Pietermaritzburg: Pleased with his team's batting performance in the massive win against Namibia on Sunday, skipper Saurav Ganguly said he was hoping for a similar show in the next two crucial World Cup matches.
The much-vaunted batting line-up, which was struggling badly on the New Zealand tour and in the first two matches in the World Cup, found its bearings in the games against Zimbabwe and Namibia and Ganguly hoped the momentum would continue in the next game against England on Wednesday. "It's an important game for us and we would put our hands up. Getting runs is the most important thing to have come out of this game and we are looking to take it forward," said Ganguly who himself came out of a prolonged lean patch to hit an unbeaten century as India piled on 311 for two.
A win against England would almost assure India of a berth in the Super Six and Ganguly was confident his side will do well. "Obviously, it is a new game and England is a much stronger opposition than Namibia but we enjoy a good record against them," he said. Returning to Sunday's match, which India won by a comprehensive margin of 181 runs, Ganguly hailed Sachin Tendulkar's knock of 152 which set up the huge total for India. "Tendulkar was batting well so I was only keen to give him strike and rotate the ends. Once I had my eye in, I went for the big shots and I am happy it came off," Ganguly said.
Tendulkar said he was looking to lead an Indian batting revival in coming matches of the 2003 World Cup. "I think it's important I continue this form," said Tendulkar. "If all the batters bat well and we put up a decent total, it would allow our bowlers to fight back." "That's what we lacked in the first couple of games, so hopefully it would stay that way," said Tendulkar. Tendulkar cracked his 34th One-day ton, the fourth in a World Cup which put him on par with Australian Mark Waugh as the batsmen with most hundreds in the competition. "We will take it step by step and it is important we do well against England and then take it on from there," he said.
Tendulkar, who was getting dehydrated during his long innings, dispelled any doubts on his fitness. "I am fighting fit. There were occasional cramps I suffered during the innings. I was getting dehydrated and needed to re-hydrate myself from time to time," said Tendulkar. Ganguly came to the press conference with a bandaged chin, having been hit by a Deon Kotze delivery. He did not know whether the injury would require stitches but said there was no question of him sitting out of the England match. Ganguly also cleared doubts over the fitness of Ashish Nehra who sprained his ankle on his run-up after sending down just one delivery. "He has a minor sprain and he hopefully should be fit for the game against England," Ganguly said.
"After a long time I gave him the new ball but obviously I shouldn't have because he seems to fall down while bowling with the new ball," said Ganguly jocularly, recalling the incident during the 2001 series against Zimbabwe when Nehra had fallen flat at the point of delivery. Both Tendulkar and Ganguly planted a liquid amber tree at the ground as a part of tradition of Pietermaritzburg Oval where a centurion or a bowler who takes five wickets plants a sapling. Namibian captain Deon Kotze said it was a hard learning curve for his team to have come up against a batsman of the class of Tendulkar and Ganguly.
"I don't think things went much particularly wrong for us. We just came up against the best batsman in the world. Tendulkar was very well supported by his captain, Saurav Ganguly. It was quite a hard learning curve for our batsmen," he said. Kotze said on hindsight he would have preferred to bat first. "On hindsight I would have loved to bat first and made things a bit shorter and suffered less of sun in the middle. "Everyone was of the opinion it would swing and do quite a bit in the first hour. But hardly a ball deviated all day," Kotze, who elected to field first, said. He said the chance given to Tendulkar on 32 made a difference in an eventual score of 300-plus or restricting the Indians to 260 runs.
"I don't think it would have made a huge difference. But you can't afford to give someone of that quality a chance and don't suffer. As he proved today, you give him a chance and he makes 150." Kotze gave India an edge in the game against England in Durban on Wednesday. "I guess India has an edge in that game because of their batting combination which is very formidable."