try to go hard at them, give a good game, and hope for the best."

The Indian 12: Sourav Ganguly, Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammed Kaif, Ajit Agarkar, Harbhajan Singh, Anil Kumble, Zaheer Khan, Javagal Srinath, and Dinesh Mongia.

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