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South Africa won by 6 wickets
India 183 (48.2 ov)
South Africa 187/4 (42.1 ov)
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Sachin and Sourav hold a masterclass at Paarl
Krishnamachari Srikkanth - 26 October 2001

It was a vintage performance from Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly that guided India to an easy win over Kenya in the land of vineyards, Paarl, on Wednesday. The match was so one-sided that I could not help but wonder how we had lost to the same Kenyans in Port Elizabeth exactly a week before.

The fate of the match was sealed the moment Sourav won the toss. As all of you would no doubt have observed, India seem to do rather well when they bat first. It is only while chasing a decent total that we turn into nervous wrecks. Our middle-order being inexperienced and brittle doesn't help matters; they seem to run out of ideas the moment Sachin and Sourav fail.

Desmond Haynes
© CricInfo
On Wednesday though the two master batsmen were determined to put the Kenyan bowling to the sword. By the time Sourav was out after a world- record partnership for the first wicket, the match was over as a contest. The two men had earlier gone past the Gordon Greenidge-Desmond Haynes century partnership record.

I feel the two great Bajans would be happy to know that their record has passed on to two batsmen as illustrious as Sourav and Sachin. The Indian duo compare more than favourably with their West Indian counterparts who dominated the one-day game in the eighties.

What I particularly like about Sachin and Sourav is the fact that both are attacking batsmen of the highest order. This means the bowlers get no respite. The men who bowled to Greenidge-Haynes were luckier because they could at least trust Haynes to keep to the straight and the narrow. The latter was content to push for the singles and twos while Greenidge enjoyed himself. It is nowhere as predictable with Sachin and Sourav at the crease - when one partner turns conservative the other takes off while on other occasions both make merry. The fact that they are a left- right combination only adds to the misery of the hapless bowlers.

In the match at Paarl, it was Sachin who was the slightly more dominant partner. He was looking good for many more when he hit a low full toss from Thomas Ododyo straight into the waiting hands of mid-off. No wonder he was furious.

Whenever I see the little champion I can't help but be reminded of the 16-year-old boy I met during India's 1989 tour of Pakistan. What impressed me most then was his enormous self-belief. I was his captain and remember jokingly remarking to him, "One day you will become great. Don't forget your captain then." The little man has fulfilled all my expectations and is now one of the all-time greats of the game.

Sourav too played a fine innings and went past a few landmarks on his way to a hundred. The Indian skipper has adapted well to the task of opening the innings and is now one of the finest one-day batsmen ever. It was also good to see Virender Sehwag lay into the bowling in the end. The Delhi has a great sense of timing. If he could play as well against top teams like South Africa, India would be well-served.

Ganguly and Tendulkar
© AFP
I don't want to set great store by the performances of the bowlers against a very ordinary Kenyan batting side. All I hope is that they turn in their best performance against the South Africans in the final on Friday. Durban has the reputatioin of being one the fastest pitches in the world and I hope that our quicks especially will do well on the day. I can't, however, help feeling that it would be best if the turn of our bowlers arrives in the latter half of the day. As I said earlier India are a much better side when they bat first and so my ideal scenario would be for the Indians to win the toss and for Sachin and Sourav to hold centrestage yet again.

It has been a a long and frustrating title-drought for us and we are up against a formidable South African side. My gut feeling though is that Friday would be the day when India taste championship victory at long last .

© CricInfo

Other Articles by Krish Srikkanth :

 

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