Ganguly anchors yet again

Written by: Sunil Gavaskar
Published: Wednesday, January 26, 2000, 0:00 [IST]
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Right throughout this trip the Indians have looked out of their depth in both versions of the game and so it has not been too much of a surprise to see them floundering without a point in the tri-series so far. They have had their chances especially against Pakistan but have messed up so badly that even their staunchest of supporters would have given up hope of them recording a win on this tour. It was much the same situation in the World Cup when they came back from a hopeless position to earn a place in the super-six stage of the tourney only to falter there. That is what Tendulkar and Kapil Dev would have told the team. There comes a time on a tour where the team starts to get homesick and with the players being here since November end, the time may well have come for some of the players. It is at such a stage that you need a player or two who with his sense of humour would keep the spirits up and thus give themselves an opportunity to make a last ditch effort.

The manner in which Tendulkar and his deputy began it did look as if the Indians were going to make a determined try to salvage their reputations and redeem themselves in the eyes of their supporters. In the matches so far they have not been able to string partnerships that would take them to a score they can fight with and many of the batsmen have got starts but not been able to convert them into the kind of big innings that would give some muscle to the total. Once again the opening pair gave the side a quick start and though there was a period when Dravid tried to come to terms with the pitch he at least made sure that he did not throw his wicket away and thus increase the pressure on Ganguly. The elegant left-hander continued his fine form by playing some truly memorable strokes and more crucially kept going till the last few overs and ensured that the team had a healthy score on the board.

Robin Singh as always played a good hand and his partnership with Ganguly lifted the scoring just as it looked to get bogged down. Still India would have been disappointed that they did not get around 280 to 290 that looked possible after the start they had got from the openers. And they would not even have got what they got but for Ganguly's superb batting.

On a pitch where the ball was coming on to the bat nicely and with the short square boundaries, it was a total that would not have worried Pakistan too much usually, but, because their top batsmen have not been in the best of form it was important for them to get off to a good start. Instead they lost both the blasters Saeed Anwar and Shahid Afridi quickly and that with the indifferent form of Inzamam-ul-Haq meant that they had a mountain to climb. Ijaz is the one batsman who has found his form and of course Abdur Razzaq has been quite magnificent. The Pakistanis have the option of having players like Azhar Mahmood to bolster their lower order and with the captain himself being no slouch with the bat, they are a team who can never be written off till the end at least against India against whom they always try harder.

Although Azhar Mahmood played some big shots, surprisingly there were some senseless shots from the others and that meant that India were able to sneak home quite comfortably than was thought earlier. This win will definitely give the Indians the much needed dose of confidence which has been missing from their game. Playing back to back matches is never easy and against the super-fit Australians on their National Day it is going to be even more difficult. Still the Indians have given their fans something to cheer about and for that we all should be thankful.

Professional Management Group

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