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‘NZ tour will show our preparation’
- 2003 WORLD CUP

Calcutta: Bishan Singh Bedi feels that the forthcoming New Zealand tour will prove how well the Indians have prepared themselves for the World Cup.

“To be honest, there has not been much of a contest in this series. Let’s see them in New Zealand. Their performance there will give us a fairly good idea of the preparations for the mega event,” the former India skipper told The Telegraph this evening.

Bedi did not wish to comment on how India would perform in South Africa. “Between now and the World Cup we have a very busy schedule. It will all boil down to how much enthusiasm is left with the team.

“It’s a matter of winning matches. I think the enthusiasm factor is most important. The cricket calendar is so tight and almost all countries are involved with the game in some way or the other.

“Expecting them to perform well at all time is asking for too much. You’ve got to give them some allowance.

“We are placed in a very tough group in the World Cup — Australia, Pakistan and England are no mean opposition. Moreover we’ll have to encounter the bounce on such pacy wickets.”

The arrival of some “outstanding youngsters” has changed the face of this side and the left-arm spinner wished that some of them had been picked to play the ongoing Calcutta Test. “I would have loved to see a few of them being tried in the third Test. The series has already been decided and nothing was at stake.

“Just to see how someone like a Yuvraj (Singh) or a (Mohammed) Kaif lived up to the challenge. By not playing them we missed out on an opportunity,” he remarked.

He felt the Eden Gardens pitch has “by far been the best wicket” in the three-match series. “You’ve got to earn your runs and the wickets,” he said.

Known to be a harsh critic, Bedi did not wish to say anything on Sourav Ganguly’s captaincy. “It would be better if I don’t comment on this topic. Let us see things in the current perspective.

“The ball has been running the Indians’ way. They have been doing well collectively and the captain should get some credit. Let’s wait till New Zealand. The Black Caps are also considered to be tigers at home and it should be an interesting contest.”

Despite all the criticism about Rahul Dravid being asked to keep wickets in ODIs, Bedi did not wish to join the bandwagon. “I don’t want to influence anyone or put pressure on a particular player.

“Dravid is a magnificent cricketer and a superb teamman. It all depends on how well the selectors and the team management help him in handling the two jobs,” said Bedi, who is in town to attend the Indian Cricket Players’ Association’s fund-raiser in the evening.

He agreed that the improved level of fitness has been a key factor behind the team’s success. “That is helping the side considerably. It means that the back-up team consisting John Wright, Andrew Leipus and Adrian Le Roux have been doing well.

“But the fact also remains that this side has not really been stretched. We are still lying in the bottom half of the rankings.”

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