Durban: Baffled by the mystery of fumbling at the final hurdle for the ninth time, a distraught Indian captain Saurav Ganguly confessed he had no clue as to why his team was doing badly in finals and said he and his team had some serious introspection to do.
"We have to find some solution to the continued bad performance in final matches. At present I don't know what it is," Ganguly said on Friday after India crashed to a six-wicket defeat to South Africa in the final of the triangular One-day series. "We have lost six finals in one year. That's quite a few. We have got to do something about it. We have got to play better cricket," he said. Ganguly admitted the total of 183 that his team put on board was not enough but also moaned the missed chances. "The total wasn't enough. But we didn't take the early catches. We got a few early chances." India's middle order batsmen failed to rise to the occasion after Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar were dismissed early on Friday. The captain said the middle order needed to play more responsibly as he reflected on the failures of Yuvraj Singh and V V S Laxman. "They have got to handle the pressure. They have done that before. It's just not happening in the final matches." Ganguly also said he was surprised to find the wicket at Kingsmead being so sluggish when the Indians batted. "In my experience, it was the slowest Kingsmead pitch I have ever played on. If I had won the toss, I would have still batted on this pitch." However, Ganguly was optimistic about the forthcoming Test series against South Africa. "Test cricket is a different ball game and we hope to do better there. Rahul, Sachin and myself are in good form, the spinners have bowled quite well, and the seamers have done good in patches." With the inclusion of Ashish Nehra and Zaheer Khan, we would be back in business, he said. "I am particularly hopeful on Nehra and Khan since both are left-arm pacemen and South Africa hasn't played left-arm medium-pacers much in recent past," Ganguly added. Coach John Wright also admitted that finals have become a hurdle for the players. "I am sure once it starts winning, once we cross that hurdle, there would be many more to come," Wright said. "In some respect, you don't want this must-win situation. What the players should be looking at is that they are playing four games against an opponent and they at best must make the score read 2-2 and not think about the finals." "If you look from the players perspective, it builds a certain pressure. I would be dishonest if I say the players haven't been feeling the pressure," Wright added. "At the moment, it might take a couple of inspirational performances to turn the tide, maybe a big hundred and a brilliant spell of bowling. At the end of it, I think we were 60 runs too short and then we didn't pick early wickets and take our chances," Wright summed it up. South African captain Shaun Pollock said his team's game plan had paid off. "Our guys played quite well. We knew we obviously have to try and take wickets upfront and our guys managed to do that. We wanted to put some pressure on the Indian middle order. That was our plan. "With their openers being in rich form, there wasn't much work for the middle order. We played good cricket throughout the series. The only game we had a bit of hiccup was in Centurion Park losing to India. We should have probably got that 240 but our batters didn't do too well that night," Pollock said. He said his team was already looking forward to the Test series, which starts on November 3. "Obviously there has to be a change of mindset for the Tests. But that is international cricket all about. We know how to adapt to that and we are looking forward to it," he said adding it would be foolish to underestimate the Indians. "In the Test matches, Ganguly and Tendulkar would move down the order and with Rahul and Laxman, they have the making of a good batting side." Extras:
Final's jinx continues to haunt India