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'India's best may come in final'

"Hopefully, we are saving our best for the last game of the series. That will be nice," coach Chappell said after India's two defeats in three matches.
By Agence France-Presse | PTI, Colombo
UPDATED ON AUG 05, 2005 07:02 PM IST

Indian coach Greg Chappell said on Friday that his team could strike back after performing below their potential in early matches of the ongoing triangular one-day cricket series.

"Hopefully, we are saving our best for the last game of the series. That will be nice," Chappell said after India's two defeats in three matches.

"We have not played particularly well in this tournament, but we could have won all the three games. I am not concerned about it. We are still trying to put processes in place and work hard."

India's lone victory came against an under-strength West Indies, who are without their stars following a contract dispute between players and their cricket board.

Sri Lanka have already qualified for the final with three wins in as many matches. They meet the West Indies in their last league game here on Saturday.

If India beat the West Indies the following day they will make it to the final, scheduled to be held here on August 9, otherwise the run-rate of the two teams could decide who faces the Sri Lankans.

"I think it is a confidence thing," said Chappell.

"The boys have had a few losses and winning is a habit. We have to get back to the winning practice. Once the confidence and belief come back this side will turn around quite quickly.

"It (winning) is not going to happen overnight. We are talking about a process that will take time. Whether that will be one month, six months or twelve months only time will tell."

Chappell conceded his team's batting and bowling had left a lot to be desired in previous matches, especially against Sri Lanka.

"We could have bowled better (against Sri Lanka on Wednesday). We were all disappointed with the result," he said.

"We lost the game we should have won. In cricket, in sport and in life these things happen and we should learn lessons from them and move on. It is something that we may have needed to teach us some lessons."

Needing 221 to win, Sri Lanka were struggling at 95-6 before Mahela Jayawardene (94 not out) and Upul Chandana (45 not out) steered their team home with two overs to spare.

Indian batsmen also failed to click in both the matches against Sri Lanka, scoring just 205 and 220. Skipper Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly alone kept their reputations intact.

The Indian captain scored two half-centuries in three games and Ganguly one in his first match after serving a four-match ban.

"The guys are aware that we do need to get runs and do a lot of things better," said Chappell.

"At some stage it (batting) is going to click. The hard work the boys have been putting in for a couple of months now is going to click. Sooner rather than later would be nice."

Chappell said India might go into Sunday's match against the West Indies with two spinners as the pitch was expected to turn.

"Playing two spinners here could be an option. History tells us the wickets here turn more," said Chappell.

India included just one specialist spinner (Harbhajan Singh) in all of their three matches. Veteran leg-spinner Anil Kumble had to sit out to make way for an extra batsman.

Chappell said the team had yet to decide on playing an extra batsman or a specialist fifth bowler.

"It's a tough call. Probably, we can accommodate (batsman) if we bowl better. Equally, we have to bat better. Had we batted better, the problem (of fifth specialist bowler) would not have been so noticeable."

The absence of a fifth specialist bowler was felt against Sri Lanka on Wednesday as part-timers Virender Sehwag and Sourav Ganguly conceded 55 in their nine overs.

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