India could be the number one Test team: Dias

Published: Monday, May 10, 2004, 21:12 [IST]
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Bangalore:The current Indian cricket team is the best batting side in the world and has the potential to replace Australia as the top Test playing outfit in the near future, says former Sri Lankan Test Cricketer Roy Dias.

"Indian team is very, very close to Australia. I can say may be better than Australia. I feel this (Indian) side will go on and on for some time. But Australian side is getting older age-wise", said Dias in an interview in Bangalore.

Asked if he thought India can dethrone Australia from the top in the near future, he said: "Yes. I think so. Very soon, India will be on top. Batting-wise they are the best. Now you have got young fast bowlers. If you can find a partner for Anil Kumble, I think that's a complete winning side".

Noting that India played well Down Under during the last series, Dias said the October tour to India by Ricky Ponting and his men would decide the number one team in the world.

Many of Australia's top cricketers are in their 30s and may not be able to continue for long. He recalled that West Indies who were world beaters several years ago had to struggle to get a balanced side "after the whole crowd (top cricketers) left together".

But he hastened to add that Australia plays "quality cricket" and it is very, very difficult to get into even a state side in Australia.

Dias, Coach of the Nepal cricket team, said India has both attacking batsmen as well those who can play a long innings. "That's a nice combination to have. Sourav Ganguly must be very happy and lucky to have a batting side like this.

"Ganguly's captainship is more like that of former Sri Lanka skipper Arjuna Ranatunga," said Dias. "He (Ganguly) gets the best out of his players and I think the players believe in Ganguly's captaincy.

"No doubt. He (Ganguly) is a strong guy...mentally strong. He can be rated as a best captain now," he added.

Asked who he thought is the best batsman in the world now, Dias said: "For me, it is Sachin Tendulkar. Rahul Dravid is just one step behind him. Brian Lara, Marvan Atappattu and Matthew Hayden, all are top batsmen".

But he quickly added that he would not like to rate them in that order. A specialised batsman like Dravid has given a lot of room for selectors by keeping wickets, Dias felt.

He said it's difficult to compare the Indian side of 1980s -- during his playing days -- and now. That time, there were great players like Sunil Gavaskar and Gundappa Vishwanath. Those days, the concept of having a physio and trainer was never heard off. Now there is more emphasis on fielding and fitness.

While making a general comment that the current Indian team does not lack anything and there are no weak points, Dias, however, said the fielding needs to be explosive and the fitness 110 per cent.

May be there is a need for a supportive bowler for Kumble, whom he picked for special praise. He had singled out Irfan Pathan among the new crop of fast bowlers.

Dias was in the city with his team, which had practice sessions as part of preparations for the ACC Trophy in Malaysia from June 12 to 22. His mission is to see that Nepal secures berth to play in the 2007 World Cup.

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