Chance to shed 'chokers' tag

If everything goes India's way, it could be their second title only in a multi-team series since March 1999. Have Your Say

india Updated: Sep 05, 2005 22:57 IST

India get another chance to shed the tag of 'final floppers' as they seek to halt their losing streak in one-day summit showdowns when they lock horns with New Zealand for the Videocon Cup tri-serieson Tuesday.

The Indians go into the match with a lot more confidence having defeated the Kiwis in a league match and it remains to be seen if they can do it again when it matters most.

If things go their way, it would be only their second title in a multi-team series since March 1999.

During this time, India have reached 20 finals and won just one, losing 15 and finishing with a deadlock in the rest of them.

More often than not, it is the batsmen who freeze at the moment of reckoning though in the 2003 World Cup final, it was the bowlers who left the batsmen with no chance whatsoever.

The conditions in Harare over the past few days have discounted New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming's suggestion that the final would be a "battle of the bowlers."

Three matches in a row have produced pitches which neither have moisture nor support swing bowlers and teams have regularly exceeded the 250-run mark.

Toss will only be a help to the extent that one team would have the option of using its Super Sub better than the other, like the Indians did with Venugopala Rao in that close- fright-of-a-match against Zimbabwe on Sunday.

India's best three batsmen -- Virender Sehwag, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid -- have not been in the best of form.

Sehwag has not got a fifty in the last 15 matches and is irritatingly getting out when he has the opposition by the collar.

Ganguly, after his half-century against the West Indies in Sri Lanka, has not crossed 50 in the last six innings. At the moment if his pull does not get him out, it is the square cut which is terminating his stay in the middle.

Dravid has been out bowled four times in the last five innings -- four in four on the present tour -- and on at least two occasions his stationery footwork has inside edged a ball onto the stumps.

These three have also little going by way of their performance in the finals. Ganguly's average drops by over 18 runs in the finals. Dravid suffers by at least 10 and Sehwag too has been scoring lesser by four runs in crunch games.

That India have chased two successive scores of 250-plus is because the lower half is in roaring form. Both Mohammad Kaif and Yuvraj Singh have got hundreds while Mahendra Singh Dhoni is acquiring the stamp of reliability.

Jay Prakash Yadav and Irfan Pathan, by dint of their show in the very first game, promise the never-say-die spirit.

New Zealand's biggest worry seems to be the support which Shane Bond lacks at the other end. Without him and Daniel Vettori, their attack was toothless against India on Friday.

India's best chance is to target other New Zealand bowlers and raise a total they can defend. For New Zealand, batting is just about giving the hint of running into full steam.

For cricket fans in Zimbabwe, this would be the match of the summer or one of quality for a long time. As Zimbabwe hits a barren patch, both by performances and off-field troubles,Tuesday could be a day to rejoice in some quality contest. The one between Bond and the Indian batsmen should be an edge-of-the-seat affair.

Teams (from):

India: Sourav Ganguly (capt), Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammad Kaif, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Ashish Nehra, Irfan Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Ajit Agarkar, J P Yadav and Venugopal Rao.

New Zealand: Stephen Fleming (capt), Nathan Astle, Lou Vincent, Hamish Marshall, Craig McMillan, Scott Styris, Kyle Mills, Jacob Oram, Brendon McCullum, Daniel Vettori, Andre Adams and Shane Bond.

First Published: Sep 05, 2005 15:12 IST