It was more than just winning a big match

Written by: S K Sham
Published: Thursday, October 12, 2000, 18:00 [IST]
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Confidence is the steel in the mental make-up of any sportsperson or a sporting outfit, but an overdose of the same can turn out to be self-destructive. It is not the first time that the Pakistan have perished in their own cocky, over-confidence, as they did the other day against New Zealand.

In contrast, the Indian team, subdued owing to the unpleasant happenings at home and resigned to the fate of what a new-look side had to offer, has been, happily, performing beyond all expectations, without the usual hype and hoopla attendant on it. Remember World Cup 1999.

The reasons are not far to seek. Cut the deadwood out and even if just a little stump is left, it will be stronger. This adage could not have been truer than of the Indian team that is in Nairobi at the moment. It is having as happy a hunting time, as Indian cricket has rarely seen in recent years.

For achievement, the Saurav Ganguly-led side has just a victory over Kenya and a more significant one over World Champions Australia, but it is the refreshing way the team has performed so far that must make people believe that the volcano of corruption that erupted recently in world cricket, has also had its pleasant fall-out for us.

To the discerning, even without the magnification of the betting and match-fixing scandal, there were cases, as good as any, to weed out players who were hanging on just on their past reputation and contributing scarcely anything to the team.

They thus were cruelly blocking the path of the more deserving younger players. The selectors connived in this by picking a couple of new-comers and then dropping them without even as much as a trial out in the middle.

All that has changed now and, hopefully, there will be no return to the old wicked ways of mocking young talent ever again. Certainly not after the way young Yuvraj Singh and Zaheer Khan, not to mention Vijay Dahiya, have infused new life into the Indian team. What is more important is that there are more waiting in the wings for their opportunities to come.

A writer who got rather carried away while showering praises on young Yuvraj Singh, appeared to lose his perspective for a moment when he said "Yuvraj batted while his more fancied teammates panicked."

For once, in last Saturday's match against Australia, one got the impression that panic was hardly seen anywhere around the Indian team, not even when Adam Gilchrist and Steve Waugh kept up a threatening run-rate and later Shane Lee and even Jason Gillespie decided to cut loose in a last desperate bid to win the match.

This was seen from the confident way in which Venkatesh Prasad, normally a rabbit with the bat, resolutely hit the first ball he faced, the last of the innings, for a six. He did it so nonchalantly.

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