June 1, 2000

Indians will have to bowl far better

The encounter between the hosts Bangladesh and India in the Asia Cup produced no surprises but for the weather threatening to abandon the match. Sourav Ganguly, the skipper helped himself to another one day hundred with some authoritative batting. The game was played over a couple of days with the rains interrupting proceedings on the first day and the fact that the game was completed would have brought smiles on the Indians as well as the organisers.

The hosts started off losing a couple of early wickets but the middle order exposed the limitations of the Indian attack. Despite the pitch being conducive to batting, there is no way the Indians should have given as much as they did to the inexperienced opponents. Akram Khan turned out to the hero for Bangladesh smashing the ball all over the ballpark. It was a creditable effort for one who hardly gets to play against international bowlers. He made light of his bulk as he dealt some lusty blows all round the wicket. Rahman who played his second fiddle role to perfection ably supported him.

The partnership between Bashar and Islam provided the belief to the hosts that runs could be had if one were to bat sensibly. They kept the scoreboard ticking and were ready to attack anything loose. Tendulkar has made it a habit to break partnerships and once again he got into the act when he had Bashar. The Indian spinners were unable to make an impact on the Bangladeshis what with even Kumble more runs than he does normally. The fact that as many as eight bowlers was used tells the entire story, which does not augur well for the future matches.

The Indians knew they had to really hustle in their chase, as there was an outside chance of the Duckworth-Lewis equation coming into effect. Tendulkar and Ganguly proved to be too formidable for the inexperienced Bangladesh attack and the hosts were left to admire the ability of the most productive opening pair in the game at the moment. Ganguly got stuck into the left arm spinner Rafique straight away carting him for huge sixes and with Tendulkar opening out in tandem, the result was inevitable.

The dismissal of Tendulkar brought in the youngster Badani into the crease and he did not let down either himself or the team management. It is appreciable that Badani was provided an opportunity to get his feet wet in the big league and he played a few exquisite shots which exuded a touch of class. It will be unfortunate if he were to be dropped in the following games, as Badani is in good touch. Moreover, continuity is important in the early stages of anyone's career to keep the confidence level intact.

The injury to Saba Karim has provided an opportunity for Mongia to come back into the side. To be fair, there was no way Karim could have got out of the way as the ball ricocheted too quickly off the pads. Going by the reports, the injury seems to be very serious and hopefully he will recover soon. The Indians are set to take on the Sri Lankans in the next outing and they have to bowl far better than they did against Bangladesh. Mind you, chasing a target above 270 or 280 against better sides is not going to be an easy proposition.