Cricket: India's coach gives Tendulkar support in defeat

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The Independent Online
Madan Lal, the India coach, yesterday backed Sachin Tendulkar to continue as captain, despite his team's humiliating defeat by Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup final in Colombo on Saturday.

The tough-talking former Test all-rounder also warned his players to shape up, saying he would ensure that non-performers were axed from the team. "I feel sorry for Tendulkar," Madan said after India's eight-wicket defeat by the world champions in the final - the team's 12th loss in 17 one-day matches this year.

The selectors had reportedly toyed with the idea of bringing back Tendulkar's predecessor Muhammad Azharuddin as captain following two disastrous tours of South Africa and the West Indies this year. Madan, however, said the blame lay with India's thin resources than any shortcomings in Tendulkar's captaincy.

"With just two match-winning batsmen [Tendulkar and Azharuddin] and no bowlers, how can you expect the team to win?" Madan said. "Lack of bowlers is our biggest weakness. It's bowlers who win matches and we are nothing without them. The results say it all." Madan stressed that he did not believe the captaincy was hampering the 24-year-old Tendulkar's batting.

"It's obvious that unless he performs we don't win. Why should he be expected to do well every time? It will take a lot of pressure off Tendulkar if the other batsmen can come up with big scores."

Meanwhile Rajesh Chauhan, the off-spinner, will end a two-year exile from the international scene during the forthcoming Test series against Sri Lanka but will remain under scrutiny.

Chauhan was cleared for selection by the Board of Control for Cricket in India last month, after it lifted a two-year ban. He will join the Indian team to play two Tests and three one-day internationals against Sri Lanka. Chauhan, 31, replaces the off-spinner Noel David in the squad which lost the Asia Cup final to Sri Lanka on Saturday.

Chauhan, whose bowling action was questioned by the International Cricket Council, the sport's governing body, has been under a cloud since a 1995 home series against New Zealand. In May, a BCCI panel made up of two former Indian captains, Kapil Dev and Sunil Gavaskar, investigated the charge of throwing and found that video footage of Chauhan in action was inconclusive.

Since the ICC raised doubts about Chauhan in November 1995, the BCCI has continued to veto his selection though the player has continued to enjoy success in domestic tournaments.

The left-handed batsman Vinod Kambli, the wicketkeeper Nayan Mongia and the uncapped opener Gagan Khoda were the other players picked to join the squad for the series, which begins on 5 August.