Zaheer, Srinath crucial factors
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Zaheer, Srinath crucial factors

Saturday is going to be our first big game of the tournament. Although we beat Holland, it was not a very convincing win. Our players need to be more focussed.

india Updated: Feb 15, 2003 00:37 IST
Sourav Ganguly
Sourav Ganguly

Saturday is going to be our first big game of the tournament. Although we beat Holland, it was not a very convincing win. Our players need to be more focussed.

We did not bat well in Paarl and the team is quite aware of that. It is time the team got focussed and put some runs on the board.

Australia beat Pakistan in their first game very convincingly and I thought Pakistan made a blunder by not playing Saqlain Mushtaq in their side. The Australians are not the best players of spin and Pakistan failed to take advantage of that.

The wicket at Centurion looks a pretty good one. It has always been known for the bounce it gives to the bowlers, and it will be a crucial factor in this match as well.

Yes, Centurion has been a happy hunting ground for us. Out of the three games we have played here we have won two against South Africa. We would have won the third one too, had rain not interrupted that match.

The last time we beat South Africa away, spinners played an important role as they picked up seven wickets. Both Harbhajan and Kumble got considerable amount of bounce from the wicket and I expect them to get the same amount of bounce on Saturday as well.

The key to Australia's chances will be the performance of their two openers. They have played extremely well at home. Because of that reason their middle order did not get many opportunities to bat and that is probably one reason why they got a bit exposed against Pakistan in the last game. Andrew Symonds played a wonderful innings to lift them.

The wicket of the two openers early in the innings will be important for us. Our new ball bowlers, Zaheer and Sri (Srinath), will have a crucial role to play in this match. They have bowled exceptionally well in the recent past. Both of them are good against left handers and it should be a good contest.For Australia, Bevan and Lehmann will be back after a long lay off and both will be keen to find their form. We will probably play the same team that played against Holland.

There has been a lot of talk about the opening pair and Sachin's record against Australia obviously made the team ask him to open against them. A huge issue is being made of this, but I don't know how shifting of one position in the batting order makes such a huge difference.

One should always have the good of the team in mind and minor changes should not make a big difference to the team's fortunes. When Sachin was shifted from the opener's slot to Number 4 it was done in the best interest of the team.

It is good to play a strong team early in the competition as it sets the momentum for the rest of the group matches.

We are the only side to have beaten Australia in the last three years. We have to put up a very good effort to do it again.

The crucial aspect will be the number of runs we put up on the board.

First Published: Feb 15, 2003 00:37 IST