|HOME | WORLD CUP 99 | MATCH REPORT|
|May 15, 1999||
South Africa pip India at the postPrem Panicker
Going into this game, India was the no-hopers, ranked sixth as compared to the Proteans, enshrined as overwhelming favourites to win the tournament.
Judging by that yardstick, we should have got a one-sided game here. As it happened, though, it went pretty much to the wire and, in the process, indicated that more could be heard of this Indian side in the days to come.
India went in with its first eleven, opting for the all-rounder in Robin Singh rather than the extra bowler in Mohanty. Which was not surprising -- the management has always shown a marked penchant for the conservative option. It is, though, rather hard to understand -- an 'all rounder' needs to be able to give you ten overs especially when you are going in with just four bowlers, and it is rarely that Robin has managed to do that of late, so just what the advantage is in playing the presumed all-rounder over a specialist bowler who seams the both ways remains a mystery.
What raised a few eyebrows all round, though, was skipper Mohammad Azharuddin chosing to bat first on winning the toss -- a decision that flew in the face of conventional wisdom for the first half of the English 'summer'. Azhar based his decision on the fact that the pitch looked full of runs -- which, whether you agree with it or no, was a huge vote of confidence in his batsmen, considering that it was the supposedly potent Protean attack he was taking on.
It was also one of those decisions that cut both ways -- pull off a win and you are a genius, find yourself on the losing side and the decision will be one of the final nails in the coffin, with analysts finding parallels to his insertion of Lanka in the 1996 semifinals.
Personally, I would have thought insertion was the better option -- but then, batting first was a courageous option and I believe that courage and initiative, commodities in short supply among the Indian cricketers of late, deserve praise irrespective of result.
During the drinks break, the match referee came out and asked Cronje to remove the gadget. Again, this is one of those issues that you really don't want to go black and white about. One fact that needs mentioning is that there is nothing in the rule book against getting instructions from the coach -- surely only the most naive would imagine that those frequent changes of gloves, or bottles of water, all teams seem to need all the time were as innocent as they seem to be.
However, direct, through-the-game coaching is a new twist -- and the ICC has apparently decided that while they are not saying no to it, they are not saying yes either. In other words, that earpiece and all it implies remains in suspended animation, till the ICC gets its technical committee to sit down, examine the question and come up with an official stance.
A couple of emails have reached us already, suggesting that this is tantamount to cheating. Frankly, I don't go with that -- deliberate flouting of the rules is not on, but as pointed out, the rules don't say you can't get your two bits worth of coaching, so I guess the angry initial response is not quite warranted.
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