``Sri Lanka and New Zealand are tough opponents'' - Gaekwad

By Sa'adi Thawfeeq

17 June 1998

One of the finer points that coach - Anshuman Gaekwad has driven into the Indian cricketers is: ``Don't be complacent''

``Just because we have won earlier tournaments we don't need to be complacent. We have to take every tournament afresh and forget the past. That's how we look at this tournament,'' said Gaekwad shortly after the Indian cricket team arrived yesterday to participate in the three-nation Singer Nidahas trophy triangular commencing on Friday.

Gaekwad rated both Sri Lanka and New Zealand as tough oppositions as said: ``I never take any opposition lightly, be it Kenya, Bangladesh or anybody''.

``We have come here to win the triangular which definitely has its own importance. In the process of playing this tournament we are also looking at the World Cup although its one year away,'' he said. India are currently on a role under reinstated captain Mohammad Azharuddin, having won two successive one-day tournaments in Sharjah and at home and, entered the final in another at home. ``Azhar is an experienced campaigner. He led India for four years from 1992 to 1996 when I was a selector and he did it very successfully. I think he is better off now because he has seen both sides as a player and as a captain. He knows the sentiments of the boys and their feelings towards the captain,'' said Gaekwad.

``The boys are enjoying it now. There's a lot more fun in the team and a lot more jokes. They do enjoy it on the field also. After doing all this and you win, there's nothing like it,'' he said.

India hardly had any break between the three tournaments. The last one which ended on May 31 saw them play in weather conditions of 48 degrees in Gwalior and under 96 percent humidity in Calcutta, which according to Gaekwad was ``tiring and zapping''. Since then the players have played a couple of benefit games before getting together on June 12 to have three days of nets before coming to Sri Lanka. Commenting on the outstanding batting form of former Indian captain Sachin Tendulkar, Gaekwad said: ``He is a great batsman and has been batting well. There's no question about it. But the fact remains that it is not only Sachin alone who contributes, but other players as well. It's a team effort, but Sachin's contributions has been more.''

The Indian team is blend of youth and experience and they have brought some good youngsters who have performed very well in the recent tournaments. One of them is all-rounder Ajith Agarkar who made quite an impression when he was here over an year ago with the Indian Under 19 team. ``I am very pleased with his performance. When he was here with the under 19 side I remember I mentioned: ``Here is a guy who has got great potential. If everything goes well he should be in the Indian team for many years', which he did,'' said Gaekwad.

In the absence of Javagal Srinath and Vinod Kambli through injuries, the youngsters have come in and played their part.

India play their opening match of the tournament against World champs Sri Lanka at the R. Premadasa Stadium under lights on Friday.

The Indian squad: Mohammad Azharuddin (captain), Ajay Jadeja (vice-captain), Ajit Agarkar, Saurav Ganguly, Harbhajan Singh, Hrishikesh Kanitkar, Gagan Khoda, Anil Kumble, Debasis Mohanty, Nayan Mongia, Venkatesh Prasad, Rahul Sanghvi, Robin Singh, Sachin Tendulkar.

Source: The Daily News

Contributed by CricInfo Management

Date-stamped : 17 Jun1998 - 10:19