The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Agarkar may make way for Nehra

Calcutta, Feb.7: With the Adelaide Test victory now distant history, Sourav Ganguly is aware that many may judge Team India exclusively on how it performs in the tri-series finals against the world champions.

Perhaps, that’s unfair. Yet, more than anything else, it’s the ‘now’ which drives emotions in these parts. And, being 0-1 down in the best-of-three finals, the ask (to say the least) is daunting.

“I realise people back home expect us to beat Australia (in the second final) tomorrow… I’m also aware that failure to do so will hurt those expecting a great finish here…

“Well, we’re going to give off our best and, then, see how the ball rolls… Basically, be it setting a target or chasing one, we need to bat better… In fact, overall, our brand of cricket has to be superior,” Sourav told The Telegraph.

Speaking from the team hotel in Sydney, the captain added: “I accept we didn’t play well at the MCG but, because the final isn’t a one-game affair, we’ve got an opportunity to win at the SCG and head for Brisbane 1-1… Beating Australia isn’t impossible and, at our team meeting this afternoon, I emphasised we must be positive and look ahead…

“We’re capable of doing much better and, really, are looking to finish the tour at the Gabba, not in Sydney itself.”

Despite a suggestion from Sunil Gavaskar that he return to one of the opening slots, Sourav said he preferred not to dislodge the Sachin Tendulkar-Virender Sehwag combination.

“I’ll bat at No. 4, after the openers and (V.V.S.) Laxman… I wouldn’t like to disturb Sachin and Veeru, at least not in such a crucial match,” he informed.

For the record, Sachin and Sehwag posted century-plus partnerships in the first two games — versus Australia and Zimbabwe — but, after a lay-off, flopped in the last three matches. Twenty-eight has been their most productive stand in this period.

Meanwhile, though Sourav indicated his mind wasn’t made up, sources suggested Ajit Agarkar could be dropped and Ashish Nehra brought back.

Agarkar did author 53 excellent runs yesterday, but has been smashed around in his last two appearances, both against Australia. He went for 56 in Perth and, in the first final, was tonked for 58.

Of course, Agarkar got two wickets at the WACA. In Melbourne, however, he went wicketless.

Apparently, Agarkar is having a “problem” with his left shin bone as well. A calf muscle injury, it may be recalled, kept him out in the middle stages of the competition.

As of late this evening, no other change was being contemplated.

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