The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Kartik has been a find for the Indians

It is nice to once again have your neck ahead in the race after the Indians did remarkably well to close the gap of two matches. There is no need to be complacent though and we must look to wrap up the series in the next game.

I donít want it to be 3-3 and leave it all for the last match. For the Indians though it is a case of competing in two finals.

Chris Gayle is the man of the moment and he has simply been unbelievable in this series. He has fired in three hundreds and a fifty in five games.

He can be a demoralising batsman for bowlers for not only is he a big hitter, he has also cultivated the habit of concentrating for long periods.

He is the right type of batsman to provide a momentum when up against a big total early in the innings. He is also extremely good in setting up a total which can be defended in a one-day arena.

Looking at this series it is hard to dispute that the teams batting second have a better chance of emerging winners. There has been a kind of psychological pressure on teams who are put in to bat first for they are not sure even if a 300-plus total is defendable.

A team bats first and does well enough to set a target in excess of 300 but then immediately puts itself under pressure by doubting if it could be defended well.

I had little doubt in opting to field first for the wicket didnít appear too dry. It seemed good enough to hold up for 100 overs.

Harbhajan excepting, the rest of the Indian bowlers have been anything but menacing. The rest, we reckon, have not been threatening.

For the second time running though left-arm spinner Murali Kartik has impressed all. He has come in to bowl at difficult times and has got through his overs for 40-odd runs.

He has been a nagging bowler and to my mind a find for the Indians. He has not been afraid to give the ball a bit of air and a sharp tweak. His strength has been to flight the ball and provide clever variations.

He has been able to fox the batsmen and keep the scoring down. His dismissal of Ramnaresh Sarwan spoke well about the bowler as the batsman shaped to play it on the on-side and the ball turned fractionally enough to find the edge and lob up as an easy catch in the close-in cordon.

I too had a longish bowl and it is because the pacers have been going for some cheap runs. It is good if you can provide a break in scoring.

As this series has shown, a slow bowler has a better chance than a paceman on one-day wickets as easy as we have faced in this series. The pacers have been going for 5-6 runs an over and batsmen have made hay.

The Indians will be missing their captain Sourav Ganguly in the final two games and I must confess his absence will be a boost for us.

He is not only a captain who is hungry for success, he also is a world class performer. He is competitive and in his absence his young side must look to raise their game in the remaining two games.

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