Quiet arrival marks India's return home

Published: Monday, September 3, 2001, 22:42 [IST]
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Chennai: The Indian cricket team was all set to perform better in the coming tour of South Africa, though not forgetting the 'patchy' performance in the Sri Lankan tour that ended in Colombo on Sunday.
The team led by Saurav Ganguly was received to a quiet arrival here on Monday from Colombo and the players dispersed to their respective homes later in the day. Talking to reporters at the airport, Ganguly said, "One cannot give excuse for non- performance due to the frequent injuries to players." He said players were prone to injuries and that affected the performance. "I am finding ways to give reasons for the bad performance. Injuries were not the sole reason. We performed only in patches. The only good aspect was that we were able to win a Test match. In the final Test, Zaheer Khan was injured on the morning of the second day," Ganguly said. In the triangular One-day series, Ganguly said, "Despite injuries to half a dozen players, we were able to make it to the final." The captain was of the opinion that 'fitness' was a major factor in players' performance. To this, John Wright, the coach said, "The Sri Lankan players were under a fitness programme for the last five years and above. All of them were 100 per cent fit. More over, a team needs to score at least 350 in the first innings to win Test matches," he said. Saying that the five national selectors had given him the team that he asked for, Ganguly said, "Now we have to look forward to the job on hand (South Africa tour) and take corrective methods to getting into the winning ways." Asked to spell out whether he would take four pace bowlers Ganguly said, "The pitches in South Africa are pacy and he would discuss such aspects with the selectors when the team is picked on September 7 in Mumbai." Though he did not confirm that he would be leading the side to South Africa, Ganguly's comment that he would 'discuss with the selectors' would mean that he would be retained as the skipper. Summing up the Sri Lankan tour, Ganguly said 'it is disappointing'. "We have the potentials but niggling and frequent injuries to players could be one of the reasons for the non-performance. We could have done better." He said, "International cricket is tough and the South Africa tour is going to be even tougher." Ganguly did not agree that there was no variety in the Indian bowling attack. He said 'there was variety'. "We did not have a left-arm spinner but we had a leg spinner instead." For this, Wright commented, "When you have quality batsmen in your side and you do not have at least 350 runs on board in Test matches, naturally, there will be some sort of pressure on bowlers." About Harbhajan Singh, the coach said the bowler is in the learning process. "you cannot compare him with Muthiah Muralitharan, who is a wrist spinner. Harbhajan is a spinner in real terms but he requires some more time to peak and maintain consistency," he said. To a question whether the team is still in experimental stage, as he has handled over 35 players during the last nine months, Wright said, "You need to groom youngsters. There are talented and potential players but it takes some time for some of them to prove and be consistent." On umpiring and few rough decisions that went against the Indians, Ganguly emphasised that 'it is part of the game'. "Such things always happened and he will not complain about them."

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