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Time to give Srinath his due

It is slowly sinking in. If India are still in the hunt for a spot in the Super Six, they have to thank their bowlers, especially Javagal Srinath.

india Updated: Feb 23, 2003 00:52 IST

It is slowly sinking in. If India are still in the hunt for a spot in the Super Six, they have to thank their bowlers, especially Javagal Srinath.

You may argue that they were spanked brutally by the openers against Australia, but to be fair to them, the total they were defending was a meagre 125. These are the sort of totals one cannot defend even on seamer-friendly tracks, and India were bowling on an ideal batting track at the Centurion that day. It was not going to be easy at all.

Cut back to India's first game at Paarl against Holland and you would realise that had Javagal Srinath not bowled a brilliant opening spell, India might well have suffered the biggest upset of this tournament.

None of us were giving our medium pacers much chance, though the wickets here are much more conducive for pace bowling, than they are in India.

Our strength has been batting and it was widely believed that if our batsmen don't put up scores in excess of 300 India would find it difficult to win. This could still hold true against teams like England and Pakistan. But the manner in which Srinath has bowled, has given the team new hope.

In fact, ever since Srinath joined the Indian team in New Zealand, he has bowled much better than ever before. One major complaint against him in the shorter version of the game has been his inability to find the right length. He has always struggled in the slog.

But out here, like in New Zealand, he has found that elusive spot on the wicket, which is neither short enough for the batsmen to pull or cut, nor full enough for the batsmen to drive.

When Srinath had expressed the desire --- after the Test series in West Indies ended --- to play only in one-dayers and said that the World Cup was his goal, most of the critics had ridiculed him.

Given his poor fitness and age, most of us thought he would have been better off sticking to the longer version of the game. Skipper Ganguly had even appealed to him to reconsider his decision to retire from Tests and asked him to forget about the one-dayers.

As things are turning out now, Srinath is proving his detractors wrong. One of his team-mates says: "He was very keen to play in the World Cup and was extremely disappointed at one stage that he may not be able to fulfill that dream. Now that he is here, he is very keen and determined to give his best.''

It is obvious that he has worked out his plans well and has finally got that elusive length which the batsmen find hard to negotiate. Against a weak team like Holland, Srinath's performance has to be viewed with caution, but at Harare, it was his dream-opening spell that determined the final outcome of the match in India's favour.

His six-foot plus height has always given him that extra bounce from the wicket and against Zimbabwe, he was literally unplayable. He has varies his pace much more than before and has much better control over his slower ball.

First Published: Feb 23, 2003 00:52 IST