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Last Updated:  Thursday, 27 March, 2003, 13:25 GMT
Imran hits out at India
Ponting and Ganguly at the toss
Ganguly paid for a surprise decision at the toss
Former Pakistan captain Imran Khan has blamed India's team selection and tactics for their World Cup final defeat to Australia.

But the leader of the winning side in 1992 believes a second string Australia team could have won the tournament, such is their strength in depth.

Imran hit out at India skipper Sourav Ganguly for playing an unchanged side in the final and for electing to field after winning the toss.

Ganguly's decision to bowl backfired spectacularly as Australia posted a massive 359 for two - the highest total ever in a World Cup final - before dismissing India for 234.

"Ganguly opted to field first because the wicket offered some assistance to bowlers," Imran wrote in his column in the Times of India.

"Did he take this decision to protect his batsmen from the likes of in-form Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee or to let his bowlers try and make inroads into the Australian batting?"

Imran said leg-spinner Anil Kumble would have played a crucial role in the final since the ball had been gripping the surface.

Imran says Australia are head and shoulders above the rest of world cricket
Australia are head and shoulders above the rest of world cricket
Imran Khan
But India opted to go with seven specialist batsmen, leaving Kumble on the sidelines during eight of their 11 matches in the tournament.

"What is this nonsense about superstitions as far as changing the team is concerned?" Imran went on.

"When you are taking on the best in the world, it would be pragmatic to choose your best team rather than stick to an unchanged one so as to not break the winning habit."

Imran believes the standard of international cricket in general has dropped since he retired after lifting the World Cup but he paid tribute to Australia for winning their second successive title.

"Such was their depth and bench-strength that I feel if Australia had sent another team to the World Cup, the final could well have been between two Australian teams," he said.

"This World Cup proved without a doubt that the Australians are head and shoulders above the rest of world cricket.

"They have been so since the 1999 World Cup and with the emergence of young exciting players like Brett Lee, their supremacy may last for many more years," he said.




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