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September 14, 2002
1312 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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Zimbabwe are no pushovers for India: Ganguly

India are determined to bounce back from a protracted player contract row and build on their recent one-day successes when they take on Zimbabwe in their opening Champions Trophy match in pool 2 on Saturday.

But captain Sourav Ganguly says he is not underestimating Zimbabwe who, along with England, make up a group which is widely regarded as the strongest of the four in the tournament.

"Zimbabwe are no pushovers," said Ganguly on Friday. "They are a very good one-day team.

"But we are a much improved side in the last few months and we have won 80 percent of our matches of late."

India have looked a settled one-day team in recent months, beating Zimbabwe 3-2 in a home series -- despite the absence of top batsman Sachin Tendulkar and the explosive Virender Sehwag -- and then triumphing against West Indies in the Caribbean.

But India's leading players were only picked for the prestigious 12-nation event in Colombo after a last-ditch global teleconference with the International Cricket Council (ICC) ending a long-running sponsorship wrangle.

The ICC watered down certain clauses in its disputed participation contract, enabling top Indian players -- like Tendulkar, Ganguly and Rahul Dravid -- to be selected for the one-day tournament.

The initial deadlock had started when the ICC, in an attempt to protect tournament sponsors from 'ambush marketing' campaigns from rival companies, demanded players freeze their private sponsorships for the tournament.


With the contract row resolved, the Indian team finally arrived in Colombo on Thursday after a gruelling 15-hour plane trip spread across two days, having completed a successful three-month tour of England.

India rallied from behind to draw a four-Test series 1-1, having earlier clinched the one-day triangular tournament that also involved England and Sri Lanka.

Despite their relentless playing schedule this year, Ganguly said his team had no complaints: "That's what international cricket is going to be all about.

"Our career span is 10-12 years and our families understand that. That's the key. And we feel at home in Sri Lanka," he added.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe skipper and fast bowler Heath Streak said his side would prefer to bat first in Saturday's day-night game against India because the Premadasa stadium pitch tended to slow down as the game progressed.

"But I don't think it would bother me too much," he told Reuters, adding: "We will just focus on our instincts."

Streak said his main concern was Zimbabwe's inability to maintain consistent form in the one-day game.

"Consistency has been the biggest letdown for us," he said. "We are a small country with a small player base, but we are working on that."

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