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The Rediff Special
'Tendulkar still has 2-3 years left in him'
April 12, 2007
Defending champions Australia beat England by seven wickets in a World Cup Super Eights match on Sunday to maintain their unbeaten run in the tournament.
Chasing England's total of 247, which was powered by a fine 104 from 122 balls from South Africa-born Kevin Pietersen, Australia cruised home in 47.2 overs.
Skipper Ricky Ponting led the charge, scoring 86 off 106 deliveries. He was well-supported by Michael Clarke, who scored an unbeaten 55.
The victory also put Australia back on top of the one-day international world rankings.
Before the weekend's action, South Africa narrowly headed Ricky Ponting's world champions but a shock defeat against Bangladesh on Saturday coupled with Sunday's result reversed the positions.
Former Australia player Michael Bevan in an exclusive chat with rediff.com analyses Australia's showing in the tournament so far.
'For me, it looks like the four teams that will go into the semi-finals are Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and South Africa,' Bevan said in an exclusive chat with Special Correspondent Harish Kotian.
No doubt Australia are winning their matches quite convincingly in this tournament, but don't you think the bowling is a bit of worry at the moment?
I think as Australia went into the World Cup there were always question marks about their bowling. Probably there were question marks over Glenn McGrath, Shaun Tait and Brad Hogg and a lot of teams had talked about targeting those players.
But at this stage, they have been put to the test and they have held up. The bowlers, particularly, Tait, seem to be supporting the Australian batting, which is doing a fantastic job. I think players like Shaun Tait and Brad Hogg have really performed quite well at this stage.
At times during the matches against South Africa and England, Australian bowling attack gave a few worries to captain Ricky Ponting. Don't you think there is something to think about?
When teams have played Australia, there probably have been opportunities for the teams to put pressure on Australia. But I guess they haven't really capitalised on those opportunities.
Whereas, if we cast our minds back to the period before the World Cup, when Australia played teams like England and New Zealand, those teams in particular took their opportunities.
There is no doubt that there will be times during the match when the other teams will have a chance to win the match [against Australia]. But if those opportunities come during the semi-finals or final, they will need to grab.
Australia confirmed their place in the semi-finals after that victory over England. Do you think they should try Stuart Clark or Mitchell Johnson in their next game against Ireland or would you rather not alter a winning combination?
I think Australia have a good opportunity now to play some of the players who haven't had much of a run in the World Cup like Mitchell Johnson and Stuart Clark. There is a chance they will give someone like Mike Hussey a bat just incase those type of players are required or needed going into the final two matches. So they may well go in that direction.
Mike Hussey has not enjoyed a good time with the bat so far (20 runs in 4 matches). What do you think has gone wrong for him?
Look it's hard to say. But considering the type of performances he has been putting on board for the last couple of years, there is bound to be a time where he probably didn't perform as he would have liked.
There are times in one-day cricket too, where you have to come with five overs remaining, so you don't really have the chance to get yourself set. So those particular times are pretty tough. So I don't think it is anything out of the ordinary or anything out of the usual.
It's probably that every batsman has a period where they go through a bit of a lean patch. So it would be nice for Mike to have a hit before the final or to get the opportunity to play a part in the World Cup either in the semi-finals or the final.
Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden have been in good form, providing Australia with a good start in almost every match. How important has their contribution been and how much does Australia look forward to their form in the upcoming matches?
I always felt it is going to be Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden's last World Cup. So I said they would be ready to go and they would be up for it.
Probably with the amount of one-day cricket being played, you can get into the habit of just going through the motion. But it's a little bit different with the World Cup. Those guys have played extremely well for Australia and I always felt that given the types of wickets and conditions the majority of runs were going to be scored at the start of the innings and towards the end of the innings.
So it is important for Matthew and Adam to get Australia off to a good start.
What do you think went wrong for England in their match against Australia? At one point they seemed to be cruising towards a large total, but they messed in the second part of their innings and finished on 247, which was chased down easily by Australia.
I think with all the opportunities created throughout the World Cup there is always that bit of responsibility there too. Once you get yourself into a position as a batsman you capitalise and go on to score a hundred or you go on to set your team up for a large total.
So while I figure that individuals need to keep an eye on what they are trying to achieve there is a case of making sure that responsibility is reviewed and that you give your team a good platform. So once again it is really just making sure that you take personal responsibility of getting the team into a good situation.
At the present moment, which other team do you think has the ability to challenge Australia in the semi-finals or the finals?
For me, it looks like the four teams that will go into the semi-finals are Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and South Africa. All those teams are quite capable of winning the World Cup although Australia outperformed them to a large degree. But they are certainly good enough and showing that they are quite capable of winning the World Cup.
Once you get into semi-finals or the final, it is really who performs right from the start and is ready to go on the day.
Brian Lara confirmed that he would retire from one-dayers at the end of the World Cup. Your thoughts on his retirement.
It's going to be a big blow to West Indian cricket that a batsman of the caliber of Brian Lara is retiring. Lara has given West Indies such great service and has been such a big part of West Indies cricket.
It's always going to be hard to replace someone like him. But on the flipside, it would now give the West Indies team a chance to push their younger players through, to create a new environment and to give young players the opportunity.
It will obviously be a sad day for West Indies cricket but hopefully it will be a starting point in the start of a new era.
Any special memories of playing against Lara?
I played against him mostly in one-day cricket, so I can't recall playing against him in too many big matches like the World Cup. I think that was in the 1996 World Cup semi-final where he nearly got West Indies home against us. He has played some fantastic knocks in both forms the game.
The memory I have of Brian Lara is that he is such a dynamic player and he plays shots in the style that no one else is capable of playing.
Now Sachin Tendulkar has faced a lot of criticism after India's early World Cup exit. People have also called on him to retire from ODIs. What do you think?
I think as a player, given his age, he [Tendulkar] still should have 2-3 good years left in him. But it depends on how keen he is to keep going in the game. So I guess he is like anyone else as a player you are looking for someone to perform as a player and as a team member. And whilst he still wants to do it, then I think that is going to be enough for him to make a decision, enough for him to be still be able to give great service to Indian cricket.
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