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ICC Champions Trophy
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September 13, 2002
2035 IST

Pool A:
Aus | Ban | NZ

Pool B:
Ind | Eng | Zim

Pool C:
Ken | SA | WI

Pool D:
Ned | Pak | SL

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India hoping to maintain
winning run

Just four days after ending a strenuous tour of England, India begin their campaign in the Champions Trophy, in Colombo on Saturday, with a match against Zimbabwe, hoping to rework the magic that saw them win the NatWest Trophy triangular series two months ago.

That triumph at Lord's, on July 13, was one of India's biggest one-day international victories in recent times and capped the team's excellent run in the league matches of the series, which involved England and Sri Lanka.

A similar performance will be needed from the team to win the Champions Trophy.

With the sponsorship controversy that put a question mark over the participation of top Indian cricketers in the tournament finally over, all the players who made that victory in England possible are in Colombo and eager to prove their worth again.

The return of Mohammad Kaif, Yuvraj Singh and Dinesh Mongia has brought a fresh wave of energy to the team, which must be surely tired after the gruelling 83-day tour of England, the fourth and final Test of which ended only on Monday.

Zimbabwe are by no means minnows like Kenya, Bangladesh or Holland -- the weaker teams of the three other pools -- and that virtually makes Group B, which has England too, the 'group of death'.

Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly acknowledged this fact and said his team must win every match.

"We are in a tough group. We cannot afford to take Zimbabwe lightly," Ganguly said on Friday, while talking to reporters.

Considering the form that they showed in England, both in the one-dayers and the Test matches that followed, India will be disappointed if they do not put it across Zimbabwe.

With Rahul Dravid doing well behind the wickets in one-day matches, apart from his terrific form with the bat, India have not even picked a specialist wicketkeeper, thus allowing themselves room to accomodate an extra batsman the way they did in England.

All the main batsmen have had a satisfying run in England and that will keep their confidence high.

With action returning to the subcontinent, the Indians are almost sure to go in with both their spinners - Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh. Ajit Agarkar will most likely grab the all-rounder's slot, leaving Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra to compete for the new ball attack.

Zimbabwe are also quite optimistic of their chances as they have beaten both India and England in the recent past. Andy Flower, their most recognisable player for many years now, said the teams are evenly matched.

Though he admitted Zimbabwe carries the tag of underdogs in this tournament, he said conditions in Sri Lanka would suit his team better than sides like England.

Flower said left-arm spinner Raymond Price could prove to be Zimbabwe's trump card. Price had bowled very well during the team's tour of India last year, dimissing Sachin Tendulkar as many as three times.

Heath Streak has taken over the team's captaincy once again and he, alongwith the Flower brothers -- Andy and Grant -- as usual are the backbone of Zimbabwe.

Teams (from):

India: Sourav Ganguly (captain), Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Dinesh Mongia, Mohd Kaif, Yuvraj Singh, Ajit Agarkar, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, V V S Laxman, J P Yadav, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh.

Zimbabwe: Heath Streak (captain), Alistair Campbell, Stuart Carlisle, Dion Ebrahim, Sean Ervine, Andy Flower, Grant Flower, Travis Friend, Douglas Hondo, Douglas Marillier, Mpumelelo Mbangwa, Raymond Price, Tatenda Taibu, Guy Whittall.

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