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Greg defends players after warmup disaster

The coach sought to deflect criticism by saying the players had been pitted against quality opposition without adequate time to adjust to the conditions.

india Updated: Nov 17, 2006 14:46 IST

Indian coach Greg Chappell has sought to deflect criticism of the team's disastrous show in the South Africa tour opener, saying the players had been pitted against quality opposition without adequate time to adjust to the local conditions.

"It can happen, stepping out of airplane and playing in two days' time against genuine quality bowling. But that's the only way you are going to learn," Chappell said in a stout defence of his players after the 37-run loss to South Africa 'A' in the one-day warmup game here on Thursday.

Chasing a target of 256, the Indians were blown away by the express speed of Dale Steyn who finished with five for 22 from his 10 hostile overs.

The Indians arrived in South Africa on Tuesday and play their first of five one-day internationals at Johannesburg on Sunday.

"I don't know too many players who are well equipped to handle real fast bowling when they first walk on to international stage. Most of them have to get used to it by experience," the 58-year old former Australian captain said.

Not only the batsmen found the going tough, even the bowling came apart at the seams in the final overs, none more than Munaf Patel and Sreesanth who went for over 60 runs each.

"We gave a couple of guys an opportunity of bowling in the death overs which they haven't done before. If you want to get better you have got to have those opportunities," Chappell said.

"Sometimes it is a painful initiation you have to go through. But then you learn the lesson," Chappell said.

The coach felt that wicketkeeper-batsman Mahendra Singh Dhoni has now been part of international cricket long enough to take on more responsibility.

"He is going to get better if he takes risk and bears responsibility. I think MS is ready for that role. He has played a reasonable amount of international cricket now."

Chappell felt there was a lot that the younger members of the team could learn from Rahul Dravid's crafty 79 in a losing cause.

"Rahul goes through difficult periods. He did what he has to go to get through those period. You sometimes don't look very good and you could rather appear uncomfortable.

"And yet if you go through you gain confidence. It could make it easy next time.

"It's not something you can teach somebody. It's something you learn by experience. Rahul has learnt it as well as anyone has ever learnt it."

Chappell also found words of praise for Anil Kumble and Zaheer Khan, the two bowlers returning to India's fold.

"Zaheer brought his experience to good use and Kumble is the consummate professional. He does everything that needs to be done.

"He plays with youthful enthusiasm which belies the number of years he has played international cricket," he said.