India''s top order batsmen need to find form in 3rd ODI

L Nandan

Cape Town, Jan 17 (PTI) Having levelled the five-matchseries with a thrilling one-run victory in the last game, aninjury-hit India go into the third cricket one-dayer againstSouth Africa here tomorrow with the form of the top orderbatsmen continuing to be a worry.

The batting has come a cropper in both the matches so farand the visitors managed to pull off an incredible victory atthe New Wanderers on Saturday mainly because of the efforts ofthe bowlers, especially pacer Munaf Patel.

The Indians have suffered a big jolt with SachinTendulkar returning home because of a hamstring injury,further weakening the batting line up which has plenty oftalent but has not come to terms with the pacy tracks in SouthAfrica yet.

Tendulkar''s injury has added to India''s cup of woes asthree key players -- Virender Sehawag, Gautam Gambhir andPraveen Kumar -- have already been ruled out of the series dueto injuries.

Thanks to some superb bowling, India managed to defend alow total of 190 in the second ODI and yet again the onus ison bowlers to deliver the goods for the team on a Newlandstrack which was expected to assist the quick bowlerss.

India would look to pace duo of Zaheer Khan and MunafPatel to not only get wickets but to check the Proteas batsmenso that the batters have an easy job to do, in case they batsecond.

Spin spearhead Harbhajan Singh has done his bit byputting the brake on the scoring in the middle of the rivalinnings and yet again he has to ensure that not many runs leakduring that stage, which played a part in India''s series-levelling win at Johannesburg.

Batting has always been India''s strong point but the formof the batsmen in the ongoing series is a big disappointment.

With seniors missing from the ranks, the youngsters, whohave actually done well in the recent past, have not been ableto cope with the conditions.

The middle-order, except for Yuvraj Singh in the lastgame, has just not clicked. Suresh Raina nor Rohit Sharma, whoare both regarded as highly talented players, are not evenpale shadow of themselves although they contributed with theball as part-timers. More PTI LN AT MRM

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