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Last Updated:  Friday, 14 March, 2003, 12:09 GMT
Indian seamers step into the limelight
By Oliver Brett
BBC Sport in Centurion

Zaheer Khan
Zaheer took four New Zealand wickets
Before the tournament started, everyone reckoned India's best hopes of glory lay in their batting.

Now it is their three fast bowlers who are attracting equal attention at the World Cup.

Sure, Sachin Tendulkar has bounced back from a recent spell of poor form to post a series of big scores that have sapped the self-belief from a number of sides.

But the two young left-armers, Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra, together with the much-more experienced Javagal Srinath, have been causing quite a stir.

When India won the World Cup in 1983, it was with seamers like Mohinder Armanath, Roger Binny and of course Kapil Dev, who found consistent movement in the air and off the deck.

Ashish Nehra 13 wickets
Javagal Srinath 15 wickets
Zaheer Khan 15 wickets

And Indian coach John Wright bristles with pride when told that a number of judges reckon his team to be at the strongest level it has ever been in terms of seam-bowling.

"They are certainly exciting people at the moment," he says.

"To have two left-armers in the side is a little bit unique of course but to have all three of our seamers firing at the same time is so good for us."

Wright adds: "You can see the difference it's made to our performance in the field. Last year we came to South Africa with Ashish and Zaheer as very young lads and they had pretty tough tours.

"But they are learning and doing a good job now. I'm pleased people are seeing that, because it's important for our success as a team that we have depth throughout the side."

Zaheer all but put paid to New Zealand's World Cup hopes when he ripped through their batting.

Ashish Nehra
Nehra was the star of the show as India defeated England

He took two wickets with consecutive balls in the first over and then added another two to end with best figures of four for 42 and surpassed the 100-wicket mark in limited overs as well.

Nehra is generating some serious pace despite having to wait until the 12th over or so to get his hands on the ball.

He is the fourth fastest bowler in the tournament and that pace allied with a perfect line was the undoing of England under the lights at Durban.

Srinath, meanwhile, was the star at the Wanderers on Monday when taking four wickets in next to no time against the seriously out-of-form Sri Lanka.

The success of the trio is a pretty remarkable story, given that on home soil they have been known to field only one specialist seamer, with Sourav Ganguly occasionally taking the new ball for two or three overs.

But India planned well for this World Cup, correctly judging spinners were not really going to have a big say in the outcome of matches, and making the decision not to field Anil Kumble.

Indeed, the only spinner to have really won a match for his side was Kenya's Collins Obuya and that was in Nairobi.

The seamers are doing a fine job, sewing up innings after innings.

Have Your Say on India
07 Mar 03 |  Have Your Say
Srinath goes extra mile
10 Mar 03 |  World Cup
Nehra rips through England
26 Feb 03 |  World Cup
New model Nehra strikes gold
27 Feb 03 |  India

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