The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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‘Got to react positively’

Nagpur, Nov. 9: Sourav Ganguly was left searching for answers at the VCA Stadium Saturday. None of his plans clicked and, in the end, the team was the butt of the spectators’ ridicule as the West Indians walked away with the honours.

The spinners failed to deliver and the gamble to push Harbhajan Singh up the order did not produce the results. It will now mean additional pressure on the team in Rajkot. “West Indies have outplayed us here,” he admitted after the seven-wicket loss. “We did not bowl well and defending the total was thus difficult. We don’t look to be the same side that played in the Champions Trophy.”

The skipper stressed that it was time for the players “to pull up their socks” and get going. “We need to work on our bowling. We cannot afford to be complacent thinking of our good run in the past. We did not create enough chances to put pressure on the opposition,” said Sourav.

Aware of the need of a victory in the third one-dayer, he said: “Rajkot will be a crucial game for us. We have two days of rest and it will be matter of some mental adjustment.” Sourav said that the solution lay with getting the right breaks. “We have got to react positively. We need to pick wickets with the new ball. That’s the key to come back stronger.” Sourav defended his decision to promote Harbhajan in the batting order. “Harbhajan plays the spinners well and West Indies had a double spin attack at that point. We had hoped that he would hit a couple of sixes to push the run-rate up,” he said.

Two consecutive defeats have brought to the fore the absence of Zaheer Khan and Sachin Tendulkar. “So much of cricket is being played that injuries are bound to happen. But still we’ve got to win with the players available.”

Despite all the talk about the spinners’ ineffectiveness, Carl Hooper seemed wary in his assessment. “Harbhajan and Kumble were under a bit of pressure but I’m sure they will come back in the remaining matches.” Sourav did not agree with the idea that the Indians are better off chasing targets. “Had I won the toss I would have batted first on this wicket,” he said.

Hooper played it safe. “My experience on these wickets suggests that you are not sure of what a safe score would be like. We, therefore, thought it safe to put India in.” The visitors are looking to this series as their final preparation for the World Cup. “The tour hasn’t really been good for us. This is our last serious challenge before the quadrennial showpiece in South Africa. We want to go from here with our confidence and spirits high.”

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