'We are not bothered about the opponents'

Published: Friday, November 14, 2003, 21:36 [IST]
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Kolkata: Displaying oodles of confidence ahead of the November 18 tri-series tournament final, Australian cricket coach John Buchanan on Friday said that facing either India or New Zealand in the day-night summit clash did not make any difference to his world champion side. "Whichever team we face, whether it is India or New Zealand, does not matter to us. We will only concentrate on playing well," the Aussie coach told newspersons at the team hotel here soon after arriving from Bangalore. " But I know, from a local point of view, everybody will like us to play India," he quipped.

The Aussies, who lost to the hosts in their opening match of the tournament, have been in marvellous form since then, winning five back-to-back matches. They bulldozed their way into the final garnering 28 points, leaving their two opponents far behind. India and New Zealand, now on ten points each, would battle it out in the last group league game of the tournament at Hyderabad tomorrow to decide the other finalist. "The final will be a new game for us. We have finished the league matches. We played quite well. And now, only the big match remains," Buchanan said. Asked to spell out the secret of the consistent Aussie success in the game, Buchanan said, "We have a highly talented and determined group of players. Test skipper (Steve) Waugh and One-day captain (Ricky) Ponting provide good leadership." Buchanan also mentioned the camaraderie among team members as a vital contributory factor for the side's triumphs.

The Aussie coach said that he was satisfied with the performance of his young side in the tournament so far. "We have found players of the calibre of (Nathan) Bracken and (Michael) Clarke. (Brad) Williams has also done well after making it to the side after a long time," he said. "Taking into consideration that this is their first visit to India, I think that they have equipped themselves well," Buchanan said. He said that the diversity in the behaviour of the wickets at various venues during the tournament did not take the Aussies by surprise. "At some places, the tracks were low and flat. At Bangalore, the ball bounced but it was a good batting wicket. In the day matches, the wicket aided bowlers in the morning. That's ok with us. On the whole, we are not really surprised," he added. Despite his batsmen having torn apart the home side seam attack in the last two encounters of the cricket tri-series the Australian coach said that India would have a better crop of pace bowlers during the coming tour Down Under than they had on previous trips.

"I think the present lot of Indian pace bowlers are better than those who toured Australia on earlier occasions," Buchanan said. "There are a lot of good bowlers. Though I have not yet seen the team list, I think Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra would be the backbone of the Indian attack. As a back up, (Ajit) Agarkar, (Lakshmipathy) Balaji and Gujarat's Munaf Patel are exciting prospects," the tall Aussie coach said. He said the Indians would miss veteran pacer Javagal Srinath, who retired from international cricket two days back, but there were several talented bowlers to fill up the slot.

Asked whether some of the second string Aussie bowlers, who are doing duty in the tri-series in the absence of the injured frontliners, would find a place in the team in the coming series against India, Buchanan said "Who knows!" "But it's a fact that in Australia, our main bowers like Brett Lee, Jason Gillespie, Glenn McGrath and McGill, who missed the ongoing tournament due to injury, would get fit at some point of time after a two-month lay off from cricket".

Buchanan said he saw no difference in standard between the Indian team, which finished runners up in the World Cup earlier this year, and the one now battling it out in the triangular tourney. "There is no difference in the team make-up. I think the present squad has great potential," he said. "Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly and coach John Wright have given lot of stress on consistent performance. The team only has to live up to expectations. Then I think all their problems will be solved," he added.

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