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Reconsider 7-batsman plan
Wasim Akram

Seeing the dejected, disconsolate faces of the Indian cricketers, I was reminded of the Pakistan team at Lordís in 1999. It was a bitter pill for us to swallow when we lost to Australia, because we had played some superb cricket till then.

The Indians too had played really good cricket till the finals, but on that day they did nothing right from start to finish. My sympathies are with Sourav Ganguly, because I was in his shoes four years ago, struggling with a talented bunch of players, who were suddenly overcome by an inexplicable attack of nerves.

Sourav took the right decision after winning the toss, but Zaheer Khan was particularly disappointing at the start. He was just not getting his away swingers right, and Adam Gilchrist was backing himself and attacking even balls that were doing something. Perhaps the Indians should have slowed things down a little, had an on-field conference, and tried to explain to Zaheer and Jawagal Srinath, where they were going wrong. The Australian openers raced to 110 in 15 overs, and in the absence of a fifth bowler, the situation only got worse.

Perhaps the Indians should really reconsider their seven-batsman strategy. It won them the NatWest finals, but nine times out of ten, the seventh batsman will not be able to do something that the earlier six did not.

Anil Kumble, with his experience and cool head was the man Sourav missed in the finals. In his absence, the part timers bowled 15 overs ó 10 to finish the fifth bowler quota, and five to finish everyone elseís quota, since most of the front line bowlers were too expensive.

I was also surprised that Sourav did not bring himself on. Heís a golden-arm kind of bowler who often breaks partnerships, and more importantly it gives the team the right kind of vibes when the captain puts himself in the firing line when the going isnít good.

The match was over well before Ricky Pontingís late innings attack, and quite frankly, there was no chance for the Indians to overhaul 360 against the likes of Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee. Sachin Tendulkar went early, but I wouldnít criticise his shot. Those were the shots that were getting him truckloads of runs, and you canít blame him for taking his chances with such a big target to chase.

The Australians once again played perfect, zero error cricket when it mattered most. The manner in which they capitalised on the attack of nerves in the Indian camp, and the superb strokeplay they exhibited proved that they are deserving winners.

The Indians did not shame themselves in this World Cup either. The only team to defeat them was the Australians, and apart from those two defeats, they played entertaining, attacking cricket. It was some consolation in the end that Sachin Tendulkar, deservingly was named the Player of the Tournament.

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