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November 28, 2006
Virender Sehwag, India's stand-in-captain for the rest of the ODI series against South Africa, has appealed to fans to maintain their faith, promising an Indian comeback in the final two games. Sehwag also backed Greg Chappell, India's coach who has been caught in a running battle with Indian politicians.
"My message to cricket fans is that they should trust us. We are good players and we would fight back," he said. "In a way, the criticism can be expected and it's not new. When you do well you are praised and when you fail, you are criticised. But yes players do get upset when they are told by families back home about the reaction. However, we need to take it in stride as we are professional sportsmen and these things do happen."
With Rahul Dravid injured, Sehwag called on his team-mates to step it up. "In a way it is an opportunity because we could have games in future when there would be no Tendulkar or Dravid," he said. "The rest of the boys have to be prepared and take over the responsibility. We have to bat well, bat for 50 overs. The batsmen who are set need to carry on."
As for the scathing criticism of Chappell, Sehwag felt it was uncalled for. "That's not right. A coach doesn't perform in the middle, the boys do," he said. "Coach and captain get credit whenever the team wins but it is the bunch of eleven players who set up the victory. Similarly in moments of defeat, a coach and a captain shouldn't be blamed.
"I think he is a good coach. Under his coaching, our batsmen have improved a lot. He attends to technical issues and gives us good insight."
Sehwag also hinted that both Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh would play in Port Elizabeth, with five bowlers on the menu.
Meanwhile, Graeme Smith, the South African captain, was determined to keep India under pressure and take an unassailable 3-0 lead. "We would like to win here and win the series. They are in trouble and we want to keep it that way," he said. "We have fanatical supporters though nowhere near what you have in India. If we had performed as Indians have, they would also be upset. We are here to exploit their weakness, not support them."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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