A breath-taking victory scripted by the young guns
These days one gets the chance to use the right metaphors for India’s performance. Today in the semi-final of the ICC Trophy at the Premadasa Stadium in Colombo, India snatched victory by 10 runs from the jaws of defeat, instead of the other way round, in one of the most breathtaking finishes seen in recent times.
After Hershschelle Gibbs who retired hurt at 116 and Jacques Kallis (97)
shared a typically solid South African century partnership it all looked over for India. Then came two wickets in an over by Harbhajan Singh, two incredible catches by Yuvraj Singh and towards the end yet another unbelievable performance by Virender Sehwag, this time with the ball, took India to victory and fetched Sehwag the second man-of-the match award in succession.
A score of 260 always looked an easy target for South Africa with a clutch of demonic all-rounders, batsmen and bowlers. Till at least the 45th over it looked quite achievable for them, till Sehwag’s off-spinners confused Lance Klusener totally and tied him up in knots. Sehwag took 3 wickets in five overs.
It was difficult to believe that Klusener, one of the best finishers in one-day cricket be it with the ball or bat unable to get going and that too against Sehwag. In the end it was Klusener’s failure that resulted in South Africa’s defeat from a position of total domination, helped by two magnificent innings by the reliable Gibbs who retired hurt with cramps and then Kallis. When Gibbs retired there were 8 more batsmen to come and South African were in no hurry or panic. But the tide turned.
It was the young brigade which brought India victory, totally outshining the superstars in the team. The team in now in the grip of youngsters and that is a good sign. Yuvraj’s catches one of them diving to his right, could find a place in any one list of favourite catches.
Anil Kumble, at 31, looks increasingly out of sorts in this athletic team full of pep. Apart from being very expensive, he has to be hidden in the field. A fumble in the deep by him in the second last over could have proved very crucial.
As Tony Greig rightly said, Kumble is a bad fielder and then expects others to dive five yards to the left and right to stop hits off his bowling. It is difficult to see Kumble playing the final.
Sourav Ganguly could be seen trying to catch his breath long after the match was over, still coping with the mad rush of adrenalin. He is having a good run with the bat and as captain as well, good omens for the World Cup.
It was nice to see him consulting Tendulkar and Dravid in the crucial
bowling change in the 46th and 47th over. To give Sehwag the last over was a
decision that he could have rued all his life. But things turned out well for him and for India, now in the second successive finals of the ICC Trophy.