India try to create bench-strength
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India try to create bench-strength

Keen to create a strong bench-strength for the national team, captain Sourav Ganguly and coach John Wright have been devoting a lot of time in grooming the newcomers.

india Updated: Apr 18, 2003 17:13 IST

Keen to create a strong bench-strength for the national team, captain Sourav Ganguly and coach John Wright have been devoting a lot of time in grooming the newcomers in the team during the ongoing TVS Cup tri-series.

The absence of a number of seniors, who opted out of the tour for various reasons, has given the opportunity to these fringe players to prove their worth in international cricket and they have received the full backing from the captain.

Ganguly, who must be given credit for giving the Indian team a more settled look after persisting with talented players like Yuvraj Singh, Mohammad Kaif and Ashish Nehra despite their early failures, has now set his thoughts on creating good 'back-up' players.

With the amount of cricket being played these days, the Indians have realised that they need to give the youngsters more opportunities to enhance their confidence level and make them mentally stronger so that when the chance comes to replace a senior, they are not found wanting.

Ganguly had struck the right chord by hailing these young players as "higly promising" even before they had played a single match on tour, hoping to make them feel at ease before their debut matches knowing that they had the backing of the skipper.

Having himself struggled in the initial stages of his career when he was dropped from the sqaud after undertaking a tour to Australia without playing a single match, Ganguly is in a position to understand what these youngters look for during their maiden tour with the senior team.

The Indians have apparently been impressed by the bench strength of the Australians who are such an overwhelming force in international cricket because they have highly talented players waiting in the wings. It keeps the regulars on their toes for a series of failures could see them out of the team.

It was clearly evident in the World Cup as the bench players like Andy Bichel and Andrew Symonds made a singnificant contribution when they were required to play.

Coach Wright wasted no time in praising these younsgters soon after landing in Dhaka. "They are highly promising and have fitted in particularly quickly. It is good for us. We need to have good back-up players," Wright said.

The kind of attention the newcomers are getting is evident during the training sessions as most of the seniors not only watch them practice but also give them useful tips. Ganguly, Wright and interim coach Ashok Malhotra spend considerable time in fine-tuning their techniques.

Ganguly's eagerness to help these young players could be gauged from the the fact he had no hassles in carrying drinks for the boys in the match against Bangladesh and giving them useful tips in the process.

It was a rather unsual sight to see Ganguly and Harbhajan Singh carrying drinks for the players but it spoke volumes of the commitment the Indians have shown since their splendid World Cup show.

Ganguly had decided to rest his injured back but his mind was very much in the game and was seen talking to paceman Avishkar Salvi at the fine leg fence after his overs.

The young players, on their part, have been grateful to the seniors, a fact acknowledged by Gautam Gambhir after he scored his maiden half-century.

"The seniors in the team, particularly the captain, have been encouraging me a lot. It is good to have such people around and I am glad that I could get a big knock which will give me a lot confidence," Gambhir said.

After scores of 11 and 18 in his first two matches, the 21-year-old Gambhir struck 71 in the last match against Bangladesh.

Wright worked at length on his technique the previous day. On the eve of the match, the Indians could not have the regular practice session in the morning after a heavy thunderstorm the night before had left the ground sogggy but eight players turned up for the optional practice session in the afternoon.

Wright, a former New Zealand opener, took Gambhir aside and worked on the technique of the stylish left hander.

Like some of the other cricker powerhouses in the world, the Indians have started to invest a lot of their energy on the fringe players and time alone will tell whether they can rise to the occasion.

First Published: Apr 18, 2003 17:13 IST