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News Letter
Fri Mar 15 2002
Issue No: 43

India prepare to take on Zimbabwe in a must-win encounter

After pressing the self-destruct button at Kochi, India are now faced with the task of winning the final two one-dayers against Zimbabwe to save pride. The visitors, who have unearthed a new star in Douglas Hondo, for their part, are now harbouring visions of a series win.

But they will remember that the Lal Bahadur Stadium, which is to host the fourth one-dayer, a day-nighter, has not been a happy hunting ground for them. They have lost all their matches here and hold the dubious record of registering the lowest total at the ground – 99 in a 1993/94 Hero Cup tie against the West Indies. The Indians, in contrast, have had a better time statistically speaking – they have lost only once in six appearances at the ground. In the last match played at the ground, they also went on to register their highest total in one-day internationals against New Zealand. All said, 'Tomorrow,' as the saying goes,'is another day.'

Wright: It is a great opportunity for the players

The comprehensive defeat at Kochi has rejuvenated the Zimbabweans and placed India in a must-win situation in the final two one-dayers. But Indian coach John Wright asked his players to consider it as an opportunity to prove themselves. “It is a great opportunity (for the players) to play well under pressure and make a name for themselves. That is what we need. If you have to win at this level, you have to do it under pressure," he said. The Indian coach also told the younger Indian players to learn from their Zimbabwean counterparts like Douglas Hondo who after replacing the injured Andy Flower turned on a match-winning performance at Kochi. “Our performance there was unacceptable,” Wright added.

The Indian coach was not the only man miffed with the Indian capitulation at Kochi. A mordant Sunil Gavaskar did not pull any punches in his column in the Hindustan Times. “Did we not say complacency is the middle name of Indian cricket? When that takes hold, carelessness is but a step away and that's what we saw as batsman after batsman threw his wicket away, each playing absolutely forgettable shots,” the little master wrote. And after singing the praises of Sourav Ganguly at end of Mohali one-dayer, he was as forthright in his criticism of the Indian captain’s dismal batting effort at Kochi. “The biggest culprit was the captain. In spite of knowing that India had lost the wickets of in-form batsmen Mongia and Laxman with less than 50 on the board, he played a horrendous shot that not only left him looking unbalanced and ungainly at the end, but also left his stumps in disarray,” he added. To prevent an embarrassing series defeat to Zimbabwe, then, Gavaskar observed that India need “a superhuman effort. Not the tired, couldn't-care-less one they exhibited in Kochi.”

Streak turns coach – for a brief while

A big-game hunter who happens to be his country’s pace spearhead in his spare time, Heath Streak's is a name recognised throughout the cricketing world. The former Zimbabwean skipper was seen dispensing advice to young and budding fast bowlers at a coaching clinic in Hyderabad.

But that is all the coaching he is going to restrict himself to for now; when it comes to Zimbabwe they have Geoff Marsh who Streak said was responsible for the improvements in his team. He also found time to appreciate the extent of support that the game received in India. “The number of policemen in your stadia is sometimes more than the spectators in my country,” Streak said.

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Sourav Ganguly’s India secured one of the greatest comeback Test victories over Steve Waugh’s mighty Australian side at the Eden Gardens on this day last year. Harbhajan Singh (6-73) and Sachin Tendulkar (3-31) were the bowlers who ensured that the comeback launched by Laxman (281) and Dravid (180) culminated in a 171-run win for their side. This after they had made only 171 in their first innings!

The hunter has turned into the hunted; Zimbabwe’s resounding win at Kochi has turned the pressure back on the Indians. Log on to CricInfo to see if Sourav Ganguly’s men can fightback and level the series.

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John Wright
Wise words
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Which batsman holds the record for the highest one-day score at Hyderabad?

Previous Question

Who was Zimbabwe's first one-day captain?

Answer:Duncan Fletcher

“You have got to take responsibility under pressure and perform. You must be able to handle pressure.” John Wright

“I just wanted to play well. I tried my best to keep things simple and bowl a good line and length. I have to keep on performing well to be a regular in the side” Douglas Hondo

“Sachin might be the most hardworking and talented cricketer in India, but he certainly doesn’t even come close to being the best in the world as far as temperament and finishing goes...not by a long shot!” Ajay

Hyderabad was where India registered their highest one-day total – 376 for two against New Zealand in November, 1999.

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