The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Seniors shine, not on screen
- Sachin and Sourav fire

Chittagong, May 18: The unbeaten 80s, even if against Bangladesh, should be enough to open up a debate on the board’s vaunted youth policy.

And even Indian cricket’s tireless rumour mongers cannot paint their partnership as a ganging-up against captain Rahul Dravid — the second reason why Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly were believed to have been rested for the one-dayers.

Yet Calcutta never got a chance to watch the two old favourites firm up India in the first Test at Chittagong today, lifting the team to 295 for three at stumps on the first day with an undefeated stand of 163.

Doordarshan didn’t show the game apparently because it felt the fans wouldn’t be interested. Neither did the cable operators tie up with Neo Sports, which was beaming the game. TataSky said Neo Sports was “not available” with it.

Doordarshan, which had used controversial means to gain access to private channels’ feed of matches of “national interest”, didn’t explain why a series touted as a grudge encounter lacked any. ( )

But Sourav and Sachin, coming together at 132 for three, had their own battles to fight, too.

Sourav, 82 not out with 10 fours and two sixes, will be remembering his own recent promise: to try and convert the 80s into hundreds.

Sachin is 20 away from a 36th Test century that will put him three ahead of challenger Ricky Ponting, and at least for the moment silence calls for him to quit.

“The modern game needs a youth policy; but you can’t replace the likes of Sachin and Sourav overnight,” former India opener Arun Lal said. “They still have the desire to perform and perform better. They played within themselves, considering the situation -- and this discretion comes only with experience.”

Dravid and opener Dinesh Karthik had fallen back to back after a 124-run second-wicket stand, and another wicket would have put Bangladesh on the saddle.

Earlier, Wasim Jaffer was out off the first ball of the Test, bowled by Mashrafe Mortaza, the architect of India’s World Cup fall. The medium-pacer endorsed Lal’s comment.

“When two great performers are in the middle, you only watch them in awe. We can only think of containing them tomorrow and hope they commit a mistake,” Mortaza said.

His vice-captain, Mohammed Ashraful, was equally impressed. “Seeing them play is a learning experience for every young player. They batted superbly.”

Sourav couldn’t be contacted, but his comment before the start of the Test would serve as well.

“You survive only on the back of performance,” he had said. “I failed to convert my starts into big knocks in the past. If chances come again, I’ll be more determined to accomplish that goal.”

The Bangladesh fans may not mind that too much, judging from the way they applauded his strokes today.

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