India look to Chappell to stem the rot

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> India wake up to a life beyond Tendulkar and Ganguly as they launch a new season with a triangular cricket series match against Sri Lanka on Saturday.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:54 IST
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India wake up to a life beyond Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly as they launch a new season with a triangular cricket series match against Sri Lanka on Saturday, hoping that new coach Greg Chappell would be able arrest their sliding fortunes. Never in the last 10 years the two giants of one-day cricket have been missing together from a one-day assignment. But Ganguly, after a reduction in ban, would reappear for the second round of matches from August 3. Tendulkar and Ganguly first set up the firm of history's most profitable opening partnership and then staggered their roles in one-day line-up to emerge with 13642 and 9945 runs from 348 and 270 games with 60 centuries between them. It is a hole, which is not easily filled even though V V S Laxman is substituting for the experience of the two legends. Unfortunately, Laxman has more sceptics than believers in his one-day ability. Most regard he is only good when the ball comes on to the bat and cannot tonk the ball in the air like Ganguly and sometimes Tendulkar do. Young Turks Mahender Singh Dhoni will be looked upon with hope to whip up a verve and dash of his own and Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif can no longer complain that they get too few overs to showcase their talent. Emphatically, the last few years have shown that Virender Sehwag and Rahul Dravid remain India's best bet and whenever the two fired together, Indians had runs on the board. Both choose different ways to go about their task in one-day cricket. Sehwag uses the advantage of infield in the first 15 overs to rattle up a string of boundaries, while Dravid hopes to bat for long enough to cut loose in the last five overs. If India take care of the early and final overs, they can hope to be competitive in the park. Unfortunately, it has not happened often since the 2003 World Cup. Worryingly, since then, whenever they have batted first, India struggled to last the full quota of overs. Double trouble To make it a double trouble, Indian bowlers have struggled to bowl out opposition within the stipulated 50 overs. It has been more of a feature in sub-continental conditions. Of the last 10 matches India played against Sri Lanka and Pakistan in the sub-continent, they have got the rival teams all out in only three games. And not even once, in last three games in Sri Lanka. Till they get some help from the wicket, they are no good. No wonder, India's track record is abysmal. Since 2003 World Cup, they have played 50 games and won 22, 11 of these wins coming against the likes of Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Kenya and UAE. They have been particularly bad in Sri Lanka against the hosts: just three wins from nine games in the last five years. (PTI)

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