| Sourav Ganguly walks out amidst rain in Dhaka Monday
Dhaka: Makhaya Ntini breaking into an impromptu jig, Shaun Pollock playing to the galleries and an Air Force helicopter being pressed into service to facilitate the mopping up operations. There was drama aplenty at the TVS Cup final. In fact, it had all the ingredients of a soap opera, but then cricket took a back seat for the second consecutive day.
A torrential downpour forced the match to be abandoned and India and South Africa declared joint champions.
The dark clouds that hovered over the Bangabandhu Stadium before the toss threatened to turn into a downpour but waited for some time. They held back just enough to allow 17.1 overs of play. But that was enough for South Africa to expose the inexperience of the Indian batting order.
Sourav Ganguly tried the No. 99 shirt for some change in luck but it didn’t pay off. Probably, the thought that he lost the World Cup final with the No. 24 shirt and the first final here was a washout prompted him to go for a change. The No. 99 shirt had helped him win some crucial matches last year and he decided to have a go. “But what can you do if there is rain,” he lamented in the end.
The Indian skipper, though, feels that even a score of 170 would have been tough to chase on this two-paced wicket.
The joint champions’ tag has chased the Indians from the ICC Champions Trophy. As Pat Symcox put it so well at the prize giving ceremony held indoors. “Wherever the South Africans play, they seem to take the rain with them.”
For once, though, the Indians heaved a sigh of relief. A 25-over game would have had them in trouble after the batting disaster. Just when all seemed set for a truncated game, a second thunderstorm put paid to all such hopes.
The meagre cheque of $ 3750 to each of the winning teams did raise a few eyebrows. With no official communication forthcoming, even till last night no one was aware of what the exact amount would be.
Sourav, though, was satisfied with the performances of some of the youngsters. “Avishkar Salvi, Amit Mishra are the positives from the tournament, also Sarandeep Singh,” he said.
For South Africa, it did seem a decent beginning to their rebuilding process under new skipper Graeme Smith. “I’m happy with the performance. We’ve come a long way from our first game in this tournament. We put the Indians under serious pressure,” Smith said.
“The Indians were in trouble till the 17th over. There was still a lot left in the match but we managed to push them,” the South African skipper added.
Man of the Tournament Allan Dawson, who finished with 12 wickets, seemed a bit surprised by the decision. “Bowling on these conditions did prove to be a new experience. The ball doesn’t swing here much. So change in pace did the trick very often,” Dawson said.
Today, though, not much effort was needed from the South Africans. The Indians batted like novices and spelt their own doom.
Virender Sehwag went about his explosive ways too early in the innings. He hadn’t adjusted to the bounce when he tried to clear Shaun Pollock over the
infield to be taken at mid on.
Just when it seemed Gautam Gambhir had settled into a groove he drove too early at a Ntini away swinger. A downpour was threatening to set in any moment at that stage and the thought of having to push up the run-rate, in the event of a truncated game, must have prompted him to drive without getting in line.
Mohammed Kaif started off in a whirlwind fashion, a flick off Ntini rocketed to the fence. The enthusiasm was shortlived as he was out next ball, top edging an over-ambitious pull.
Sourav Ganguly and Yuvraj Singh then came to the rescue. The South Africans were right on top but only just. Rain emerged the eventual winner.
For Sourav and his boys, it will be the beginning of a well-deserved four-month break. The Tests versus the hosts awaits the South Africans.