WC 2003 - Sachin looms large in England's scheme against India

Published: Tuesday, February 25, 2003, 23:53 [IST]
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Durban: Sachin Tendulkar looms as the biggest threat to England ahead of what promises to be a thrilling encounter at Kingsmead on Wednesday.England is hoping to win the toss and bat first rather than allow Tendulkar to dazzle in daylight and smash some more records to India's benefit.One of the world's greatest One-day batsmen collected his seventh man-of-the-match award in World Cup against Namibia on Sunday, his second in-a-row in this competition, and is beginning to bloom at the right time as India digs deeper into the competition.Tendulkar has 307 One-day Internationals under his belt, as well as 11,867 runs and 34 centuries and has so far scores of 52, 36, 81 and 152 from his four innings in the World Cup competition. His tally of 1,480 runs in World Cup is most by any batsmen and his four centuries is also the most hit by any batsman on world's greatest stage, along with Mark Waugh of Australia.Tendulkar, after a lean season last year at number four when he missed 11 One-day matches on-a-trot and collected just two runs from three innings in New Zealand, has rediscovered his magic touch after being brought back as an opener."He is enjoying being back in the opening position. Like any great player, he has a great sense of occasion," coach John Wright said.It appears it would take something special to dismiss Tendulkar cheaply in Durban. He has been a rock in a team, which came to the 2003 World Cup unsure of itself and which started its campaign in an extremely unconvincing fashion.Tendulkar also has an outstanding record against England in Tests and a good one in One-dayers. He has scored 1,683 runs in 16 Tests at an average of 76.50, while in One-dayers he has 825 runs with one hundred from 25 games at an average of 38.81. England's think tank, one learns, is busy plotting a plan, which will curb Tendulkar's genius and snap the fuse of power which the little great man generally spreads among the lesser batsmen of his side. England captain Nasser Hussain, who came up with the negative line theory against Tendulkar when England came touring in 2001-02, is spending hours in the drawing board to plot something similarly effective against one of the greatest batsmen of all time. Hussain could well be instructing his bowlers to bowl what the Australians tried against Tendulkar earlier in the league, bowling short and wide off the off stump and having a packed off side field including a strategic short extracover.Tendulkar is more prone to coming inside the line of a delivery and nudge it around on the leg side for singles rather than hit through the line powerfully on the off side these days. Andrew Caddick, particularly, will be asked to bowl his usual short and bouncy stuff on the off side and frustrate Tendulkar and induce him to play an indiscreet shot.Tendulkar, on the other hand, has said he wants to build on the good start he has had in this competition and it would imply a careful beginning in the first 15 overs before shifting gears in the middle of the innings. Sanjay Manjrekar, his former teammate and now a commentator, feels Tendulkar would like to leave his stamp on the World Cup before it's too late in his career. "He hasn't really played an innings to remember on a World Cup stage so far and I wouldn't be surprised if something of rare quality is seen from his broad bat over the next few days," Manjrekar said. PTI

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