We are lucky to have Sachin: Chappell
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We are lucky to have Sachin: Chappell

"He's still one of the best players we have and one of the best in world cricket," he said.

india Updated: Feb 10, 2006 21:07 IST

Indian coach Greg Chappell insisted on Friday that Sachin Tendulkar was never out of form as was made out by the media and he felt it was only a matter of time before the champion batsman will make a big score.

"I did not think he was out of form, to be honest. I thought his innings in the second innings of the third Test showed some good portents. I expected him to make some runs. I made a few comments at the the end of the Test match that it will be only be a matter of time before he made a big score.

"I found the overreaction to what's supposed to be his lack of form quite interesting because I personally thought he was batting good," Chappell said ahead of the second one-day international against Pakistan on Saturday.

"He got some runs. We need everyone to get runs consistently. He's still one of the best players we have got and he's one of the best players around in world cricket. We are lucky to have him."

Tendulkar, who had a poor Test series in terms of runs, made a superb 100 in the first one-dayer at Peshawar which India lost by seven runs by the D/L method after the game was stopped due to bad light when Pakistan were 311 for 7 after 47 overs chasing India's imposing 328.

Chappell said India were obviously keen to win Saturday's match to level the series 1-1 as he also sounded quite happy with most of the things that his team did at Peshawar.

"Think of what amount of excitement and pleasure he (Tendulkar) has given us for over 16-17 years. There are ups and downs in everybody's career. Also, he has to carry a lot of pressure as we expect him to score a hundred everytime he goes in to bat," Amarnath, the hero of the 1983 World Cup winning squad, said.

The coach, however, said the team could have scored some more runs or got more wickets so as to pull off a win.

"We could have got some more runs or got some more wickets. But we did most of the things we needed to do well. It was a record score for the ground. It was a pretty positive performance," he said.

Chappell said the team was treating each game as a stepping stone on their journey towards the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies.

"We are trying to look at each game as a stepping stone in our journey towards the World Cup. We are trying to take positives from each game in the areas we need to improve from that game. We have to keep doing that. Obviously we have to win some games as well," he said.

Chappell hinted that there may be some changes in the team though the final squad for the match had not been finalised.

"We still are not quite sure about Harbhajan Singh's fitness. Probably he won't be fit enough for this game. We would probably look at a slightly different balance in the team. But we have not come up with the final squad at this stage."

The Indian off spinner suffered a finger injury before the first ODI at Peshawar ODI and is still recovering. He did not bowl today in the nets.

Chappell said the wicket at the Pindi cricket stadium for the match appeared helpful for the batsmen, but felt it would not help the spinners perhaps implying that only one spinner-- Murali Kartik and or Ramesh Powar -- would play.

"I am not great at predicting scores on grounds. It looks a good wicket, dry, probably drier than what the wicket was a day before the game at Peshawar. I can't say what would be a good score on this ground. I don't think it will spin a great deal. Probably it won't be as helpful to the fast bowlers early in the morning. It should be a pretty good batting wicket," he said.

Chappell defended his bowlers in the first ODI by saying that in the sub-continent six runs per over was at par for the course, and said part-timers could not have done what even frontliners could not do.

"It was a good batting wicket at Peshawar. On the small ground it was pretty hard to ask the part-time bowlers to do a job the (frontline) bowlers find tough (to do).

"We could have bowled better in some ways and could have gone for less runs but we are happy with the basic plans that we worked on in that game. We would try to improve on them in each game. We discussed them and we look to improve on that in this game. That's all we can do. It was a small ground and a score of 324 on that ground is not the same as on other grounds.

"We have seen in one-day cricket in recent times, wickets are made for batsmen and bowlers are put under lot of pressure. Six runs an over is probably par in many parts of the sub-continent," the former Australian captain said.

Chappell said the team needs to rotate the players, especially the bowlers, if they want fit players to be available when the World Cup comes around.

"We have to (rotate players). If we want to go to world cup with fit players we have to make sure we manage our resources well. We need to give opportunity to players to make sure they are getting games.

"We don't have a set rotation policy as such but we have to make sure that from time to time the players, especially the bowlers, get enough rest time to make sure that we don't run into injury problems at a critical stage," he said.

On Pakistan speedster Shoaib Akhtar being ruled out for the game, Chappell said Pakistan had other good bowlers too.

"We can't worry about the Pakistan team. Pakistan still have a very good bowling line-up. They are a very good side, probably one of the two or three best sides in world cricket.

"It's a great challenge and opportunity for us to play them at this stage we're coming off after some success in the one-day game in recent times. But the challenge against one of the better teams in world cricket is ideal.

"We need to find out how we are going. Where our strengths and weaknesses are. Each game we play is towards that end."

He said it was too early to judge whether the Powerplay experimental concept was good or not.

"It's a little bit early to make a terminal judgement on that. It's challenging. I think if we have to keep the rule the one area that could lead to an improvement is naming the super sub after the toss.

"Other than that I am happy. It's quite challenging and enjoyable."

Chappell did not think the four-day break for the team could rob it of some of its keenness.

"It's a big plus as it does not feel like a four-day break as one day we were travelling. We have had a fair bit of cricket in recent times. It was just enough of the break to get back our enthusiasm to where it was. As I said the spirit in the group is excellent."

Chappell said he was not sure whether the batting of Irfan Pathan, who has been often promoted to the number three slot in one-dayers, was affecting his bowling or not, but said he would not be a regular number three.

"I don't know whether his bowling has been affected by his batting. I see him as a potential all rounder. He can bat high up the order or can be a finisher.

"He won't be our regular number three but he will play at number three from time to time depending on the balance point of view or condition point of view or game situation point of view. In some games we will play a specialist batsman at number three and other games we won't," he said.

On Powar, Chappell said his real potential could be tested only by giving him chance at the international level.

"He's a good cricketer, a more than useful offspin bowler and a hardhitting batsman. He fields quite well. It's a good opportunity for him. As I have said earlier we are going to need 18-20 players we can think of for the World Cup.

"You need as big a squad as you possibly can get. He's certainly someone who would come into consideration around that time. He needs to play cricket at this level to find out what his real potential is," the Indian coach said.

First Published: Feb 10, 2006 21:07 IST