WC 2003 - Aussies up several notches over pretenders India
Published: Saturday, February 22, 2003, 23:53 [IST]
Copyright AFP 2001
I made the right call insists Ganguly
New Delhi: Indian newspapers on Monday heaped praise on Australia for its victory in the cricket World Cup final in South Africa, but India's performance was greeted with a mixture of forgiveness and condemnation.Front pages of all major newspapers carried pictures of Ricky Ponting and his men posing with their prize, while banner headlines reflected the mood of millions of dejected Indian cricket fans. "Shock and awe" ran the headline in the Pioneer newspaper, using the title given to the US-led blitz on Baghdad.The Hindustan Times carried a similar headline, but offered some consolation, "At least we reached the final".Another headline in the newspaper, "If only hope and prayer could help", perhaps summed up the mood of the nation.India had come to a standstill on Sunday for the keenly-awaited match, the pre-match excitement, however, quickly descending into a pall of gloom as the Aussies batted and battered away at the Indians.Hope, excitement and anticipation gave way to disbelief and despair as the Aussies thumped six after powerful six to notch up 359 for two at the end of their allotted 50 overs. And when Indian batting star Sachin Tendulkar was caught out in the first over, the dream was over. India eventually made 234 all out. "India go down with a fight" said the Times of India, which added in a sub-heading, "At 359, Aussies too tough to match."An editorial in the same paper said, "The Indians gave it their best shot, but the Aussies simply packed too much firepower."There would be criticism on Indian captain Saurav Ganguly's decision to field first "but the fact is that the best team in the world deservedly won the tournament," the paper said.While Sunday's setback would silence those hailing the present squad as India's best One-day squad ever, "It's only fair to acknowledge that this is an exciting mix of explosive strokemakers, canny run rotators, hostile pacers and world-class spinners. "With an average age of about 25 years, this outfit should serve India well for years to come," the editorial noted.But the Statesman newspaper was not as forgiving. The opening lines of a piece entitled "India surrenders to Aussie blitz", said, "You have to doff your hat to this awesome Aussie side. Though not at full strength due to vagaries of fate, they can effortlessly raise their game several notches over all others, including pretenders India."