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Hughes pokes holes in India's armoury

Former Australian captain Kim Hughes has asked India to forget worrying about their batting or bowling problems and concentrate on the basics.

india Updated: Feb 04, 2004 15:55 IST

Former Australian captain Kim Hughes has asked India to forget worrying about their batting or bowling problems and concentrate on the basics of one-day cricket ahead of the tri-series finals.

"They have some deficiency in one-day cricket," said Hughes who played in 70 Tests for Australia and captained in 28 of those in the 1980s.

India's batting inadequecy was exposed on the bouncy WACA pitch against Australia last Sunday, and their bowlers have so far found no answer to the powerful Australian batting line-up.

Hughes, however, felt the Asian giants have to rectify their traditional weaknesses in the limited overs game if they nourished hopes of beating Australia in Australia.

"They are not the best of runners between the wickets and their fielding can lag. At best it is average," he said.

Hughes picked V V S Laxman and skipper Sourav Ganguly as two batsmen who were not the best of runners between the wickets.

"Laxman and Ganguly don't run all that well. That's their deficiency in one-day cricket, though I must admit Laxman remains my favourite batsman. I would go anywhere to watch him bat."

Hughes felt though the Indian batsmen's technique was exposed at Perth over the two final league games, they should be back to their best on the friendlier tracks at Melbourne and Sydney.

"Well certainly their techniques were exposed here against some real pace. They were not going back and across on this strip where the bounce was good," Hughes said.

"But Indians are going back to wickets they have liked this summer. They have been very good batting wickets and have not deviated too much.

"Australians would have hoped they were a bit harder and quicker and force the players to go right back. They would have been disappointed with a few wickets which were prepared this summer."

Hughes said India had the potential to be a power in world cricket given the strength of their batting and the quality of the up and coming fast bowlers.

"The Indian top six are all bit different. Ganguly is different to Dravid, Laxman is different to Tendulkar.

"Then you have Irfan Pathan who is very, very impressive. Few can do what he does and he is just quick enough.

"You don't have to be (bowling at) 150 or 155 kmph. If you do not do enough with the ball, most fellows would hit you for fours. Brett Lee has shown that.

"Pathan is between 135 and 140 and pushes the ball across the right-handers or lets the ball come back in as a left-arm bowler. There will always be chance to nick it.

"It doesn't matter who you are if it lands in the middle and starts to go towards the off, you would struggle.

"When Harbhajan and Zaheer come back from injury, and with Pathan and Balaji showing their wares, India will have a very good bowling line-up."

Hughes could not help but rave about Test openers Aakash Chopra and Virender Sehwag early on the tour.

"I have been very impressed with Chopra and Sehwag. The way Sehwag allows you to have a look at his stumps, you sometimes have your heart in your mouth!

"But the two combine very well. They run very well. They look like the openers who wanted to be out there in the middle.

"Openers come in pair. Chopra and Sehwag must have averaged 50 as openers for the series which is a big plus."

Hughes, who as the Australian captain was at the receiving end of West Indian pace battery in the 1980s, felt the recent Test series compelled him to rate Clive Lloyd's team better than Steve Waugh's Invincibles.

"Waugh's side was a great one. You could only beat who you were beating. But I thought West Indies were very difficult to beat," said Hughes who had cried unabashedly while announcing his retirement in 1984.

"They had some great batsmen and that pack of fast bowlers. Greenidge and Haynes were conditioned to face fast bowlers so we could not intimidate them."

"We needed quality bowlers, we needed somebody like McGrath, Lee and Gillespie at their very best," Hughes said.

"In Australia's case, their tail has been very handy. A lot of their batting has centred around their openers, Justin Langer and Matthew Hayden.

"But you feel the West Indian bowlers, tall and strong men, would not have allowed them to dominate. You would not have been batting a yard out of your crease and able to maintain that sort of run-rate."

Hughes felt the emergence of India means Australia would now have a tough competitor in world cricket.

"These days the most exciting tour for Australia is to go to India. It used to be England but they have not been that competitive as before.

"We have not beaten India in India for a long, long time. The last series was an epic one, probably one of the greatest series of all time. There is tremendous amount of interest centred around India."

First Published: Feb 04, 2004 15:55 IST