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India frittered away a great start
Krishnamachari Srikkanth - 21 October 2001

They say seven days is a long time in politics. It is an even longer time in cricket. Ask the Indian cricket team.

Last Friday (October 12) we all witnessed what we thought was a mundane massacre of the Kenyans at Bloemfontein. At that stage, everyone, myself included, was talking about whether it was right to throw the inexperienced Kenyans before the mighty South Africans and Indians. Now, exactly a week later, the upcoming encounter at Paarl between India and Kenya next Wednesday (October 24) has turned into a virtual semi-final!

Ganguly and Tendulkar
© CricInfo
The Indians, I feel, will have to take a lot of flak for the way in which they have brought this unthinkable situation upon themselves. Against Kenya, they took the win for granted even as they stepped on the field and paid the price. And yesterday (October 19) against the South Africans they frittered away the extraordinary start that Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly had provided.

The Indian performance at Buffalo Park in East London was again pathetic. The fast bowlers were wayward after South Africa elected to bat and it was no surprise to see Herschelle Gibbs lay into them with the utmost glee.

Javagal Srinath, from whatever I have seen of him in South Africa until now, seems to be on the wane. Ajit Agarkar also was erratic on the day. I have noticed that the young Mumbaikar, who is rated highly by his captain, has a tendency to lose his way when the team needs him the most.

Sachin Tendulkar
The blazing start provided by Gibbs made a South African total of 300- plus seem well on cards. It was then the spinners led by Harbhajan Singh who pulled things back. Yuvraj Singh also bowled a decent spell but just when India needed to tighten the screws, the faster men came back on and threw it all away. Surprisingly, Sachin was not given a single over. The South Africans are not the greatest players of spin bowling and I felt the little champion should have been tried.

After the passing shower during the interval between innings, it was the turn of Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar to rain boundaries. Ganguly has looked to attack from the start of his innings, stepping out and hitting the South African quicks into the stands repeatedly in the first fifteen overs. The amazing success that the Indian skipper has had every time he has looked to improvise at the batting crease, is a glorious tribute to his gifts and his cricketing brain.

Sachin also played a few exquisite shots and was dominating the bowlers when he made the error that saw him bowled by Kallis. Once he departed, the momentum was lost.

The Rahul Dravid-Ganguly partnership that followed after Shiv Sunder Dasí abrupt dismissal, in my opinion, helped South Africa regain the initiative. The duo could only add 48 runs in 12.2 overs. The run-rate might still have been a healthy 5.3 runs when Ganguly was dismissed but remember it was around 6.5 an over when Sachin left. I felt this fall in the run-rate had a big role to play in the Indian skipper's eventual dismissal.

The rest of the batting line-up simply lost the plot. At a time when sensible batting was necessary, they began to throw their bats at the ball and play unpardonable shots. In the end, India lost despite their top three - Sachin, Ganguly and Dravid - scoring 193 runs between them. The fact that the other eight could only contribute a measly 37 tells a sorry tale indeed.

Without doubt, our younger batsmen will have to learn quickly to think on their feet and play innings of substance. It sure is an uphill climb from here and every man will have to stand up and be counted if we are to win the tri-series.

VVS Laxman
© CricInfo
Moving on to the possible return of VVS Laxman for the next encounter against Kenya, I feel it is a heartening development. But the SOS sent out for Laxman also gives away the desperation that has set in the Indian camp. I cannot also help but wonder why Laxman was not included in the team in the first place itself when he was fit enough to lead the Rest of India to a win over Baroda with a sparkling hundred in the Irani Trophy. Mysterious indeed are the ways of Indian cricket...

© CricInfo

Other Articles by Krish Srikkanth :



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