Let people say whatever but its Sachin at the top

Published: Friday, February 14, 2003, 23:53 [IST]
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Centurion: Indian skipper Saurav Ganguly on Thursday reaffirmed that Sachin Tendulkar would open the batting in the next game against Australia too and justified this decision citing Tendulkar's impressive record against the Aussies. "Sachin (Tendulkar) loves to open and he would in this game, as he has a terrific record against Australia," Ganguly said ahead of India's next match on Saturday.

"He likes to take on bowlers upfront and has a psychological advantage over Australia." Tendulkar, a regular opener in the One-dayers till Virender Sehwag replaced him last year, opened the innings for India in the first game against Holland. Turning a deaf year to criticisms over the reshuffle in a settled batting order, Ganguly said, "Let people say what they want to but we are sticking with the same order." "Virender Sehwag will come at number three in this match too," he said.

Ganguly once again said that his team's chances against Australia should not be dismissed on the basis of its performance in the first match. "Even if you ask Australia they would tell you how dangerous we could be on a cricket field," said the Indian captain. "I suspect they are conscious of us more than any other team in this world cup." Ganguly said not much should be read into India's performance against Holland in which the much-touted batting line-up could muster just 204 runs and could not even play its entire quota of overs. "Not much should be read in that game," said Ganguly.

"Anyone who discounts our chances should remember the 2000 ICC knock out series." India did exceptionally well in that championship in Nairobi, beating Australia and South Africa on the way to the final where it was defeated by a Chris Cairns- inspired New Zealand. Ganguly hinted there would be no change in the team and both the spinners, Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh, would play against Australia. "I haven't seen the pitch but going by the experience of past years, it does aid spinners," said Ganguly "If that's the case, we would go with two spinners in the match."

One of India's fine performers in the game against Holland was Dinesh Mongia who cracked 42 and helped team get past 200 runs. "I am happy with my knock but I am also disappointed I couldn't carry on to get my fifty," Mongia said. "If I am selected I will go all out to produce runs." The talented left-hander from Punjab admitted he has had a poor run in recent times and he hasn't performed up to expectations. "It is true I haven't come up to expectations in recent times, call it lack of concentration or whatever but I am highly motivated to do well in this tournament," Mongia said.

"I am mentally ready for the challenge. I feel I am big time player and would do my best to contribute to team's success." Mongia batted at number three for most of last year but the recent reshuffle has led to him being demoted to number seven. "I don't mind at what order I come out to bat. It's more important I contribute to team's total and meet everyone's expectations. I just want to do my best for the team."

The Indian team arrived in Johannesburg this morning and had an afternoon session at Centurion Park. Everyone attended the session except medium-pacers Javagal Srinath, Zaheer Khan and Ajit Agarkar. "The medium-pacers didn't attend this session because they are busy with the physio (Adrian le Roux) in the hotel gym," informed Amrit Mathur, media manager of the team.

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