The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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It's back to the drawing board
- Cricket is heartless... It doesn't take you long to be knocked down: Sourav

Birmingham: 'To emerge better and stronger, draw inspiration from the past' was the theme which surfaced during Monday morning's rather unusual Team India meeting.

According to The Telegraph's sources, captain Sourav Ganguly, vice-captain Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble and V. V. S. Laxman did most of the talking at the 45-minute session in one of the suites at the Crowne Plaza.

Sourav, one learns, mildly read the Riot Act besides speaking about what needs to be done when the players return home on Wednesday ' incidentally, aboard two Air-India flights, to New Delhi and Mumbai.

[Ashish Nehra, though, may stay back for a couple of days.]

As the performance from the start of this 2004-05 season has been poor, there was 'unanimity' over 'studying' the victories of the last two-three years and going back to the drawing board.

Basically, everybody agreed 'much' had to be done ahead of the four-Test series versus Australia, which begins in Bangalore on October 6.

The biggest problem, of course, has been the failure of batsmen like Virender Sehwag. India's sole triple century-maker in Tests began the season by announcing he was aiming for a record-rewriting double century in ODIs.

Yet, Sehwag hasn't even totalled 200 in the 12 matches from the Asia Cup till Sunday ' his tally reads 189, with only 32 coming from the five ODIs in England (three in the NatWest Challenge and two in the Champions Trophy).

Then, while Mohammed Kaif regained form from the NatWest Challenge, Yuvraj Singh lost his. Add to that Sachin Tendulkar's absence and the picture gets more dismal.

Talking exclusively before leaving for London, Sourav said: 'I'm amazed how some can be out of form for so long... Our strength is batting and one-day cricket is dominated by batters... If we can't consistently put up big totals, we're bound to fail'

India's best this season has been 290 against Kenya but, then, that's not saying much given that our 2004-05 commitments began in Sri Lanka where wickets are batsman friendly.

Asked whether the defeats in four tournaments/bilateral series on-the-trot would affect the performance versus Australia, Sourav replied: 'I hope not... In any case, whatever the form, we've got to lift our game appreciably.'

Without saying so in as many words, Sourav regretted giving Moin Khan a regulation catch in the very first over (from Mohammed Sami) at Edgbaston. He went for a duck, ending the sequence of 90s in each of the last two ODIs.

'Cricket is heartless... It doesn't take you long to be knocked down... If there's a lesson for everybody, it's that make the most of a good run,' Sourav added.

In the captain's candid opinion, the side will be returning home without any positives except Irfan Pathan's outstanding first spell against Pakistan.

'Irfan is happy taking on a challenge and, once again, showed he performs even under pressure. Yes, we do need more like him,' Sourav signed off.

Footnote: Meanwhile, the Champions Trophy XIV may feature in a 'special' four-day match, soon after returning home, to enable the players 'prepare better' for the series versus Australia.

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