India's true test of ability still around the corner

Written by: Mamatha Maben
Published: Tuesday, September 17, 2002, 19:25 [IST]
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Bangalore: India's batting performance in the first league match against Zimbabwe was yet another indicator of India having developed muscle in its batting department.

In the recent past India's efforts with the bat has reflected a steady progress in its performance chart (batting), especially in comparison to its dependence on Tendulkar and Ganguly. And right now with a batsman of the calibre of Kaif coming at number seven and the like of Laxman waiting for a slot in the 11, India's batting wardrobe wears a healthy look.

Sehwag, Mongia, Yuvraj and Kaif have all been coming up with stellar knocks from time to time. They have also been consistently contributing to the Indian scorecard. With Ganguly back to his best and Dravid peaking as a batsman Indian batting looks imposing.

Apart from the batting, the fielding aspect has taken a turn for the good with most of the Indians learning how to slide and dive around. The bowling has been on and off but the team as such is looking good and if anything this is India's best chance to win.

However, India has yet to win a major title and its true test of ability is around the corner with a likely clash with South Africa in the semi-final and Australia or Sri Lanka in the final of the Champions Trophy - Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka is indeed a formidable proposition.

I have always believed that on most occasions it is the bowlers who win matches rather than the batsmen. No matter how much the batsmen put up on the board, if the team doesn't have the bowling fire-power it is to no avail and that is one area where India could find its doom.

There is also one more fact to take into consideration; will India's batting line-up stand up and be counted against quality bowling in McGrath, Gillespie, Pollock, Donald, Muralitharan and Warne? Well, there are quite a few occasions where Indians have done well against them in the past and I don't see why they cannot do it again.

But if India is to have an early collapse like it did against Zimbabwe then it is certain that India is headed for trouble. For it is highly unlikely that Australia and South Africa will let it back in again - they have quality bowling to last till the end.

Moreover, these are teams who go for the kill once they smell blood.

So, although India has been doing well and is looking at its best, these are few areas it will need some looking into. In fact its bowling department needs some hard work if it is to beat top teams consistently.

If the Indians do not let their guard down and open their game for positive introspection - irrespective of a victory, then they stand to gain.

Let us hope the players are working hard on tightening the loose ends so that they can derive maximum benefit from the richness the team currently boasts in the batting department and in the process bring home the prestigious Champions Trophy.

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