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Harbhajan disappointing

The Australians are now well clear of the other two in the competition and are looking better and more balanced as the tournament is progressing. As expected, it is now a fight between New Zealand and India for the other berth in the final.

india Updated: Nov 06, 2003 02:14 IST
Arun Lal

The Australians are now well clear of the other two in the competition and are looking better and more balanced as the tournament is progressing. As expected, it is now a fight between New Zealand and India for the other berth in the final.

India have been strangely up and down in this tournament. They kept their nerve in Gwalior just when all was looking lost and came up with a morale boosting win.

The follow up in Mumbai did not live up to its billing and the Indian performance from the word go was disappointing to say the least.

This is such a good side for one-day cricket but the worrying part is its inconsistency in performance. It’s not the result; it’s the level of performance or the range in which you are expected to perform. When you slip below that, then there is need for introspection.

The major area of worry is the inconsistency in bowling. Zaheer Khan, a proven talent and our spearhead, has a huge responsibility to provide the early breakthroughs.

It appears that on occasions, he gets overcharged and tries too hard and in the process, loses control. It is important to concentrate on the basics like line and length, especially against batsmen like Adam Gilchrist who put enormous pressure on the new ball bowlers.

Currently it is three out of three in favour of the Aussies versus Zaheer.

Harbhajan Singh, since his finger injury, has yet to reach the level that we expect from this master craftsman.

On a definite turning track in Mumbai, it was disappointing to see him bowl flat and defensively. His lack of control over turn and the away going delivery, which has been his major asset, is probably indicative of the fact that he has not healed completely.

The absence of Ashish Nehra narrowed the options so far and now the unavailability of Anil Kumble who, if not threatening, has been very consistent, will put further pressure on the bowling line-up.

Batting too is a concern, with the immensely dangerous Sehwag not amongst the runs, Kaif having quite a harrowing time since the start of the season and Ganguly still not fit to do battle.

Consequently, the wicket-keeper’s position, where Parthiv Patel is struggling, has again become the logical risk to take to enhance the balance of the side.

New Zealand are also not without worries. They are yet to win a match and though they have had the worse of the wickets in the day games, the fact that they are complaining so vehemently reflects their lack of confidence, and that they are having problems focussing.

Their batting - so buoyant after the Test series - is quite shattered and will start hesitantly. Their major worry too, will be their bowling. Apart from Tuffey, nobody else seems to be capable of winning a match. The wicket at Cuttack usually favours the batsmen.

The Indians must learn from Australia who assess and adapt almost instantaneously. For example, the adjustment of line and length at the expense of pace and bounce after the first game and the use of Michael Clarke for Harvey and Hogg. We too need to get the balance of our team absolutely right.

First Published: Nov 05, 2003 23:44 IST