Ganguly to bat at number 3, Kumble likely to come in

Published: Sunday, February 23, 2003, 2:52 [IST]
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Pietermaritzburg (South Africa): Wary of taking the opposition lightly, Indian skipper Saurav Ganguly on Saturday said his team was preparing for Sunday's Namibia game in the same way as it would do for the matches against England and Pakistan. "Our boys will be preparing the same way on Sunday as they would against England or Pakistan," Ganguly said on the eve of India's World Cup league game against Namibia. "It is not difficult to motivate the side. We all know how difficult every game is.

Especially when you are looking to qualify for the Super Six." Ganguly confessed his side did not know much about Namibia, their information based mainly on the performance the African team has put up in this competition. "We haven't seen them much but they did a very good job against England. We cannot afford to make experiments though there is a possibility that Ajit Agarkar or Anil Kumble could be considered," Ganguly said. Allaying fears on the availability of Sachin Tendulkar who missed Friday's function at the Pietermartizburg railway station in memory of Mahatma Gandhi, Ganguly said the master batsman was certainly figure in Sunday's game.

"He is not serious. With constant catching and the ball continuously hitting the place, there has been a bit of soreness and stiffness. He is alright and fit for the game." Tendulkar showed nothing was wrong with him, batting for nearly 20 minutes at the nets this afternoon. However, Ganguly still sounded worried about batting and said it was not functioning at the full throttle in this competition. "We still have to get our batting better than what we did against Zimbabwe. We are a much better batting side," he said. "Our application though was good that day.

It had been lacking in recent times. It just goes to show we still average in excess of five runs per over even if we play normally. "But Somebody has to bat till the end of the innings and get a big hundred," he said. Ganguly was more satisfied with the performance of his bowlers. "Our bowlers are bowling superbly and probably they have for the last three months. So if they continue to do that, we would do well," he said. The skipper was impressed with the speed left-arm paceman Ashish Nehra generated in the game against Zimbabwe, often touching 90 MPH.

"He bowled with genuine speed. It shows how important a role a fitness trainer can play in a cricketer's performance." Ganguly hinted that he could bat at number three on Sunday. "There is an option to bat at number three but if we shuffle the batting order too much it doesn't send a good message. We have full confidence in Dinesh Mongia but at the same time if I get in early, it helps the team and also helps my batting." Ganguly said it was wrong on the part of critics to comment on India's running between the wickets, which appears tardy at times from outside the fence. "There is nothing wrong with our running between the wickets.

You don't have to fix a thing which is not broken," he said. "We have enough worries on our head and there is no point in adding to it." Deon Kotze, Namibia captain, paid a compliment to the Indians, rating them as one of the best batting sides in the world. "It is one of the best batting sides," said Kotze, a right-handed batsman who bowls medium-pacers in the middle overs. "We have only heard about them and seen one or two in county cricket." Kotze was satisfied with his team's performance against England and hoped to come up with a similar show against India on Sunday.

"We take hear from that performance and it certainly was a morale booster," he said. Kotze said he would prefer a loss against India than to steal a couple of points because of rain intervention. "We don't want rain. We want to play. It is an opportunity for our boys to learn from the senior teams." He said his batsmen had learnt a lot while playing Pakistan and facing fast bowlers of the calibre of Shoaib Akhtar and Wasim Akram. "Shoaib has movement, Akram is no longer fast but he is accurate and Waqar is both accurate and a mover of the ball," Kotze said.

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