Colombo: India skipper Saurav Ganguly on Monday defended his decision to send in batting star Sachin Tendulkar in the middle order instead of as an opener in the Champions Trophy tournament.
"Sachin had a fantastic series batting at number four (in the NatWest Trophy) in England," said Ganguly after his team shared the trophy with Sri Lanka following the rain-hit replayed final at the Premedasa Stadium. "He's a quality batsman and it's good for the team that he bats at number four. The people who put pressure on him should realise we need to win as a team. We have to stop picking individuals and making them stars. We need to pick an eleven and back them." Tendulkar started opening the innings in One-day Internationals on the 1994 tour of New Zealand before being replaced by Virender Sehwag during six matches against England at home early this year. Tendulkar has said he would like to regain his opener's slot instead of batting at number four because he feels more comfortable at the top. "He has not expressed his desire to me," said Ganguly of Tendulkar, who has scored more than 11,000 runs with a world record 33 centuries in the shorter version of the game. Tendulkar batted at number three in the replayed day-night final against Sri Lanka, scoring an unbeaten seven before the game was abandoned. "Sachin would have batted at number three on Sunday as well had he got a chance," said Ganguly. Tendulkar did not get an opportunity to bat on Sunday as the match was washed out after just two overs during the Indian innings. "He did not get runs in two games," said Ganguly. "That happens with everybody, but then people had put a lot of pressure on him so we thought it would be good for him to go with the ball being hard. That's what he's used to. We thought he could hit a few boundaries and the pressure would be off him." The Indian skipper said he was disappointed with the match result, especially after having restricted Sri Lanka to 222-7. "It was a disappointing result," he said. "We bowled well in the afternoon and contained them to 222 and then we were off to a good start as we reached 38 for one in less than nine overs. But you can't help the weather." Sri Lankan captain Sanath Jayasuriya echoed his counterpart's sentiments, saying the result was disappointing. "Both the teams were keen to play the final. Overall, the last two days of the tournament were disappointing," said Jayasuriya. He said his team had a chance to defend a modest total because it was not easy scoring runs on a low and slow wicket. "The wicket was getting lower and slower," he said. "We played on the same wicket on Sunday. When the pitch is so slow it is not easy to bat. When the ball is new you can play a few shots, but even 220 is a manageable total on this wicket." The Sri Lankan captain said he was still not satisfied with his team's batting in the opening overs. "It was disappointing to lose so many wickets in the first 15 overs," he said, referring to his team's score of 71-4 in the 17th over. "It was unfortunate that Aravinda de Silva got out because he was batting well. He has decided this will be his last game at home, but I want him to continue both in Tests and One-dayers. I would like to have a chat with him." Aravinda scored a 24-ball 27, smashing five boundaries in one over of seamer Ajit Agarkar before being dismissed.
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