Rediff Logo Cricket
May 20, 1999


send this report to a friend

Messers Simpson and Gaekwad have their job cut out

Sanjay Manjrekar

The Indians were not the favourites in their World Cup opener, when they played against South Africa. They lost. Today, they were the favourites, playing the relatively freshers of the World Cup, Zimbabwe.
The result: India lose again.

The Indians were impressive in defeat in their last game, but after today, the Indian team won't have too many sympathisers around. Yet again in recent times, Zimbabwe have managed to come on top against the Indians. The Indians continue on with their ordinary displays outside the subcontinent and have now lost to the weaker teams more than once. This, I think, is bad news for Indian cricket.

Azhar's luck seems to be running away from him on this trip - his team lost a great opportunity to upset the best team in the tournament in the Hove game, and today, when he was up against a team that everybody expected them to walk over, he gets the worst possible start to the day to find Sachin Tendulkar, his trusted lieutenant not next to him, but a few thousand miles away in India with his family which had a bereavement in the shape of his father Ramesh Tendukar.

Sachin, as we all know, has now bailed out the Indian captain on more than one occasion. Azhar must have sensed something strange in the air by this very unexpected development. It's going to be a tough night for Mohammad Azharuddin and even tougher days ahead before his team plays the Kenyans on the 23rd of May. Two successive defeats for the Indian team in the World Cup in their first two games is a difficult state to be in, especially for a team that left Indian shores with massive expectations and support. It is not easy being the captain of India. Azhar will realise it again.

What does India do now? It's going to be a job cut out for Messers Simpson and Gaekwad, first to get their team on line. They will be looking at a very gloomy lot, with their heads down. Simpson and Gaekwad will now have to give the Indian team a dream. A dream to pursue; a dream of winning all their next three games in the league. Only then will the team have a chance of keeping their flame alive in the 1999 World Cup.

Most things went wrong for the Indians after they won the toss. A generally ordinary bowling performance and a dubious record of maximum extras given in a one-day match was never going to happen. Agarkar's expensive bowling returns for the second time will be a cause for concern. Yet again, India failed to find a decent fifth bowler to keep the pressure on the opponents for a fair stretch of time. Robin Singh's total failure as a bowler in these conditions will no doubt prompt a rethink. India need to have five genuine bowlers to keep opponents from scoring less than 250. Anything more than that in English conditions is always going to be a tough grind for the batsmen. No doubt we will see these experiments being made at Bristol when they play Kenya.

The Indian batting was always going to look less than formidable, with the number one batsman in the world not playing, and I think that is something the Zimbabweans looked at to motivate themselves when they took the field. Ganguly's early dismissal made it worse for the Indians in their close chase. Azharuddin clearly looks a shadow of himself, and it might not be a bad idea for him to go a rung down in the batting order, till he begins to feel good about himself.

Ajay Jadeja and Sadagopan Ramesh got the Indians into a winning situation, and just when the Indian supporters were beginning to celebrate around, a typical Indian dismissal, that of Ramesh, started the slide. The team management does need to strongly condemn players who let their sides down after achieving personal landmarks. Ramesh, who played well for his 50, was guilty of just that. Robin Singh, as always gave his best and got his team within the grasp of victory, when Henry Olonga woke up from a slumber and came up with a dream spell to make sure the Indians now have sleepless nights.

 Name: Email:
 Post a message:
Sanjay Manjrekar

Tell us what you think of this column