It is time for Indians to tighten shoe lace, perform

Written by: Nivedita Aluri
Published: Wednesday, February 20, 2002, 19:24 [IST]
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Bangalore: After the disastrous home series against England, India hopes to salvage pride with a win in the home series against touring Zimbabwe. With the present form of the Indian team, probably it would be right to say that Indians shouldn't be over confident in their approach against the Zimbabweans.

The Indians, who have been performing very inconsistently especially after the home series against Australia in early 2001, need to concentrate against Zimbabwe and perform well to regain their lost confidence.

Even though India is playing against the minnows of cricket world it needs to be cautious and careful not to fall into the trap of complacency. India has earlier suffered humiliating defeats against Zimbabwe, which has always shown the ability to upset any team.

With a world-class batsman like Andy Flower in its middle order and his brother Grant Flower, captain Stuart Carlisle, seasoned Alistair Campbell, all-rounder Craig Wishart, Trevor Gripper and Tatenda Taibu, fresh from his brilliant performance in U-19 World Cup, to lend their able support, the Zimbabweans can definitely put up a decent fight if they get their act right.

Experienced Heath Streak will lead the bowling department with Craig Wishart, Gavin Rennie, Brighton Watambwa and Raymond Price playing the supporting role.

For India there are many world-class players, but most of them are due for a big performance. Captain Saurav Ganguly will have to put up a good show to make up for his failures in past few series', in fact he'll need to find his lost form to silence his critics and lead from the front.

Rahul Dravid, recovering from the therapy for his shoulder, will have to settle himself into the team. He is also due for some runs as he had a lean series against England in the Tests.

Laxman has a lot to prove not only to the critics but also to himself, especially after being dropped from the middle of the One-day series against England. He hasn't lived up to the promise he had shown in the Australian series in 2001. He has a lot at stake as he hasn't had any big scores after that series. And it's a definitely a come back series for him. He has to break the shackles of getting out in the 20s or 30s and concentrate on putting up a big knock.

Sehwag has been among runs, but not with consistency. He needs to concentrate and get his eye in early in his innings. He needs to build his innings before going for the big shots. He should transform his big hitting One-day game into patient Test game.

If Ganguly, Dravid, Laxman and Sehwag can put up a decent show, it'll not only give the team a better chance but also take the pressure off from the burdened shoulders of Sachin who has always been a star performer for India.

Harbhjan Singh is very much due for a big performance and will have to live up to his 'turbanator' reputation. Zaheer Khan, who is making a come back, will have to justify his recall as much as his talent and prove a point to keep his place in the team.

Seasoned and experienced Anil Kumble and Javagal Srinath, who form the back bone of the Indian bowling, will have to take all the responsibility of not only spearheading the attack, but also guiding the youngsters, on their shoulders.

In short, the Indian players will have to get their act together to perform as a well-knit team and deliver the goods. Only a positive showing from the Indians will erase the bitter failures in the recent past. As Bishen Singh Bedi said in a talk show in a television sports channel, "If India doesn't win against minnows Zimbabwe at home then it doesn't deserve to play."


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