~~Pak pat on back: India gets act right in crunch games~~

Published: Monday, February 24, 2003, 23:53 [IST]
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Durban: Former Pakistan captain Imran Khan on Monday backed India to win Wednesday's key World Cup clash against England, saying it usually performed well at the crunch. A victory in the day-night match at Kingsmead will bring Saurav Ganguly's men closer to securing a Super Six berth and put it in the right frame of mind ahead of Saturday's high-profile clash against arch-rivals Pakistan. "It was good to see Ganguly sweeping away all the problems against Namibia," Imran wrote on BBC Online. "It shows that when it comes to the crunch India can perform." The shaky start by the batsmen in the first two matches against the Netherlands and Australia has given way to growing confidence after successive wins over Zimbabwe and Namibia. A team that failed to last 50 overs against the Dutch and was shot out for its lowest World Cup total of 125 by Australia, rattled up 255 for seven against Zimbabwe and 311 for two versus Namibia. Star batsman Sachin Tendulkar appeared in ominous form, making 152 against Namibia on Sunday, his 34th One-day century giving him an aggregate of 321 runs in three World Cup innings so far. Ganguly also returned to form with an unbeaten 112 against the Namibians which, according to Imran, is a good sign for the Indians. "It was a far cry from the performance against Australia, where he looked under-pressure and out of sorts," Imran said of the Indian captain. "Perhaps the best thing that could have happened for them was the return to form of Tendulkar. Sachin is a match winner and I think his 152 against Namibia underlined what a great player he is. "I'm sure with Sachin on a high, the rest of the Indian batsmen will follow suit soon and join him in the free run-scoring," Imran wrote. Both India and England have three wins from four games in Group 'A' that includes defending champions Australia, Pakistan and Zimbabwe, besides minnows Namibia and the Netherlands. Copyright AFP 2001

'Ganguly's innings should be catalyst to clear his mind'

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