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ICC Champions Trophy
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September 21, 2002
1830 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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It will be a close
match, says Ganguly

Faisal Shariff

New life will be injected into the ICC Champions Trophy after a spate of one-sided matches when India and England battle it out in a crucial league match, which will decide the last semi-final slot in the tournament, on Sunday.

Australia, Sri Lanka and South Africa have already made it to the last four.

Dismissing the importance of winning the toss, India captain Sourav Ganguly said his team has settled down after the hectic and long tour of England, and the only challenge for it is to bat well.

"Mohammad Kaif and Rahul Dravid bailed us out of jail the other day against Zimbabwe. This time we have to continue the rich vein of form our batsmen are in," he said.

Hinting that VVS Laxman may get a look-in at the expense of Dinesh Mongia, who failed to get off the mark in the opening game against Zimbabwe, Ganguly said the final playing eleven will be finalised on the morning of the match.

Nasser HussainEngland captain Nasser Hussain, meanwhile, said though India start as favourites, the advantage lay with England, as his boys know the Indians "better than they [the Indians] know our newcomers -- Owais Shah and Ian Blackwell".

"The challenge is for our young players to negotiate their spinners. The senior players have had a good look at the spinners and have plans for them," he added.

Claiming that his team is young and inexperienced, he said it is difficult to single out any single Indian player for special treatment.

"If you target Dravid, then you let [Sachin] Tendulkar and Ganguly off. If they are held back, then you have to deal with Yuvraj [Singh] and [Mohammad] Kaif."

Playing down all talk of a grudge match, Hussain said losing Sunday's encounter would not be the end of the world for him, though he confessed that losing the NatWest final was "terrible" and it was followed by a dark week in his life.

"It still hurts me," he said.

Ganguly defended his bowlers, saying Zaheer Khan has been bowling better than before while "Ashish Nehra also bowled just one bad over in the game against Zimbabwe".

"Only the spinners will need to bowl better. But it is a new day and I reckon it will be a close match."

England bowler Matthew Hoggard claimed that the first 15 overs would be crucial.

"The conditions are hard for the bowlers. The toss would make the difference as will the opening partnerships.

"Batting under lights will be a problem; so whoever wins it will bat first, because the ball skids under lights. Seamers will have more of a chance. The Indians are probably 5-4 up, but we can win," he said.


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