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Home > Cricket > World Cup 2003 > News > Report

Stunning win at Supersport Park

Prem Panicker | March 01, 2003 23:54 IST

City-planners working on blueprints for the next big city might want to look at the Manhattan of the Indian innings -- several skyscrapers, certainly, but throughout, imposing buildings and nary a sign of a shanty-town to spoil the effect.

Indian Innings

India's first cricket clash with Pakistan in three years was billed as war minus the shooting -- but it turned into a lethal ambush thanks to a magical display of batsmanship by Sachin Tendulkar.

Shortly before the team left for the World Cup, rediff.com approached Tendulkar for an interview (as, I reckon, did most other sections of the media). 'Wait till the World Cup is over, I would prefer to talk then,' was the response.

Increasingly, it is becoming easy to see why: a constant criticism against him, despite his mountain of runs (today, he crossed 12,000 in ODIs), has been that he has not dominated the world stage as yet. Judging by how he has played so far, he has decided to erase that seeming blot, and let his bat do the talking.

Thus far in this tournament, the critics will have no cause to complain -- Tendulkar has from the start of this tournament functioned as the team's moral core, the repository of its hopes and aspirations, the wellspring of its self-belief. It was thus when he faced the media-persons to appeal for calm back home; and it has been thus each time he has walked out to bat.

The bat has talked, with the eloquence of Shakespeare.

Everything he has done till date on this stage, though, pales into insignificance before today's display. At the halfway stage, the match was tantalizingly poised -- Pakistan, batting first, had made a healthy 274 in good batting conditions.

Those looking for omens were pointing out that India's three previous wins in the World Cup were achieved batting first; that they had never at this level had to chase a healthy target against what is rated one of the top bowling lineups in this competition.

So this was it -- a batting line-up that had gone from invincible to invisible in course of the New Zealand tour and was slowly finding its feet again, up against the guile of Wasim Akram and the fire and fury of Shoaib Akthar.

The contest really began -- and almost ended -- in the second over. Akthar began with three reasonably decent deliveries, working himself gradually up to top pace. Number four was quick, outside off, and kicking -- Tendulkar upper-cut it high over point for a huge six.

The next delivery was furiously fast, just outside the off -- and disappeared through extra cover far faster than it had arrived. The final delivery of the over was whipped off his pads through midwicket, the ball rocketing to the square leg fence.

Akthar's first over went for 18 runs. It was a while before he got to bowl a second -- Waqar Younis waved the white flag, and took off his star bowler; the speed merchant who for two days before the game had told all who would listen just what he intended to do to Tendulkar and the rest of the batsmen.

From that point on, there really was only one team in the game.

There are many ways to tell the story of this game, as a contest. One way is to look at the run-progression of the two teams.

Pakistan, first: 27/0 in 5 overs, 54/0 in 10, 72/1 in 15, 87/1 in 20, 114/3 in 25, 141/3 in 30, 164/3 in 35, 195/4 in 40, 226/6 in 45, 273/7 in 50.

Now, India: 50/0 in 5, 88/2 in 10, 120/2 in 15, 151/2 in 20, 166/3 in 25, 189/4 in 30, 212/4 in 35…

Compare those two scorelines and very clearly, there really was only one horse in the race.

There were many significant moments in the chase. The first came in the 6th over, when Waqar Younis created a bit of a flutter. Virender Sehwag had thumbed his nose at the Pak skipper somewhat when he brought himself on for Akthar in the fourth over -- the first delivery Waqar bowled was uppercut by Sehwag in precisely the manner, and into the identical section of the stands behind point, as Tendulkar had played the earlier shot off Akthar.

In his second over, Younis induced Sehwag into a full blooded drive straight to cover and, with his very next ball, straightened one on middle stump to trap Ganguly in front, the batsman seemingly unsure of what the ball would do and pushing down the wrong line from the top of the crease.

53/2 in 6 after being 50/0 in 5 -- how many times have you seen the Indian batting collapse from such positions? What followed was therefore significant -- Mohammad Kaif came out at number four, a move by the team think-tank that surprised us all, and while he held fort, Tendulkar turned it on a few more notches, ensuring that the early momentum was never surrendered.

Another significant moment came in the 12th over -- Mohammad Kaif had been looking good ever since he came out to the middle, getting behind the line to the fast men, playing very straight and looking in good control.

Yet, it was Tendulkar on whom the onus of stroke-making rested, till Younis came in for the 12th over. The first ball was extra cover driven with a fluidity and an economy of motion that would have done credit to Tendulkar himself; the next ball, a late-swinging yorker in classic Younis fashion, saw Kaif do a little shimmy with his feet to make room and play a gem of a straight drive, scorching a furrow all the way to the straight boundary.

It was a signal that Tendulkar could relax, that Kaif was ready to do his bit. He did, and how -- running singles as though they were going out of style, rotating strike to perfection and allowing Tendulkar to concentrate on stroking the Pak attack into submission with an array of cuts, pulls, drives square and in the V and exquisite flicks off his pads and hips that altered the line the bowler intended and found gaps faster than Younis could plug them.

Kaif's dismissal, in the 22nd over, barely registered as a blip. The real drama was reserved for the 27th over, from Akthar. The over began with Tendulkar running a single, a very short one, to Dravid's call and collapsing in agony as the cramp swamped his senses.

He received on field treatment and, for the first time in his life as far as I can recall, a runner. The first delivery after the break was a snorter of a bouncer that even Tendulkar in that mood couldn't get out of the way of -- the ball found the handle and ballooned to point for a lovely catch by Younis Khan, and Tendulkar walked back two short of a seemingly inevitable century.

