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Bowlers need to be more disciplined

SOURAV GANGULY

SOURAV GANGULY  

There are days in cricket when no matter what you do, everything clicks. It was one of those days for Shahid Afridi in Kanpur. Every time he lashed out with his bat, the ball either went to the boundary, or beyond it. There is very little that a captain can do in such situations except try and keep things tight and hope that your rivals will make mistakes.

It was a blinder of an innings from Afridi at the end of which India finds itself from being 2-0 up to being 2-3 down.

The Delhi match, therefore, will decide the fate of the series. Pakistan can't lose the series, but India can ensure that they don't go away with the Cup.

Difficult time

It is a difficult time for me, personally. I have been with this team for the last 10 years, last five as the captain, but can do little as of now. I have no choice but to watch the action as a mute spectator. It is pretty frustrating not to be a part of the action, especially when the chips are down.

However, ours is a mature side. The boys have been in similar situations in the past and bounced back. They must take heart from our fightback in Pakistan last year. We had gone to Lahore down 1-2, but we won two consecutive games to win the series 3-2.

There is no reason why we can't do it again.

Unknown commodity

The newly-laid wicket at the Ferozeshah Kotla is an unknown commodity, but I suspect it will not be much different than the one at Kanpur. Both teams have explosive batsmen at the top of the order, so it is imperative for the bowlers to bowl a consistent line and length in the first 15 overs.

If you give Afridi an inch of width, he will punish you. Our pace bowlers, therefore, need to pitch the ball on or around the good length-area and aim at the stumps. If they get hit despite that, they should not mind because sooner or later batsmen will make mistakes. After all, it takes only one ball to dismiss a batman.

Laxmipathy Balaji's confidence would be down after getting some rough treatment in the first 15 overs. My simple advice for him would be to think about his wonderful performance in the entire series and not get unduly perturbed by what had happened in Kanpur.

Those are rare occurrences in one-day cricket, where you can be the king one day and a pauper the very next game.

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