Tri-series showing doesn't augur well for India: Damien Fleming
Former Australian pacer Damien Fleming always had India in his final four of the World Cup until they carried their winless run of the Test series into the recent tri-series Down Under.
New Delhi: Former Australian pacer Damien Fleming always had India in his final four of the World Cup until they carried their winless run of the Test series into the recent tri-series Down Under.
Australia piled on further misery on the Indians by hammering them in a World Cup warm-up game at Adelaide yesterday.
"Australia, New Zealand, South Africa should go on to make the semis. I had India in the top-four until the tri- series. I don't see a lot of penetration in their bowling but I thought they had a batting to score big enough that their bowlers could defend. But even that did not happen in the recent one-dayers," Fleming told PTI expressing his concern for the defending champions.
The cricketer-turned commentator reckons facing two new balls from either end is another worry for India. There could be a likely scenario where they have to rely on batsmen to win matches as the bowling is not good enough.
"May be these two new balls from each end are a concern for the Indian top order. There is immense potential in batting with the likes of Kohli, Raina, Rohit and Rahane, who I feel has been super impressive on Australian pitches.
"India still got the potential to score big and I think they will have to because I don't think they would be bowling teams out for 240-250.
"So India still got a slight chance, and amongst the other Asian teams can you never underrate Sri Lanka. They always manage to reach the semis and finals of the big events," said Fleming, himself a two-time World Cupper of 1996 and 1999, when his team had contrasting results in the title clash.
Looking back at his glory days, Fleming feels he was fortunate to be part of the winning team in 1999 after ending runners-up against Sri Lanka in the previous edition.
"Winning the World Cup at Lord's against Pakistan has to be the ultimate highlight of my career. I was fortunate to get a second shot at winning the title, having lost the final three years ago. It is still fresh in the memory that we went down the Lord's pitch with the trophy, Ricky Ponting sang our song as we had a few beers."
His "individual highlight" came in the 1996 edition against India at the famous Wankhede, where he took a career-best five for 36 in Australia's 16-run win over the co-hosts.
"The five-wicket haul against India in Mumbai was special for two reasons. I had been out of the team with a shoulder injury and I came back for the big tournament. So you never know how you would shape up (after injury) and in the end to get five was fantastic. I still remember the crowd with all the fanatical Indian fans," said the Perth born 44-year-old.
Fleming will be part of Australia's rich World Cup history also for bowling the last over in 1996 and 1999, when they scraped past West Indies and South Africa in two thrilling semifinals.
Fleming describes those tense semifinals as an "amazing roller coaster ride".
"It is a sheer co-incidence that I happened to bowl the last over on both occasions. While chasing 208, the West Indies collapsed from a winning position and to get the opportunity to do the same three years later was incredible.
"After Klusener (Lance) hit me for two consecutive boundaries, we all thought it was time to book our flights back home. Third ball I bowled over the wicket as Steve Waugh suggested and we had the run out chance which we missed. And then finally the run out on the fourth ball. I can talk about that last ball for hours.
"I bowled a yorker, Klusener dug it out, starts running, Donald (Allan) is not sure about running, Mark Waugh throws the ball to me, I received it and underarmed it to Gilly. It felt Gilly took five hours to take off the stumps. You play sport for moments like these. That moment of euphoria," said Fleming referring to the thrilling tie after South Africa needed nine off the final over.