London: Former England skipper David Gower was hoping that his country would be 'third time lucky' against India when the two square up in a crunch World Cup match in Durban on Wednesday.
India beat England in the last two big games - the NatWest Series final last summer and the ICC Trophy clash last September - but Gower hoped England would go out and score a win on Wednesday when the two teams meet in their third important encounter. "Cricketers always used to be superstitious folk. I would always look to find the same shirt, trousers, gloves and, naturally enough, bat if I was in the middle of a good run and would imagine a Hussain, Trescothick or Knight might do the same so maybe the simple analysis of 'third time lucky' might be enough," Gower wrote in the 'Times'.
Gower also felt this time the greater worries were with India. "Ironically, with all the kerfuffle about security, the England team and Harare, it is the security forces in India itself that have been mobilised to protect the families of the Indian players from the overheated feelings of their public," Gower said. "Saurav Ganguly's home has been a target and the house of the youngster, Mohammed Kaif, has been tarred, an unusual sort of protest even in a part of the world where success on the cricket field is a major priority," he said. "They have not tasted success in the World Cup since 1983, when Kapil Dev ambushed the West Indies, and for the fans of such a major cricketing nation it is too much to bear. "It is a national mindset which must heap immense pressure onto the Indian players. The cult of the underdog is not big in India.
These men are stars and are expected to play accordingly," Gower wrote. "For both - Nasser Hussain and Ganguly - it is time for another stirring 'up and at em' dressing-room speech, a sort of 'once more unto the breach or its no Super Sixes for us'." Gower was of the opinion that India's batting form had hit a trough since the teams' last two meetings. "What is encouraging for England is that their problems against India have largely been in failing to contain the oppositions batsmen. "It is those batsmen who have been letting the side down over the winter months, and whereas there might once have been an almost Australian air of confidence that somebody would always come up with the goods in the top six or seven, that confidence has now been severely dented," he said.
"Six months ago, Hussain would have struggled to identify one key man to target because they were all performing. Now the pressure in that line-up has fallen once again onto the shoulders of Sachin Tendulkar. "Ironically, he was the one who had rather slipped into the shadows but now the master is responding to the challenge of being up the order again, which is where he really ought to be with both his talent and his record as an opener," Gower said.