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Ashish Magotra |
January 29, 2003
The fear of the unknown is a potent force. It can make you react in diametrically opposite ways: with passion and courage, or with a meekness that could drive your greatest supporters to despair.
How will this Indian team react to the pressures that a billion-strong fan following exerts on it?
With the team in South Africa, to participate in the eighth edition of the World Cup, fans would love to know the answer to that question. Only this time round it is not pitches in South Africa, but the inconsistency of the team that's uppermost in the mind.
Yesterday was a hectic day for the team -- filled with press conferences, dope testing, interviews, photo sessions and, as always, a generous helping of chaos -- as it prepared to leave Mumbai for yet another crack at the biggest trophy of them all.
At the press conference, coach John Wright said he was impressed by the way the batsman batted in the series against South Africa in 2001.
"We batted very well in the first match against Kenya, with Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly. Ganguly was especially good in the limited-overs internationals and that gives us hope."
He further added that India missed the services of Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra during that ODI series.
Talking about the upcoming tournament, he said: "We expect wickets that will encourage good one-day cricket. As long as we can get good practice facilities in Durban -- which we know we will -- we should do well."
Ganguly displayed an uneasy calm while sounding confident about the team's chances. He reiterated his faith in Sanjay Bangar's ability as an all-rounder and was confident about him getting back to his best after a dismal tour of New Zealand.
"If that [Bangar plays well] happens India has a compact side," he averred.
What followed then was the normal bantering session one witnesses at press briefings, with Ganguly, Wright and Rahul Dravid on one side and the media on the other.
Indeed, the team looks assured, but then when has it not?
After the press conference the players headed for the team photo session. The team has Jyoti Bajpai as manager, Venkata Rao as assistant manager and Amrit Mathur as media manager. Rajiv Shukla, a senior BCCI member, will join the team later on the tour.
But despite the presence of those four guardians, Virender Sehwag, Ashish Nehra and Mohammed Kaif missed the photo session. The reason: they were all engaged in giving their dope tests, conducted by the board. Just a few minutes after the lensmen had clicked to their hearts content in walked Kaif, followed by Sehwag and Nehra. Needless to say, all were disappointed to have missed out what could be a once-in-a-lifetime picture.
How can a team portrait be shot without all the members being present? It was, indeed, the height of unprofessionalism. Or was it a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth?
Imagine what could happen if Tendulkar or Sehwag are left stranded at the team hotel should the managers set out for a match without taking a head count?
Which begs the question: are so many managers needed?
The money that is being spent on their trip could well have been utilised towards a bowler/batsman accompanying the team. Even a full time psychologist would have been more beneficial.
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