'Sehwag will return to his run-scoring best agains

Published: Tuesday, February 25, 2003, 23:53 [IST]
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Durban (South Africa): Indian captain Saurav Ganguly backed opening batsman Virender Sehwag to produce the goods against England in the vital World Cup clash at Kingsmead here on Wednesday.

Sehwag, one of the most destructive batsmen in world cricket, has struggled in India's four matches in the tournament so far where his best score was 36 against Zimbabwe. But Ganguly insisted the 24-year-old Sehwag, who openly admits he has modelled himself on Sachin Tendulkar, was on the brink of getting back to his run-scoring best. "Sehwag is a top class player," Ganguly told reporters on Tuesday ahead of the day- night clash. "He's had good starts, 20s and 30s and he'll get runs." Sehwag certainly has a liking for the England attack. When the teams last met in September's Champions Trophy tournament in Sri Lanka he smashed Nasser Hussain's bowlers for a rapid 126 during an eight-wicket victory. But England had then not unearthed pace bowling sensation James Anderson, who starred in the 112-run win over group 'A' rival Pakistan with a sensational four- wicket spell in Cape Town on Saturday. Anderson, 20, plays county cricket for Lancashire where Ganguly was briefly the overseas player.

But the Indian captain could not remember him. "I didn't hear of him when I was playing for Lancashire. He hadn't made the grade then. But it's great to see a young lad playing well for his country. "He bowled really well against Pakistan." Turning to his own attack, Ganguly admitted it was a "huge temptation" to bring back Anil Kumble for Wednesday's day-night encounter. The master leg spinner, India's most successful bowler in One-day cricket, has missed the side's last two games and Ganguly said his less-regarded pace attack had been doing the job in Kumble's absence.

"Our seamers are bowling well. But obviously with Anil there is a huge temptation to play him," he said. Ganguly added that left-arm quick Ashish Nehra, who twisted an ankle with his second ball against Namibia should be fit. Ajit Agarkar, yet to play in this World Cup, was nevertheless ready to fill in. "Nehra should play. But if he doesn't play Agarkar has to. That can be a good thing.

You learn things when you are out of the team and he'll be fresh," Ganguly said. Ganguly, who found his own form with a hundred against Namibia, said he expected a close encounter but was happy with his side as it went into the match. "Our form's pretty good - we've won three out of four - and we've lost to the best team in the world (Australia). But it could be anybody's game. It's 50-50. It's about whoever plays well tomorrow." The match will see the tournament's best batsman, Tendulkar, take on the best bowler so far, Anderson.

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