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India missing Ganguly in make-or-break game

India go into their do-or-die sixth one-dayer against West Indies on Thursday without two key elements ? captain Sourav Ganguly and a margin for error.

india Updated: Nov 20, 2002 14:48 IST

India go into their do-or-die sixth one-day international against West Indies on Thursday without two key elements -- captain Sourav Ganguly and a margin for error.

With Sachin Tendulkar already missing the series due to a hamstring injury, Ganguly's absence at the top of the batting order because of a back strain could be critical for the team, who are trailing 3-2 in the seven-match series.

But stand-in skipper Rahul Dravid is confident his young side are capable of beating the Windies in what can be expected to be another run-fest in this western city.

"I don't look at this match as a pressure game, but as a challenge," Dravid told reporters after a team practice session.

"We're missing some experienced players but it's a great opportunity for everyone to stand up and deliver when the team needs it most."

The series has so far showcased some monumental run chases, including 325, the third-highest in one-day history, which India managed in Ahmedabad last week.

No side has won so far after batting first.

"Nothing less than 270 will be competitive on this track," West Indies captain Carl Hooper said.

But Dravid said he is open to the idea of setting a target.

"I haven't decided yet what we will do if we win the toss," he said. "The wicket looks good but it may have a lower bounce than the other tracks we've seen this series. We'll be able to judge it better on the morning of the match."


Left-hander Dinesh Mongia will get a look into the opening slot in Ganguly's absence but it is the bowling combination India are more worried about.

Seamers Javagal Srinath and Ashish Nehra have so far been massacred by West Indies openers Wavell Hinds and Chris Gayle, who already has three centuries and a fifty in the series.

All-rounder Ajit Agarkar could return but there is an outside chance that India may field three spinners -- off-spinners Harbhajan Singh and Sarandeep Singh and left-armer Murli Kartik.

"All the players in the squad have a chance to be picked," Dravid said. "I'm not ruling out any combinations. We still have to talk and decide the final 11."

India, however, will take heart from Dravid's flawless record as skipper. The 29-year-old led India to wins while standing in for Ganguly in Rajkot against Zimbabwe two years ago and against Sri Lanka in Colombo last year.

"I hope we carry on that winning run," Dravid said.

But Hooper, eager to close out the series, has other ideas.

"We would want to win here and clinch the series," he said. "But it's not going to be easy, we expect a hard game."

Hooper said Ganguly's absence would be a boost for his team, but said they were not going to be complacent.

"Being the captain and a key member of the side, Ganguly will certainly be missed but any other player who fills his shoes could do a good job. We can't take afford to take any chances."

India (from): Rahul Dravid (captain), Virender Sehwag, Dinesh Mongia, Vangipurappu Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammad Kaif, Sanjay Bangar, Harbhajan Singh, Murli Kartik, Javagal Srinath, Ajit Agarkar, Ashish Nehra, Sarandeep Singh, Reetinder Singh Sodhi.

West Indies(from): Carl Hooper (captain), Chris Gayle, Wavell Hinds, Marlon Samuels, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Ridley Jacobs, Mervyn Dillon, Pedro Collins, Mahendra Nagamootoo, Vasbert Drakes, Cameron Cuffy, Corey Collymore, Ricardo Powell.

Umpires: Asoka de Silva (Sri Lanka), K.Hariharan; third umpire: I.Sivaram

Match referee: Mike Procter (South Africa).

First Published: Nov 20, 2002 14:48 IST