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Home > Cricket > World Cup 2003 > News > Report

I just bowled a good line and length: Nehra

Faisal Shariff | February 27, 2003 12:58 IST

"We were so complacent; we just love losing to India. Thanks for asking that question."

That was England skipper Nasser Hussain's reaction to a question about being complacent.

His Indian counterpart Sourav Ganguly was no less spiteful when asked about the television commentators who condemned the side after its tame surrender to Australia at Centurion.

"Some of the comments made by them (the commentators) were immature. They speak whatever they want. They are becoming a joke."

He ended Wednesday's press conference, which followed after India beat England by 82 runs in Durban, by saying the commentators are too ordinary for him to comment upon.

Ashish NehraIn between these two comments was the notable mention of left-arm fast bowler Ashish Nehra, who picked six wickets and turned England's hopes of making the Super Six to ashes.

The Zimbabweans were surprised at Harare with Nehra's pace. Hussain admitted that he was quicker than he was when he bowled against them in England last year. India finally seem to have got a serious pace bowling attack in Nehra, Zaheer Khan and veteran Javagal Srinath.

Clocking 149 kmph against Zimbabwe last week, Nehra was better than good this evening as he found every unsure English edge with alarming regularity. Ganguly called it the best spell of fast bowling he's seen since he played for India.

Having iced a swollen ankle all of Tuesday night, Nehra emerged from the dressing room on Wednesday evening and displayed great character in swiping through the long English batting line-up. There was a lot of zip in the weather and Nehra used it better than any bowler on either side.

For his part, Nehra offered a straight face at the press conference. No signs of heroism, just uncomplicated answers and a generous helping of humility.

"There was no pain. The physio, Andrew Leipus, worked very hard on me for the last two days," he said.

"It was a good day, a good wicket and I just bowled a good line and length," he replied, when asked about his performance -- the third best in World Cup history.

A great fan of Wasim Akram, he attributed the increase in pace to the level of fitness he has managed to maintain over the past few months, thanks to Leipus and Australian trainer Dale Naylor, who lives in London.

He picked Michael Vaughan's wicket as the best of the six he bagged, because, he says, it turned the game for India.

Despite the bowling coming good for India, the batting order seems to be an unfinished jigsaw puzzle.

Dinesh Mongia at number four today retarded the scoring rate after Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag got India off to a flier scoring at six an over for the first 14 overs. His inability to rotate the strike slowed the Indian innings and also frustrated the batsmen at the other end.

However, Ganguly defended his innings, saying the left-hander batted well for his 30 and he just needs to get a bit of thought in his batting. He stressed that Mongia faces no threat of losing his place in the side and the team is banking on him.

Ganguly admitted that in the last two games the team lost a bit of momentum in the middle but keeping wickets in hand has been the strategy. He believed that when the ball gets older it gets easier to score runs compared to when the 'Kookaburra' is new.

India travel to Centurion without the pressure of having to worry too much about wining the game against Pakistan on Saturday to qualify for the Super Six stage.

As for Nasser Hussain, his plan is simple: "Let's beat Australia and move into the Super Six. We came within five runs of beating them in Australia. (Next) Sunday seems to be a good day to do it."

The English journalists though smiled at the fact that England could still go through if India beat Pakistan and England beat Australia, forcing Pakistan to win a dead rubber against Zimbabwe.

Luck definitely doesn't travel well with the English. Optimism does.

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