Nagpur: Top Zimbabwean batsman Andy Flower sounded a warning to India ahead of Thursday's first Test, saying he was hopeful of returning to big-scoring ways.The left-hander troubled the Indian bowlers on Zimbabwe's last tour in 2000, performing the dual roles of batsman and wicket-keeper remarkably well to make 540 runs in two Tests with the help of a double-century and a century. Flower, however, could not do justice to his stature on the recent tour of Sri Lanka, making just 80 in six Test innings. "I hope to regain batting form in India.
The tracks here are good for batting, even though spin and reverse-swing might make things tricky," Flower said Zimbabwean skipper Stuart Carlisle said Tatenda Taibu would keep wicket in the two- Test series this time. "It will be a good test for him (Taibu) on this tour as Flower will not be keeping wickets in Tests," Carlisle said, adding he hoped Flower would be among runs again. "He played very well last time and I hope he will do the same this time as well," Carlisle said.
"I only hope our top-order batsmen get runs so that we can put pressure on the Indian batsmen. The pitch looks good for batting and we would like to bat first." Flower struck form in his very first match of the current tour, scoring a strokeful 94 on Sunday in a drawn warm-up game at Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh. "It was important for me score a few runs, since I did not have a very good tour of Sri Lanka," Flower, the top run-getter in the Zimbabwean side with 4,552 from 59 Tests with 12 centuries, said. "I relish batting on Indian wickets.
It encourages me to experiment and hence I was prompted to try the reverse-sweep," said Flower. Saurav Ganguly, under pressure as India captain because of his poor batting form, said Flower would not find it easy. "It will not be easy for Flower and company to reverse-sweep spinners Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh as they have been bowling well," Ganguly, who has scored just three half-centuries in his last 27 Test innings, said. "We now have a stronger side than the one that played Zimbabwe last time," said the Indian skipper, whose team won the two-Test series 1-0 two years ago. Leg spinner Kumble missed that series due to a shoulder-injury, while off-spinner Harbhajan was replaced with Sharandeep Singh.
India (from): Saurav Ganguly (captain), Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Venkat Sai Laxman, Shiv Sunder Das, Virender Sehwag, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, Javagal Srinath, Zaheer Khan, Tinu Yohannan, Deep Dasgupta, Sanjay Bangar and Sharandeep Singh.
Zimbabwe (from): Stuart Carlisle (captain), Heath Streak, Alistair Campbell, Dion Ebrahim, Andy Flower, Grant Flower, Travis Friend, Trevor Gripper, Mpumelelo Mbangwa, Raymond Price, Gavin Rennie, Tatenda Taibu, Brighton Watambwa and Craig Wishart.
Umpires: David Shepherd (England) and Srinivas Venkataraghavan.
Match referee: John Reid (New Zealand)
| Copyright AFP 2001 |