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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 19 February, 2003, 15:56 GMT

Ganguly hits back at critics
Indians burn pictures of their players after the defeat to Australia
Fans burned pictures of the Indian players
Indian captain Sourav Ganguly praises his players for defying their detractors to beat Zimbabwe by 83 runs.

Angry demonstrations back home had followed India's big defeat by Australia.

An effigy of captain Sourav Ganguly was burnt in Calcutta and Mohammed Kaif's house was vandalised in Allahabad.

After beating Zimbabwe by 83 runs on Wednesday, Ganguly reacted angrily to his team's detractors.

He said: "I thought the reactions were too much after the loss to Australia because it was just the early part of the World Cup."

India had failed to convince prior to facing Zimbabwe. They struggled against lowly Holland before being overwhelmed by the Australians.

Zimbabwe are always a dangerous side against India
India captain Sourav Ganguly

And Ganguly added: "Obviously there is always pressure when you play international cricket. But this was an important game for us.

"That said, we still have a lot of cricket ahead of us."

Put into bat by Zimbabwe, the Indians reached 255 in their 50 allotted overs but, after a 99-run partnership between Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar, their middle order struggled to find their form.

An unbeaten 43 by Rahul Dravid and a fiery 25 from Mohammad Kaif left India with a "fighting chance" according to Ganguly.

"Our batting was better today but it lost a bit in the middle," he said.

"But I felt we were 20 runs short. Zimbabwe are always a dangerous side against India."

Tendulkar starred with the bat, scoring 81 runs, while India's bowlers and fielders produced one of their most accomplished displays in recent memory.

"We knew the first 15 overs were really important," added Ganguly.

"Once we put the run rate past six-and-a-half per over it was always going to be difficult."





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