Double headache for India ahead of second Test

Published: Monday, December 16, 2002, 18:47 [IST]
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Wellington: India skipper Saurav Ganguly conceded Monday the team's batting was not the only major worry ahead of the second cricket Test against New Zealand.

"We also didn't bowl up to our potential in the first Test," said Ganguly whose side crashed to a 10-wicket defeat inside three days at the Basin Reserve on Saturday to trail 1-0 in the two-match series. The second and last Test begins at Hamilton on Thursday. The Indian batting collapsed twice against pace on a fast and bouncy track as the tourists were shot out for 161 in the first innings and 121 in the second. The Indian pacemen, however, were not as successful as their counterparts as New Zealand posted 247 in its first innings to gain an 86-run lead. "Zaheer Khan bowled exceptionally well. Sanjay Bangar was also impressive, but Ashish Nehra and Ajit Agarkar were not up to the mark," Ganguly said. Left-arm fast bowler Zaheer alone succeeded in raising the Indian bowling above the level of mediocrity, testing the New Zealand batsmen with his probing line and length on a lively track. The 24-year-old bowler was suitably rewarded for his diligence as he grabbed five for 53 for his first five-wicket haul in 23 Tests. All-rounder Bangar provided valuable support as he took two for 23, but left-arm seamer Nehra and Agarkar both disappointed. Nehra went wicketless in his 19 overs, while Agarkar conceded 54 runs for one wicket off 13 overs. The Indian captain did not rule out changes in the bowling attack for the second Test, saying seamer Tinu Yohannan was in the running. "He has got a chance. He has given us more options before the second match," said Ganguly. Zaheer promised to solve some of his team's bowling problems ahead of the second match, saying he was confident of maintaining his form on seamy tracks here. "My confidence is now high. I've missed out on a five-wicket haul on a couple of occasions. I'm happy to have achieved it here," Zaheer said. The fast bowler said the dismissal of skipper Stephen Fleming was the most satisfying moment, for it boosted his confidence. Fleming was bowled for 25 while playing a wrong line to become Zaheer's first victim of the match. "That wicket mattered most to me. That raised my confidence and I continued to bowl in the right areas and went on to claim five wickets, but it was disappointing that we lost the match," Zaheer said. Zaheer said it was not easy coming back off an injury and getting wickets in the first Test, but the conditions suited him. "The conditions here are different from those at home," said Zaheer, who was rested after two Tests of a three-match home series against the West Indies in October. "The pitches here favour fast bowlers more. I plan to bowl the right length here and I'll continue to do so in the next match. That's the key to success on these wickets."

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