First ODI was a good wake-up call for India

Written by: Sunil Gavaskar
Published: Friday, March 24, 2000, 0:00 [IST]
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A good wake-up call is how the Indian captain Sourav Ganguly described the comprehensive defeat in the first game against South Africa. Indian supporters won't mind such wake-up calls if the Indian bowlers can get up and bowl like they did in dismissing the old rivals Pakistan for a paltry score. It was the second consecutive time that a side batting first has found run scoring difficult and the pitch has nothing to do with it. As always the Sharjah pitch has looked flat and with no real assistance to the bowlers. It has been poor batting, plain and simple.

India did the smart thing by bringing Venkatesh Prasad back into the eleven and he got the early break , thanks to a superb catch in the slips by Azhar that saw the back of the dangerous Afridi and when Agarkar deceived Abdur Razzaq with a slower one and Pakistan were up against it.

Young Imran Nazir batted with confidence and tried to consolidate with the in form Inzamam-ul-Haq. Ganguly has shown plenty of confidence in Sunil Joshi and the spinner has responded by not only picking wickets but also bowling economically. He broke the partnership with a delivery generously flighted and drifting in with the breeze and Nazir played all over it.

Youhana has batted well against India and he relishes a tight situation that he found himself in. Batting with Inzamam a batsman has to worry about the calling or the lack of it and not just the opposition bowling. The yes-no situation that he found himself in and that too when the call eventually led to his walking back to the pavilion shaking his head completely bewildered by what had happened.

Inzamam had shown the presence of mind of running between the throw and the stumps but the run-out was no doubt preying on his mind as he reached out to the next delivery and Karim made a difficult catch look easy.

Younis Khan was one batsman that the Indians knew little about but his reputation had preceded him and Ganguly realising that he was another of the young Pakistan brigade, brought Kumble on and the leggie capitalising on the young man's inexperience got him playing on to a ball which was too full and too quick for the cut.

Still with Wasim Akram and captain Moin Khan there the Indians could not afford to relax. Akram after a huge six was consumed by Prasad and that again showed Ganguly's alertness as the captain. He has been impressive and not afraid to try something different and a captain who is flexible has always got that many more options to try.

He had Kumble bowling in three spells even when he was getting wickets and bowling mingily but he cleverly held him back for a few overs to the tailenders. All the Indian bowlers had impressive figures after their mauling by the South Africans and the number of direct hits that the fielders scored is also heartening for it does make the batsmen think twice about going for the quick run what with the third umpire coming into play for the decision.

Pakistan's collapse like India's on the first day will certainly boost the confidence of the South Africans. Their's was a thoroughly professional performance in beating India and they will be hoping that Pakistan's confidence will also be at a low ebb after this. Four years ago they won everything here in Sharjah and the way they have begun they must be hoping to repeat that feat.

Professional Management Group

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