Srinath's absence will be felt

Written by: Saurav Ganguly
Published: Thursday, March 9, 2000, 0:00 [IST]
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There is no arguing that the past three months have been rather bad for Indian cricket. Having said that, I still maintain that the guys are better cricketers than recent evidence would suggest.

Most of the players are proven customers who have performed at all levels of the game, and one win is all that we need to break the unhappy sequence which started in Australia.

Going into the one-day series, I feel it is time to do some things differently. For instance, I'm planning to go about the bowling slightly differently, and may even change the batting order according to the situation.

I believe flexibility and taking a few calculated risks are part of the game. Our batting is extremely strong, and will have that extra punch thanks to the return of Jadeja and Azharuddin.

They have played a huge number of one-day internationals between them and that experience will be crucial. In the bowling department, I won't deny that Sri's absence is going to be felt.

Let's hope Ajit finds his rhythm and of course there is Anil who bowled well in Mumbai and Bangalore. Both are attacking bowlers who can take wickets, and I believe that there is no better way to restrict the opposition than by taking wickets.

The whole team is aware that the fielding was one area where a lot of work is required. Over the last few days, the focus of our fielding practice has been on hitting the wickets. Further, the return of Azhar will raise our performance on the field by a few notches.

While the South Africans are a good bunch of one-day cricketers, they are not unbeatable. I also feel that Jonty will be missed because he saves at least 20 runs on the field and is a vital link in their batting line-up. Plenty has been written about the failure of our batting line-up in the last few games.

It is no use looking for excuses but given the amount of cricket we play, it is difficult to perform consistently in the highest level. Personally, I would rate the Test series as the worst in my career. However, I have been working hard and I'm confident of getting among the runs in the one-dayers ahead.

As I said earlier, one win will get us back to our best. Often it is one game that makes the difference between a winning streak and a string of defeats. Though it's no use reflecting on what could have been, I still feel that if we had won the first match of the tri-series - the one against Pakistan at 'Gabba - things would have worked out differently.

However, sports is all about looking ahead, and I maintain that we have what it takes to beat the South Africans. I would request our supporters to be patient and back us through these trying times. It is when a team is losing that it needs the faith and the prayers of its fans. We are hungry and desperate for a win and who knows, a win tomorrow will give us a boost for the rest of the series.

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