The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Right now, it’s late for a bowling coach: Sourav

Calcutta, Dec. 21: For a change, the much-maligned bowlers have been reasonably spot-on. Moreover, with Zaheer Khan (specially) continuing to grow in stature, many feel the debate over hiring a bowling coach isn’t totally relevant — even though ODIs are our top worry.

Influenced by somewhat different reasons, prime mover Sourav Ganguly feels much the same today.

“At this point, I doubt if a bowling coach will serve any purpose. It’s got late and, then, the whole exercise will be futile unless the person is available for some length of time. With the World Cup even closer, we don’t need one now,” Sourav told The Telegraph this afternoon.

[Incidentally, among the ‘candidates’, Fanie de Villiers couldn’t commit himself for a specific period, while Terry Alderman sought an unbelievable $ 4,000 for each working day…]

His response came a day after the Board’s key functionaries decided the captain, vice-captain Rahul Dravid and coach John Wright should “unanimously” make a recommendation before any appointment is considered.

This afternoon, of course, Sourav’s mind was on what could be another stunning day in Hamilton.

Unless the elements interfere, the sensational second Test will be over early tomorrow, the scheduled fourth day. Whatever the result, the fraternity will surely need time to recover from today’s crash — featuring 22 wickets — at Westpac Park.

It’s another matter that much of the credit ought to be placed at curator Doug Strachen’s door and not Zaheer or Darryl Tuffey or Jacob Oram’s.

Twenty-two wickets in a single day isn’t a record, yet it’s not a seasonal occurrence either. Given the script for much of the day, New Zealand did well not to lose a wicket in their second innings — they would have, had Sanjay Bangar not dropped Lou Vincent — and, that, does give them an edge as they seek to knock off the 136 runs that remain.

The captain, though, believes the Test is evenly poised.

“There’s little point talking of chances… Whatever has to be done, must now be on the field… Still, if you ask me, it’s a fifty-fifty game,” Sourav opined, an hour or so after the delayed stumps on Day-III.

Speaking in a tone which, understandably, didn’t exactly convey he was relaxed, he added: “Actually, our chances will brighten if we get an early breakthrough… The trend, after all, has been that if you pick one, you are almost assured of picking a couple more…

“We’ll have to be patient and keep hitting the right length. With the wicket seaming wildly and the bounce uneven, getting the length right is most important.”

Asked whether he was confident of paying back New Zealand in the same coin, after the Indian first innings folded at 99, Sourav answered: “For the reasons stated, yes, but full marks to Zaheer… Having said that, it’s a fact that we’ve been offered poor wickets.”

It’s also a fact that Sourav had a poor run in both Tests — 17, 2; 5,5. Among other things, this sequence prevented him from reaching 1,000 runs in 2002.

“It’s disappointing but, then, what to do' Next time, when I come close, I’ll try not to miss out,” the captain, who finished on 945, replied.

The disappointment will be much less if Stephen Fleming (“the Indians lacked commitment in the first innings”) is made to eat his words.

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