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.
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.
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
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