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Back from the brink, with a little help

Whenever India loses a series the remaining games are played for ?pride?. As if winning the series would not have been a matter of pride.

india Updated: Jan 08, 2003 23:51 IST

Whenever India loses a series the remaining games are played for “pride”. As if winning the series would not have been a matter of pride. In any case the abysmally shameful zero against India’s name has now been removed with this win in the fifth one-dayer at Welllington.

It was virtually a gift from Stephen Fleming who was a bit bored of winningfour one-dayers and two Tests in a row. He opted to bat when the obvious thing would have been to bowl first on that pitch.

So now there is a bit of excitement left in the series and also some more viewers forthe television channel whichbuys up these rights for huge monies, totally unware of worst case scenarios, like it has happened now.

Another reason why Stephen Fleming opted to bat was the chance of putting up a big score which is the only thing the Kiwis haven’t done. He should have realized that the pitches have nothing to do with runs.

He was clearly tempting fate. India won with 6.4 overs and two wickets to spare. No pride here. Only that the team has got back some sensation in its nerves totally numbed by a series of defeats. Victories in the remaining two ODIs willhelp Sourav Ganguly believe that there is some hope left for the World Cup and it is not just a case of “Vapas Aao, Britannia khao”.

Ganguly opened the innings yet again and was out yet again helping the ball to the fielder at slips. We have heard of bad patches but it has been happening to Ganguly all too often. He just about got over one long bad patch, with some good scores in the series against West Indies and presto there he is back in the dumps.

Ganguly’s technique and his weaknesses have clearly been sorted out by all bowlers so the ‘bad patch’ excuse does not work any more. Tuffy has got him in the first over too many times for it to be anything other than bad batting.

Two things have to be immediately done: Ganguly should drop himself down the order, to play out a chase along with Mohammed Kaif, and then consult some top batsmen and coaches with what is wrong with the way he reads the rising or swinging delivery.

As of now he is a 'sitting duck’ and a fast bowler’s delight. Any pace bowler who is out of confidence would want to have a go at Ganguly.

In a series now being played to reclaim some ”pride”, the match though won, had an incident which is a matter of shame. It was the sorry sight of Anil Kumble starting to run away to square leg while facing Andre Adams who is not the fastest in the Kiwi lineup.

He made three or four steps towards the leg ducked his head as if saying his last prayers before departing from this material world which is full of bowlers who are cruelly fast. Even after he opened his eyes after ducking the ball had not reached him and he again nudged at itas if it was some sort of `Brahamastra’.

In the process he was hit wicket and to compound the problem he hit the ball twice with the bat. If it wasn’t so utterly comic, the incident would have been rated as biggest blot in India’s “glittering” batting history.

Sunil Gavaskar rightly reprimanded Kumble for first trying to run away from the delivery and then turning his head away in sheer fright. Gavaskar said that for all the money Kumble is paid, there is nothing wrong in taking a couple of blows.

Coming from a man who in the fourth Test at Antigua against West Indies in May 2002, came back to bowl with a broken jaw it was quit shameful.

Viv Richards then said that one of the bravest things he had seen on the cricket field was the sight of Kumble bowling with a broken jaw.That Merv Dillon delivery which broke his jaw must have shattered whatever was left of his batting. But then what is Kumble doing in the World Cup team?

Ever since he returned from his shoulder surgery Kumble has been bowling from memory. And to think that left-arm spinner Murli Kartik who was dropped to give Kumble a slot is a fine all-rounder capable of even opening the innings.

Kumble and Dinesh Mongia are the only misfits in the team for the World Cup.This series will only serve to prove that.

First Published: Jan 08, 2003 23:51 IST