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|June 5, 1999||
We did not play to our potential: Azhar
Indian skipper Mohammad Azharuddin is deeply hurt by the "unfair" criticism of his captaincy. "The captain is only as good as his team," he says.
In his post match remarks, after the India's 77-run defeat to Australia, which virtually shut the doors to the semi-finals, he said, "Eleven players play every game and the captain is just one of them."
Azhar, whose batting has hit the rock bottom, felt it was wrong to blame him alone for India's defeat. "We simply did not play up to our potential," he said.
Azhar's leadership has been under fire for long. Critics have been training their guns on him after India failed to make it to the final of the inaugural Asian Test match championship, and three successive one-day defeats against Pakistan. They became all the more vocal when his deputy, Ajay Jadeja, led India to victory in his absence due to injury.
India began its campaign in the World Cup on an disastrous note, losing to South Africa and Zimbabwe, and Azhar once again drew flak. However, the tide was reversed when he led the country to three successive victories that enabled it to make it to the Super League.
"It wasn't just bad bowling which cost us dearly," Azhar said, after Glen McGrath not only broke his bat with a torrid delivery, but also the Indian innings. Azharuddin attempted to fend a ball from McGrath, but finished just balooning it to his counterpart, Steve Waugh.
Coach Anshuman Gaekwad said, "He (McGrath bowled extremely well. Absolutely brilliant." The deliveries that dismissed Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid were virtually unplayable."
The McGrath-Sachin challenge proved to be a non-starter and the world's greatest batsman was out for a nought. He was gunning for Sachin's wicket and Sachin fell into his trap.
McGrath said his game plan was to get the ball up and get Sachin come forward and get the edge. Sachin obliged. The nudge was held by wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist.
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