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Caught on a sticky wicket

It is not a happy sight when bowlers dominate ODIs but we are well prepared, writes Glenn McGrath.

india Updated: Oct 27, 2006 00:18 IST
Glenn McGrath
Glenn McGrath

Having been involved in all the four Champions Trophy tournaments played so far, I would say that this time, we are better prepared than ever before.

The earlier editions were all knockouts, but the current schedule allows a good side to get back after a bad game, which is also a good thing. This trophy has always eluded our grasp, and we are all committed to correct that anomaly.

We have come here a week-and-a-half in advance and are well acclimatised to the heat and humidity. It helped that we had two useful practice games, and while the West Indies have more match practice behind them, we are also ready to start our campaign.

We will be playing our first game at the Brabourne Stadium, where the game between New Zealand and South Africa on Monday turned out to be a low-scoring affair.

It is never a happy sight to see a bowler-dominated game on a ground where you are up next. There was too much assistance for the spinners in the second half, and there was prodigious swing movement right through the game. All this does not make for great one-day cricket, but we are confident that if we play to our potential and execute our plans well, we will win the game.

In hindsight, I am sure that Graeme Smith will rue the fact that he put the Kiwis in after winning the toss. It’s not good for cricket when so much depends on the toss, but that’s what happens on such wickets.

Looking at the match against the West Indies, as a bowler, most of the planning involves dislodging their talented top-order batsmen. Chris Gayle and Brian Lara hold the key to the fortunes of their team, and they have won quite a few games for the West Indies with some remarkable batting. They have a steady, fast-medium bowling attack, though Gayle’s spin might be what Lara is relying on at the moment.

It might be a low-scoring game but I feel that if we plan our innings well, we might get to 225, which will be a good total on this pitch.

On a separate note, while we would expect one of the stops on an Indian tour to be Mumbai, I am surprised that the regular venues have not been used.

Coming to India and not playing at the Eden Gardens is like going to England and not playing at Lord’s. It is a little strange that Kolkata’s beautiful arena is not part of a showpiece event like the Champions Trophy, and many players are sad to miss the electric atmosphere that is so unique to Eden Gardens.

It is also sad to see Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammed Asif in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. I would not like to comment on it until more details emerge from Pakistan, and I would also like to wait for the Sample B analysis results.

Having played against Shoaib quite a few times, I really feel for the guy. However, rules are rules and both these bowlers will have to wait a few days to see what lies in store for them.

First Published: Oct 17, 2006 23:25 IST