Zimbabwe in India, Feb-Mar 2002
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India won by 101 runs
India 333/6 (50 ov)
Zimbabwe 232 (42.1/48 ov)

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The writer in you

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 department.

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.


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