Tendulkar's wagon wheel

It was an anticlimactic end to an innings defined by heroism and superlative batting in equal measure. On the day, Tendulkar was unstoppable -- batting throughout on the cusp of the possible, he played shots only his mind could conceive. Time and time again, speed of thought allied to immaculate footwork and speed of bat through the hitting arc produced moments of instant magic.

But 97 more needed to be made -- and another wicket could have put the cat among the pigeons, with only Dinesh Mongia and the bowlers to follow. Rahul Dravid and Yuvraj Singh came into their own – playing with a total absence of fluster, the two buckled down to the job of seeing the team home, rotating strike to perfection, putting away the bad deliveries with conviction and never allowing the Pakistan bowlers to get a foot back in the door.

One moment from the end game stands out in the mind: Akthar, in his fourth spell, produced a superb reverse swinging yorker and Yuvraj, with absolute nonchalance, flicked through midwicket for a superbly run three. Akthar stood in mid-pitch, disbelief and frustration on his face, shaking his head in despair as he watched his hopes of stamping his authority on the game being destroyed by a batting performance of absolute authority.

Earlier in the day, Saeed Anwar returned to form against his favorite opponent, batting with fluency and grace after a period of initial uncertainty to hold Pakistan's innings together with his 20th ODI century. The silken cover drives, the controlled pulls and flicks, the exquisitely late cuts that you associate with his batting were all uncorked in a resplendent innings that took the rest of his mates along in his slipstream and helped his team, struggling for batting form thus far in the tournament, post a challenging total.

The Indian bowlers, Zaheer in particular, got off on the wrong foot -- in fact, the first over of the innings lasted 10 deliveries as Zaheer no balled and, for variety, bowled wide on either side of the track.

His erratic performance brought Nehra into the firing line -- and the tall Delhi speedster had cold water dashed on his euphoria as Anwar took him on in a blistering display. To Nehra's credit, he didn't too badly on length and line – if he was undone, it was by the placid nature of the track and some superlative strokes by the ‘Desert Fox'.

Taufeeq Umar brought some solidity to the opening position that came as a relief from Shahid Afridi's recklessness, and contributed to a good first wicket partnership of 58. His dismissal -- and Inzamam Ul Haq's umpteenth run-out -- pegged Pakistan back a bit, but Yousuf Youhanna walked out in top nick, and with Anwar rebuilt an innings that briefly threatened to disintegrate.

The Youhanna-Anwar partnership of 73 runs set the stage for a very late charge, led by Rashid Latif (29 not out off 25. Latif was felled by a bouncer from Zaheer, and in fact did not take the field during the second innings, but he played an inventive little knock that gave the innings late acceleration. Afridi proved that either at the top or at the end, his batting could be equally brainless, but Akram played a little cameo, taking 15 off Nehra in the final over of the innings to help post what seemed, till Tendulkar got going, a challenging score.

It was an emphatic win -- but it did raise certain interesting thoughts the team's think tank will probably want to look at ahead of their next game: the first of the Super Sixes.

Firstly, the entry of Anil Kumble in place of Harbhajan Singh, supposedly backing his good record against Pakistan: the yield was 50-plus runs, with Kumble never threatening to break through. Good enough for the next stage? Especially in context of the fact that the fifth bowler – on the day, a combination of Ganguly, Sehwag and Mongia -- did as well in terms of runs conceded, and even took a wicket into the bargain?

Ganguly's captaincy on the day looked good, swift bowling changes ensuring that the Pakistanis never reached a comfort zone against any one bowler (Nehra was aberrant in the final over, but in the slog, what fast bowler goes unscathed these days?). His batting, though, continues to cause worries -- facing Younis, he stayed back, seemingly anticipating the short ball, predetermining it in his mind and being pinned on top of the crease by a good length ball.

That indicates that he is playing the ball he anticipates -- or fears -- rather than the one being delivered. Is number three the right slot for him, or would he serve his own, and the team's, cause better a bit lower down, when the ball is softer and the threat he so constantly anticipates is less likely to materialize?

The team has time to work these things out. On the day, however, there is just a certain quiet joy at having gotten into the Super Sixes in the best possible way: by beating the teams on the park, rather than wait, calculator in hand and heart in mouth, for the results of other games to determine their own fate.

The win, incidentally, has another hidden value -- at the least, the likes of Pakistan General Pervez Musharraf, and his apologists, will not make statements to the effect that India is turning down tours of Pakistan because it is scared of a beating.

Tendulkar, who was sledged almost constantly through his innings and who hit back with his own inimitable batting, made the point while accepting the man of the match award.

"We have beaten them four times in World Cup matches now -- that should prove the point."

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Number of User Comments: 145

Sub: If India play's like this, they'll win the World Cup

Pakistan was crushed by India after playing once in 3 years. If they play like this every game, nobody can beat them. India has the ...

Posted by VJ

Sub: To Jawan pain

Look who is talking about writing in good english.. Your message doesn't even have a subject. Your last name indicates that you are a pain ...

Posted by Kumar




Sub: Tendulkar's innings

Good!!! The blues beat the greens..... This was the much awaited match for everyone at home. This match should have made pak realize where they ...

Posted by Rajan GVN


The match on march 1 2003 INDIA Vs pakistan is not a match. It is a history, legend and ever green cricket for the INDIANS. ...



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