Namibia game: Indians wary of surprise situation trap

Published: Saturday, February 22, 2003, 23:53 [IST]
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Pietermaritzburg (South Africa): India is not taking minnows Namibia lightly in its World Cup Group 'A' clash on Sunday, with skipper Saurav Ganguly stating his team did not want to be trapped in a "surprise situation". The Indians brought their World Cup campaign back on track with a convincing victory against Zimbabwe in the previous game but Ganguly said the team still needed to improve on its batting.

"We need to keep our focus and improve in batting. Namibia are minnows but we still have got to be up against them. It's a game and important for batters," Ganguly said. "There have been surprises before in the World Cup and we don't want to get in a situation like that," Ganguly said. But the captain expressed confidence that India would be able to beat their opponents "comfortably". However, what the Indians need from Sunday's game is not just a win, which looks assured, but an emphatic all-round performance that would put the team in the right frame of mind ahead of the two big games against England and Pakistan.

Clearly, instead of performing only to 80 per cent of their abilities, as Ganguly said the team did against Zimbabwe, the players would be required to give more than 100 per cent and come out with a comprehensive victory. The Indians are currently in the joint second spot in Group 'A' having won two of their three matches so far to garner eight points, same as Zimbabwe and England. Australia, which has won all its games so far, leads the pool with 12 points. The Indians would be keen to pick up the momentum and win their matches against Namibia and England in order to avoid a situation where they must beat Pakistan in their last league game to qualify for the Super Six.

The Indians must be relieved that Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag, and to an extent Ganguly and Rahul Dravid too, were among runs in the previous game against Zimbabwe. But the form of the young guns - Dinesh Mongia, Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif - continues to be a cause of worry. Sunday's match gives the youngsters another opportunity to set things right and score some runs. The pitch at Pietermaritzburg usually helps the medium-pacers and considering the form that the trio of Javagal Srinath, Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra showed in the previous game, it should be another happy day for the Indian pacemen. In all probability, the Indians would once again go in with only one spinner but this time it might be Harbhajan Singh's turn to cool his heels.

By all indications, the team management is relying on Kumble's accuracy and subtle variations to torment the Namibian batsmen. Namibia has a good first-hand knowledge of local conditions as it shares a border with South Africa. Located on the continent's South West coast, Namibia only achieved Independence from South African rule in 1990. From 1996, South Africa allowed Namibia to take part in the United Cricket Board Bowl, a competition for the second XIs of its provinces. Namibia has also benefitted from the advice and coaching of Bob Woolmer, who previously helped turn South Africa into a major force in world cricket.

Teams (from): India: Saurav Ganguly (captain), Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Dinesh Mongia, Rahul Dravid, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammed Kaif, Sanjay Bangar, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, Ashish Nehra, Zaheer Khan and Javagal Srinath.

Namibia: Deon Kotze (captain), Danie Keulder, J B Burger, Louis Burger, Sarel Burger, Morne Karg, Bjorn Kotze, Lennie Louw, Gavin Murgatroyd, Burton van Rooi, Melt van Schoor, Gerrie Snyman, Stephan Swanepoel, Rudi van Vuuren and Riaan Walters.

Umpires: David Shepherd (England) and Aleem Sarwar Dar (Pakistan).

TV umpire: Barbour.

Match referee: Wasim Raja (Pakistan).

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