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Home > Cricket > World Cup 2003 > Reuters > Report

Individual duels could decide Friday's match

March 13, 2003 17:27 IST

Songs of praise have followed Sachin Tendulkar throughout the World Cup as he reels off one impeccable innings after another.

The Indian maestro has amassed a record 571 runs in the tournament at an average of 71.37 with two more innings to come and the possibility of a third if his team reach the final.

"Make no mistake," former Australia captain Greg Chappell enthused in his syndicated column. "Tendulkar is a genius!"

Zimbabwe's Andy Flower said there were two types of batsmen, Tendulkar and the rest. "He is the best in the world," said Flower. "The rest of us, who are more human, make mistakes sometimes."

Tendulkar has preferred to let others do the talking as he prepares for his Super Six confrontation with New Zealand and their express strike bowler Shane Bond.

India have already qualified for the semi-finals but New Zealand need to win at Centurion to clinch their spot.

Bond captured six for 23 against Australia, although he still finished on the losing side. He has recorded the third fastest delivery of the tournament behind Shoaib Akhtar and Brett Lee, who have both broken the 100 mile an hour mark (160 km).

According to the speed gun, Bond bowled a delivery of 153.4 kms an hour against Canada and his relaxed, athletic action suggest more is possible.

"It is hard to say whether that will be my top speed," he said. "I probably would have said 'yes' six months ago but in the right conditions and if everything clicks, who knows what might happen?"


One delivery in the right spot to Tendulkar early in the innings would be enough for Stephen Fleming and his New Zealand team on Friday.

New Zealand won a one-day series against India 5-2 at home late last year but the green, juicy pitches there bear little resemblance to those prepared for the World Cup, which have tended to get lower and slower during the course of the match.

Virender Sehwag, who at his best looks like a virtual clone of opening partner Tendulkar, scored two centuries in New Zealand and is eager to face Bond in conditions closer to those in India.

"Our strategy will be to preserve wickets in the first 10 overs and build a big score," he said.

A second duel, potentially less dramatic but just as significant, features Fleming against the seasoned India opening bowler Javagal Srinath.

Srinath is not in the same league for pace as Bond but he has been mightily effective with his strength, bounce and ability to move the ball off a good length.

He has taken 14 of the 61 wickets to fall to India in the tournament, ahead of left-arm pace bowling colleagues Ashish Nehra and Zaheer Khan who have collected 12 and 11 respectively.

"It looks like we have the best fast bowling combination in a long while," Srinath commented.

Nehra is capable of real pace, touching close to 150 kms (93.21mph) against Zimbabwe, a further concern for Fleming who has laid himself on the line by deciding to open in one-day cricket.


After his match-winning century against South Africa in the first round, Fleming was the one batsman to show prolonged application and technique against Australia, although his dismissal for 48, gloving an attempted hook off Lee, was unworthy of his innings as a whole.

The tall left-hander is under even more pressure than Tendulkar.

He is relatively inexperienced in the opening role and has worked hard on his technique to combat the one bouncer an over now allowed in one-day cricket.

After forfeiting the match against Kenya in Nairobi for security reasons, New Zealand have been dependent not only on their own performances but also on those of other teams to advance.

With Bond bowling at his best, Fleming enhanced his reputation as the most cerebral captain at the tournament against Australia before he was let down by his support bowling and his batsmen. Australia, 84 for seven against the full fury and fire of Bond, scrambled a recovery to win by 96 runs.

"I thought Stephen Fleming captained beautifully at the beginning of Tuesday's match," former South Africa coach Bob Woolmer commented.

"His game plans were exemplary. But they didn't go the whole way. The fact is, when you play the Australians it is necessary to play for all 100 overs."

That will again be the challenge for Fleming and his men on Friday.

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Number of User Comments: 1

Sub: Individual duels could decide match

well individuals dont win championships. The world cup is not about individuals performing. Its about the team. Never has India's chance of getting the cup ...

Posted by muz


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