Team India eyeing clean sweep against Bangla

Published: Monday, May 14, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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Chittagong:With the series in the bag the Indian team plans no mercy for Bangladesh when they meet here on Tuesday for the final ODI of the Grameenphone one-day series, though their performance has not been exactly superlative.

India won the first ODI by five wickets. The results don't really reflect the spot in which the Indian team was before Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Dinesh Karthik came together to rescue the Indian team from the muck.

The second match was won by 46 runs. But the match should have been over within 150 after reducing Bangladesh to 90-odd runs for five wickets. What opposition coach Dav Whatmore said about India being a shade better should fire the visitors up for a better all round show.

The fact is the fissures look bigger than ever in India's armour and if they plan to do wonders with this performance in Ireland in June against South Africa, who beat India black and blue on their home soil, and against England in July, it's a daydream that will bring about a rude awakening.

Ravi Shastri, India's cricket manager, loud warnings, ''We are on the rise. We will show no mercy in the last match. We are looking for a clean sweep'' sound pretty hollow.

The Indian team management may be crowing with delight and may be calling it the right elixir to get over the bitter memories of the sucker punch that hurled Indian team out of the World Cup bags and baggage.

But they can't forget the fielding blues, the floundering top order, the pacers looking so Venkatesh Prasad in face of a turbulent opposition - jaw dropped, shoulders drooping and eyes-looking away.

One can't help thinking what positives have the fielding and bowling coaches brought to the Indian team.

While Dravid has admitted that the fielding needs to improve. He has been constantly harping on the tough hot and humid conditions as the prime reason. The Indians fielded poorly in the tour opener, and though the performance was a shade better in the second game, fielding coach Robin Singh has his task cut out.

The fact is in both the matches Bangladesh had their chance of pulling it off. The series opened with such a bang with battle lines drawn and people expecting a David from Bangladesh.

The whimper with which it set to end is an anti-climax and the Indians will in all certainty complete the rout on Tuesday. But the negatives need to be addressed, even as the positives need to be savoured.

The positives of course are the new found confidence of Gautam Gambhir, the gut spilling tenacity and temperament of M S Dhoni, Karthik raising in stature everyday both with the bat and on the field and of course a hope that India's worries of a leggie to carry on after Anil Kumble could end with a more matured Piyush Chawla.

But at the same time the Indian batting needs Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar. No amount of 'Operation Clean Bowled' should keep them out for the sake of giving Rahul Dravid an unquestioned leadership. Dravid is quite a leader and he does not need those life-bladders to keep floating.

Inspired by the series-winning performance in the first two ODIs, Indian captain Rahul Dravid today said his team would utilise the success here against Bangladesh as a springboard to corner greater glories.

''Definitely, it is nice to win. It will help us be positive in the days ahead. There are tough challenges ahead of us. We will use this win as the springboard to face them,'' Dravid said.

Asked whether the victory would help his side forget the nightmarish World Cup, where India made an early exit, Dravid said, ''We can't do anything about the past. Now, its a good start for us.

We can look ahead at the future only.'' On the top order again coming a cropper, the Indian captain said part of the role of the top five was to play aggressively. ''They have to be positive upfront and take chances. In doing so, it may well happen that they don't click on a particular day.''

Dravid said fielding coach Robin Singh's knowledge had helped the team. ''We always knew that the right approach was to work hard. There is a scope for improving our fielding. Our motto is to keep working at it.''

Viru's form a concern: One singular worry is Virender Sehwag. He is on the tour of Bangladesh but with a rider: either prove or perish.

And he has not done himself any favour with two scores of 30 and 21 to show from two ODIs against Bangladesh. This does not mean he is absolutely out of form. He has it coming but in bursts and he wants to shore up as many runs as he can in those moments of spate.

The fact is no one is doubting the class of Virender Sehwag. He is undoubtedly the maverick stroke player who dares to send the opposition into oblivion. However, one fifty and a century in the last 10 innings does not do justice to his selection.

And he is set to lose more unless he gets on firing. And no matter what Dravid says in his defense, he is a worry.

In the pace bowling department, Zaheer Khan picked up a couple of wickets in last tie, but he and Munaf Patel has been anything but impressive.

But what a Bangladeshi journalist, who has seen the Indian teams of the past in action, said sums up the Indian show. ''This team has never looked menacing. They have looked vulnerable at times during both the matches.''

Shastri was true to his words as he arrogantly wanted to portrait a dominating character of his side, but his team was definitely pushed hard by Habibul Bashar's side, especially in the first match.

Bangladesh lost yet another one-day series against a top-ranked side but one couldn't compare this defeat with the previous ones as they showed a clear improvement in their performance.

Whatmore wants more consistancy: Outgoing Bangladesh coach Dav Whatmore said, ''We have the ability to scare people of which you have seen some on Saturday. Just that we continually present gifts to the opposition and that makes it pretty hard.

We are capable of creating major upsets. We have got to continue to do this more often so that people don't call it upset.

We were closer in the last one than this one and we are going to try and get closer in the next one.'' ''I just think they're a little bit better team than us. When we batted first, we got 250 and they got it. On Saturday they got 280 (284) and we couldn't get them.

Honestly, they are a better team than Bangladesh. Our objective is to be more competitive. If we are, there's a chance for us to knock it off. You can't do that unless you're a little bit more competitive against a better team like India,'' he opined.

''We have been successful in the past of chasing totals. We need to learn how to chase larger scores. We have to reduce the amount of mistakes we make. We have to get tougher in certain situations and we have to get really competitive to give ourselves a chance,'' he added.

Tamim Iqbal, Javed Omer, Aftab and Saqibul are exciting cricketers and Mashrafe Mortaza is a fine all-rounder. The nucleus of the team is here. It just needs time to blossom.

Uthappa, RP to feature in playing eleven: Robin Uthappa and R P Singh are set to play for the first time in the series in place of injured Sreeshanth and Zaheer Khan.

''Robin and R P Singh are sure to play in the third and final one-dayer," Dravid said. "Sreesanth is not fit completely. He is under constant monitoring. But he is improving. We don't want to risk him now as there is the Test series ahead of us. We want him fit and fresh for the Tests,'' he added.

He said it was the same idea why Zaheer Khan was given rest in the final ODI.

''Zaheer also has a Test series ahead. We want to give him a break and keep him fresh for the series. These two are the mainstay of Indian bowling attack and we want to use them with care.''

He also informed that Uthappa would come at number three and M S Dhoni will bat down the order. ''Dhoni has a lot to do in the Tests and we want him to come down the order,'' Dravid said, without specifying which other player from the playing eleven would sit it out.

Ashraful ruled out: Meanwhile Bangladesh batsman Mohammad Ashraful has been ruled out for the third and final one-day international against India on Tuesday after picking up a viral infection, officials said.

"He has a fever and will not play on Tuesday," Bangladesh team manager Ali Ashif Khan told reporters on Monday.

Anticipating that India will make it three love in the last tie at Chittagong Minuicipal Stadium, we expect a better all round show from the Indian team to make the last hurrah of the series sound more nourished.


India: Gautam Gambhir, Robin Uthappa, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid (capt), Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), Dinesh Karthik, Dinesh Mongia, Piyush Chawla, Munaf Patel, RP Singh and R Power.

Bangladesh: Habibul Bashar (capt), Mohammad Ashraful (vice-capt), Javed Omar, Tamim Iqbal, Shahriar Nafees, Aftab Ahmed, Saqibul Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Mashrafe Mortaza, Syed Rasel, Abdur Razzak, Shahadat Hossain, Mohammad Rafique and Farhad Reza.


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