Sehwag returns to torment Lankans again

Written by: Sunil Vasudeva
Published: Thursday, July 29, 2004, 11:43 [IST]
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The Indians have got that monkey (losing to Sri Lanka) off their backs and hopefully will let it stay away for one last hurrah.

Azhar said Pakistan was in disarray; but they recouped to win in grand style over India. But, then there was still hope as the Sri Lankans were going against the Indians without Vaas, Muralitharan, etc. However, those who touted an Indian win could have been ruing forgetting the "Jaya" factor. Jayasuriya, the little man known for large scores, many of which have seen the Indians on the receiving end. This match almost ended the same way were it not for the "nerves of steel" demonstrated by the Indians.

That one over where Jaya just tore into Zaheer Khan made us all think that the death knell for India had just been sounded. However, Zaheer returned to bowl an excellent final over! If the World Cup of 2003 is any reminder, Indians did make short work of the Lankans in the Super Six. This time though they sneaked in a thriller.

Virender Sehwag returned to torment the Lankans once again with the ball and returned the favour by getting Jaya out. At that juncture, it was "Jaya Jaya Jaya Jaya Rahey" for the Indians but for the Lankans it was "Jaya Na Rahey", their master blaster out to a tired looking shot.

Pakistan's match against Bangladesh is not so crucial anymore. But, they dare not lose to the Bangladeshis; otherwise they might face a hostile reception back home! Mr Woolmer may have miscalculated on the bonus point scheme. However, he cannot cry wolf now since it is every coach's responsibility to understand the rules and regulations. Would he have griped about it if Pakistan had benefited from the bonus point system?

Playing for India is a very "pressure cooker" situation because the public is so unforgiving of defeats. Some slogans were legitimate though, like the ones admonishing the players to practice more rather than shoot commercials.

Irfan Pathan was one of the few who actually used the long hiatus to return to the MRF pace academy to hone his skills! That folks is the making of a true sportsman! Not running helter skelter shooting commercials in one location after another. Not too long ago, John Wright commented on the commercial aspect of the game wreaking havoc on his players. Come on India!

Rahul Dravid played the rescue act in the first two games but he cannot be expected to do that all the time. If one says that Sachin failed again, then in the same vein Jayasuriya failed too because he did not take the Lankans all the way. How many of us remember Tendulkar being in the same spot? How many times were his stellar innings reduced to mere footnotes because the rest of the team did not weigh in? Even Inzamam has found himself in that bracket. Unfortunately, it always rebounds off the good players.

The last thing Sachin needs is pressure. Rather than focus where he failed against Sri Lanka, look at the vicious turner he bowled to get the dangerous Mahela Jayawardene out! Doesn't that count in his favour? Has anyone noticed that he is also the second highest wicket taker in the ongoing tournament? Isn't that worthy of applause?

What if India fails to win the Asia Cup? It is not the end of the world folks. There are many matches ahead where India can prove their mettle. Believe me if India loses the Asia Cup, there'll be many demonstrations in the streets. However, if the Indian team wins the forthcoming Test series against the Aussies and the Proteas and adds the NatWest trophy to that list, all the past failures will soon be forgotten.

While India is not the #2 team in world cricket yet, they certainly are making positive strides towards it. Sure there'll be a few hiccups in between. Even the Aussies went through several hiccups in their ascension to the top of the cricket world. Why not India?

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