| Bhattacharjee hugs Sourav at the presentation ceremony. Picture by Santosh Ghosh n See Sport
Calcutta, Nov. 3: Sachin Tendulkar’s 176 took the final Test away from the West Indies, but that 419-minute classic took its toll and he won’t be available for any of the seven ODIs.
Specifically, Sachin aggravated a left hamstring “niggle” during his Man of the Match award-winning second innings at the Eden, when he ran 49 singles besides seven twos and three threes. He is a hard runner.
For now, in the first three matches, Sachin’s place in the XIV has gone to Dinesh Mongia. The in-form quick Zaheer Khan may also not be available for all the ODIs. Match No. 1 is in Jamshedpur on Wednesday.
Captain Sourav Ganguly, however, isn’t unduly worried. “Despite their absence, we’ve got a good side,” he declared, soon after receiving the Exide Cup (for the Test series) from chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.
With the Test here ending indecisively, India took the Cup with a 2-0 scoreline. In fact, the Indians made a handsome sweep --- all three Man of the Match awards apart, Harbhajan Singh (20 wickets) was adjudged Man of the Series.
Later, an emotional Harbhajan told The Telegraph: “Everything I achieve is dedicated to my late father (Sardar Sardev Singh)… Main unhi ke liye khelta hoon aur unki yaad to hamesha aati rehti hai...”
While Harbhajan was joint Man of the Series (with Matthew Hayden) in the epic set of engagements last year, this award is his first exclusively.
Incidentally, the day saw the first daughter of Indian cricket, Sana, turn one. A family custom (influenced, perhaps, by superstition) bars celebrations till the fifth birthday, but Sana did have a ball at the Eden.
From the chief minister to Sourav’s teammates to hoi polloi at the Club House, everybody wanted a piece of her. Mother Dona, then, had a pretty tough time. Sana, however, didn’t mind the fawning.
Thanks to Sachin (and V.V.S. Laxman), the Test ended in a draw or else a special day would have turned sour for Sourav.
While some could feel Sourav should have set a target in the session after lunch, doing so would only have tired his bowlers.
“Reflecting on the position we were in yesterday (87 for four), we did well to force a draw… Given that, I’m not disappointed we couldn’t win 3-0,” is how Sourav summed up a series with a number of pluses.
As for opposite number Carl Hooper, he accepted that a “draw was better” than being beaten 0-3. He also made the point about his team not playing to potential. “It’s disturbing and must be addressed immediately,” he added.
Opportunity No. 1 will come about in Jamshedpur.