Zimbabwe in India, Feb-Mar 2002
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India won by 101 runs
India 333/6 (50 ov)
Zimbabwe 232 (42.1/48 ov)

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Wright: Sourav has a big role to play
Special Correspondent - 01 March 2002

John Wright, the Indian coach, created quite a stir at Nagpur when he made a refreshingly candid assessment of the Indian performance at the end of the first Test. The pressmen who met him at the end of the second day’s play at Delhi got another equally honest assessment from Wright. Here are the excerpts from the interview:

Are you happy with the Indian bowling?

Overall, I must say it was a consistent effort by our bowlers, they bowled well. Our fielding may not be the smartest, but the guys are making an honest effort and I can see some improvement.

But Zimbabwe seem to have got to a good total. Is there pressure on the Indian batsmen now?

We've done well to get Zimbabwe out for less than 350 but we cannot relax. We have lost four of our key wickets with about 180 more runs to score, which means it's upto us now to work our way up. The wicket doesn't really look very good, and we have to bat last which is not easy, so we have to aim for a first-innings lead. It isn't easy but there is a lot to play for in this Test.

What's your game plan for tomorrow?

Sourav (Ganguly) is still there, batting well, and tomorrow he has a big role to play. He is fairly experienced so I am sure he won't let go of this opportunity of regaining his form. Viru (Sehwag) is an attacking batsman, the sort of player who can change the course of a match in a single session. The two need a start tomorrow morning.

Have you observed any heartening changes in the Indian performance?

Yes, Zaheer (Khan) I thought has been bowling well. I am sure he knows how it is to sit out of the team. Life outside cricket can be tough for youngsters like him. He now looks hungry and bowls with pace and direction. Zaheer bowled his heart out in this match. For India, it is important bowlers like Zaheer are aware of their role, that's how they can fulfill the expectations.

You talked about the need for a physical trainer. How good will he be?

A fitness advisor would be a big help. He can concentrate on specific individual fitness by looking after each player when they are off the field or even when the match was on. Andrew Leipus was juggling with the two roles and was overworked. He would first get the players warming up, look after their injuries and was working a good three hours after the day's play, looking after the players niggles and pain etc. The trainer will now help in fitness drills.

But our fielding leaves so much to be desired. Will better fitness help in fielding?

Fitness and fielding go together. If the team is fit, fielding automatically improves. India need good fielders if we are to make an impact in next year's World Cup. Some youngsters are really sharp but we lack overall consistency.

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