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September 7, 2005
Stephen Fleming, the New Zealand captain, has termed the victory in the final of the Videocon Cup as "a perfect script" and hailed his team's "tenacity" to claw back from a dangerous position. Understandably, his Indian countrpart, Sourav Ganguly, spoke about the "heartbreaking" nature of the defeat and was concerned about India repeatedly going down in crucial games.
"I was always a little concerned about how things went in the first half-hour to on hour," said Fleming after a memorable six-wicket victory at Harare, thanks largely to a fantastic century from Nathan Astle. "Things just didn't go our way, we could have had a couple of wickets in that period. When it's their day, they are very hard to stop, but we pulled them back through tenacity. It was a tenacious performance in the last half, and this side is experienced enough to know that if you hang in there long enough, you can turn things around."
Ganguly, though, could only rue India's inability to seize the advantage. "We must be lacking something to lose finals even when seemingly in a good position," he said. "We had a good start but probably fell 20 runs short. It is heartbreaking. We have been in such situations in the past but haven't been able to finish it off. Once again we didn't look good enough to win the finals. Everytime we lose a final, it will become more and more difficult for us to come good in another finals."
Ganguly pinpointed India's middle-order stutter, when they slid from a formidable position at the halfway stage to 276, as one of the main reasons for defeat. "After being 150 for 1, we could add only 120 odd from the final 25 overs. And when we bowled, they were 90 for no loss in the first 10 overs. That's where we lost the game. Kaif batted very well but he didn't get support from the other end. If somebody had stayed with him at the other end, we would have been 300-plus."
But his main concern was the erratic nature of the Indian bowling attack, one that appeared toothless when Astle and Fleming were in a pillaging mood. "Just as we have to learn how to bat on seaming wickets, we also have to learn how to bowl on wickets which are flat," he said. "Since our medium-pace bowlers don't have the pace of a Shane Bond, Shoaib Akhtar or Brett Lee, they depend on little assistance from conditions to do well. Our bowlers didn't bowl good line and length and generally bowled both side of the wicket."
Fleming admitted that it was a planned assault, when he and Astle plundered 81 runs in the first nine overs, and was pleased that Astle could bat right through the innings. "It felt good at the start," he said, "we wanted to put pressure on their bowlers at the top of the innings. Of course, we had a guy who could bat through the innings, and Nathan's 15th one-day hundred won the game for us. We wanted to be aggressive at the start and get away, what with the pitch being such a good one. We wanted to set the tone and take the pressure off chasing a big score, it was a very important start.
"It has been a tough tour for a number of reasons, and it feels good to finish well. It's good to take a trophy back home because there aren't too many in our cabinet."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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