India looks to regain rhythm

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> India go into the Super League stage of the Asia Cup cricket with a match against minnows Bangladesh on Wednesday.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:07 IST
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India go into the Super League stage of the Asia Cup cricket tournament with a match against minnows Bangladesh on Wednesday. But their top order batsmen are struggling to fall into groove before its too late. Barring Rahul Dravid, none of the batsmen in the famed line-up looked in good nick after the three-month break and will be keen to find some form against their lowly opponents to gear up for the tougher challenges ahead. The narrow defeat against Sri Lanka at Dambulla on Sunday could serve as a wake-up call for Sourav Ganguly and his men, who have not shown the same class that saw them script some memorable wins in the past season. Though Bangladesh may not pose much of a threat, the Indians will look to plug their batting and bowling loopholes before facing stronger teams like arch-rivals Pakistan and Sri Lanka in their remaining matches. Zaheer factor The injury to pace spearhead Zaheer Khan has also come as a big blow to the Indians, who were looking upto the left-arm paceman to deliver the goods in the six-nation tournament. But the Baroda paceman has more often than not broken down during tours since the past season raising a big question mark on his fitness. Zaheer's absence should mark the return of Ashish Nehra in the side who has a better possibility of playing in the eleven than Harbhajan Singh, the off-spinner who has returned to the national side after seven months. Nets washed out Ganguly and his men reached the SSC ground early today and the captain lost little time in approaching the groundsmen and asking them to water and roll it well before the start of play. This would ostensibly to negate the dryness of the pitch and help it still further in the direction of batsmen. However, it poured at the SSC, forcing Indian players to attend the indoor nets. The perfect nets, which the captain and the rest of the team were looking forward to did not materialise. Cricketing minnows The irony of it all is that the team is stiff and tense against an opponent, who are as lightweight as Bangladesh is in international cricket. The latest Test entrant have yet to win a Test from 30 encounters and they have secured only nine wins from 90-odd one-day internationals. As if this was not enough, Bangladesh would miss the services of opener Javed Omar who looked impressive in the league stage scoring 68 against Hong Kong and 62 against Pakistan. Omar has pulled a hamstring and is a non-starter for tomorrow's game. Bangladesh is likely to retain Abdul Razzaq in the playing eleven despite the left-arm spinner being reported for suspect action after the match against Hong Kong. The team management feels there is nothing wrong with his bowling style and they have no intention of further diluting their limited strength. (PTI)

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