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India look for psychological edge

Having tried out the newcomers, Sourav Ganguly and other rested players will return to the team as India look to choke the South Africans again in Friday's encounter.

india Updated: Apr 17, 2003 14:41 IST

Having tried out the newcomers in the previous match, Sourav Ganguly and some of the other rested players will return to the team as India look to choke the South Africans again in tomorrow's TVS Cup triangular series encounter and gain a psychological advantage ahead of the final.

The Indians had demolished new-look South Africa with a comprehensive 153-run margin in the previous league match and would be keen to keep them on the mat not only to maintain the winning sequence but to go into Sunday's final with an edge.

But fitness worries to some of the key players have left the Indians a worried lot though the team management is confident that they will be fit to take the field tomorrow.

Dashing left-hander Yuvraj Singh is down with flu and had a high temperature till this morning and remains a doubtful starter while pace bowler Zaheer Khan, who suffered a slight hamstring injury in the first round match against South Africa, may not play so as to be fully fit for the final.

Although off spinner Harbhajan Singh has been carrying a finger injury for some time, he will be fielded to strengthen the bowling department as the Indians do not want to go in with an inexperienced bowling attack and allow the South Africans to get into the groove.

With India having already reached the final, the team management is not too keen on making Zaheer Khan take the risk of aggravating his injury.

The return of the regulars will mean that all-rounder Sanjay Bangar, Abhijit Kale and Sarandeep Singh, who were given a look-in in the previous match against Bangladesh, will have to sit out.

With Ganguly, who had decided to skip the Bangladesh match to rest his injured back, returning to the team, Parthiv Patel who was promoted to the number three position in the batting order will go back to the lower middle order.

The South Aricans, led by new captain Graeme Smith, put up a vastly improved performance in their second match against Bangladesh and Ganguly and his young brigade can hardly afford to be complacent in what promises to be an exciting contest under floodlights at the Bangabandhu stadium.

Coach John Wright has cautioned his young wards not to get too carried away by the three consecutive victories in the tournament and take it game by game.

"We have to take it game by game. It is important that we maintain the winning habit. The youngsters have a lot of talent and they have fitted in particularly quickly. We need to have this hunger to win," Wright said.

The coach has been quite satisfied with the performance of his team in the tournament so far. "We have to try and win each match and tomorrow will be no different. We have to be consistent. Consistency is a lot about attitude," he said.

The failure of Virender Sehwag, who captained the team in the absence of Ganguly in the last match, to translate the starts into big scores has now started causing concern and the captain had made it be known that the he expects much bigger scores from the dashing batsman who was "not utilising his potential to the full".

After posting low scores in the first two matches, opener Gautam Gambhir struck a sparkling 71 against Bangladesh and that should boost his confidence.

The South Africans will be keen to learn from the mistakes and plan a strategy to counter the strong Indian batting line up. But the bowlers have to put up a far more inspired performance to contain Ganguly and the other Indian batsmen tomorrow.

Most of the South African top order batsmen have got some runs under their belt but it would be interesting to see how they they tackle the Indian spin challenge.

The teams (from):

India: Sourav Ganguly (capt), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Mohammad Kaif, Yuvraj Singh, Dinesh Mongia, Parthiv Patel, Ajit Agarkar, Harbhajan Singh, Avishkar Salvi, Amit Mishra, Sarandeep Singh, Sanjay Bangar, Abhijit Kale.

South Africa: Graeme Smith (capt), Herschelle Gibbs, Jaque Rudoplh, Boeta Dippenaar, Neil McKenzie, Mark Boucher, Shaun Pollock, Allan Dawson, Paul Adams, Makhaya Ntini, Charl Willoughy, Robin Peterson, Andrew Hall.

Umpires: Billy Bowden (New Zealand) and Akhtaruddin (Bangladesh).

Third umpire: Shawkatur Rahman (Bangladesh).

First Published: Apr 17, 2003 14:41 IST