The youngsters have come of age
Amit - 16 March 2002
Indian cricket has experienced a massive shift in fortunes since
the Coca Cola series in Sri Lanka less than a year ago. Tendulkar
and Laxman, then, had been grounded with injuries and the lack of
fight that the mostly inexperienced Indian team showed provoked
much disappointment among the fans. It was absolutely disgusting
to see India choke in yet another final. The sad fact that India
couldn’t win without Tendulkar was easily accepted.
Now, however, things are completely different. Without the
services of “The Delhi Butcher” Virender Sehwag, and Sachin
Tendulkar, India has still managed to put up some good
performances with the bat against Stuart Carlisle’s side.
Who would have thought that Yuvraj Singh could hammer the
Zimbabwean attack while playing the best innings of his career?
Mohammed Kaif has also managed to grab his chances with both
hands (not just while batting, may I add), already boasting an
average in excess of 40. The exploits of the duo have meant that
Hemang Badani, a man who averages 30 with the bat in one-dayers,
and boasts a strike rate of 72 runs per 100 balls (higher than a
certain “Wall” from Karnataka) finds himself unable to get into
the Indian squad, forget making it to the final 11.
This sudden burst of young talent has also led to regulars in the
team like Rahul Dravid and Saurav Ganguly being forced into a
situation where they will have to perform or perish. The fact
that Laxman is not an automatic choice in the team clearly shows
that India has an embarrassment of riches in the batting
Whom to pick? The “Ice Man”, Dinesh Mongia? Or what about
Mohammed Kaif? Then again, wouldn’t the blazing southpaw from
Punjab, Yuvraj Singh, be a better choice? The five wise men who
make up the Indian selection panel must be losing a lot of sleep
over the fact that they will soon have to choose the ODI team for
the Windies tour.
And the fielding; a chance viewer would have observed the sudden
and enormous rise in fielding levels during the fourth one-dayer.
To see Mohammed Kaif prowl around the field well into the closing
stages of the Zimbabwean innings was a rare sight in Indian
cricket. The commitment and dedication shown by the fielders was
so total that one couldn’t help but smile in appreciation.
Saturday’s win at Hyderabad, then, shall be remembered for a long
time; to field well, to apply pressure when bowling, and then to
successfully chase a win despite having our backs to the wall at
one stage in our innings clearly shows that the players have been
stung into action. Yuvraj pumping his fist in the air as he ran
back to the pavilion provided a fitting end to the match.
So here we are - Yuvraj has played the innings of the tournament
and we are off to Guwahati. Let us hope that no matter what the
result in that match we get to see the same level of commitment
that the Indians demonstrated on Saturday.