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Salvi, Gambhir, Chopra's Windies showing lauded

March 30, 2003 16:55 IST
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India 'A' coach Ashok Malhotra has described pacer Aavishkar Salvi and opening batsmen Gautam Gambhir and Akash Chopra as the biggest gains for Indian cricket from the side's recent tour to the West Indies.

Malhotra, however, expressed disappointment with the performance of the middle order, which included skipper Venkatsai Laxman, holding it responsible for India A's failure to reach the semi-finals of the eight-team Carib Beer series.

"I think we played well. But yes, our performance could have been better," Malhotra told PTI.

India 'A' finished fifth after the group league stage of the competition, garnering 36 points and narrowly missed a place in the last four.

Malhotra said the Indians gave a very good account of themselves in parts of the tourney, beating formidable Jamaica and Trinidad, but failed to keep up the momentum, losing crucial ties against Barbados and Winward Islands.

"The performance of the middle order was disappointing. The wickets were mostly docile, very unlike the familiar Caribbean tracks. But still these batsmen failed to click. Maybe, they lacked concentration," he said.

But Malhotra was effusive in his praise for Salvi, who finished as the most successful Indian bowler with 31 wickets.

Describing the 21-year old Mumbai right arm pacer as the find of the tour, Malhotra said: "He was fast and penetrating and troubled all the batsmen."

Malhotra also picked out Delhi duo Gambhir and Chopra for special mention. While Gambhir totalled 617 runs in the competition, Chopra's aggregate was an equally impressive 545.

"They gave us very good starts but our middle order failed to build on them," the former stylish batsman, who was in the Gundappa Vishwanath mould, said.

Malhotra regretted that skipper Laxman, who seemed to be struggling with the bat in the initial stages of the tour, got injured just when he was regaining his touch and missed the last two matches.

"His absence caused us dear."

Referring to willowers Hemang Badani and Abhijit Kale, Malhotra said: "They got 20s and 30s, but failed to consolidate on good starts and some of the shots they played to throw their wickets were just unpardonable."

On promising teenager A T P Rayudu, he said the 17-year-old was exceptionally talented but needs more experience.

Turning to the bowlers, Malhotra said experienced Baroda left armer Rakesh Patel struggled with no balls throughout the tour.

"He even bowled 15 no balls in one of the matches."

"Whenever he bowled within his abilities, he was okay. But his problems began once he tried to bowl quicker. I don't know what his problem is. It may be in his run-up or the last jump," he said.

Malhotra said though bowlers like Murali Kartik and L Balaji bowled well at times, they lacked consistency and penetration. Tinu Yohanan's showing was also much below expectations, he added.

The coach said wicketkeeper Ajay Ratra did a good job behind the stumps and had an excellent attitude, "but I would like him to be more consistent with the bat".

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