Dada must bear the opening bugbear: Veterans

Published: Sunday, April 11, 2004, 19:27 [IST]
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London :Sourav Ganguly should open the Indian innings with Virender Sehwag in the third and final Test against Pakistan but Aakash Chopra should not be made a scapegoat, two former cricketers have said.

"If Ganguly is to come back into the side ... he should find a place on merit. Ganguly has opened in One-dayers for long and he should not hesitate to open the innings in this Test," former India captain Bishen Singh Bedi said in BBC Hindi's weekly sports programme 'Khel Aur Khiladi'.

"He should set an example and being the captain should lead from the front," Bedi said ahead of the series decider starting in Rawalpindi on Tuesday.

"The need of the hour is that he offers to stick his neck out. He will have to deliver as a batsman and as the skipper.

"Aakash Chopra too should not be made a scapegoat as he has just failed in two matches," he added.

Bedi's argument found support from Pakistani veteran Mushtaq Muhammad who said: "Ganguly is the captain and he should open the batting. He should definitely lead from the front.

"Ganguly's comeback would infuse new energy into the Indian camp. Their batting is still reliable and one bad match cannot change that fact.

"India will not get a better chance of winning a Test series in Pakistan. Pakistan should be happy with a draw. I think Irfan Pathan and Anil Kumble hold the key for India."

Bedi said it would be wrong to ask Parthiv Patel or Yuvraj Singh to open. Reposing faith in the Indian batting line-up, he said "Indian batting is well settled and sbould not be fiddled with."

"One bad match cannot put its reliability in doubt. It is essential that our bowlers do well. They will have to work hard and take 20 Pakistani wickets.

"Now, the onus is on India to win because they have never won a Test series on Pakistani soil. India is a better team on paper and they are the favourites as well.

Participating in the same programme from Islamabad, Pathan said: "My main target is to win the match for India. I know I have a responsibility and I will try my best. Trying too hard may create problems; I will just bowl my natural self. I am not thinking about pressure at all. It's the media which is talking about pressure."

Mushtaq Mohammed said, "with all the top Pakistani bowlers injured, Pakistan now cannot take 20 Indian wickets. This is really disappointing. "All those will be missed. India are definitely the favourites and Pakistan should be happy with a draw. They should have some grass on the Rawalpindi wicket. It will be good for Pakistan."

Bedi said, "India unnecessarily gave away the psychological advantage by losing the Lahore Test. Now to recover that Sourav, who will lead the team for the first time in a Test match in Pakistan, will be under pressure.

"Neither will it be easy for India to win nor for Pakistan to draw."

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