England tour of India - Cricket: India keen to keep the momentum going

Published: Wednesday, January 30, 2002, 21:37 [IST]
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New Delhi: Despite Virender Sehwag excelling each time he has come as an opener in a One-day International, it would still be skipper Saurav Ganguly who will open the innings with Sachin Tendulkar when India take on England in the fourth match here on Thursday.Ganguly was on Wednesday flooded with questions about the possibility of Sehwag replacing him as a regular opener, and the captain was forceful in asserting that he himself will open. "I will open with Sachin," he said after the team's practice session at the Palam ground here. Ganguly and Tendulkar form the most successful opening pair in the history of One-day game with a record 15-century partnership. On the other hand, Sehwag has one century and two fifties from the three innings he has played as an opener which has made him a powerful claimant to the opening slot. However, as India go into Thursdays game, the question uppermost in everyone's mind is not who will open the innings but whether the hosts would be able to continue with the momentum gained from that emphatic eight-wicket win in Kanpur on Monday.Keeping in mind India's track record in consistency, the answer can be anyone's guess. But more than ever before the team needs to prove it is not a one-match wonder which flatters only to deceive. If Kanpur was an appropriate answer to those who were dissatisfied with the unconvincing nature of the home team's two earlier victories in this six-match series, similar performances in the remaining two matches can be a fine rebuff to England captain Nasser Hussain who had been talking about India's vulnerability in pressure situations.England obviously feels the series, at present tilted 3-1 in favour of India, can still end in a draw. Fast bowler Darren Gough on Tuesday said it was probably rubbish to suggest India was a superior side compared to England and that the result of the Kanpur match could have been very different had a debatable umpiring decision not gone in favour of Tendulkar who went on to score a majestic unbeaten 87.It is now up to the hosts to stamp their superiority on England by winning the next two matches, and the series, without being over-dependant on one individual.In fact, team effort was the key to India's victory in Kanpur. There were useful contributions from a number of players in the team and not just from one or two individuals.The dazzling performance of Sehwag obviously hogged the limelight but the contributions of Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh and Javagal Srinath with the ball were equally significant, not to speak of the all-round performance of skipper Ganguly who had the most economical figures among the bowlers before chipping in with an aggressive 26-run knock.However, a comprehensive victory need not always be achieved in a flashy manner and the Indians would do well not to be carried away by their performance two days back. It would be wrong to expect Tendulkar or Sehwag to indulge in similar stroke play or for any other to try to match their pyrotechnics."The series is not yet decided. We cannot be complacent and allow England to come back and level the series. We don't want that to happen," Ganguly said."We would like to carry on to Mumbai," he said.India is unlikely to make any changes to its winning combination unless it decides to give opportunities to those who have only served as reserved in this series, now that there is no fear of losing the series. Ganguly said all the selectors were yet to arrive and he did not want to "jump the gun" by announcing the composition of the team for Thursday.Asked whether left-arm seamer Zaheer Khan could be included in the final eleven, he said, "Everybody stands a chance of playing on Thursday". Coach John Wright hinted that it would be more or less the same side that played the match in Kanpur. "Don't anticipate the balance of the side to be much different," he said. Ganguly was satisfied with his own show in the series. "I have been hitting the ball well though I realise I need a big score". PTI


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