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Ganguly, Smith confident for final

Sourav Ganguly on Saturday put behind him his team's loss to South Africa in the last league match of the three-nation tournament here and kept his focus on the final.

india Updated: Apr 19, 2003 23:29 IST
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse

Indian captain Sourav Ganguly on Saturday put behind him his team's loss to South Africa in the last league match of the three-nation tournament here and kept his focus on the final.

"One-day cricket is all about who plays well on a particular day," Ganguly said. "South Africa played better and were deserving winners, but then the final is going to be a different game."

Favourites India had won their first three matches of the double-league format tournament, also featuring hosts Bangladesh, but lost to a resurgent South Africa by five wickets.

"Ours is a fairly inexperienced side and the players are just about getting a hang of things," Ganguly said of his team, which is here without five main players -- Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Javagal Srinath, Anil Kumble and Ashish Nehra.

Added to that have been some injuries to key players, including Ganguly, who has recovered fully from a strained back.

Paceman Zaheer Khan, who has been nursing a pulled hamstring, has recovered from that injury but has caught a virus and is not certain to play the final.

However, vice-captain Virender Sehwag, who was struck on the forearm by a delivery from paceman Makhaya Ntini in the last match, is sure to play. And Yuvraj Singh has recovered from a flu.

South Africa had no injury worries and captain Graeme Smith was confident ahead of the final.

"We are getting things right and if we do the things we are speaking about, we should be really pushing India," Smith said. "I would still say that India are the favourites but they now know that we mean business.

"We took time settling down, but the win over India has made us a more confident team," said 22-year-old Smith, the youngest-ever one-day captain and the youngest to lead South Africa.

The retirements from international cricket of paceman Allan Donald and batsman Jonty Rhodes, and from one-day cricket of opener Gary Kirsten have left a void in the South African side.

Also, star all-rounder Jacques Kallis could not make it for this tournament because of an illness in the family, while experienced players Lance Klusener and Nicky Boje were not picked.

Smith was named captain of a new-look side, replacing Shaun Pollock, who could not take South Africa beyond the first round of the World Cup.

"I would have made mistakes during the tournament but I think I'm learning my lessons fast," said Smith, who gave Pollock the new ball only in the last two matches.

"Pollock has been really hungry with the new ball," Smith said.

The all-rounder himself was happy to have opened the bowling for South Africa.

"I really enjoy bowling with the new ball," said Pollock, who became the highest wicket-taker for South Africa during the course of the tournament and now has 275 wickets in his kitty.

Donald held the previous mark at 272.

"Having opened the bowling almost right through my career, that is what I enjoy most. I was happy at being entrusted with the job once again," said 29-year-old Pollock.

South Africa stay back for a two-Test series against Bangladesh. The first Test will be held in the eastern port city of Chittagong from April 24 while the second match will be held here from May 1.

First Published: Apr 19, 2003 23:29 IST