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I was tempted to bowl first

It was a good effort in Harare. It was a crucial game for India after the loss to Australia and I thought we rose to the occasion very well.

india Updated: Feb 23, 2003 02:31 IST

It was a good effort in Harare. It was a crucial game for India after the loss to Australia and I thought we rose to the occasion very well. It was also a good toss to lose.

I was somewhat hesitant about whether to bat or bowl first as the Harare wicket always has a bit in the morning. Keeping in mind the fact that we played three seamers, I would have been tempted to bowl first.

We got off to a very good start in the first 15 overs but lost our way a bit in the middle overs. Our strength used to be the top order - Sachin or I getting a hundred once set - but that's not happened recently.

We lost wickets in quick succession and this helped some of Zimbabwe's weaker bowlers in keeping the run-rate down. However, we still did well to get to 255, though we did also feel we were about 20 runs short after getting the start we did.

We have developed this plan of trying to play one-day internationals in two sessions and it was very important to play the second half well. The way our bowlers stuck to the job, though, was outstanding.

Srinath, who has been bowling superbly for quite some time, bowled very well yet again, along with Zaheer, who has been our other consistent performer in recent times. The way we bowled our first 15 overs really put the pressure on the Zimbabweans, as we did not give anything away. It was a great exhibition of disciplined bowling combined with some outstanding fielding. The exuberance of the boys on the field was superb and that put a lot of pressure on the Zimbabwean batting.

The three wickets I picked up literally took the game away from them and to recover from a score of 88 for six required a miracle. It never materialised. I thought Zimbabwe panicked a bit too early but you expect such things in a high-pressure tournament like this.

It is also good to see Ashish Nehra bowling with some wheels. It has been a while since I saw an Indian, other than Srinath, clock over 90 miles an hour. This just goes to show what a good fitness trainer can do to build up the strength of a fast bowler. We need similar people with the Ranji teams as well.

We play Namibia on Sunday. They may be the minnows of the tournament but these kind of teams can be a little difficult. We have to be keyed up for it as we were against Zimbabwe. Our batting looked improved but was still not at its best. It's one aspect of the game that needs lifting. The boys know that and have been working hard in the nets.

And now, a word on something else. It was a disappointing to hear about Shane Warne's one-year suspension. It is a big blow to Australian cricket because he and Glenn McGrath were a huge force in their Test match wins. We tour Australia in November and the non-availability of Warnie will take a lot of flair from the series, as he was a big character in cricket.

We all have to wait and see what he decides to do --- one year is a lot for him at this stage of his career.

First Published: Feb 23, 2003 01:56 IST