Have finesse but looking for fitness

Written by: Sunil Vasudeva
Published: Tuesday, February 24, 2004, 15:11 [IST]
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The Indians have gone from raring to go to aching to go. India's pace battery looks in need of a massive recharge as Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, and Ajit Agarkar have fitness issues draining them and their buoying spirits. Not to mention, Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh also are struggling with fitness issues, the latter, safe to say is indisposed altogether for this landmark tour.

India may have to have a go at the Pakistanis with their rookie pacers, Irfan Pathan, Lakshmipathy Balaji, and Amit Bhandari. That'll be an interesting clash. It will demand consistency of the Indian batting order. Sehwag, Ganguly, Tendulkar, Laxman, and Dravid will once again be carrying a good share of the burden that won't be made any lighter by Akhtar, Sami, and Shabbir Ahmed. Whether Waqar Younis is added to the same equation or not, India could be facing a stiff challenge that would call on them to play 100% of their game as opposed to the 60% that Ganguly projected.

Can the Indians do it? Meet the challenge? Sure, they can. They need to believe in themselves to be able to deliver. They should not dismiss their achievements Down Under or make them pale into insignificance. The Aussies were impressed by the Indians who taught them a lesson or two.

The other strength India needs to keep in touch with is their fielding. True, India's fielding on many an occasion left a lot to be desired. However, they also have taken many a blinder of a catch. Here once again the onus falls on Sehwag, Ganguly, Tendulkar, Laxman, and Dravid. With Mohammed Kaif recovering fully from his injury, he can be a good fit into the scheme of things as an agile fielder. India is not out of options yet.

Moreover, who says Zaheer, Ashish, Ajit and Anil cannot be flown to Pakistan at a moment's notice if they reach peak fitness while the tour is in progress. Didn't the BCCI send substitutes Down Under? Why not to Pakistan? However, we know that the aforementioned four bowlers can be called anything but substitutes!

Therefore, the Indian team should keep their chins up and give it their best. If their best took the Aussies by surprise, it could do the same in Pakistan.

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