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A time to separate men from boys

Overcoming self-doubts and coming with performance of a life-time will separate men from boys today, writes Atul Sondhi.

cricket Updated: Apr 28, 2007 14:11 IST
World Cup 2007

It's a time which comes in every four years. A time which separates the men from the boys. A time when seven hours of grind make a team the champion of the world for four years, and another left to rue what could have been.

Ask Mike Gatting about the biggest tragic moment of his life. He might be tempted to say "that reverse sweep in the 1987 final" and probably not Warne's ball of the century.

Ask Viv Richards. Probably it will be "that lofted drive which landed in the hands of Kapil", and not the disastrous 1987 campaign.

Ask Thomson, Probably it will be "run out in 1975 final" which ended Australian dream after he along with Lillee had taken Australia so close to victory. And not the future heartbreaks against the West Indies.

Jayawardene's sole aim will be to ensure that the final does not turn out to be a tragic moment for him or his team, as has happened to some of the supermen before him. Whatever be the odds, he must keep his smile throughout the seven hours. That will certainly make the opposition nervous. Are not the Australians accustomed to seeing opposition's smiles vanish after just few overs?

History is against Jayawardene. Outside Sri Lanka, they have won just eight time in 44 meetings against Australia. In World Cups, they have lost all their matches save one – the all important final at Lahore. They will be looking to make it two. And what better place than Barbados!

It will be an all out battle with no ground given. Even a smiling Jayawardene has started playing mind games by making Pointing wait for photo opportunities. He wants to show the Australians he can be as much "lean, mean and hungry."

Australians play with a purpose, a method, a workman-like accuracy. For them, the word M stands for Method and Mind games. Lankan play with spirit, with flair. For them, M represents Malinga and Muralitharan.

Both the teams have talent and tenacity in abundance. Both deserve to win the Cup in a game, which unfortunately allows just one winner.

Favourite Australians have the system on their side. Challengers Sri Lankans have the good wishes of all the non-Australians. These 22 on-field players, playing the final, represent dreams and aspirations of nearly one-third of the global population.

Millions of dreams will live and die each moment, with each ball and each stroke. Silence of the graveyard and screams of joy will follow the fall of each wicket.

At the end of it all, there will be more tears than celebrations for sure.

But they will have a fair share of tears of joy for winning the Cup.

The occasion is momentous. A once in a life-time opportunity for many players to go for glory. They must give the performance of a life time so that they do not live with the regret which Richards must be feeling in 1983, or Gatting may have encountered in 1987.

Barbados beckons. It's a moment of reckoning indeed.