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Sachin opts out; Kapil follows suit
Rajesh Kumar - 15 February 2002

The Australians landed in India to begin their quest of breaching the "final frontier." It was a pragmatic Steve Waugh who addressed the press on arrival. Expecting the Indian pitches to keep low and slow as they normally do, the elder Waugh said, "We believe, if we play some good cricket, we have the chance of winning the Test series. We also realise that it is going to be a tough series. India are a very good side at home. Enjoying the culture - that is the key to the success of the tour. Perhaps the last time we stayed indoors most of the time."

Steve's brother Mark too was planning quite a few outdoor trips, but with security consultant Reg Dickason in tow. The latter was expected to shepherd the younger Waugh through what was expected to be a slightly difficult tour for him, more so if India's Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) were to summon him to investigate if bookie and match-fixing suspect Mukesh Gupta had indeed paid him $ 36,000 during a six-a-side competition in Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, the first tour match of the Australians against India 'A' at Nagpur ended in a draw. VVS Laxman, opener Sadagoppan Ramesh and left-arm spinner Rahul Sanghvi impressed as India 'A' gained a handsome first-innings lead. A Justin Langer century, though, saw Australia end the match on a positive note.

Laxman, Ramesh and Sanghvi all made it to the Indian squad announced a day after the match. Also winning a recall were wicket-keeper Nayan Mongia and spinners Harbhajan Singh and Narendra Hirwani.

Mumbai, then, was to be the next stop for the visitors, but sadly there was going to be no titanic struggle this time around. Sachin Tendulkar decided to sit out, as did Ajit Agarkar, and that meant the fare was going to be a tad blander than during the 1998 match which had seen Tendulkar so memorably mauling Shane Warne and the Australians.

"I am not playing the three-day match against Australia. But I would like to remind the present Mumbai players of what we did in 1998. The team has to be confident. It is a great opportunity, and they should make the most of it," Tendulkar told pressmen later.

He also proceeded to make what probably amounted to a marrow-churning statement for Steve Waugh’s team. "I will try and deliver more than what is expected of me as an ordinary player. I will try harder than the other guys in the team. There has to be healthy competition within the team members as well," he said. "I am never satisfied with what I have done. I believe satisfaction brings in stagnation, and I don't want that to happen to me."

Another Indian legend, Kapil Dev, too made his way into the news after deciding to opt out of the tied-Test rematch to be played at Chennai to raise funds for the victims of the Gujarat earthquake. "I am through with the game and will never step on to a cricket field," Kapil said. He added, however, "It is a laudable effort by the two Boards, but I have retired from the game and have nothing to contribute. It is goodbye. I don't want to play, as simple as that."

© CricInfo

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