October 15, 2001

The youngsters will have to deliver in crunch situations

Sometimes a break does wonders for a player under pressure to deliver

Sometimes a break does wonders for a player under pressure to deliver. That's exactly what has happened to Saurav Ganguly, the Indian captain. After the Sri Lankan tour, he suddenly found time to think about his game and also decide on his game plan.

He started off his preparations by travelling to the bat manufacturers belt and getting his specifications followed to the T. As he went to South Africa he was then aware of the need to prove himself and get the team to give its best. Of course, the most encouraging fact was the return of Kumble and Tendulkar. Yet there was great pressure on the captain and it had to be tackled and subdued.

Sourav Ganguly
© AFP
Ganguly chose to do it most elegantly by letting his bat do the talking. The manner in which he silenced his detractors was something to be admired. No doubt he touched a few players on the raw but that is the way he has been right from the day he was made captain.

'Attack is the best form of defence' seems to be the motto of the Indian captain and it has paid off handsomely. More than his contribution with a century, he has played a vital role in showing the positive path to his team.

It is of paramount importance that a captain thrusts positive attitude on his team and he has done just that with his attacking knocks. It was a pleasant surprise to see Tendulkar play the role of an anchor with Ganguly leading the charge at the Wanderers.

The Indian captain did stir up his bowlers after the defeat in the first encounter against the South Africans, but he rung the changes well enough in the second game at the Centurion. If Ganguly felt the bowlers let him down in the opening game, they quickly made him eat his words with superb spells in the second one to notch up a victory for the Indians. The spin twins - Kumble and Harbhajan - called the tune ably supported by Sehwag, which proved too much for the South Africans. It has to be mentioned here that Agarkar is looking the best among the seamers.

Ganguly has shown a lot of faith in the younger lot and they are delivering the goods, though in a patchy manner. Sehwag and Yuvraj can be very dangerous customers in the shorter version but they must try and aim for consistency. Sehwag has shown that he has the ability to bowl a few useful overs too which is a real bonus for the side.

Kumble & Harbhajan
© AFP
Harbhajan Singh, meanwhile, has come back well with a very good outing at the Centurion. He will have a major role to play because he is an unknown commodity unlike Kumble, in so far as the South Africans are concerned.

The Indians are aware that they will qualify for the finals but it would be worthwhile to think about how they are going to beat the South Africans repeatedly. Going by what has happened so far in the series, Agarkar along with Kumble and Harbhajan have to be at their best.

The batting will obviously depend on the in-form Tendulkar and Ganguly with the others like Sehwag and Yuvraj chipping in without messing up the final overs. Mind you, the ever reliable Dravid has been overshadowed until now which is all the more comforting for the team management.

What remains to be done is to keep the intensity levels of the inexperienced lot going at an even keel for them to ensure that they perform at their best. As far as India is concerned their winning the tournament will depend on the way the youngsters acquit themselves when it matters the most.