February 15, 2003. Sachin Tendulkar at Super Sport Park, Centurion was not to be Brian Lara at Barbados in 1999 as other batsmen including Rahul Dravid just became visitors!!!

Before I explain you the comparison of an ODI knock prospect of World cup league game and a fourth innings fruitful knock between two batsmen rated ahead of peers, I would like you to draw your attention to the following.

  • Australia and West Indies at Barbados, March 1999 – Result West Indies beat Australia by 1 wkt.

Brian Lara inspired with SR of 59.76 in 355 minutes

                   to post a win on the fastest windies wkt. against

                                   MCGRATH, GILLESPEI, AND WARNE with WI facing 120.1 overs for 311/9 in a day and half.

  • India and Pakistan at Chennai, January 1999 – Result India lost to Pakistan by 12 runs.

SR Tendulkar inspired with SR of 49.81 in 405 minutes 

                        to take his side closer to win on a turner against

                                    AKRAM, WAQAR, AND SAQLAIN with IND facing 95.2 overs for 258 all out in > a day.

.

.

.

.

 “………………..In the final encounter, India caved in meekly because its batsmen were short of confidence, as they had non-negotiated mental blocks of repeat of Centurion and its fallout. They had not wiped out poignant memories of humiliation at the hands of same opposition in the league stage on an eventful track with some assistance to bowlers. That was the real reason why Sourav decided to field on March 23. Exactly 45 days after his batsmen were decimated. He didn’t have the confidence levels of a World Cup winning team captain. He was no Kapil, no Imran, no Steve Waugh, not even Arjuna Ranatunga, who used most of power play batting tactics, employed first by Sachin against Dion Nash, Morrison, Cairns, and Harris back in 1994…………….”

Sun was bright, meadows neatly squared, middle of the turf left with green patches, and while this was amazing, punter and rasgullā had their tasks on papers cut out.  

The day had all the ingredients for a casual cricket fan. AUSTRALIA V INDIA Group A.

  • From an average working class man who chose cricket because his life was not up to the mark and that he realized it wasn’t his mistake at all to a grandma who discovered renewed energy levels soon after her daughter delivered a baby boy at home without the need of hospital for caesarian. Grandma would request her son-in-law to get little boy educated properly for a fair Return on Investment. 
  • From a typical bureaucrat who would cite some territorial administrative reasons for clearing the file of a veteran freedom fighter’s pension to a TV reality show anchor who had little clothing to protect her body art.
  • The commentators worldwide and cricketers, retired from passion, advising youngsters, and performing boys, and servant maids back in Indian middle class homes, who were as rich as any Indian politician to own a cell phone (I wouldn’t reveal the name which brought cell phone technology to India. Because I don’t know. Also I don’t care if it was Chandrababu Naidu who discovered potential in the market, or Pramod Mahajan, or Rajiv Gandhi, or the one who discovered it actually.), were seen discussing the Indian eleven(of which Tendulkar was one). 
  • People belonging to and not limited to, a. categories heading bhaarat and westernized India; b. political classes fighting for abolition of death penalty for fundamental terrorists who wage wars on sovereign nations and for the same national dailies like The Hindu offer their irresponsible piece of journalism citing human grounds; c. sections of Andhra politicians who deny CBI probe on AgustaWestland fiasco in Delhi (with them majority of face book users living in Andhra) citing the inability of CBI to act on its discretion only because it is under the superintendence of PMO while encouraging a serious fraud investigation in the 26 G.O.s issued by former Chief Minister YSR during 2004-09 using which son of the same CM is believed to have looted Seema-Andhra and Telengana states
Amul Butter's cartoon which received due appreciation by many facebook users from non-Andhra background who had zero knowledge of AP other than Madhapur and Real estate growth in Hyderabad

Amul Butter’s cartoon which received due appreciation by many facebook users from non-Andhra background who had zero knowledge of AP other than Madhapur and Real estate growth in Hyderabad

(Amul Butter drew a nice cartoon but the description might not be what it might have wanted to say. Newspapers and media houses favouring TDP claim they have the proof. The national media is not in a position to look into the veracity of allegations, so we don’t know if they are valid or not. The politicians from 2003 to 2013 are the same and use the same logic whenever any CBI probe is ordered. It’s another matter that a detailed multi-level preliminary investigation which was ordered against Chandrababu Naidu, a former Chief Minister, by outgoing Chief Justice of AP HC was squashed by another bench in the same HC and by the SC subsequently).

