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|January 12, 2000||
Sachin must openBobby Simpson
India showed improvement in their match against Australia, but too often panicked when the occasion called for a cool head. A similar situation was evident against Pakistan – a match they should have won. They had Pakistan on the ropes with some great early bowling, but then, when patience was called for, they grew over-excited by the scent of victory and lost their cool and control. They conceded too many runs in the last six overs against a 9 and 10 batsman.
I am at a loss to understand exactly what the Indian selectors are doing with their batting order. The success that India has had in one-day internationals in the past has been due to playing their best batsman at the top. Sachin Tendulkar has been the lynchpin of India’s earlier victories, but now, batting down the list, he has been forced to try to make up for the loss of early wickets and a slow scoring rate.
I found the decision to elevate wicket keeper Samir Dighe to the number three slot amazing. While I am not blaming Dighe – he was elevated beyond his skills – he played over 20 dot balls for his paltry three runs. When you lose a match by just 20 runs or so, you cannot afford to have a batsman in the top order scoring so slowly. One of the major needs to play good one-day cricket, even in the frantic run chase in the last 15 overs, is to maintain balance and control and to play your natural game.
Rahul Dravid is wonderful stroke-maker when he plays his natural game. He is a timer of the ball, not a slogger. At Melbourne, he tried to slog at crucial moments, and his balance and rhythm just disappeared, as did his timing and ability to work the ball around. Melbourne is a huge ground, even with the ropes in, and twos and threes are generally easy to pick up. Dravid, at one stage late in his innings, when the run race was on, ran a double just once in adding 20 to his score.
Sourav Ganguly clearly demonstrated that you can let the team down even if you score a century. Make no mistake about it, he played a superb innings, equally as good as Man of the Match Ricky Ponting’s. But why was he so casual in his running? He was at least two feet past the line when the ball hit the stumps but still had his bat in the air. One of the first things you are taught as a kid is to slide the bat in. Ganguly forgot this lesson at Melbourne.
Robin Singh has brought his usual enthusiasm and drive into the team, and he has been outstanding with the bat and on the field. He may be the oldest player in the team, but is easily the hardest worker and should be an inspiration to his team.
India are two down in the series, but have been competitive in both games. Competition is okay, but winning is better. And if India are to win, then Sachin, the world’s finest batsman, must open the batting and show the way.
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