The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This Page
It’s Now or Never now for Rahul Dravid & Co.

Calcutta: Brian Lara possesses some of the most coveted records, but hasn’t been part of a World Cup-winning squad.

He was barely ten when the West Indies last won — in 1979.

Inzamam-ul Haq has been in a World Cup-winning XI, but wants to do an Imran Khan and actually hold aloft cricket’s biggest trophy.

Lara will soon be 38, Inzamam has just turned 37.

Many moons after their debut, it’s still going to be a defining moment when Lara and Inzamam toss at the Sabina Park, once feared by batsmen of different hues.

Lara has confirmed he will be through with ODIs after the World Cup. Not that Inzamam is going to stay much longer.

Glenn McGrath will leave the sport altogether.

Moving away from individuals, if there’s universal agreement on one thing, it’s that this looks the most open World Cup since the West Indies’ domination ended in 1983.

Only the foolish, though, should write off the Australians who’ve kept the World Cup for eight years.

And Ricky Ponting doesn’t want to let go!

As for the janata at home, sentiment alone hasn’t raised expectations to a fever-pitch. The thumbs-up, incidentally, has come from (among others) Ajit Wadekar and John Wright.

Both know their cricket and have worked with some/most of the Indians currently in the West Indies.

Indeed, if anything, Dravid’s men have the ammo to go the distance.

The theme was ‘Now or Never’ in 2003, when Team India lost to Australia. It would really have been appropriate for this World Cup.

It’s highly unlikely, after all, that Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly are going to be around for the next (2011) edition.

[For the record, Sachin has told The Telegraph: “… I don’t know (about taking guard in the next World Cup)… In any case, I wouldn’t like to jump four years…”]

If age can become a big factor, performance (or its absence) between Tuesday and the April 28 final may see heads roll across the board.

Captains, coaches…

A poor result could, for example, trigger yet another change in the Pakistan Cricket Board…

“Drama khel ke bahar bhi hota hai… Much can happen,” remarked one of the senior administrators from the subcontinent.

Much is already happening off the field.

For one, sleuths are working overtime to ensure a Marlon Samuels-like scandal doesn’t explode during the showpiece event.

Then, to keep another scandal at bay, the International Cricket Council has announced ‘target’ dope-testing.

The Simon Taufels needn’t feel left out as there’s something for the umpires: More technological help.

Fingers, however, will be crossed. Not over the quality of cricket — it should be high despite the presence of many no-hopers — but the organisation in the West Indies.

Footnote: Even if the Indians (seeded No. 2 in group B) beat Sri Lanka, they still progress to the Super Eight as B-2. This unusual arrangement has been logistics-driven. The points, though, are going to be carried forward.

Email This Page