Sans star bowlers, India starts confident

Published: Saturday, November 13, 1999, 20:30 [IST]
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Guwahati: Despite the absence of the entire frontline bowling attack, India would start on a confident note when it takes on New Zealand here at the Nehru Stadium tomorrow for the fourth one dayer of the current series. For the first time all the top three bowlers, Kumble, Javagal Srinath and Venkatesh Prasad would not play as they preferred rest before the 76-day-long tour to Australia beginning November 22.

But captain Sachin Tendulkar and coach Kapil Dev were confident of maintaining their winning streak. However, captain Sachin chose to be cautious. "The series is still wide open and the victory margin of the last match was not comfortable enough. We have so far done well but we would not like to relax," he said. With back to back victories in Hyderabad and Gwalior, the hosts are eager to wrap up the series on the placid wicket of the Nehru Stadium, which was tailormade for the batters.

As all the top three batsmen of India were in ominous form and each of them cracked 150-run plus innings in the past two outings, the team would be once again dependent on its strong batting line-up. The Indian team would prefer to bat first as light faded here quite early. ''The Indian top order is our biggest problem. We are worried over that part," said Kiwi captain Stephen Fleming adding that he missed the service of Dion Nash and Craig McMillian.

With Kumble opting out from the remaining two matches, his Karnataka teammate Sunil Joshi had every possibility of getting a berth in the first eleven as there was little chance of Gyanendra Pandey playing the match in his place since he joined the team only this afternoon from New Delhi. The Indian bowling attack would be spearheaded by Ajit Agarkar and Debasish Mohanty.

Agarkar made a resounding comeback at Gwalior as he not only contained the free stroking Kiwis but in the slog overs took the match away from them with a series of swinging yorkers which left the Kiwi tailenders cramped for striking space. However, for Mohanty it was a difficult ball game. He would get another opportunity to impress his coach and captain although he did not bowl well in Gwalior giving away 38 runs in 5 overs. In fact rookie T Kumaran could also be tried by Kapil.

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