SPORT

Morning dew could be a factor

Zaheer's omission from the team definitely acted as a wake-up call, writes Tom Moody

There has been plenty of talk about whether we sorely missed Murali and Vaas in Goa. But I would really not like to go on and on about it. The bottom line is that they are not here, and our bowlers did a good job on a pitch that took us slightly by surprise, given the low and variable bounce, particularly from the Pavilion End, which was the end that Zaheer Khan was operating from.

Both Upul and Sanga were undone by good but not devastating deliveries, which simply did not achieve the bounce that they expected. Make no mistake, I would give credit to the bowler for keeping it in that area, but my point is that we shouldn't read too much into the situation. Of course, Zaheer's county stint has immeasurably improved his performance, and the omission from the team definitely acted as a wake-up call. Away from the hysteria of Indian fans, he was able to concentrate solely on his bowling, and the results show.

Despite everything, however, we were 20-30 runs too short of our target, because 250 definitely seemed within reach even when Marvan and Mahela were on. Once they went, and once Malinga Bandara and Farveez had the bad luck to be ruled out, we were thrown off course, though Russel `Arnie' Arnold showed once again why he is such an important member of this team. There have been questions about his selection in the World Cup team ahead of Chamara Kapugedera, but I would say that his experience would mean a whole lot to us in the West Indies. After all, at just 20, Chamara has time on his side.

However, it doesn't do to dwell too much on the past. Coming to Saturday's match, Vizag is a new venue for us, but the magnificent ground and the facilities on view have pleasantly surprised me. The outfield and the square certainly appear to be one of the best I have seen, though morning dew could well be a factor here, which we experienced first hand on Thursday morning, even as late as 9.30. So the groundsmen will have a bit of a struggle getting the match started on time.

The big news for India is, of course, the absence of Sachin Tendulkar. However, I wouldn't be too concerned by the fact that some key Indian players appear to have developed minor injuries and niggles ahead of the big show. Given the huge amount of cricket we play these days, it is always better to rotate your best players so they remain fit for important tournaments. And that would include resting them for certain matches, because try as you might, you cannot expect all your players to give 100 per cent every day.

And so we go into the decider. Whatever happens on Saturday, however, I would like to emphasise that we are extremely comfortable with our World Cup preparations, and while some may question the wisdom of playing a tournament this close to the mega-event, I would rather go into a World Cup over-prepared than underdone. Gameplan

Recommended for you