'Performance on the 22-yard strip is what counts'

Published: Friday, September 26, 2003, 0:41 [IST]
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New Delhi: Indian captain Sourav Ganguly, on Thursday said New Zealand's unconventional training methods to cope with Indian conditions would count for nothing if the visitors failed to "perform on the 22-yard strip".

Loose soil on artificial pitches to create uneven bounce, bowlers delivering from 15 metres, sudden noises in the background and clusters of mock fielders in the nets were some of the methods employed by stand-in coach Ashley Ross weeks before the team's arrival in India. "You can do anything you want and prepare any way you wish. But what matters is how you perform on the 22 yard strip," Ganguly told reporters here. But such preparations would count for nothing if the New Zealanders fail to perform on the ground, the Indian captain said.

"I agree with (New Zealand captain Stephen) Fleming who recently said that India is a tougher challenge than Australia," Ganguly said. "It is going to be a good series. They are a competitive side and we have to outplay them in 10 days of Test cricket to win the two Test matches," he added. Ganguly said though Kiwis will miss Shane Bond, who is recovering from a back injury suffered in Sri Lanka, the absence of the strike bowler would not have any impact on the outcome of the Test series. "No one loses or wins matches on the basis of the performance of just one player.

They will miss (Shane) Bond and we will not be having (Javagal) Srinath." The skipper said with two more weeks still to go for the Test series to start, he would be watching the performance of the New Zealand during the two side games, beginning on Friday at Visakhapatnam against the Board President's XI, before devising any strategy for the series. "The thought process is on. I will be sitting with the coach (John Wright) and the video analyst to chalk out strategies for them," Ganguly said.

The skipper also clarified that he would not be playing in the Board XI team to have some match practice. "I would not be playing in any side games. I was supposed to play tomorrow. But certain developments took place and now I won't be playing," said Ganguly without going into the details.

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