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Chappell backs Kaif, Sehwag

By Harish Kotian in Goa
April 03, 2006 20:13 IST
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India's coach Greg Chappell came out strongly in support of Mohammad Kaif and Virender Sehwag, the two batsmen struggling for runs in the ongoing one-day international series against England.

Kaif, in particular, is going through a rough patch, having scored just four runs in three innings, inclusive of two 'ducks'. But Chappell believes that the problem is more mental than technical.

"It's probably more mental. He is only a boy. I went through a similar run in my career when I had seven ducks in fairly close proximity in the one-dayers some years ago. What I found at the end of it was that it was a mental problem. In the end I realised that the focus was not quite right.

"When you have a couple of failures, you get anxious and anxiety does not help you play well," Chappell said at the Fatorda stadium in Goa on Monday, after India beat England in the third ODI by 49 runs.

He was quick to add that all Kaif needs is a bit of luck to get going.

"He is an experienced player and three innings ago he got a hundred against England [in the warm-up game in Jaipur]. It is not that he is hugely out of form. He has got two or three low scoresÂ… and it happens. He is an experienced player and a player that we want with us. He got everything that we need. He blends with the team well with his style of cricket. His fielding is excellent as we know," he said.

The 56-year-old Australian said Kaif and Sehwag would be given as many chances possible to prove their worth.

"Both Sehwag and Kaif are experienced players and both have been successful. They got have the skill that we need to have a good team. We will give them as many chances as we can and they need that. We can't do it forever obviously, and they need to make runs too," he said.

The former Australian captain also praised centurion Yuvraj Singh, whose blazing knock of 103 helped India win comfortably and take a 3-0 lead in the series.

"Yuvraj batted extremely well. We know he is a great striker of the ball. He is a free-flowing batsman. We have got a blend of batters throughout the team. We have got some really good stroke players. We have got [Rahul] Dravid and Kaif, who are pretty solid players supporting the stroke players we have got throughout our line-up."

He also seemed pleased with off-spinner Ramesh Powar's bowling. The Mumbai off-spinner has taken four wickets in two matches at an average of 19.75, with an impressive economy rate of 3.95.

"I have been very happy with what Ramesh has done. He is a very clever bowler. What we've seen in Faridabad was excellent from him. He got important wickets in that game and he bowled well today under hot conditions, which were difficult for the bowlers from both teams. He is fitting in the team well," Chappell said.

Asked whether Sourav Ganguly could return to the Indian team, he replied: "Who knows? You can't change the team all the time. We are looking for particular type of players to match the players that we already have and we are reasonably comfortable with that. I don't think there will be wholesale changes."

He also said Irfan Pathan had done very well as an opening seam bowler and there is no need for him to bowl fast.

"Irfan is a bowler who uses change of pace quite well. We saw today, he took three wickets with the slower balls. We have to get away from the notion that Irfan is a fast bowler, He is not an express bowler. He is a swing bowler, a bowler that has a lot of variations. We are very happy with what he is doing and his performance in recent times has been excellent. He is getting early wickets and that's what his job his. We can't ask for anything more than that," he said.

Asked whether prolific left-hander Suresh Raina would be promoted up the order, he replied: "He could be, but it depends on whether it is in best interest at this stage. If the opportunity presents, then we could well do that. His progress has been good and he has eased into the team well. We have put into the team and put him in pressure situations, where he has performed well, so he may be ready for more challenges down the track and whether that's now or two or three games down the track, who knows."

He also said Gautam Gambhir had to miss out today as the team wanted to accommodate a fifth bowler in the team. Ajit Agarkar replaced the left-hander and captain Dravid opened the innings with Virender Sehwag.

"It is because we wanted to play a fifth bowler. He was the unfortunate one to miss out on selection. We are trying to give all of the players match time during the course of the series, depending on how the series is going and how the blend is going.

"He has got a start in a couple of games that he has played, but we would like him to carry on and get big scores, but that doesn't always happen. But I think, overall, he has done a reasonable job."

Asked to rate his own performance as coach, he replied: "I can't do that. I might be a bit biased.

"There are always areas that we want to improve. We would love everyone to score runs in every game and everyone to take wickets in every game, but cricket doesn't work like that generally. Two or three players fire in every game, but as long as everyone is sharing the work, that's good and that's what we have managed over the recent games. We can always get better and we have always strived to get better.

"We can't be complacent. Every game is an important game and we have to keep performing.

"It the opportunity presents itself and there are youngsters, who deserver the opportunity, we would be happy to give them that opportunity. But the most important thing is that we not only win the series, but keep on performing well."

Chappell said the team is "looking at World Cup in 12 months time".

"So we are looking at the best combination that we can put together for the opposition that we are playing and in the conditions that we are playing. So we are always looking to improve the team where we can.

"We are happy with what they have done in the past and we will continue to support them as much as we can."

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Harish Kotian in Goa