  • Myself, a normal Joe, and resemblances like me, who would always think of reforming the next moment forgetting the current trend, always ready for quick thoughts on any issue, craving to offer observation more than any viable solution,

and,

  • Never the least, popular miss worlds-TVs-Universes who could ask every Indian male parent to exclusively teach his son in a number of ways some fractured moral issues from the beginning itself. Immediately either from entrance or exit of the hospital room where boy was born. How to see bodily artworks of fashionable babes on and off sliver and TV screens and of young women on street roads who mimic celebs, besides their age-old vulnerability in not holding their inner garments tight, and how to promote the beautiful Indian skin show renaissance by safely putting under mat just a sensible fact that her female parent was probably justified for her plight – of attracting imbecile men to theaters and movie promos, where too such age-old vulnerability would be key. Don’t ask me why they were vulnerable in putting their inner garments according to the nomenclature of IUPAC.  Organic Chemistry in Morrison and Boyd, IL Finar, and Inorganic Chemistry of elements (vulnerable, earth, inert, active, radioactive, and so on) in J.D.Lee don’t allow me to conclude that it was sheer authoritarianism of crooked men who time and again contained women from exposing their sheer potential for likening men. Chest, back, bone chassis and inner legs can be exposed after attaining ‘WILLS’power(not on a world stage for winning a Olympic Gold or while taking fields for cultivation, but for sheer money, bribe, and cheap publicity!), and on such a basis, those fashionabes and public mascots of womanhood deliver lecture after lecture on how men should stop blabbering on dressing sense of women, again featuring in an imported micro mini too often tossing  their inner legs for pressmen(See January India Today for Priyanka Chopra’s lecture-with no full scale photograph on the need for men being men! She questioned legitimacy, moral and immoral, of men and demanded an explanation why women cannot flaunt their skin wearing such minis even while offering prayers, if I am not wrong).

Blah, blah, …… , ….

All of us above cutting across ideals, aspirations, cultural line ups, differences, … , got into match mindset in anticipation of an Indian resurgence, badly hit by poor performance against Holland days ago…..

Sourav Ganguly won an important toss and decided to bat on a track that was quite similar to the one we had at The Wanderers where Aussies crushed Pakistan’s world class bowling line-up days ago. The conditions were as good as those on offer to every visitor in Brisbane, that if you just play average, it could be your game. Good rotation of strike, build up of partnerships, and good wicket-taking deliveries.

And when you play against Australia that was in the shape, thanks to the heritage of Steve Waugh’s attacking mindset, you need to catch a few notches just in case. You definitely need to be an aggressive unit because you wouldn’t know when they talk down and when they do it they go to any extent, but that’s only on the field. Off the field, they are as better as anyone, probably offer you little comfort with words.

This was the setting before match started and with Sourav Ganguly leading the unit of 7 batters, of which three were elite, India was expected to repeat its 2001 Calcutta renaissance formula. Thanks to Laxman, India redefined its form in 2001. Few more seasons went off and VVS was back in form just in time for the Safari event. Rest was packed pretty quickly and no one knew how awkward this man appeared to the captain that eventually Dinesh Mongia was preferred citing fielding as the number one priority. The fielding standards of captain, star batsman, dashing opener, Srinath, and Kumble were open. Dravid’s  too was low but given his dual role as wicket-keeper batsman and vice-captain, I would say he  was perfect and in fact served more than any player that tournament with the lone exception to Sachin’s 669 runs before the final.

