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News Letter
Wed Feb 20 2002
Issue No: 33

Zimbabwe take on mighty-at-home India at Nagpur

Both on past record and present form, Zimbabwe cannot claim to be favourites in the Test series against India. This is the strongest squad that Zimbabwe could whip up, yet rookie Gautam Gambhir took a double century off them in the tour opener. The visitors will look yet again, as they did on their last tour, to Andy Flower, currently one of the best batsmen in the world but coming off a poor tour of Sri Lanka. Even if he scores another 540 runs, however, his side’s bowling has to be equal to the task of performing against Sachin Tendulkar and Co. if Zimbabwe are to actually win a Test, let alone the series. But they will take heart from England’s performance here, and if they can leave these shores with similar honour, they will be happy. For India, Sourav Ganguly will welcome this series the most, hoping to get back into prime form against a stingless attack. The stage is set. On to Nagpur.

The writing on the Wall

India's recent showing in the limited-overs clashes against England demonstrated the need to have Rahul Dravid shoring up the middle order. His return to cricket after an injury lay-off is to be welcomed. "I am feeling much stronger now. There is nothing wrong really. I have been hitting a few balls in the nets and feel good," Dravid told CricInfo from Bangalore.

A factor not particularly new to Dravid is the incessant griping about his approach to Test and one-day cricket. "It is an old story that goes on and on," said the man who averages close to 52 in the longer version of the game and scores almost 38 runs per knock in one-dayers at a strike rate of 68.13.

"People have different expectations of their cricketers. Some people have very high expectations of me as a batsman, and there are others who rate me lower and do not expect much of me. You have to be satisfied that you are giving the best you can, doing what is best for the team, and move on," said Dravid.

Dravid is rated as a cricketer who thinks intensely about his game. Whether it is cricket in general, or specifically his technique as a batsman, Dravid has always appeared to have a plan. "Frankly, I have played for about six years at this level and am constantly looking to set standards for myself and meet them," he said. " I am always looking to improve as a player, whether it is in one-day cricket or Test cricket. All the time, you are playing against people who are professional and getting better. If you don't keep improving, you will be left behind."
Click here for the entire interview

The attraction of academia

Hitting 119 against the West Indies in his first Test and becoming, for a short time before Mohammad Ashraful usurped the record, the youngest Test centurion, Hamilton Masakdaza looked like the young and rising star that Zimbabwe so badly needs at the moment. But his cricket has been put on hold as he begins a university course in South Africa, receiving a cricket bursary from the University of Free State for a Bachelor of Commerce degree. The organiser of the bursary and the sports director of the university is, in another cricket-related twist, Ewie Cronje, father of former South African skipper Hansie Cronje. Zimbabwe need not worry too much, however; the university, according to one report, has agreed that his first priority will be to play for his country. With many of the senior players, the latest being Paul Strang, fading quietly away, Zimbabwe can do with such youngsters in their ranks.

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Any hopes of Sunil Gavaskar's son, born this day in 1976, being a batsman in the same mould as his father were quickly extinguished when he started to play cricket. Rohan Gavaskar was much more dashing, a much better bowler, but unfortunately not as prolific as his legendary father. Now captain of Bengal, he is a candidate for the all-rounder's slot in the Indian one-day lineup.

Zimbabwe are known as a side with fighting spirit, and they will need every drop of it if they are to upset India. But they can take hope; England too were rated rank underdogs, but they fought India tooth and nail in their series. Follow along on to see if Zimbabwe do the same.

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Rahul Dravid
The Wall speaks
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Who were Zimbabwe's first Test opponents in the international arena?

Previous Question

Who is the only batsman to be dismissed for both handling the ball and obstructing the field in one-day internationals?

Answer:Mohinder Amarnath

"The Zimbabwe tour might see the end of my failures with the bat." Indian captain Sourav Ganguly

"We studied their strengths and weaknesses with great care and have identified certain grey areas in each of these players." Stuart Carlisle, on Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid

"Debasis Mohanty is young, quick and a thinking bowler, and I feel he still has a chance to prove himself for the country. It is sad to see such a talented cricketer not getting enough opportunities." Vijay

The Zimbabwe squad includes as many as four former captains in its ranks - Andy and Grant Flower, Alistair Campbell, and Heath Streak. Quite a resource for skipper Stuart Carlisle to fall back on!

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