England tour of India - Cricket: Ganguly needs to infuse new thinking on field

Published: Thursday, January 24, 2002, 21:41 [IST]
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Chennai: Stung by the stunning comeback by England to level the six-match one-day series one-all in Cuttack, the big question facing India is whether it can put up a collective performance in the third game, a day/night affair at the M A Chidambaram Stadium.The Indian team is thriving on individual brilliance but it has failed to click as a team and that is what has worked to England's advantage both in the Test series and the One-dayers.Also, the Indian team has proved English captain Nasser Hussain dead right that it chokes under pressure. The English players seem to have done their homework well on the Indians, whether it be analysing the weak points of the home team or studying their trump cards Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh.On the other hand, the Indian team has been lacking in planning. Skipper Saurav Ganguly seemed to have made a tactical blunder in electing to field first in Cuttack knowing fully well that his team is very poor at chasing.Ganguly needs to ensure there is no such error this time if he wins the toss. The pitch, like most in the country, is tipped to be a batsman's track and India's best bet lies in putting up a good total while batting first. Another area where the Indians have been rendered second best is bowling. With England batsmen reading Kumble and Harbhajan well, India's game plan has been upset to an extent.Both the spinners have gone for a lot of runs in the first two matches and it is time for the captain to take some bold decisions. One of the options could be to replace Harbhajan Singh the other off spinner Sharandeep Singh, whois relatively unknown to the English batsmen.India also has left-arm seamer Zaheer Khan in its ranks. The Baroda seamer has done a good job in the past and it would not be wrong to give him a chance on Friday.The key to the Indian success would be its ability to surprise the English batsmen with some novelty in the bowling. The bowlers have been too predictable and it is time something new is tried out, big reputations notwithstanding.Reputations have not been justified in the batting department either. While Dinesh Mongia has done well to grab his opportunity with both hands - being the team's top-scorer in both the matches - the others, with the usual exception of Sachin Tendulkar, have been found wanting in their efforts.The saddest case is that of V V S Laxman, who seems to have joined his captain in belying expectations. One has lost count of how many times he has been dismissed in his twenties and thirties after getting a good start. Ganguly helped himself to some useful runs in the Kolkata match but once again fell in his usual manner in Cuttack. Hard-hitting Virender Sehwag has also not measured up to the mark and is more than due for a big knock.Comeback man Hemang Badani and new wicket-keeper Ajay Ratrahave had one good knock each but both must realise that consistency is the name of the game at this level.On the other hand, England is gaining in strength on this tour. The team has gained a lot of experience and confidence from every match and is now in a position to outsmart the Indians on their own turf.Hussain has emerged as a master strategist and is playing his cards well. And the players are responding well to their captain's demands. So much so, that England won the Cuttack match even without the veteran Graham Thorpe. England definitely holds the edge in the pace bowling department with the Darren Gough, Andrew Flintoff, Mathew Hoggard and Andrew Caddick in good form. Caddick is likely to play on Saturday. Englands fielding has also been outstanding.The teams: India (from): Saurav Ganguly (captain), Sachin Tendulkar, Dinesh Mongia, V V S Laxman, Virender Sehwag, Hemang Badani, AjayRatra, Anil Kumble, Javagal Srinath, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ajit Agarkar, Sharandeep Singh and Sanjay Bangar.England: Nasser Hussain (captain), Marcus Trescothick, NickKnight, Graham Thorpe, Michael Vaughan, Paul Collingwood, Andrew Flintoff, Jeremy Snape, Ashley Giles, James Foster, Darren Gough, Andrew Caddick, Mathew Hoggard and Owais Shah.Umpires: Vijay K Chopra and Devendra Sharma. Third umpire: B A Jamula.Match Referee: Dennis Lindsay (South Africa).Hours of play: 2.30 pm to 6 pm and 6.45 pm to 10.15 pm (all times IST). PTI

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England's tour of India

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