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Home > Cricket > World Cup 2003 > Columns > Vivian Richards

Aussies best from start to finish

March 24, 2003

There are some days when you just can't afford to have an off day, and one such day is a World Cup final. Sadly for India, the bowlers who had played so well and bowled so aggressively right through the tournament suddenly got an attack of nerves and let the occasion get to them. They just did not bowl in the right area, and the likes of Adam Gilchrist and Ricky Ponting really made them pay for it.

The way to approach a final is two-fold. At one level it is just another day, and you have to get your basics right and control your emotions. On another level, you have to realise that nobody remembers what you did to get to the final, they only remember what you did in the final. Unfortunately for Sourav Ganguly and his men, Sunday was a day their faculties were just not working, and that made it a very one-sided final.

While the Indians did bowl badly, the batting display from Ricky Ponting was absolutely magnificent. He was batting on a wicket that did have some life in it, but like Gilchrist before him, he just stuck to the basics, took his chances and played without showing any signs of big match nerves. Sure, there were times when the ball went and fell in no-man's land, but when you are brave, luck almost always favours you. Ponting played as though it was just another day, and finally that is what allowed him to play some real audacious cricket in the last seven-eight overs.

However, I did not think the match was over at the break, because I had great faith in the little man, Sachin Tendulkar. I don't think many Indians could be more disappointed than I am because I had wanted him to come out firing on all cylinders. If he and Virender Sehwag had got a partnership going, things would have been very, very different. The Indians kept up a decent rate right till the end of their innings in spite of losing regular wickets. This means that if Tendulkar was there, he would have instilled confidence in his teammates and the total would not have looked as formidable as it did in the end. I would fault him for poor shot selection, but the way he has been playing all through the tournament, he must have backed himself to pull off that shot in the first over itself. On another day it might have clicked -- after all he has taken on Glenn McGrath on many occasions -- but on the day it mattered most to him, it failed. I know Tendulkar, and I know it must be hurting. For him the fact that he let the team down rather than the fact that his critics will be after him again is what will worry him.

At the end of the day, the Australians were the best team from start to finish. Their professional approach and ability to keep focus on winning was indeed impressive. They were tested on occasions but they invariably came out with flying colours. Their philosophy: "Never beaten till the end" is an inspiring one, and should be taken on board by many other teams. There is no doubt, they are the trailblazers of the new century.

The Indians did not shame themselves either. But for their games against Australia, they played impressive cricket. What they must ask themselves is whether they were a little too happy at making the final. Sometimes, that seems achievement enough, and some individuals lose sight of the fact that once you get that far, you MUST carry on to take that one step more. Many good teams have made the final, but only a few great ones take that extra step to become a champion team. That's the difference between a good team and a great team.


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Number of User Comments: 34

Sub: RE:indian cricket

Man, you need to calm down a bit. Ganguly is the right captain. He is aggressive, stuborn, and blunt. Dravid, while an oustanding player, is ...

Posted by Kunal Gill

Sub: India's achievement

I agree with the whole assessment, however it is clear Indian's were not confident right from the beginning, if only they were more confident they ...

Posted by Anil

Sub: India was good too!

Well written article. Very true. India still have it in them to beat the Aussies any other day. It was just one of those days ...

Posted by shekar

Sub: RE:biased

I would have to agree with you, they never seem to give credit where credit is due, they lost Australia won, to the victor go ...

Posted by kerry

Sub: indian cricket

Yes we lost to the better team on their day, yes our bowlers, who had played well let us down. But what about our great ...

Posted by Ashish Sanyal


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