Story of the rain and the runs

16 03 2009


Runs Aplenty
These days the “Little Master” tends to play a supporting role to the astonishingly aggressive Virender Sehwag. But on being fortunate enough to watch Tendulkar play every shot in the book for his 163 retired hurt off 133 balls at the Christchurch ODI, I was reminded of the following tale.

In 1992, Sachin Tendulkar became the first cricketer not born in Yorkshire to play for the Headingley-based county team. A local pub owner added the following two dishes to his food menu: the “Boycott Curry” and the “Tendulkar Curry”. Whenever a patron would ask the Yorkshireman about the curries, he would reply “Well, they both give you the runs, but the second one gives them to you much, much quicker!”

How unfortunate it was that Tendulkar retired hurt with a stomach strain with five overs remaining in that innings and only 31 runs behind Saeed Anwar’s 194 against India at Chennai – the highest ever ODI individual score.

You would have to think Sehwag will be the first man to blast 200 in an ODI innings. His 125 runs off only 75 balls in Hamilton on Wednesday made a personal score of 250 seem possible. His dominance of the New Zealand attack looked effortless. Anyone who didn’t know better would have thought New Zealand had muddled their fixtures and sent a schoolboy side to play the mighty India.

The Mighty India
As with the Indian economy, Indian cricket has for some time been set to explode into the realms of world domination. A country of one thousand million cricket-philes was always going to blossom when the catalyst of Twenty20 accelerated the commercialization of cricket so rapidly in general, and the IPL, in particular.

Star cricket players earn more than merchant bankers these days and the IPL has facilitated room to accommodate far more household names than just the ones who play for India. The IPL is a massive stage with 263 players in its employ. 183 of these are Indians. That is a serious number of professionals training at a very high level. Every one of them is starving for success. Consider the depth that this lends to the national outfit.

But talent needs to be managed effectively to breed success and one must not underestimate the coaching duo of Gary Kirsten and Paddy Upton. The two South Africans took up their respective posts as team coach and mental conditioning coach in March 2008 and India’s results have been most impressive since then.

In 37 ODIs, India has lost only six matches. From twelve Test matches under Kirsten, the record reads five wins, four draws and three losses. One of those losses was to Dale Steyn on a green top in Ahmedabad and two were to Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajentha Mendis on raging turners in Colombo.

Limited Overs Series Wrap-Up
New Zealand won the two Twenty20 Internationals and the dead rubber fifth ODI, essentially the three games that didn’t matter. Somehow only one match was rain abandoned but virtually every match was rain affected. India crossed another hurdle towards becoming the best team in the world by winning their first ever ODI series in New Zealand.

Despite the rain the Indians have had a reasonably good time in New Zealand. It must be about the most naturally beautiful country on earth. And as Dhoni said “it is so isolated that no one can telephone you, because when you are awake, the rest of the world is asleep. Even if you were awake, you probably won’t have mobile reception – the perfect place for a getaway holiday!”. For now though…..let the ‘real’ test begin!!!!!!!




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