Sachin unleashed his belligerence with square cut reminding us of 1998 Sharjah off McGrath and a powerful cover drive off Brett Lee, and when everything seemed perfect for the assault, the poor shots off Sehwag’s and Sourav’s blades in a short span sent shock waves. Many Indian viewers failed to understand why the resistant south paw chose to hunt one pitched wide and one felt sad seeing Delhi opener’s flaws in technique which never softened. The theory of swinging conditions would have played against us was the initial talk.  But I knew that wasn’t the case. Mr. Dependable Rahul Dravid, who played sheet anchor role in the century’s revival test at Eden Gardens in the company of VVS Laxman, too fell cheaply. Dravid won the MoM for his super knock at the Adelaide Oval later that December in Steve Waugh’s farewell test series starting in Brisbane where Sourav Ganguly’s 144 would save the day for Indians. 44 for 3 soon became 45-4. Half of the celebrated batting line up was back for 50 even before Aussie pace men could finish off one third of bowling quota.

Sachin at the non-striking end had to choose between the two ends; either attack Aussies and force them to commit mistakes and plunder some useful runs as it became evident he wasn’t going to get support, or, at the most see off overs and stay till the end of over quota. Things became clear to many of us back home that it was an off day for us. It was an upset for me, came out of TV room, visibly destroyed, and even the sight of my favourite batsman occupying the crease didn’t give any confidence. I felt cheated by other batsmen who didn’t do enough. They needed to play full fifty overs and set a modest target to see if their bolwers would make it happen. Though my mother didn’t seem to understand what I said mostly during the advertisements, in short, she asked if India was on course. “Yes”, I said. “They would be returning soon”.

Why was this so crucial when you had four other games? Why was a win needed against Aussies when you all needed was a consolation defeat, say, you had the chance to meet them in Final at Johannesburg?

The win against Aussies at Centurion even by default was necessary because,

a. India then would have moved on to top Group A, assuming that we would prevail against Pakistan, England, and Zimbabwe, to meet South Africa and West Indies from Group B in the S6. India would have made it easy to the Semis even without a solid performance.

b. Australia was the only unit which could make things tough for an Indian batting line up, besides the mighty South Africans who didn’t make it to S6, thanks to poor arithmetic in the rain tormented game against Lanka after Graeme Smith.

c. Had India given them tough contest at Centurion in the group stage, it would have been in a position to meet eye to eye, at Newlands(March 18) or Kingsmead(March 20) or Jo’burg(March 23).

d. Wanderers was supposed to cater to seam bowlers and with McGrath, Lee, and Andy Bichel, Australia was the complete pack to run through the opposition; it had the fielding standards, it had the belief that it can outsmart anyone. This was what Sourav and his men were short of. Why?

In the final encounter, India caved in meekly because its batsmen were short of confidence, as they had non-negotiated mental blocks of repeat of Centurion and its fallout .They had not wiped out poignant memories of humiliation at the hands of same opposition in the league stage on an eventful track with some assistance to bowlers.  That was the real reason why Sourav decided to field on March 23, exactly 45 days after his batsmen were decimated. He didn’t have the confidence levels of a World Cup winning team captain. He was no Kapil, no Imran, no Steve Waugh, not even Arjuna Ranatunga, who used most of power play batting tactics, employed first by Sachin against Dion Nash, Morrison, Cairns, and Harris back in 1994.

India had best batters, but when their bowlers couldn’t restrict them to under 260, they knew facing lanky pacemen was going to be real test, that too in a World Cup final.

I would put it simply, after writing so much.

“had India prevailed over Aussies in the first fifteen overs of the day game at Super Sport Park on this day ten years ago, Sourav would have been batting first, and smiling with the Trophy at The Wanderers, and possibly media would have put Kapil Dev’s 1983 aside”. Ehh, God didn’t allow it to happen? Only Sourav Ganguly has the answer.

He can answer. I know.

Disclaimer follows.

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