Gutsy Namibia holds no terror for India, rain big threat

Published: Saturday, February 22, 2003, 23:53 [IST]
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Pietermaritzburg (South Africa): India will win its next World Cup game against minnows Namibia, captain Saurav Ganguly predicted on Friday, saying only rain could save his rivals. "I have followed their games and we should beat them comfortably," Ganguly said ahead of Sunday's Group 'A' match at the Pietermaritzburg Oval. Ganguly's confidence stems from the 83-run victory over Zimbabwe on Wednesday which gave India two wins from three matches and revived its hopes of making the Super Six. Besides Namibia, India will also have to defeat England and arch rival Pakistan to ensure a place in the next round.

The weather finally cleared after three days of rain, but cloudy skies have been forecast for Sunday. "It will be unfortunate if the weather intervenes because we want to get full four points here," Ganguly said. Namibia, playing in its first World Cup, has lost all their three matches so far, but their determination to fight all the way has been a feature of this tournament. It rattled England in Port Elizabeth on Wednesday by bowling it out for 272 before Jan-Berry Burger smashed 85 to bring Namibia within 55 runs of a stunning upset. Ganguly, however, said his team's batting remained a worry after being shot out for their lowest World Cup total of 125 by Australia last weekend.

"We are still not playing to our full potential. Hopefully this match against Namibia will help us iron out some of the problems before the big games come," the Indian captain said. Meanwhile star batsman Tendulkar missed the symbolic 15-minute ride on the Gandhi memorial train on Friday to keep an appointment with a local doctor to treat a minor bruise on the left hand. India has abandoned the idea of blooding 17-year-old wicket-keeper Parthiv Patel in a bid to give Rahul Dravid a rest behind the stumps. "It is important to win well and improve the net run rate that could play a decisive role in the end," team official Amit Mathur said.

"The best team needs to play to acheive that." Namibia, coached by former England all-rounder Dougie Brown, hopes to carry over the good work against England to the India game. "This is what the World Cup is all about, playing against the best teams. The boys will be ready, they'll give it their best," Brown said. If the Indians are regarded as being vulnerable against pace, Namibia has Rudi van Vuuren to take advantage of that. Van Vuuren, who also represented Namibia in the rugby World Cup, showed his medium- pace bowling skills by grabbing five for 43 against England. Copyright AFP 2001

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