Thatscricket - News - India does the bizarre on Bajji
Published: Monday, July 23, 2001, 21:21 [IST]
Bangalore: The Australians and South Africans innovate, but the Indians do the bizarre act. How else can one but explain the idea of promoting Harbhajan Singh as a 'pinch' hitter against Sri Lanka especially after losing two early wickets.Left-arm medium pacer Chaminda Vaas was still on and ace off spinner Muthiah Muralitharan was waiting in the wings when the Indians decided to send the 'Turbanator', as Harbhajan is nicknamed for his bowling exploits, into the middle.Harbhajan does not have a record for big scores let alone being a pinch hitter. Harbhajan came, saw, gave a tame catch and returned. The smirk on the face of Chaminda Vaas even as the Sri Lankan captain Sanath Jayasuriya completed the catch explained why the Sri Lankans had deemed the New Zealanders as a bigger threat in the tournament.The stage indeed was for the Indians to consolidate in the chase for a not too stiff challenge. It would have been ideal for Rahul Dravid to make the crease or even skipper Saurav - who decided to come down the order - to take strike. Instead the Indians happily played into Sri Lankas hands and lost the psychological battle at that point of the game.While the Indians will be left to rue and think a lot, the Sri Lankans - under unassuming coach Dav Whatmore - showed that they had done their home work right. Indian coach John Wright will really have to get the Indians into the right frame of mind if they have to see some semblance of making it to the August 5 final.The Sri Lankans never panicked at any stage of the game. Towards the end when there was some faint hope for India, they rallied to a man to chart Indias down fall. The animated conversation among the players with skipper Sanath Jayasuriya as well as vice-captain Marvan Atapattu listening intently showed the extent of contribution that the senior players made during the course of the match.So, where does India go from here? This question needs now to be addressed urgently by the Indian think tank. Will the Indians perform as a team or will they continue to bank on individual brilliance is another important point of concern.