| Sachin Tendulkar en route to his 52 during the match against the Netherlands in Paarl. (AFP)
Paarl, Feb. 12: The result was predictable all right, not so the manner in which Indian batsmen embarrassed themselves before the Jawagal Srinaths moved into the business-end of their opening World Cup Pool A game here.
Full points to India, but the BoE Park performance did throw up uncomfortable questions: When will the batsmen cut out unforced errors' When will a Mohammed Kaif justify his place' When will the tail start to contribute even reasonably' There’s more...
With batsmen falling even to full tosses, India didn’t survive the 50 overs, rekindling memories of the New Zealand horror, which everybody wants to forget quicker than a boxer wishing to black out a punch which kayoed him.
For the record, India won by 68 runs (stopping Holland at 136 in their quest for 205) but the Man of the Match award went to Dutch allrounder Tim de Leede for his four for 35.
If the presentation is to be an encouragement, that’s fine, otherwise veteran Srinath deserved it more.
And, not only because he joined the 300-club. Barring one over to the rampaging Marlon Samuels in Vijayawada last November Srinath has been simply superb in ODIs for the past few months. It wasn’t any different this afternoon (four for 30) in what possibly is his last tournament.
Anil Kumble, included in the XI in the eleventh hour, also finished with four wickets on a slow pitch, which called for a consistently disciplined line.
He indicated that this latest edition will probably hold more for members of his (and Muttiah Muralidharan’s) tribe.
The fine bowling notwithstanding, the game didn’t enhance the image of a five-star event. It’s another matter that the tried and tested opening firm of Sachin Tendulkar and captain Sourav Ganguly got revived (after 13 months and 38 matches) and that the former emerged the most successful batsman in the competition’s 28-year history.
With 1,111 runs, Sachin has gone past Javed Miandad (1,083). But even Sachin will accept he exited in a soft manner and that he should have made the most of his first lengthy outing (in an ODI) since the Champions Trophy.
Sourav, who won the toss on a searingly hot day and opted to set a target, acknowledged the batting was “cause for concern” and that the team’s confidence (which took such a beating in New Zealand) hadn’t recovered to the degree it ought to have.
Still, in a World Cup, four points in the bag is like a million bucks in the bank.
Understandably, then, Sourav talked about keeping faith and that the team would be raring to go against Australia in Centurion three days from now. “It’s always important to get the first game out of the way,” he said, adding: “We’ve been doing well versus Australia.... Even they must be aware...”
Roland Lefevbre, the Holland captain, wasn’t unhappy. In fact, he went to the extent of saying that his side could have upset India. “Only, for that, we needed to do things quickly.... Instead, we slumped to 54 for seven.”
Like it or not, the chasm between the established nations and the emerging ones isn’t insignificant. It’s just that, occasionally, a mirage is created.
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