हिन्दीಕನ್ನಡമലയാളംதமிழ்తెలుగు

Star performers apart, Hussain's the man to beat

Written by: Mamatha Maben
Published: Sunday, February 23, 2003, 4:28 [IST]
 
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Bangalore: Not many had tipped England to put it across Pakistan; more so the manner in which it did, but the fact that our friends from across the border were upstaged was quite in keeping with the trend thus far - Australia being the only one to have bucked the trend.

England's victory at Newlands sets up group 'A' and barring the top spot which in all probabilities will go to Australia - vagaries of the weather apart, the top two spots have as many as five probable contenders.

In the light of this victory, India's game against England gains considerable significance. If England can pull off another one against India then England must fancy its chances of making it through; with India and Pakistan, most likely, fighting it out for the third.

Coming back to the England-Pakistan game, although bowling under the lights did aid England there are a lot of goodies the English can take from this encounter.

Their batting, for one, although did not fire in a major way, was consistent right through. Despite the fact that they were under pressure from the onset the England batsmen chipped away at a healthy rate, stringing useful partnerships along the way. And even though it was the English bowling that looked a million-dollar today, their strong point, I presume, lies in their batting.

However, England's greatest strength, for my money, lies in its captain. And I mean that literally; not only as a figure of speech.

There were two things apart from the many moves he made that stood out under the lights in Newlands. His bringing in the third slip for Inzamam and going through with Anderson, who later picked up Anwar and Latif, had a great bearing on the game than many people would think it so.

Not only today's match but through his long career he has impressed me with his ability to think through situations. It is pretty unfortunate that he does not always have the best 11 at his disposal; given the injury problems that England is beset with.

Not only on the field even off it he is quite a stand out - his handling of the press, the way he rallies behind his team and players and his assessment of the stock on hand are all hallmarks of a great captain.

He has his flaws but if England is to progress through this tournament a lot will depend on the man Hussain.

Finally, England's bowling performance must have given it a lot of heart but it is a fact that England's bowlers are a threat only when the conditions are conducive. So it remains to be seen if they can stand the test under trying circumstances.

All said and done, England cannot be taken lightly and India will have its work cut out when it meets England, in what should be a key encounter to Group 'A'. For England it is all or nothing given that the dice is heavily loaded against it when it comes to Australia.

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