India must learn to play without Tendulkar
Mamoon Qureishi - 14 March 2002
The Indian team is so very heavily dependent on Sachin Tendulkar that without him they seem to suffer in front of even weaker sides like Zimbabwe. Sachin is arguably one of the best batsmen the world has ever known and the best on Indian soil but if this Indian team wants to prove their worth as a team they have to win games during his absence too. Remember, there have been times when even Tendulkar's heroics could not save them from self-destruction.
What Kochi proved to the Indians and especially to Ganguly is the fact that over-confidence and irresponsible batting from the experienced men can prove disastrous. Both Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman need to show greater responsibility and character, and stay in the middle, building not just their own innings but also guiding the youngsters to play around them.
More importantly, Ganguly must prove that he is aware of his increased responsibilities and play big knocks in the absence of Tendulkar. The Indian Board is right in giving youngsters a chance to prove their mettle against the weaker sides but to ensure this the coach has to make sure that the senior players like Dravid and Ganguly can help them out by being in the middle to guide them through.
Zimbabwe, for their part, have showed character, and managed to shut out the domestic problems, and concentrate on their cricket while winning and showing glimpses of the team-spirit that guided them to a series win over Pakistan in Pakistan.
They also remain one of the best fielding sides in the world. However, they need stability in their batting and bowling. But on Thursday they managed to get it right, not only restricting the Indian team to a modest total but also chasing it successfully like true professionals. Hats off to them and especially to the their wrecker-in-chief, medium-pacer Douglas Hondo, who proved that a worthy replacement to the prolific Andy Flower.
If India, then, want to level the one-day series at Hyderabad, they have to address their failures and prove thay they are capable of performing without their three aces - the ever-reliant Tendulkar, the find of the year Virender Sehwag and Javagal Srinath. Hopefully, they would do this and bounce back to claim a series that they must avoid losing.
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