WC 2003 - I made the right call insists Ganguly

Published: Monday, March 24, 2003, 15:23 [IST]
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Johannesburg: Saurav Ganguly said his much-vaunted pace trio's inability to find the right length had cost India a chance of winning the World Cup against defending champion Australia at the Wanderers on Sunday. "They bowled too short on that wicket," the Indian captain Ganguly told reporters after his side was crushed by 125 runs in a one-sided final.Skipper GangulyIndia veteran Javagal Srinath and youthful left-armers Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra saw their combined 27 wicketless overs go for 211 runs after Ganguly sent Australia in to bat in the morning.Australia piled up a World Cup final record 359 for two and then bowled India out for 234.Ganguly, however, insisted he had made the right call. "There was quite a bit in the wicket early on if we had put the ball in the right places. You saw in the afternoon that 300 was chaseable," he said.The first over of the match, bowled by Zaheer, went for 15 runs and set the tone for what followed. "It was a very poor start and it kept on going after that," Ganguly said. By then it was too late. 359 is a big total. It was always going to be a really Herculean task. Getting seven, seven and-a-half-an-over is never easy," Ganguly said.But the Indian captain insisted he was nevertheless proud of his side despite the way in which Australia became the first team to win three World Cups, stretching its world record of consecutive One-day International wins to 17 in the process. "We've played well. And the important thing is that we've learned to play as a unit." Ganguly also said that they were not looking at the target and wanted just to go out and see how the match progressed. "We just wanted to go out there and play. We didn't know how far it would take us. Getting seven and seven and a half per over is not an easy job in international cricket. We didn't want to look at the target and were keen to go on playing.""For a lot of our boys it was their first World Cup and the way they stood up to the pressure, it was commendable."Ganguly said he didn't bring on his fast bowlers because the pitch was offering aid to spinners and also they were going for quite a few runs. "The fast bowlers had gone for quite a bit and the ball was turning. I just needed a breakthrough to put the fast bowlers back but it didn't happen." "Later I did bring them on but they were going for too many runs." Ganguly said it was surprising to see the stands erupt in joy after covers were brought on because of rain interruption and the game was halted. "It just goes to show how dearly the fans wanted us to win but it would have been the wrong way to go about winning since Australia had played better cricket."Ganguly also said in the wake of India's defeat it didn't mean the team should look to play fifth bowler in its eleven. "It depends if the fifth bowler is also a cricketer who can contribute with the bat. Sachin Tendulkar can contribute with the ball and so does Sehwag and we try to bowl the 10 overs between them."Ganguly termed it was a mixture of his bowlers bowling badly and Australian batsmen putting the bad ball away. "It was a mixture of both. Our bowlers didn't bowl well and their batsmen were quick to put the bad ball away."If India was to have a chance of overhauling Australia's total it needed a major innings from Sachin Tendulkar. But the man-of-the-tournament, with a World Cup record 673 runs, managed just four. "I'm extremely disappointed," said Tendulkar, who like the rest of the team was appearing in his first World Cup final - India had only been this far before when it won in 1983. "I thought after winning the toss we had a fair chance but everybody has an off-day. Instead of being man-of-the-series, I'd prefer it if we won today," he added.Tendulkar paid tribute to Australia captain Ricky Ponting's match-winning 140 not out - the highest individual innings in a World Cup final. "I thought Ponting (who put on an unbroken 234 with Damien Martyn) played an important role," Tendulkar said."Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden gave them a good start (the openers shared a 100 stand in just 92 balls) and Ponting at first just got ones and twos. But in the last 15 overs they scored close to 170 runs. I surely rate this (Ponting's) innings as one of the best."Agencies

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