Zimbabwe likely to open with pinch-hitter

Published: Sunday, December 10, 2000, 21:10 [IST]
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Jodhpur: Indian skipper Saurav Ganguly on Thursday conceded he was happy his side was 2-0 up over the visiting Zimbabweans in the One-day series, but also cautioned his teammates against complacency on the eve of the third match to be played on Friday.''It's nice to be 2-0 up but we can't relax. Only when we win the third match can we say we won the series,'' he told the media after the team's nets on Thursday.''This is a good ground but the boundaries seem to be comparatively smaller. I saw the wicket and though it was still wet it should ease out after drying and should be a good track to bat on,'' Ganguly added.

Seamer Ajit Agarkar, who was rested in the second One-dayer at Ahemdabad, is fit and ''will be available for selection tomorrow'',the Indian skipper said. Ganguly also dispelled doubts over his own injured back and said he was absolutely fit for the game. ''I am feeling fine,'' he said.India have left out off-spinner Nikhil Chopra, whose selection without any clearance from the Cricket Board match-fixing panel has raised a controversy, and the young Orissa opener Shiv Sundar Das from the 12. Zimbabwe skipper Heath Streak, while complimenting the might of Indian batting said his own bowlers have been making it easier for the Indians. ''We haven't been bowling line and length. We have to bowl with discipline and force the Indian batsmen to make mistakes,'' he said.''Our batsmen have batted well but if our bowlers continue to give India easy runs we can never win. We will try to restrict India to a more realistic total, say around 250 to 260. We shouldn't have allowed them to score 300-plus runs in the last match," he added. ''That was too much for our batsmen.

We have to come out with new strategies tomorrow,'' Streak said, referring to the do-or-die position Zimbabwe are in. They need to win this match to stay alive in the series. ''The point is we need to be positive in our approach and we definitely will be.'' Streak revealed Zimbabwe may try sending a pinch-hitter to open the innings. ''We are looking at some options. Let's see how it works out. We will see the wicket tomorrow morning and then decide on the formation of our squad," he stated. ''The Indian wickets don't suit our style of bowling - swing - and we will now pick up bowlers keeping that in mind.'' There was a setback to the Zimbabwean plans already.

Left-arm spinner Dirk Vilojean has been ruled out of the match owing to a groin injury. Indian coach John Wright said he was happy with the way his players were showing signs of improvement. ''They have been playing well and improving with every game. Youngsters have been positive and have utilised all the opportunities. That is very, very important,'' Wright felt.''Our bowling and catching needs some attention. We are working on that and hopefully we won't repeat the same mistakes.'' Ganguly said though the team dropped many catches at Cuttack but it was ''much better at Ahemdabad''.He also said there was no point in resting seniors for further matches in case India wrap up the series tomorrow. ''Why should we gift India caps to youngsters? They have to earn them.'' UNI

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