Sehwag to join Tendulkar at top, Ganguly to bat at four

Published: Tuesday, February 18, 2003, 23:53 [IST]
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Harare: Sachin Tendulkar will continue to open, while out-of-form captain Saurav Ganguly drops down the order as India rings changes to resurrect its World Cup campaign against Zimbabwe on Wednesday.

Ganguly's team needs a win to stay in contention for a place in the Super Six, and the desperate situation has forced a reshuffle of the struggling batting order. Virender Sehwag, who batted at number three in the first two games, will partner Tendulkar at the top with Dinesh Mongia coming in at number three and Ganguly at four, team officials said on Tuesday. India, regarded as one of the finest batting outfits in the game, failed to last 50 overs against the Netherlands and was shot out for 125 by Australia.

The Indians beat the Dutch, but the nine-wicket loss to Australia means Ganguly's men must win all their remaining key games against Zimbabwe, England and Pakistan to ensure a place in the Super Six. Tendulkar, one-day cricket's leading batsman, was given back his opening berth for the World Cup and responded with top scores of 52 and 36 in the first two games. But Ganguly has managed just 75 runs in his last nine innings, and coach John Wright was hoping the turnaround in the team's fortunes would come on Wednesday.

"Two months ago this batting order was successful, but since the start of the tour to New Zealand we've had nine One-day performances where we haven't finished the 50 overs," Wright told reporters. "We've got to put it right if we are to be successful in this competition, and it has to start from this game and be carried through. We must beat Zimbabwe," the Indian coach stated. "We have to regain our belief, our commitment and our determination to get the job done.

That is critical to our success." The rest of the batting order will not be disturbed even though Mohammed Kaif, the hero of India's One-day final victory over England last year, has a best of 31 in his last 15 innings. India will name its playing eleven just before the toss on Wednesday, the only change being considered is Ajit Agarkar or Ashish Nehra coming in place of one of the spinners if the wicket at the Harare Sports Club favours seam bowling.

Heath Streak's home team thrashed newcomers Namibia in its first World Cup match before earning four bonus points when England decided to forfeit its game here for security reasons. Meanwhile, Zimbabwe's new ball bowler Andy Blignaut will undergo a fitness test later on Tuesday following a long-standing ankle injury. The wicket sports a tinge of grass, which could prompt the captain winning the toss to bowl first.

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