| SACHIN: Surely one-drop
Cape Town: Barring a rethink, it’s confirmed that World Cup 2003 will see Sachin Tendulkar at No.3 — the slot occupied by him in the two warm-up matches. The No. 4 position, taken by Sachin for much of the recent past, will probably go to vice-captain Rahul Dravid.
“There’s that slight uncertainty over who will come two down, but one drop will certainly be Sachin,” is how a well-placed source put it, during a chat with The Telegraph Friday afternoon.
With India’s opening game (against the Dutch) still five days away, it’s too early to specifically list the XI that will take the field at Paarl. Much of the debate, at the moment, is over who should be slotted at No. 7 (Dinesh Mongia/ Sanjay Bangar/Ajit Agarkar) and whether both spinners (Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh) should play.
“The thinktank will be better placed in a couple of days... In any case, the wicket will have a huge influence,” the source added. Paarl, of course, isn’t unknown territory for the Indians. Yet, given that the stakes have never been higher, every move will have to be plotted with the finesse of a Viswanathan Anand.
[Incidentally, according to former Protean allrounder Craig Matthews, the Paarl wicket “shouldn’t” be different from the ones in the sub-continent.]
It hasn’t helped that India lost the second warm-up match, against KwaZulu-Natal, but captain Sourav Ganguly isn’t unduly worried. “We played carelessly and lost to an ordinary side... However, I’m confident we will do well in the tournament,” he remarked, shortly after the squad’s arrival from Durban, late in the evening.
India, it may be recalled, were in the driver’s seat in the first warm-up game before a thunderstorm forced abandonment.
Sourav, by the way, is a bit under the weather. “I’ve been down with fever for the past day and the throat doesn’t feel good either... Durban was terribly hot and I think the weather has played its part,” he said.
Meanwhile, the South African Airways’ ‘selectors’, Pat Symcox and Fanie de Villiers, have placed Sachin at No. 1 in their world-beating line-up. Their “XI to beat all comers” is: Sachin, Sanath Jayasuriya, Ricky Ponting, Brian Lara, Jacques Kallis, Adam Gilchrist, Chris Cairns, Shaun Pollock, Wasim Akram, Muttiah Muralidharan and Glenn McGrath.
The airline, one of two official sponsors (the other being Hero Honda) of the World Cup, is making the most of cricket’s biggest event. Picking a world-beating XI has only been a small part of that exercise.
n Marlon Samuels reinstated, on Page 26