The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Indians fail to find feet on lively track

Napier: India were bowled out for 209 after being put in to bat on the first day of the three-day tour match against Central Districts on Friday.

In reply, the home team were 69 for one at close, with Craig Spearman 40 not out and New Zealand Test player Mathew Sinclair unbeaten on 17.

India struggled on a lively pitch with only Sachin Tendulkar (44) and skipper Sourav Ganguly (48) looking comfortable.

The Central Districts opening attack of Michael Mason (three for 46) and Lance Hamilton (two for 52) impressed the watching New Zealand selector Ross Dykes.

Sourav was initially unsettled by some short-pitched deliveries from left-arm medium pacer Hamilton and was dropped in the gully by Jamie How when he was on two.

The poor form shown by the Indian batsman in their only first-class match before the opening Test against New Zealand, in Wellington starting on December 12, was matched by some of their rivals elsewhere in the country.

New Zealand skipper Stephen Fleming bagged a pair batting for Wellington against Auckland while fellow Test batsmen Nathan Astle and Craig McMillan scored 11 and five respectively playing for Canterbury against Northern Districts.

‘No need to panic’

After the day’s play, however, the Indian skipper made light of his batsmen’s poor show on the opening day of the three-day game against Central Districts Friday, saying that he was confident of his team bouncing back into the match. “We will get better as the days go on,” said Sourav.

“It is the first time the boys had a hit. We had no nets since the time we’ve come to New Zealand. It is going to get better tomorrow and day after,” said Sourav.

“The conditions here are similar to what you have in England and Zimbabwe — it will seam around and there would be grass on the pitch.

“I hope the second innings is much better than what it was today.”

Sourav agreed that the first day could have been better for the visitors but drew comfort from their performance in England recently.

“We toured England and scored 600 and 500. So there is no need to panic. It is all in the mind. The top six have a lot of experience. I don’t think it should matter,” he said.

Sourav said the team was a bit jet lagged but declined to use it as an excuse for the dismal showing with the bat. “We certainly are a bit jet lagged and struggling to find our feet. But it is no excuse because we are professional sportsmen.”

Central Districts coach Mark Greatbatch said too much wrist work by the Indians was to be blamed for dismissals of most of the batsmen.

“They went at the ball with their hands. When the ball is doing a bit, you need to keep your hands nice and close. Play straight and not with your wrists. “They need to keep the full face of the bat opposed to using the wrists which Indian players are very good at doing.

“They have got to play a bit better than that because the wickets here would do a bit,” said the former New Zealand opener. Greatbatch also complimented his bowlers for skittling out India cheaply but added it could have been better had they held their catches.

“It was not a perfect day. I think if we had held our catches we could have been starting our innings much early.”

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