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Don?t be so defensive

The road to the finals was not an ideal one for India. The players were exhausted and there were too many injuries, writes Javagal Srinath.

india Updated: Feb 08, 2004 01:17 IST

The road to the finals was not an ideal one for India. The players were exhausted and there were too many injuries. It was not only Zimbabwe's poor display that didn't stimulate India's progress to the finals. The WACA bounce also did them no good in building up the momentum.

The Indian openers seemed predetermined to make a cautious start. Sachin and Sehwag needed to be around for at least 15 overs to soften the new ball. The pace and bounce at Perth had given Brett Lee a new lease of confidence and the Australians used Lee to trap Veeru (Sehwag) with a bodyline ploy --- short pitched bowling.

Though a great timer of the ball, and someone who has quite a few shots in his kitty, Veeru instinctively gets into an awkward position to the ball rising onto his chest. It is widely believed that any deliberate effort to correct this particular flaw might affect the dynamism of his batting. Only this kind of dismissals can get Veeru to be more attentive to such ploys.

Sachin meanwhile, has postponed the hopes of millions to the SCG. A keen student of the game, he would have spent a sleepless night thinking about his game and how to contribute in the all-important match on Sunday.

Rahul and Laxman will have to be more cautious and should try to stick to the wicket till the end of the innings. The team plan always is that Rahul should stay at the wicket and the others will accelerate the run flow.

It was nice to see Ajit and Badani take the score to 222 after the top order batsmen failed to score. This will give some food for thought for the Indian batsmen when they plan their innings for the crucial Sunday match.

One point is that there were too many run-outs and Badani was the common factor in all of them. It is something serious and the southpaw should work on it. I strongly feel the calling is flawed.

Adam Gilchrist's aggression is the dominating theme for Australia. "How to stop the flow of runs from Gilchrist?" would, I am sure, be the main topic of discussion in the Indian team meeting. It is difficult to bowl to someone like Gilchrist. Even a great bowler like Wasim Akram dreaded bowling to him.

It would not be a bad idea for our young bowlers to keep changing guard --- coming over and around the wicket --- while maintaining a line just short of length. Agarkar, who is a much-improved bowler in this series, is showing signs of tiredness. The long tour must have taken its toll on the fragile fast bowler. A lot depends on his spell in the first 15 overs.

Balaji has improved with every outing. But what matters is the pressure created by all the medium pacers. The Indians have done very well in the Test series, but are yet to show their best in the VB series. Now that the Indian team is pushed to the wall, it will be a do-or-die situation for the blues.

But I am convinced that the team will regroup and gain some momentum. Loss of form and losing a game can give some players sleepless nights. It's fairly common to see players outside their rooms discussing the game and their own form with team-mates till the wee hours.

The Indians will have to forget about their disappointment and stand up to the next challenge. India is the only team in the recent past to bring Australia down to their knees. All that is required is another consolidated effort. And I am confident that they are capable of doing it.